Welcome to my website on how to choose the best exterior paint colors. You’ve come here looking for help and I am going to provide it to you in an easy to understand, logical, and scientific approach.
This won’t be hard because I have a flow chart method which helps you to focus on good choices, not emotional or trendy ones. I will walk you through the process that I use in my work as a professional colorist. At the end, you will have a solid plan for making your home as beautiful as can be.
During the period of time when I worked at a paint and decorating center, I saw over and over again that the biggest problem my customers had to solve was what color to paint the exterior of their house. It’s a decision which paralyzes homeowners…with good reason!
Everyone has at least a few cans of bad paint choices in
their basement. That experience is fresh in the mind when it comes time to
consider an exterior paint job. The last thing a homeowner wants to do is to
magnify a color mistake over their 20’ x 40’ home. Painting a house is no small undertaking. It is expensive in both labor and materials. I want to help you avoid making a huge mistake.
In my work as a color consultant, many people ask me what the best exterior paint colors are. It’s a big question and there are no great generic choices. It’s like asking what’s the best ice cream flavor. Ask 50 people about their ideas for house colors and you will most likely get as many answers.
Color preference is highly personal and generic choices are just that, a bit bland and without room for individual considerations.
You will see color brochures printed by every paint manufacturer. These are generic choices and as such, are fine. They may or may not enhance your particular home in its unique setting but they also won’t do any visual damage. They are safe but let’s face it, safe is less than wonderful. Just about every homeowner consults these charts for options. Did you know that exterior paint can be made in any color?…not just those seen on the charts? Drive through your neighborhood, it looks like the paint chart brochure.
A house gets painted to protect it from the weather so what’s all the fuss about color ideas? Well if all paint did was to protect the house, all houses would be white. Choosing your own colors lets you express yourself within an accepted range. It also can change your house from just average to “WOW”. Don’t we all want our homes to be the best they can be?
Maybe your goal is resale, or updating or both! The condos I live in were built in the 90’s and have a color scheme which I consider to be dated…beige/cranberry. Why is a dated color scheme bad and what is the difference between being updated and being trendy?
We are constantly bombarded with visual images in print, on the internet, in videos and TV. These images are messages from manufacturers telling us what is in style and what isn’t... this includes the choices of colors. Why should you care about color as an element of style?
These messages become part of our background mind where we make decisions on what is up to date or not. Showing a home for sale with a dated color scheme will suggest to a potential buyer that the home may not have been updated in other ways besides the paint color. Even if the paint is in good shape, the buyer will wonder about the general maintenance and care of the home over time.
Trendy colors are overused colors. At the start they are innovative but become so widely applied as to become like templates. Today's trendy color…gray. You may love it, but guaranteed it will look tired in 5 years or so. Trends burn hot but don’t last. That gray house you live in now will look like my beige/cranberry condo in a few short years. Paint jobs are too expensive to get only a few years out of. A good paint job should last 10 years.
Every home is unique, even those that are in developments. There are variations in foundation plantings, roof colors, direction to the sun…and to top it all off, the people who live in these homes all have different likes and dislikes.
Below are some of the starting questions I ask when creating a new color scheme. These are just jumping off points but will create the foundation for a solid plan.
1. Where do you live?
Urban, Suburban or Rural?
What looks right in town can look downright garish in a suburban setting. Temper the colors to the setting.
East coast? Midwest? South?, etc.
Regional preferences in paint colors and the quality of the light influence color choice.
Do you have to follow narrow guidelines because your house is in a historic district or… maybe you just want to use traditional colors on your older home.
Near Water? Mountains?
Reflected light from water or foliage affects color choices. For example, I live in southeastern New Hampshire...I'm about a 20 minute ride to the seacoast. I am close but not immediate. When the wind is right, we get invaded by seagulls. House colors on the coast can take bolder color. The reflected light from the sea makes everything look a bit sharper. The same brighter colors in my neighborhood would look overdone just as the seagulls look out of place, lol.
2. What style is your house?
Cape Cod, Colonial, Bungalow, Tudor, Adobe, Townhouse, Contemporary, etc.
Don’t let your grandmother wear your daughter’s mini-skirt! Even though they may both be size 6’s, the same treatment is great on one but badder than bad on the other. Your Victorian gingerbread house will ask for very different colors than your Tudor.
3. What color is your roof?
Predominately black, charcoal, red, etc., composite shingled, wood shingles, metal, tile, etc.
Depending on how the house presents itself to the street, the roof can be a major field of color.
4. Which direction does your house face? N,S,E, or W?
Some colors are more apt to fade with exposure to bright sunlight, do you know which ones?
5. Shaded or Sunny?
Colors will be magnified or lessened depending on the quality of the light. A house which gets bright sun and is painted yellow may be able to be seen out at sea for 100 nautical miles. I’m just kidding, you can only see about 50 miles to the horizon.
6. Foundation Plantings?
Do you have plantings which have unusual color either in their flowering or their foliage?
This really isn’t that hard is it? Using a flow chart approach like this automatically eliminates the choices which would not be right. Then you can focus on those that remain. The more questions you ask, the smaller the group of potential colors gets until you are left with just a few. Then the only thing you have to deal with is your personal list of colors you like and those that you don’t.
The menu to the left contains individual pages helping you to decide the answers to these points which you will want to consider. Go through each one and you will be able to winnow down your color choices to a solid selection.
It’s my way of describing how balance is created in a color scheme or any design. You always have a focal point, the main center of interest and you have supporting members who are not as important as the star but which help flesh the whole thing out.. For instance, your main house color, then your supporting cast; trim, shutters, roof. Often, there is a spotlight that pinpoints a special moment, this can be your front door color. See what I mean? All of this goes into the mix when choosing your best exterior paint colors.
It's chock full of insights from the pros who will show you just how easy it is to get a fabulous front door entry.
Benjamin Moore Classic Fan-this is my "go-to"
Pro Color Wheel