Choosing Exterior Paint Colors
by Kate Riley on January 12th, 2012
The question of what color to paint your home can be daunting for so many people. Unless you’re building a home from the ground up, most homes come with a color already chosen for you, but often it’s one the homeowner doesn’t like or needs to upgrade due to deterioration from the elements. Choosing your home’s exterior color is a big decision, one that will last for ten years or more and can’t be redone as easily or inexpensively as a bedroom or bathroom. There are several factors a homeowner must take into consideration, but the most important is the style and architecture of the home and the colors of the neighborhood and region.
The easiest place to start for choosing exterior color is to take note of the colors that already exist in the roof, masonry, and other architectural accents. This contemporary home has sharp geometric angles and is surrounded by slate tile and stone walls. The builder or homeowner was smart to take a cue from the lighter highlights in the stone as a color choice for the stucco, which also contrasts beautifully with the black window frames and railing. (Similar Glidden paint colors include Antique Linen and Parchment)
The Craftsman style became popular during the Arts and Crafts period during the early 20th century and typically includes a low-pitched roof and tapered square pillars that frame a recessed porch and entry. Handcrafted wood and natural stone are often present inside and out. Craftsman-style homes look best when the main color of the home echoes those mixed materials, whether it’s a shade of taupe, mushroom, gray, brown, or green. (Similar Glidden paint colors include Wood Smoke and West Coast Grey.)
Spanish-style homes are popular in the west and southwest and are known for their stucco exteriors, tile roofs, and arched passageways and windows. Preserving this style means choosing a paler shade of cream that can have subtle undertones like yellow, brown, gray, or a hint of olive like this hacienda below. Notice how the deeper olive on the trim enhances the neutral main color, which carries the same undertones. (Similar Glidden paint colors include Stratosphere (light) and Meadowlark (olive) in the same color family.)
A Tudor is known for its high-pitched roof, recessed entryway, and stone or brick chimneys or accents. The trim or main color is traditionally a shade of medium to dark brown but any earth tones will enhance this Old English style. (Similar Glidden colors include Driftstone and Shaker Village (trim).)
Elaborate Victorian-style homes demand a more colorful palette to accent the intricate architectural moldings or gingerbread details. With these homes, anything goes! Let the famous painted ladies of San Francisco be your guide and have fun. There really is no right or wrong if you stick with three to five complementary hues. (Similar Glidden paint colors include Pier Pointe and Lavaliere Stone (lavender Victorian) and Jasparware and Autumnal Chestnut (teal Victorian).)
A classic colonial is often a clean crisp white with contrasting shutters in a deep shade of blue, green, or gray, which is the easiest color combination of all. This homeowner chose sophisticated black for the shutters to coordinate with the black roof and window trim.
Like the colonial above, it’s always safe to choose a white or neutral color for the exterior to showcase the home’s architecture. Try choosing a bold color for the front door. Regardless of how neutral the rest of the home is, the front door need not be so. Consider painting just the front door a fun color to create an attractive, welcoming entry.
When choosing your home’s exterior color, keep the following things in mind. It’s important to make a timeless choice that not only adds curb appeal and increases resale value, but also shares some similarity with the homes in your neighborhood. Before buying large quantities of paint, buy small samples or even quarts and apply 4 to 5 different samples to the side of your home to get a real idea of how the paint will look spread across an exterior wall. Large surfaces make paint look lighter, especially in sunlight, so sample a few darker shades. Paint colors will also look darker in shaded lots, so consider paler colors for homes filtered by a lot of trees. Emphasize architectural details and windows with a complementary accent color but choose colors that are related. Moving up and down the paint strip in the fan deck is the surest way to do so. Simpler homes require as few as two colors, but elaborate homes can use up to five. Use the style of your home as your ultimate guide. Happy home improvement!