I usually have clients break it down a little to help make the process easier.
With exterior colors, look around first at your immediate neighbors and the homes on your street. You don’t want to paint your house too similar a color to that of a neighbor within a few houses of you either way, and if you do choose a similar scheme to a house a little further away, be sure to accent it with a different color to help it look unique.
Consider the color of the roof; most are pretty neutral but every now and then you get the odd red, blue or green roof, and you want to work with the roof to ensure a harmonious look.
Vinyl windows come in a few colors too, and you want to keep that in mind with looking at colors.
Typical homes will have two exterior colors, a body color and trim color. If you have some shingle details, double fascia or special trims, or will be painting your doors, you can choose a third or accent color.
This color can be a little brighter and more impactful because it is typically used in small amounts, and can often be a contrast to the body and trim.
High contrast or harmonious color scheme?
I notice that there are typically two types of people when it comes to exterior paint. The first is the high-contrast and the second is harmonious (or low contrast).
High-contrast folks tend to like the color of the body and trim to be very different, or perhaps form the same paint color card, but using the very lights and very darkest of the colors of the card.
The more harmonious color people tend to choose colors from the middle of a paint color card, usually only a shade apart or maybe two shades. This color type of color combination always looks great when accented with a pop of color in the door, outdoor pots or other accessories.
Once you have looked at your colors in these ways, and at the surroundings, you still might not have an idea of what you want. I often suggest people look to their clothing or furniture choices for colors inspiration.
What you see a lot (color-wise) in your closet or art or furnishings can be a clue. A great backup is the paint store. It will have brochures showing all kinds of color combinations that have been put together by professional color consultants and there is sure to be one you might like.
When you have a few ideas for color combinations, I can’t recommend enough that you buy samples of the colors you are considering, or several, and paint a few small areas around the outside of the house to live with for a week or so.
Look at the color in all lights and at all times of day. A sample about 18-inch square or larger is best, and paint a piece of trim next to the intended choice as well. As you drive up to your house each day, one is going to become a clear winner.
A few final tips to keep in mind:
- Light colors tend to show dirt more so if you live on a dirt road or by a busy main road, you might want to go a little darker to help hide the dirt and avoid additional maintenance.
- Deep bright colors, like red, and some dark colors tend to fade in the sun, and then they don’t look so pretty. Think about how often you want to maintain the color before choosing.
- Finally, if you live in a neighborhood, be sure to check with your homeowners’ association or architectural control committee to gain approval for your choices prior to painting. It’s no fun to have to repaint because you forgot that very important step.
Now, off to the paint store to get some ideas and bring a little color to the exterior of your home.