I recently had to remodel the exterior of my own house and in addition to a new roof, gutters and windows, I had to paint my house and trim. It’s true that picking house paint colors isn’t just difficult. It’s terrifying! Pick colors that are blah, and your house will seem flat and featureless. But if the colors you pick are too bold, they might overwhelm the architecture… and upset the neighbors.
The best colors will highlight the most beautiful features of your home. Skillful use of color can even disguise design flaws, boosting the curb appeal and market value of your home. How do you find that magic color combination? Check out these exterior paint ideas.
1. Honor History If you’re planning to paint an older home, you’ll probably want to use a historically accurate color scheme. You can hire a pro to analyze old paint chips and recreate the original color. Or, you can refer to historic color charts and select shades that might have been used at the time your home was built.
2. Jazz Up the Past In some neighborhoods, homeowners fly in the face of history. Instead of choosing historically accurate colors, they paint their houses modern colors to dramatize architectural details. Using bright colors on old architectural details can produce startling and exciting results. But before you buy 10 gallons of bubblegum pink, it’s a good idea to look at what your neighbors are doing. A fluorescent colored Victorian that looks splendid in San Francisco will seem wildly out-of-place in more conservative neighborhoods.
3. Consider Your Neighbors The house next door can give you paint color ideas, but don’t copy your neighbor exactly. Choose colors that set your house apart, without clashing with nearby buildings.
4. Borrow From Nature The landscape around your house is blooming with color ideas. Trees may suggest an earthy palette of greens and browns. A beach setting might suggest vivid blues, turquoises, and coral colors. Even the garden in your front yard can inspire exciting color combinations.
5. Check the Roof Your house is your canvas, but it is not blank. Some colors are already established. What color is your roof? Your paint color doesn’t need to match the roof, but it should harmonize.
6. Look For Things That Won’t Be Painted Every home has some features that will not be painted. Does your house have brick walls? Vinyl windows? A natural wooden door? Will steps and railings remain their existing colors? Choose a color scheme that harmonizes with colors already present on your house.
7. Find Inspiration in Your Living Room It may seem comical to paint entire house based on the pattern of a pillow case, but this approach does make sense. The color of your furnishings will guide you in the selection of your interior paint colors, and your interior paint colors will influence the colors you use outside. Once again, your goal is to harmonize.
8. Discover Color Families Contrasting colors will draw attention to architectural details. But, extreme contrasts will clash and actually detract from details. To be safe, consider staying within a single color family. For some accents, try using a darker or lighter shade instead of a different color.
9. Focus on Details Depending on the size and complexity of your home, you may want to choose two, three, or as many as six colors. In addition to color for your siding, select accent colors for shutters, moldings, doors, window sashes, brackets, columns, and porch decks. But beware: too many colors will overwhelm your house. Too few can make your house seem flat and uninteresting.
10. Use Light to Add Size It’s no wonder large, grand estates are often painted white. Light colors make a building look larger, and white is the favored color for traditional classical architecture. You can add to your home’s sense of size and dignity by using white or a pale cream color.
11. Go Dark For Drama Dark siding or dark bands of trim will make your house seem smaller, but will draw more attention to details. Darker shades are best for accenting recesses, while lighter tones will highlight details that project from the wall surface. On traditional Victorian homes, the darkest paint is often used for the window sashes.
12. Strike a Balance A burst of a single color on just one part of your home may give it a lopsided appearance. Strive to balance colors over the entire building.
I stumbled upon the children’s book “The Big Orange Splot”. The main character, Mr. Plumbean, lives on a “neat street” where all the houses look the same. A seagull flies over his house and drops a can of bright orange paint on his roof, but instead of repainting his house to look like all the others on the street, Mr. Plumbean paints it to resemble his dreams. His neighbors send people to talk him into repainting his house to look like theirs, but everyone he talks to ends up painting their houses like their dreams also. In the end, all the neighbors say: “Our street is us and we are it. Our street is where we like to be, and it looks like all our dreams.”
I wish you many happy painting days!