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5 Tips for Choosing Exterior Paint Colors

The right exterior paint colors can add character and subtle drama. It’s often the first impression people get of your home, so the right combination of hues can boost curb appeal. Choosing colors, whether with paint, siding, or other materials, is an important decision, one best made after careful consideration.  Here are 5 tips to help with this process.

Consider the Setting

Surroundings affect color selections more than you might think. For example, if your home is nestled in a heavily wooded lot, the deep shades of a dark colored exterior can intensify and blend into the landscape. Homes in open spaces often look smaller with a dark colored exterior. Whites or tinted neutral colors offer small homes more substance in any setting. No matter what size home or lot, remember that dark colors recede and light colors stand out.

Consider also ornamental trees, shrubs, and other plants around the foundation or in planting beds. Flowering varieties, even if they don’t bloom all season, may look out of place with extremely bright or contrasting exterior colors. The same goes for these plants’ autumn hues, so keep that in mind too.

Neighboring homes are another consideration. While your home should reflect your personality, it’s probably not a good idea not to choose colors that clash with other houses in the area. Carefully chosen hues can remain tasteful and complementary yet still make a striking personal statement.

Consider Your Home’s Style and Features

Whether your home’s design is a ranch, contemporary, colonial, farmhouse, Victorian, or another style, the color palette should suit the feel of the home.  Architectural details such as gables, dormers, porches, and windows offer opportunities to use color to make a sharp and appealing statement. Your home also has certain colors that don’t change – shingles, gutters and downspouts, trim, and other accents like brick or stonework.  These elements can offer cues to help with color selection too.

Additional outdoor features such as a patio, driveway, walkway, or shed can factor into the overall look as well. Choosing colors that complement these elements will help offer a crisp, polished look to your home’s exterior and outdoor plan.

Do Your Homework

One of the best ways to find appealing palettes is to check out other homes in the area. Note the choices used, from the siding, doors, and trim to the roof and other architectural features. What color schemes stand out? Which ones do you prefer? Which ones do you dislike? Answering these questions can help find what combinations appeal to you and potentially suit your home.

Take photos of your home, capturing special architectural features, lighting, various angles, and time of day. Sunlight and seasons are factors that affect a home’s appearance and influence how colors look. Use these photos as a reference point when considering exterior hues.

Research potential color combinations by checking out the brochures at your local paint store, or visiting trusted sites like Benjamin Moore or California Paints. They supply great suggestions for color collections suited to bring out the best in exterior home features.

Use the “Rule of Three”

The exterior of a home has three main color areas: the field, which is the dominating portion, the accents like shutters and doors, and the trim, which includes the door and window casings, porch railings, and other trim work. Paint experts recommend using three colors, one color for each main area. One option they suggest is that the field and trim colors possess a notable contrast. Accent colors, for doors and shutters, then provide the opportunity to add further character in contrast and/or various shades.

Note the example in the picture above from the Benjamin Moore website. The field is a light, neutral shade from their white collection. The door and shutters, as accents, make a bold contrast in striking red and soothing complementary blue. The trim is white as well, which holds less contrast in this case, but works well with the overall style and palette of the home.  A variation to this combination might include a darker shade for the trim that complements the accent colors.

Buy Quality Materials

While this doesn’t directly relate to color choices, it does make good sense for your budget. Quality materials last longer, standing up to the abuses of time, weather, and normal wear and tear on your home. It’s always a good idea to choose paint and building materials that will last longer to save money and time overall.

Another money saver- when choosing exterior paint colors, buy small quantities to try out first to ensure you like the combination. Test on a few different areas on your home; depending on the time of day, the lighting can affect how the colors look.

The right exterior color combination can add life and value to your home. It’s an easy way to showcase your personality and welcome others through distinct and tasteful curb appeal.

If you’re looking to freshen up the appearance of your home, stop by and see us. We’ll be glad to help you select your perfect color combination.