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Exterior House Paint Colors

Beth Asaff
Painted House

When selecting exterior house paint colors, choose a different color for each change in wood work or to match the design of your home. Most home exteriors were designed to hold a few colors at once, so listen to your home's style when you paint.

Maintaining Curb Appeal

One of the most important things you need to keep in mind as a home owner, particularly if you are planning on selling your home, is the importance of curb appeal. Curb appeal not only keeps your home looking great, it can increase the value of your home along with the value of your neighborhood. Any kind of exterior renovation can help lend your home curb appeal, including paint.

If it's been a while since you've painted, and your home's exterior is looking dingy, dirty or the paint is beginning to peel, it's time to repaint.

Selecting Exterior Paint Colors

When you begin to select your exterior house paint colors, you need to begin by examining your home. Take a look at the entirety of your home's exterior and look for several things.

Change in Siding

color options

Does your home's siding start out in one direction and change to another mid-way up? Or does your home go from horizontal siding in one area to shingles in another? These are signs that your home is going to need complementary colors on these areas. Wherever there is a change in wood, whether it is gingerbread, clapboard, shingles or decorative scroll work, each change in wood means a change in color should occur.


Is there a trim or vertical wood section on the corners of your home? What about around window casings, or under your eaves? This is another indication that a second color should be applied to your home.

Shutters, Porches and Decks

Shutters, front steps, porches and decks all need to be considered in the color scheme of your home. These areas can coordinate in color, or all take on their own hue, but they should contrast or complement the main color of the home.

Creating a Home's Color Story

A color story is the flow of color from area to the next. Color stories can be dramatic, with striking color changes and rich vibrant colors, or they can be subtle with tone on tone color. When you create your home's color story, you will need to keep a few things in mind.

Number of Color Changes

paint samples

How many color changes does your house require? Do you have horizontal siding, topped with a break point and then shingles above with shutters around every window? Or do you merely have trim at the corners and around window casings?

A home with a number of colors should make use of three tone-on-tone colors with a dramatic pop of color on the shutters for best effect. For example, a dark tan on the bottom, light cream in the middle with a mid-tone tan on top would work well. The shutters can be a rich hunter green, with the front steps coordinating for maximum effect.

A home with more simple color lines can use one color overall, and a bright contrast, such as smoky blue siding with bright white trim.

Overall Effect

Are you trying for a dramatic look, or a subtle one? Sometimes, one pop of color on the front door against a tone-on-tone exterior can liven up an otherwise boring exterior. Old Victorian style homes with lots of changes in woodwork can make dramatic use of color, ranging from reds to greens to yellows in one home.

Cohesion with the Neighborhood

While it's fine to stand out if you're planning on living in the house for the next 50 years, a break in the neighborhood color scheme can have a negative effect on resale value. This does not mean you need to paint your home the same color as your neighbors', but instead take cues from what's already in place. If the neighborhood is full of tans, creams, grays and neutral colors, painting your home lime green can draw unwanted attention.

Exterior Color Scheme Suggestions

While your home's personal color story will be derived from its shape, your neighborhood and your personal preferences, there are several different color combinations that work well together. Consider using any of these as a starting point for your home's exterior.


Neutrals are popular color choices for your home's interior, but the exterior may need a little more color to make it truly pop. This doesn't mean that you can't use neutral colors as a starting point, however. A neutral color combination that works well for many homes includes:

  • Neutrals
    Dapper Tan - a mid-toned neutral - on the main body of the home
  • Macadamia - a light-toned neutral - on the trim and highlights
  • Umber - a dark-toned neutral - on the shutters or gables of the home

Another alternative is to use a neutral color scheme, but include a single color like burgundy or hunter green on the shutters to bring it to life. White with black trim also fits into the neutral category.

Victorian Palette

If you have a Victorian home, it makes sense to paint it in keeping with its style. The vast majority of Victorian colors are slightly darker or more somber than their modern day equivalents. This was done at the time by mixing a small amount of black paint into the more vivid colors. A typical Victorian color scheme may include:

  • Victorian
    Needlepoint Navy - a somber blue - on the main body of the house
  • Light Buff on the trim
  • Golden Yellow - a toned down gold - on the door
  • Antiquarian Brown on the shutters, gables or accents

Suburban Appeal

If your house is in the suburbs or in a development, consider this classic color combination to help it fit in with the neighbors.

  • suburban options
    Green Earth - a rich gray just shading toward green - on the main body of the house
  • Nacre - a very pale, creamy gray - on the trim
  • Fiery Brown - a deep, red/brown - on the shutters

Modern Homes

Modern homes, no matter where they are placed, can often handle bolder and more startling color palettes than their more traditional neighbors. Consider color combinations such as:

  • modern palette
    Artisan Tan - a beige-like cool neutral - for the main body of the house
  • Rural Green - bold, army green - for the shutters
  • Edgy Gold - a mid-tone yellow - for the trim

Increase Curb Appeal

Exterior house paint colors range into the thousands with tone, shade and color. Begin by selecting one color as your starting point, and letting your home and neighborhood dictate where you should go from there. In no time, your home's curb appeal will be restored and your neighborhood value will rise.

Exterior House Paint Colors