Porpoise by Sherwin Williams
Farrow & Ball, Pantalon 221
Spring is almost here and I know a lot of you are starting to look at painting the exterior of your home. I receive emails almost daily from readers wondering where and how to start in choosing exterior paint colors that are ideal and perfectly compliment the exterior of a home. Most of the time, readers have contacted me after they have agonized for weeks over colors and just have no idea how to make a final decision.
(By the way, all of the images in this post have the name of the paint color directly below the image).
Chestnut Sherwin Williams
Last year, I shared a post with my tricks for choosing exterior trim colors here. Today I thought I would combine last year’s post with today’s post on my tricks for choosing an exterior color palette to help with the process if you’re thinking about paint your home. There are some really easy tricks that you can use that can make the decision a lot easier and less agonizing and more systematic.
Before I get into my tricks, below is last year’s color palette that I pulled together some of the most popular exterior trim colors:
Those colors above are still really popular today and over the last few weeks, I have researched more popular exterior colors and pulled my favorites together in another palette to give you even more inspiration:
These colors in the above palettes are great starting points as you begin to look at colors. If you combine this information with my tricks below, you should not have any problems zoning in on your ideal colors.
So let’s jump right in;
1) Choosing a color palette for the exterior of the home works the exact same way as it does for choosing interior colors. Zoning in on the undertones of the exterior staples of a home (things that you cannot change the color) such as brick and stone accents is the best place for you to get started. If you do not have these staple accents, you will need to decide on a “general” color that you think you might want (i.e, blue, tan, gray, etc..).
Acadia White (trim) by Benjamin Moore. Kendall Charcoal (home color) by Benjamin Moore
The best place to find all-over color and trim color inspiration is to look through exterior of homes on Houzz here, where there are exterior images of more than 228,000 homes (I set up the link to pull up the exterior search for you). I recommend printing out your favorites and starting a file. If you click on an image that you like, most of the time the designer/builder will mention the exact paint color in the question section. This is a great way to quickly find great colors.
Eider White (Home Color) by Sherwin Williams. (Trim color) Black Fox by Sherwin Williams
2) Once you have zoned in on a “general” color that you want, look to the undertones in your brick and stone to help pinpoint the undertone of the color. If you have a brick or a stone home, you will only need to choose trim colors. If you are choosing all-over color in addition to your trim color, choose your all-over color first.
Functional Gray by Sherwin Williams
If you do not have brick or stone to guide you in undertone for an all-over color, my first trick is to use a gray undertone for exterior. I have found that gray is the great neutralizer when it comes to exterior colors and it calms colors in the bright light and its a safe diffuser. For example, if you know you want a light tan, look for a light tan that is next to the grays at the paint store. Same thing if you’re thinking of blue or even white, look for your color next to the gray cards.
3) Once you decide on your all-over color, you will need to decide if you want the trim color to blend in and fade into the color of your home or if you want the color to contrast.
Example of a trim color that blend in and fades:
Examples of trim colors that compliment but contrast:
Wool Skein Sherwin Williams
Zinc by Pratt and Lambert
Urbane Bronze Sherwin Williams
4) Once you decide if you want your color to blend in or contrast, determine “roughly” what shade of color you want. Another trick that I recommend is that if you have any brick or stone on your home, you can take one of your bricks to Sherwin Williams and have them color match either your darkest or lightest shade brick. If you do not have an extra bricks, ask Sherwin Williams for a fan deck and match the brick to a paint color in the fan deck.
If you have multi-color bricks and you want your trim color to blend and fade, I recommend choosing the brick color that is the medium shade (not the lightest and not the darkest). If you want to contrast your brick color, choose the darkest or lightest brick color to match.
For homes that are not brick and you want your trim to blend in, either go up or down one or two shades of the paint color of the home. To contrast, consider going either white (or off white), or dark (black, dark brown or dark gray):
Contrasting with white:
Pure White Sherwin Williams
Dove White Sherwin Williams
Contrasting with dark:
Color Unknown but close to Urbane Bronze by Sherwin Williams
Iron Mountain Benjamin Moore
Another great source for exterior trim inspiration is to look at interior paint colors that you love for possibilities. One of the most popular and universal interior paint colors that contractors and designers use because they work well with almost anything is Fieldstone and Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore:
Cabinets painted in Fieldstone by Benjamin Moore
Revere Pewter Benjamin Moore
5) Once you have determine “roughly”, what color/shade that you think you want, pick up a sample quart in the color that is close to what you want and paint two large poster boards with the color and tape it to your front door. Walk out to your street and look at the color first thing in the morning, early afternoon and evening. Depending on the time of day, a strange hue can pop out. Take notes about what you like and don’t like about the color at different times of the day.
Texas Leather Benjamin Moore
If your sample color and hue/undertone is just right but the color is too dark or too light, have the guys at the paint store mix up another sample by either adding 50% white (lighten) or 50% of the next color down on the paint card (darker). Paint two more poster boards and tape to the door again and observe the color throughout the day.
Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore
If the color is really close to what you want but it has a strange hue and undertone that is not working, tell the guys at the paint store what the problem is (too green, too blue, too beige, etc..) and they will know precisely what color to add to offset the undertone by tweaking and adding a particular color. Once they tweak your color, get another sample mix and paint the two poster boards again and observe it throughout the day.
Door is Black Beauty Sherwin Williams
If you’re having your home professionally painted, you have one of the greatest sources of information with your paint contractor. These guys really know what colors work and don’t work and they are always on top of exterior trends because it’s their business and they are asked all of the time to recommend colors. Talk to them about what colors you are considering and they can quickly point out an conflicts or issues with the colors.
I hope that my little tricks will help eliminate the agony of choosing just the right color. I know it’s daunting because it’s so expensive to hire a house painter and the thought of hating the color hangs over our heads. If you do the poster board trick, you will eliminate the worry and will find a color that you love.
Thanks for hanging out with me today and if you happened to miss Paint It Monday last week, you can get to it by clicking the image below: