Exterior Colors and Home Style

Great tips to help you pick the right exterior paint colors, no matter what kind of house you have.

An exterior paint job usually stays put for 10 years, so take your time and do it right. Jumpstart your thinking by looking for houses with color combinations you find appealing, advises Leslie Harrington, corporate interior designer for Benjamin Moore Paints.

Still stymied? We've lined up four avenues of advice about colors that look good on various styles of houses.

Drawing of foursquare, 2 story house with round hedges & man mowing

Foursquare. Resist the temptation to paint this house the typical white with green trim. Instead, take your cues from the past. Historically, the tops and bottoms of foursquares have been painted different colors. Breaking down the big-box look gives the house a better sense of scale, thus making it appear more personal and inviting. Though the colors chosen for this house are historically correct, note that browns are making a comeback.

Queen Anne Victorian. Often referred to as a "painted lady," this style can easily take 10 different colors. You'll find many color schemes in architectural history books. Even if you use fewer paints in your combination, definitely use color. This three-color scheme contrasts each of the decorative details, but the contrast is subtle because the colors are all the same tone. Confident painters can use more lights and darks for contrast.

Tropical Cottage. Avoid using your most dramatic color on the shutters. Save your punch color for the details, such as the door and intricate window mullions. Blend nondescript window mullions into the house. For this palette, region makes a difference. Keep it zippy in the South. For the North, gray down each color.

English Tudor. A Tudor is the sacred cow of house styles. Don't get too experimental with colors. Because Tudor roofs are so dominant, the roof color will dictate the total color scheme. Also look for color cues in the environment. Tudors are often set among stones in a wooded area. Look to repeat those natural colors on the house.

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