Rely on the Classics
When it comes to exterior color schemes, there's something to be said for tried-and-true combinations. This classic abode might look out of place with any palette other than warm beige for the siding and bright white around windows and on rails. Another good accent piece to pay attention to: exterior light fixtures. These are wonderful for adding complementary materials or colors. On this exterior, the lantern-type fixtures balance the home's symmetry, with a pair flanking the doors on all three floors.
Related: Tips for Choosing House Paint Colors
Pick Two Hues in Varying Brightness for Accents
Some of the best exterior house paint ideas are those that turn tradition on its head. Take, for example, Colonial-style homes: Often these are painted in a single color, many times white. While that's a great solution, there are ways to update and modernize that choice, too. The accent shades chosen here—a dusty lavender-gray and a bright turquoise—would normally not be used in the same color scheme. Here, though, the grayish-purple offers a refined accent on the shutters, while the turquoise—a brighter spin-off of some of those same blue-purple tones—directs foot traffic to the front door. Plus, if you’re looking for easy exterior paint ideas, adding color to just your shutters and front door is the way to go.
Tone Down Accents
Judicious use of an accent color can lend your home a more refined exterior scheme. It's a choice that works well with classic home styles, particularly because it doesn't overpower their traditional forms. This home—which deftly matches a deep green-gray with a lighter tone—also relies on an orange-red hue found in the copper roof accents and repeated on the wood front door. That tone carries over onto rooflines and side doors to provide a continuing color line for the eye to follow.
Play with Primary Colors
Red, yellow, and blue—the primary colors—are the basis of all other hues; as such, they're naturally complementary. But very few of us would consider painting a home in red, yellow, and blue, as represented in the original color wheel. However, when given rich depth or startling brightness, the hues provide an exterior color scheme that's at once distinctive and deeply satisfying. The key to color combinations is to select one color that pops—here, yellow—and another that's used sparingly—in this case, red. The rich, almost neutral shade of blue offers a base outside house paint color.
Choosing House Paint Colors
Selecting from a nearly endless parade of exterior paint color ideas can be overwhelming, and the very act of exterior home painting is a big job. Follow these tips for choosing exterior paint colors that go together so you can be confident as you undertake your painting project. With a little know-how, you can create a color scheme that suits your home’s architecture and style and reflects your tastes.
Use Wood for Warmth
By itself, steely gray can be a sterile choice for exterior house color combinations. But if this cool-minded hue tops your preferred color list, consider warming it up. That can be done in a number of ways, such as a bright accent color like orange that's on the warm end of the color scheme. A contrasting material, such as wood, can also be a good choice, particularly when stained a medium to dark color. In this contemporary scheme, a rich gray provides a good bridge between the two hues.
Vary the Shades of One Color
The danger of choosing a single hue for an exterior color scheme is that, without careful planning, it can feel boring and dated. To avoid that, try this exterior paint color idea: Identify an accent piece on your home—window frames, shutters, or trim, for example—and paint it either a darker or a lighter shade of your main color. In addition, choose one complementary color—here, red—for an unexpected highlight on a door.
Use Your Color Scheme to Direct Visitors
It's OK to pick just one element that stands out in your exterior color schemes; more often than not, that's the front door. The reason is aesthetic as well as practical: A bright hue such as this red signals visitors where to enter. On this house, the bulk of the color—warm gray—helps the low-slung profile gently recede into the landscape.
Explore Stain as a Color Option
As with traditional painted colors, stain offers a wide range of tones and shades to choose from, each of which can revive your home's exterior. Some—particularly midrange hues—work well on a variety of home styles. As with exterior wood paint colors, it's best to stain a swath of exterior wall in different versions to see how the color looks and feels throughout the day. As an accent, look to white. For more classically styled homes, white is a traditional accent for window trim, pillars, and doors.
Get Inspired by Materials in Place of Paint
Many people equate contemporary homes with a limited exterior color palette. But modern-style homes offer inspiration for a diverse way to showcase color and pattern, even if the palette is fairly neutral. If you're building new or remodeling your exterior, consider all the shapes and sizes of brick as a way to create an accent feature, rather than relying solely on paint for adding color. Here, the pattern on the brick section of the front facade is nearly mosaic-like. Functional features can be a wonderful way to include different colors or materials, too, such as the copper drain pipes, which add richness and sheen to this exterior palette.
Choose Color as Contrast to the Landscape
If your home is surrounded by a natural landscape, you can take one of two approaches to exterior paint color ideas. First, you can pick hues that will make the home recede into the background of trees and plants. Or you can choose a standout color that calls attention to the style of your space. This home does the latter; its seafoam green exterior wood paint selection stands in contrast to the lush green backdrop of the tree canopy. When it comes to pastel shades, white is a successful accent color that adds contrast without being too jarring.
Exterior Color: Dos and Don'ts
Selecting an exterior color scheme is a big decision. The level of commitment is more intense than picking a wall color. (Don’t like your wall color? Repaint it in a weekend. Don’t like your siding color? That’s one you might have to live with.) But knowing a few exterior color dos and don’ts will save you a lot of color regret. See how to play up your home's best features and pick the right hues with these simple exterior color rules.
Go Whimsical in Your Color Approach
Cottage-type homes are amenable to an exterior color scheme that's less bounded by formal rules and freer to experiment with whimsical approaches to shade and pattern. Here, the first impulse might be to paint the section of the front facade above the door line the same color as the bottom half. But instead, the natural wood—which will weather to a warm gray if left unstained—adds warmth to the gray-green paint. For contrast, bright robin's-egg blue accents the front door. What ties these three disparate tones together is the white trim around the door, pillars, and rails.
Pay Attention to Scale as It Relates to Color
The mass of your home determines the range of color choices for your exterior. For example, a very large house in a very dark color might look too imposing; a very small house that's painted too light might seem floaty in the landscape. This midsize house is a good example of using a single midrange hue in a way that's complementary without being overpowering. To prevent the front door from getting lost, try painting or staining it in a warm, rich color.
Stick with the Classics
White remains popular for exterior color schemes for good reason. It works well with a variety of home styles, it minimizes the imposing facades of very large homes, and it allows the landscape to stand out with its texture and color variation. However, as with other colors, there are nuances in the brightness and lightness of even white. Test out several swatches in various shades of white, and view them at different times of day—when the sun hits and when it doesn't—to see how the hue varies.
Accent a Single Color
Using three colors is a general rule of thumb for selecting an exterior color scheme. Most homeowners assume those hues have to be distinctly different, but this monochromatic house proves otherwise. Here, light gray is the dominant color, while a medium tone accents the wood archway over the front door. A deeper shade of gray around the windows and doors supplies the final accent.
Follow the Color Restraint of Materials
Materials used on a home's exterior often supply a built-in base for a color scheme. For example, brick exteriors tend to take on a warmer, red hue. The question then becomes what to do about the accents. This limestone facade offers a base that's in tune with both the home's architecture and the natural landscape. To keep the color vibe low-key and minimalist, shutters and windows were painted a neutral yellow shade that nearly blends in with the stonework. For a bit of warmth and as an accent, a medium-tone stain warms the front door.
Neutrals like white don’t have to be one-note. Pick a shade with undertones that match the rest of your exterior color scheme. On this home, white trim with green undertones melds gracefully with grayed teal siding and a celadon green door and gable. Each color in the trio is distinct, but their commonalities create a perfect harmony.
Not Quite Monochromatic
Earthy beige coats most of this home’s facade, but a fire engine red front door bucks the trend. If a full exterior remodel isn’t in the cards but you’re looking to switch up your exterior color scheme, a new front door color is one of the easiest makeover ideas. When working with an existing color palette, consider the undertones and color family already used within the facade. For example, this slightly cooler red, rather than one that leans orange, plays nicely with the cool undertones of the beige brick and siding.
While a multicolor palette is certainly eye-catching, a single-hue exterior will also cause passersby to stop and take notice. This small home commands a presence, thanks to its charcoal gray brick siding and similar-tone metal roof. Plenty of lush greenery and a handsome weathered wood door ensure the exterior is stylish, not foreboding.
Blend In to Stand Out
For a facade with texture, a tone-on-tone color palette makes the case for simplicity. White stucco and white shutters create a clean plane, while a section of stone above the front stoop draws the eye to the front door. The tones of the roof shingles play off the stone colors for a cohesive yet simple exterior.