Picking the perfect Exterior Paint Colors

How to Pick the Perfect Exterior Paint Colors

Most people struggle with picking paint colors. Picking the perfect exterior paint colors can be even more stressful because the whole world can see your choices! And, if you make a paint color mistake, it can be expensive to fix. So, how do you pick the right colors?

  1. The first thing to consider is if you are painting because you are selling it or because you are staying and need to maintain your paint or just want a new look. If you are selling, your paint choice may be quite different as you are trying to appeal to the greatest number of buyers and it is not about your personal taste. If you are staying, it is important to pick colors you love and can live with for a long time.
  2. What fixed finishes do you need to consider? Generally this is your roof. Unless you are planning to change that, you must make sure your paint color will go with the color you have, particularly if the roof line is prominent and easily visible.
  3. What are the colors of other homes in the neighborhood? While you don’t have to be the same as your neighbors, it is good to consider if your choice will fit in well with the neighborhood or stand out like a sore thumb.
  4. What are the background and the foreground colors around the house? Will your color choices harmonize with your landscaping and the view behind your house?
  5. Do you want your colors to make a statement or blend in with the landscape?

I noticed lately that it’s time to paint my own house.  I plan to stay in my house for a long time. Here was my method for picking paint colors that inspired this article.

I met a friend for our weekly dinner together. I tell her I need to figure out colors to paint my house and we decide we will drive around the city and look at house colors and see what we like and don’t like. We do this for several weeks in a row.

I notice that I do not like most of the colors combinations for a variety of reasons. This teaches me what to avoid.

  • Many did not consider their roof and have colors that clash with the roof color.
  • Many did not consider the overtones of the trim or door colors and they do not harmonize well with the wall colors.
  • Many used “neutral” colors and were rather boring or unmemorable. I think, if only they had added a pop of color on the front door! I guess that means I want to make a statement with my house!
  • Some are rather garish….the color saturation is way too bright and I would find it hard to live with for a long period of time. I learn I prefer deep, rich colors.

I find there are three house color combinations that I do like. One is a charcoal/blue house with white trim. One is a greige with white trim. It surprises me that I like them because they are not generally colors I am drawn to. And finally, there is a light teal/gray with white trim I like. This does not surprise me as I love turquoise and teal. But I saw plenty of teal houses I did not like because the colors were too light, or saturated for my taste.   I check out these houses in a variety of light conditions to see if I like them on bright sunny days as well as cloudy rainy days. Light always affects the way a color looks and it changes throughout the day and under different conditions.

I compare the color of my roof to those in a Benjamin Moore color deck under different light conditions. It is a blue gray metal roof closest to “November Skies”.  I need to consider this in my color choice, although I notice that my roof is not very visible from most angles.  I also have stained wooden decks and railings and need to decide if I want to paint these or continue to stain them. I decide to paint them.

pick the perfect exterior paint colors
My current house color scheme
pick the perfect exterior paint colors
My roof color

I decide to try some of the color combinations I like using the visualizer on the Benjamin Moore website. I consider a dark charcoal/blue color by selecting a color similar to “November Skies”,  but several shades darker on the fan deck, called “Evening Dove”.  I selected an off white trim color called “Lily White”, that appears several shades lighter  than “November Skies”.  All three colors are on the same sheet of the fan deck, and are the same hue family with varying degrees of saturation so should go together. I try it with a yellow door, similar to what I have now, and add a dark trim around the door, called “Black Beauty”,  which is the darkest color on the swatch that goes with Lily white, November skies, Evening dove. There are no gray houses this color in my neighborhood, but I think it will look nice with other nearby colors. It seems to go nicely with my landscaping and with the sky in the view beyond.

pick the perfect exterior paint colors
Color option #1
pick the perfect exterior paint colors
Benjamin Moore’s Evening Dove, Lily White, Sunshine and Black Beauty

I look for a rich teal color that I like, that wll go with the roof and trim color I selected to go with the roof.  I experiment with the yellow door, and a pop of a purple around the door frame to go with many of the purple flowers I have in my summer landscaping (not shown in the picture). It will go nicely in my neighborhood that has numerous turquoise or teal houses, although they are much bighter and more saturated colors. I like the way it blends with my landscaping and the sky.

pick the perfect exterior paint colors
Color Option #2
pick the perfect exterior paint colors
Benjamin Moore’s Dark Teal, Lily White, Sunshine Scandinavian Blue

I take my time deciding which I like best. I put the question out on Facebook with pictures. The majority of people like the gray.  Which do you like best?

I decide my favorite is the teal. One comment on Facebook described it as unique but classy, which is what I am going for. But, it confirms my thoughts that if I had been trying to sell my house, I would have chosen the gray because it woud appeal to more buyers. To learn more about selecting interior and exterior paint colors for a speedy and profitable home sale, see my blog article.

My next steps are to order some paint and try it out on the back of the house and see if I really like these colors.  Stay tuned!

Hope this helps you pick the perfect exterior paint colors for your house!

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Mary Ann Benoit is a Certified Color Expert

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Mary Ann Benoit

President- Northern Lights Home Staging and Design Owner- Arctic Paradise Bed and Breakfast Artist- Stained Glass, Jewelry and Alcohol Ink Art Wildlife Biologist Director- Kaleido World Percussion and Dance Company Director- Tavus Dance Company of Alaska Lover of music, art, dance and animals.

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