How to pick the perfect exterior paint colors- part 1

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.  Consider is if you are painting because you are selling or you are staying and need to maintain your paint or want a new look. If you are selling, your paint choice may be quite different since you will want to appeal to buyers rather than 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 colors surround the house? Will your choices harmonize with your landscaping and environment around your house?
  5. Do you want your colors to make a statement or blend in with the landscape?

When it was time to paint my own house,   I knew I planned to stay in my house for a long time. Here was my method for picking my paint colors. It started with determining what options I liked, and what limitations I needed to consider to narrow down some options.

Determine What you Like

I spent time with a friend driving around my town to look at house colors to get ideas for what I liked, and just as importantly, didn’t like.

I notice numerous colors combinations I disliked for a variety of reasons which was a good lesson in what to avoid.

  • Many homes had colors that clashed with the roof color.
  • Many homes had trim or door colors that did not work well with the wall colors.
  • Many homes used “neutral”  wall, trim and door colors and were rather boring or unmemorable. If only they had added a pop of color on the front door! I learned that I wanted to make a statement with my house!
  • Many homes were rather garish….with colors that were so saturated that they looked too bright on sunny days.  I knew I would find that hard to live with over time and preferred deep, rich colors.

I found a few color combinations that I liked. One is a charcoal/blue house with white trim. One is a gray/green with white trim, and a light teal/gray with white trim.   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.

Consider Your Limitations

I considered the color of my “fixed finishes”, namely my roof color which a blue/ gray similar to Benjamin Moore’s “November Skies”.  The roof was hard to see, so this color would not play a big part in determining my color palette.  I also had stained wooden decks and railings and needed to decide if I should paint them or continue to stain them. I decide to paint them. If I had decided to stain them, I would have needed to consider this color as one of my “fixed finishes”.

Try to Visualize How Your Choices will Look

I decide to try some of the color combinations I liked using the visualizer on the Benjamin Moore website. I decide to maintain the yellow door as it goes with my flowers and feels bright, cheery and welcoming.

pick the perfect exterior paint colors
My House- Before
pick the perfect exterior paint colors
Color option #1. Benjamin Moore’s Evening Dove on the walls, Lily White on the trim and Sunshine on the door.
pick the perfect exterior paint colors
Color Option #2. Benjamin Moore’s Dark Teal on the walls, Lily White on the trim and sunshine on the door.

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.

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

Test Your Colors to See How they Look in Different Light Conditions

My next steps were to try it out these colors on the back of the house and see if I really like these colors and they looked in various lighting conditions.  Learn what happened in How to Pick the Perfect Exterior Paint Colors Part 2!

If you are planning to sell your house instead of staying, get your free report on Top Paint Colors for a Speedy and Profitable Home Sale to help you decide your colors.

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How to Pick the Perfect Exterior Paint Colors. Start with determining what you like and what your limitations are. Then test your choices in different light conditions.

How to pick the perfect Exterior Paint Colors Part 2 

Published by

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.

16 thoughts on “How to Pick the Perfect Exterior Paint Colors”

  1. Exteriors can be such a challenge. Great tips! Thanks for a great post!

    1. Thanks Wendy! Yes, they can be challenging, as paint colors often look much brighter and more saturated than people expect. Thanks for reading:)

  2. Great choice in choosing the dark teal. I think it will make the home stand out as being more unique (than the gray).

    1. Thanks Sheri. Yes, the teal is much more bold and unique than the gray. Although I liked it too, the teal is definitely more me!

    1. Thank you Janet! I think the teal works great, especially in a coastal area like I live in. It is really nice with the color of the surrounding ocean.

    1. Thanks! In the end I did change the door color (See Part 2) but I think the yellow would still have looked great. Thanks for reading!

  3. Mary Ann – What a fantastic topic to cover. This will help so many people avoid the typical frustration and disappointment painting exteriors without a plan.

    1. Thank you Leann! I hope it gives people a good idea of all the things they should consider so they love the end result! Picking paint can be so stressful for people. Thanks for reading.

  4. Thank you for pointing out that you need to pick colors that you will like for a long time and that compliment each other. About a week ago, I decided to start my spring cleaning. I noticed that the exterior of my home is pretty dull and could use some help. I will have to follow your advice as I look for the right colors and residential painters!

    1. Wonderful! Painting your house will make a world of difference. I was so happy after I did mine! Don’t forget to consider your fixed finishes. That can really make or break how the end result looks. Best of luck and happy to help if you need a color consultation online.

  5. Thank you for reminding me to choose a color that can harmonize and fit well with the landscaping design within my property. I take landscaping very seriously and spend most of the time gardening, so I don’t want to ruin it by choosing colors for my exterior walls that will not fit its theme. I’m thinking of choosing neutrals, but it might be a good idea to consult professional painters and see what they think.

    1. You’re welcome! Yes! Especially if you have done lots of work on your landscaping you can totally highlight that and tie it to your home color. I would suggest consulting with a color strategist rather than a painter. Just because they are great at painting does not mean they are good with picking color. Working with a color strategist, you can actually measure some of the colors from the actual plants in your landscaping to find something that could work perfectly for you. I do online color consultations if you need help. Best of luck with your house painting project!

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