In an effort to save costs, modern subdivision contractors often use a two-color exterior color palette: a base color for the main field and a complementary color for accent and trim pieces. Period. In fact, your home’s exterior can have up to four or more different colors, depending on its architecture and era, to highlight and complement the home’s features and surrounding landscape.
Tips For Choosing Your Home’s Exterior Color Palette
While nobody can say, “Here – use this palette” for your home without an on-site consultation, there are general rules and guidelines designers use when assisting clients in choosing an exterior paint palette.
Opt for three or more colors. Usually, the most attractive and notable homes use at least three colors: one for the field (the main body of the house), one for accents (the main features on the home like window frames, railings, shutters) and one for the trim (this is almost like eyeliner and is often the most bold color used). And, of course, don’t forget to highlight the front door – which may be a stand-alone fourth color.
Consider the architecture. Everyone’s familiar with San Francisco’s Painted Ladies, and those color palettes are amazing. But, put those same colors on a Craftsman Style home, or a modern architectural design and they’ll probably look completely out of place. If your home’s architecture is more or less period-specific, you are best off working with period-friendly palettes.
This doesn’t mean you are restricted by that period’s colors, but you can work within the same number of field/accent/trim color options and choose modern versions of antiquated hues. This will allow your home’s colors to exist in context.
Work with architectural elements that can’t be changed. Odds are, your home has a feature or two that can’t be changed. Perhaps you have a partial brick or stone facade. Your roof shingles or tiles are a specific color that can’t be altered without re-roofing the house (impractical, to say the very least). Thus, the sub-set of the above “consider the architecture” is to find color palettes that complement the shades inherent in unchangeable structural features.
Are those features’ undertones on the warmer or cooler side? Brown or grey? Blue or green? If colors aren’t your thing, a professional consultation is imperative because choosing the wrong colors will look terrible, and you will be stuck having to re-paint all over again – an expensive and frustrating endeavor.
Take a look around the neighborhood. While matching neighborhood houses are certainly boring, there is something to be said for a cohesively colored neighborhood. If the rest of the homes on your block lean towards brighter, bolder or more creative color palettes and you go earthy and subdued, your home may look a bit out of place. Conversely, if your neighborhood largely consists of neutrally painted stucco homes and you go the Painted Lady route, the effect will be comical rather than stylish. And, of course, there are always the Home Owner’s Association’s CC&Rs to contend with.
Imagine your year-round landscape. One fun option is to add an accent color tailored to your home’s landscape design details in a particular season or two. Think about the color palette that exists as your landscape comes to life in different seasons. If there is a tree that changes to a particular shade of crimson in late-summer and fall or a spray of gorgeous blooms that erupts across your landscape in spring or early-summer – these notes may be able to exist in your home’s exterior palette for a dramatic echo.
Having a hard time choosing your home’s paint colors?