The Best Tips & Ideas for Choosing Your Exterior Paint Colours
When picking paint colors for your home’s exterior, you have to take your time and do your research. Why? Well, choosing an exterior paint color might SEEM straightforward, but just like interiors, there are some major considerations you could be ignoring!
This is why this blog post will be DARN handy, so you can step back and view your home from a DIFFERENT angle, not just the one that’s based on your personal preferences.
That’s right, sometimes what YOU want and what your HOME wants are two different things – and you have to listen to your home first and then work out from there to see if you can squeeze your personal tastes in (which is where front doors come in handy).
STEP 1 LOOK AT YOUR STONE OR BRICK FOR INSPIRATION & GUIDANCE
For MOST homes, because stone/brick and siding are on the same vertical plane, your eyes will usually make the connection between those two first and THEN the roof (but that doesn’t mean you can forget the roof entirely!). This means it’s UBER important to get the colour connection BANG-on.
FIND THE MAIN UNDERTONES IN YOUR STONE/BRICK
You can get a LOT of inspiration from the stone or brick on your home, but that can be HARD if you don’t LIKE the stone or brick that you have. But if you ignore the needs of your home’s finishes, NOTHING will look good – you gotta work with whatcha got! The exception to this is if you have a particular layout where the stone or brick plays a second fiddle to your roof, which is the more dominant feature.
Look at the main neutrals in your brick or stone. And don’t just focus on the stone/brick itself; pay VERY close attention to any MORTAR around them, as this is often the first place I look when choosing exterior paint colors.
What are the main neutrals you see (if any)?
What undertones do they have?
What undertones DON’T they have?
If you want things to FLOW, pick consistent undertones so that everything visually connects.
Not sure what undertones are? Check out this helpful blog post.
This next photo is a great example of paint samples that connect with the homeowner’s favorite parts of the stonework…
In this next photo, see how the paint samples connect with the colors in the stonework and their undertones…
The above stones have a variety of neutrals, but we focused on the gray stones with violet-blue undertones, reflecting that on the front door, just darker!
This next photo shows trim and shutters that pull in PERFECTLY to one of the colors in the brick, as well as suiting the front steps…
In this next BEFORE photo, the violet hue in the siding clashes with the brick and windows…
After, with a little KLC, and by tuning in to the undertones and needs of the brick and windows, everything flows better. It’s ALLLLL about connecting the undertones…
TRY CONTRASTING THE COLOURS IN YOUR STONE OR BRICK
You don’t always have to MATCH; you can also try contrasting or complementing your stone brick with an OPPOSITE or complementing color. However, it can be tricky, and you MAY need to hire a professional to get the right look.
In this next photo, notice how the colors of the house, trim, and shutters COMPLEMENT the brick without clashing…
Photo via my awesome client House of Blue Hues
The siding color is Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter, with Graystone on the shutters. These are both grays with warm gray undertones that contrast and complement the red brick.
In this next photo, notice that we pulled the color OUT of the stone and put it on the siding as a way to enhance the warm colors in the stone. The more colors your stone/brick has in it, the more options you’ll have!
Main house colour, Sherwin Williams Roycroft Pewter
And remember to look at the mortar around your brick or stone. Often, the mortar plays a bigger part than the stone/brick surrounding it! If you don’t like what your stone or brick has to say, your mortar MIGHT give you a bit more flexibility.
If you’re unsure about stepping OUTSIDE of the colors in your stone or brick, sometimes it’s safer to CONTRAST or COMPLEMENT the colors in your stone or brick via the shutters or front door (or plant pots), where the color becomes more of an accent rather than a full-home commitment…
What are the Best Paint Colours for My Front Door?
STEP 2 CONSIDER YOUR ROOF/SHAKES WHEN CHOOSING YOUR COLOR
(STEP 1 if you don’t have any stone or brick on your home)
The roof? That’s right. So many people forget that the roof plays a BIG PART in the color palette of their home – ESPECIALLY if there isn’t any stone or brick to consider.
By the way, almost every photo you see on my blog has been sent in by my Online Color Consulting clients – you guys make my colorful little world go round!
Some roofs have a LOT of flexibility regarding the colors they can be partnered up with. The ones you have to be careful with are the roofs with dedicated ‘colors’ or undertones:
- Gray roofs with a distinct green or violet undertone. Remember, GRAY HAS UNDERTONES – even your gray roof, so it’s important to figure out which undertone you’re dealing with!
- Roofs with a strong orange/purple blend.
- Tile roofs.
- Metal roofs as they don’t have the variation that you’ll find in traditional asphalt slate roofs.
BTW, did you know that some driveways can also be as important as the roof colour? This is especially true if they have strong undertones such as orange-pink or violet-pink (more common in the southern states).
STEP 3 BLACK, WHITE, OR TAN COLOUR WINDOWS? FIND THE BEST PAINT COLOURS
Windows can REALLY throw a wrench into your colour palette and are an expensive update if you want a clean slate.
BROWN WINDOWS & EXTERIOR PAINT COLOURS
A lot of my clients have brown windows and are hoping to update their home with a classic gray – but the two don’t always jibe, and sometimes they have to consider warmer options in order to humor these warmer-toned windows.
WHITE WINDOWS & EXTERIOR PAINT COLOURS
White windows are DEFINITELY the most flexible of the bunch…
Sherwin Williams Alabaster & Aloof Gray
Benjamin Moore Rockport Gray & Cloud White
The only combo I’m NOT a big fan of is white windows with black trim. This is a high-contrast look and makes the windows pop, whereas they usually aren’t the focal point of the home. But it’s not ALL ABOUT ME (well, let’s be honest, it is – right Tim?).
TAN OR BEIGE WINDOWS WITH EXTERIOR PAINT COLOURS
When choosing paint colors with tan or beige windows, you’ll want to consider the warmth of them in your palette rather than trying to ignore them or distract from them. If you’re dreaming of a white home, you’ll be out of luck with beige windows, but you might be able to squeeze in a gray as long as it has some good depth to it, warmth, and makes sense with the other fixed elements on your home.
However, it can be hard when the different features/surfaces of your home aren’t well-coordinated to start with. This was the case with our home when we bought it (below). Notice that the beige windows look yellow-green compared to the pink undertone of the siding (wooooof). Beige windows really were the WRONG choice for the charcoal gray roof – black or white windows would have been WAY more appropriate (and you guys know I’m ALL about being appropriate – wink wink).
Look at my one-legged child! She must’ve had some serious momentum going…
In the end, I COULDN’T work with the color of the windows as they were the wrong color for our home and some of its most gorgeous features, like the stonework and roof lines. So, in the end, we replaced the windows with white for a fresh, clean look! We might be living on Kraft Dinner and weiners for the next five years to pay for them, but that’s kind of my specialty anyway.
BLACK WINDOWS & EXTERIOR PAINT COLOURS
Black windows are definitely the second easiest to accommodate when choosing exterior colors, and just like with white windows, you’ll find WAY fewer limitations, leaving you to focus more on the needs of the roof, stone, brick, and exposure.
Generally speaking, black windows love white, gray, greige, cream, earth tones, and SO much more.
STEP 4 CONSIDER THE EXPOSURE OF YOUR HOME
North, east, south, west – which paint color is the best? Well, it depends not just on your stonework, brick, and roof; it ALSO depends on the exposure of your home. And while I could get down n’ dirty, I’ve actually dedicated an ENTIRE blog post to this topic HERE.
Main house colour Benjamin Moore Amherst Gray
However, exposure plays a smaller part if trees surround your home OR your neighbor is super close-by, blocking most of your natural light…
See the BEFORE & AFTERS HERE
Undoubtedly, you’ll be heading out in the near future to grab paint samples – stop right there! I want you to check out SAMPLIZE. Samplize offers peel-and-stick paint samples that are more AFFORDABLE, EASIER, and more ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than traditional paint pots. Here are just a few reasons why I recommend Samplize to my clients…
- samples arrive ON YOUR DOORSTEP in 1-3 business days, depending on the location
- they’re more affordable than the samples pots/rollers/foam boards that are needed for traditional paint sampling
- if you keep the samples on their white paper, you can move them around the room – on walls and against furniture
Visit the SAMPLIZE website HERE
STEP 5 NOTICE THE COLOURS IN THESE ‘OTHER’ EXTERIOR SURFACES
Fixed elements can also call a lot of the shots when it comes to choosing an exterior paint colour, for example:
THE COLOUR OF YOUR GUTTERS & SOFFITS
The wrong colour gutter can throw a HUGE wrench into your paint palette if it doesn’t fall in the right family. Keep in mind that when painting the exterior, MANY people decide to paint the gutters and soffits at the same time (I did on my own home), usually making them the same colour as the trim.
THE COLOUR OF YOUR DRIVEWAY & PATIO/FRONT PORCH IF IT’S STONE OR BRICK
Depending on the product on your driveway and layout, it can lay a pretty big part in the colour selection process. This next home is the PERFECT example of that…
Before, the yellow of the siding in NO WAY RELATED to the roof, brick, stonework, OR exposure – it was probably chosen considering ONLY the homeowner’s preference for a ‘yellow home!’
Luckily, the roof, brick, and driveway were pretty well-coordinated with each other, so it was about finding the colour that pulled them all together in a full palette…SO MUCH BETTER!
Previously, the yellow hue of this next home clashed with the undertones in the driveway, but AFTER, it’s like a brand new home…
The Best Sherwin Williams DARKER Greige & Taupe Paint Colours
As for the front porch/patio (stone/brick), this plays a MINOR part compared to the all-important main stone, brick, and roof, but it doesn’t hurt to consider it as well, especially if it has particular colors or undertones. However, in terms of PRIORITIES, I put it lower on the last and usually only hone in on it when choosing the front door color.
The Best Navy Blue Paint Colours for Front Doors, Feature Walls, Cabinets & More
And guess what, there’s a BONUS step for you…
STEP 6 CONSIDER SHEEN, TEXTURE & EXPOSURE WHEN CHOOSING EXTERIOR PAINT COLOURS
These topics are blog posts unto themselves, which is why I have blog posts written specifically for these topics (and more!). Be sure to check them out before you start your painting adventures!
The Best Paint Colours for Your Front Door
North, East, South, West: Which Paint Colours is the Best for Your Exterior?
My TOP 10 E-DESIGN Exterior Makeovers
The Best Paint Finish For Your Home – Walls & Trims & More
Check out my Online Paint Colour Consulting packages!
OMG Kylie, so many great considerations and gorgeous inspiration shots as always! One other tip I would have for exteriors is that while painted flat samples are great for interiors, it’s worth the small pain to actually test color on all exterior surfaces to be painted and also take sheen into consideration. The color will look different on stucco and brick vs. siding vs. trim as the materials are different textures and read differently on different planes. Most homeowners and painters opt for a satin on siding, semi-gloss on trim and the elastomeric products for stucco and stone are usually flat. As you know, the higher the sheen and flatter the surface the lighter the color will appear. This can actually be used to great effect to create some interest in a one color scheme, but I’ve found some homeowners think the painter made a mistake when their trim looks brighter/lighter than the house body:)
THANK YOU Lori! I’ve written some blog posts on those topics, yet didn’t link very well to them in that blog post, so I actually added a 6th BONUS STEP – which involves more reading, of course ;). And thank you for mentioning that
‘surface will look lighter with sheen’ bit. So many people don’t realize this, but it’s a very important aspect of painting!
Great advice! My neighbors installed a green roof and painted their house a green color that does not look good. It’s really an eyesore and I am tempted to walk over with new exterior paint options and offer a redo on me.😂 They tried but I have only seen white exteriors with green roofs.
Your posts are always very informative and fun! Thank you.
The colour pairings you chose to highlight your blog are fabulous and I learned a lot. I would appreciate your identifying the paint colour of the front door with the pumpkin,s as after reading your blog, I think it would be a perfect match for our stone and siding.
Victoria in Canada
Hi Victoria, I believe that’s the door with Benjamin Moore Sioux FAlls on it!
Can you please share what color the shutters are in the photo with the white windows (and brown rocking chair).
Well, boo. I needed this dose of reality. Our house in SW coastal US faces east (back of the house faces west). It has a clay tile roof (orange/red undertones) and is currently painted a color called Washed Khaki (has warm undertones) and the windows are white. I have been dreaming of using Urbane Bronze or Black Fox for the trim, but after ordering samples and reading your post I think my dark paint dream may die here, haha. Back to the drawing board for how to bring this exterior up to date!