HomeMy ProjectsExterior ColoursHow to Choose Your Exterior’s Best Paint Colours: 5 Easy Steps

How to Choose Your Exterior’s Best Paint Colours: 5 Easy Steps

Posted on June 13, 2020 by KylieMawdsley
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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.

How to pick exterior paint colors or front door with stone or brick. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online virtual paint color advice blog

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…

How to pick the best exterior paint colours with stone, brick, roof and windows. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consulting and advice blogger

In this next photo, see how the paint samples connect with the colors in the stonework and their undertones…

How to pick exterior paint colours or front door with stone or brick. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online virtual paint color advice blog

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…

Benjamin Moore Alexandria Beige trim, earth toned coral front door, red orange pink brick exterior and stone. Kylie lM

In this next BEFORE photo, the violet hue in the siding clashes with the brick and windows…

Stone, brick and siding exterior before paint (2)

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…

Exterior pink purple brick with warm taupe gray painted siding and beige taupe trim. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint color expert and blogger

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…

Exterior sunny day, south facing, brick home painted BM Revere Pewter, SW Creamy White client choice and BM Graystone shutters. KYlie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting

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!

how does exposure affect exterior paint colours. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting blog and advice

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…

Benjamin Moore Sioux Falls blue green front door, Sherwin White Duck off white painted brick exterior. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, curb appeal and online decorating ideas for paint colour

What are the Best Paint Colours for My Front Door?

Exterior with brick and gray roof. Cheating heart painted front door, Pure White trim. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting advice

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.

exterior brick home before paint

Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray, Snowbound, Comfort Gray, on exterior painted brick home, white trim, Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting, diy

Before and after exterior paint colour. Best warm gray neutral, Sherwin Fawn Brindle. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color advice and blogger

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.

Exterior, best white paint color, Sherwin Alabaster. Grey metal roof. Gray shutters, pink toned brick. Kylie M Interiors E-design, online paint color consulting

Exterior, red terra cotta tile orange roof with greige stucco and off-white trim and garage door. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consultant. Best exterior paint colors

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.

Black windows, painted white trick, mid century, white, orange, brown, Kylie M E-design

WHITE WINDOWS & EXTERIOR PAINT COLOURS

White windows are DEFINITELY the most flexible of the bunch…

Alabaster exterior home, shutters, Sherwin Williams Aloof Gray, green gray. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, modern farmhouse exterior

Sherwin Williams Alabaster & Aloof Gray

Exterior paint color palette with greige, Benjamin Moore Rockport Gray with Cloud White and neutral roof. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consultant and expert blogger

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.

Exterior stone and brick beige, greige and gray, beige windows with Benjamin Moore Metropolis, Smokey Taupe. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint colour consultant

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).

Exterior of our new house

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.

Dark gray exterior siding, hardi, white trim, stone, black garage doors. South facing light. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consulting

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.

Contemporary exterior with hardiboard in Cobblestone, black windows, trim and Black Fox siding. Kylie M Interiors Colour Consultant

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.

Contemporary modern exterior, gray stucco, black front door, garage doors, wood detail. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting, virtual design

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…

Exterior, shakes, shutters. Sherwin Williams best gray, Knitting Needles, Wrought Iron and Pure White trim with dormer windows. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color advice (5)

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

Exterior, Sherwin Williams Gauntlet Gray, gray roof. Wood shutters minwax, brown brick, white trim. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting

 

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.

Exterior with black gutters, drainspout, trim, windows and garage door. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

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!’

before exterior with brick. Before using Kylie M interiors Edesign

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!

Kylie M Interiors Edesign Exterior ranch with brick house and drivway. orange, purple roof. Sherwin Williams Palette Mink, Alabaster and Iron Ore

Previously, the yellow hue of this next home clashed with the undertones in the driveway, but AFTER, it’s like a brand new home…

before after exterior stucco remodel, rancher, yellow, garage, trim warm gray taupe paint colour, concrete driveway. Kylie m Interiors Edesign

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.

Aged copper roof, painted white brick exterior, black shutters and benjamin moore gray front door. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consultant

Front door Benjamin Moore Charcoal Slate, red brick stairs on exterior. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint color consulting

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!

READ MORE

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

NEED HELP?

Check out my Online Paint Colour Consulting packages! 

Online paint colour consultant Benjamin Moore Sherwin Williams, Vancouver Island, USA, UK. Interior, exterior, edesign colors. Kylie M Interiors, blogger marketing

Chat soon,

Kylie M Interiors, decorating blog, e-design, online colour consulting expert. signature



Comments

  1. 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:)

    1. Post
      Author

      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!
      ~Kylie

  2. 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.

  3. Hello, Kylie!
    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.
    Many thanks,
    Victoria in Canada

    1. Post
      Author
  4. Hi!
    Can you please share what color the shutters are in the photo with the white windows (and brown rocking chair).
    Thank you!

  5. 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!

  6. Your articles are my go to! We have a midtone gray roof with slight blue undertones. We have brown windows and live in sunny south west Florida What color white? We’re hoping for a warmer white but not sure. Thank you!

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