HomeMy ProjectsExterior ColoursChoosing Exterior Paint Colors: Why Your Home’s EXPOSURE Matters

Choosing Exterior Paint Colors: Why Your Home’s EXPOSURE Matters

Posted on August 3, 2023 by KylieMawdsley

 North, East, South, West – Which EXTERIOR Paint Color is the Best?

Today, we’re talking about exposure. Not the indecent kind that can get you thrown in jail, but the DIRECTIONAL kind that can make picking exterior paint colors a HECK of a lot harder than it should be!

And while I’ve talked EXTENSIVELY about how exposure can affect your interior paint colour picking, I haven’t dived into the deep end of the pool on exteriors…but today, we’re going swimming, and regarding OTHER type of exposure – we’re skinny dipping.

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Exposure (for painting purposes) refers to the orientation of the FRONT of your home and how that relates to the sun’s direction. There are ALWAYS exceptions, of course, like unique homes with more modest fronts and impressive backsides (sounds like a description of me). Still, generally speaking, orientation refers to the front of the home, also known as its facade. And if you’re new to my blog – yes, this is how my brain thinks. Not only am I funny (wink wink), but I’m also one darn smart cookie regarding exterior colors.

Let’s look at an example.

This home is south-facing, as you can see by the sunlight and shadows…

Gray exterior with hardi siding and white trim, garage doors and windows. Wood beams and entryway, board and batten and shakes. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting

Now, let’s look at the NORTH-facing backside of the same home…

Exterior painted gray James Hardi shakes. north facing. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, best exterior paint colours

Paint colors look several tones darker in the shade than they do in direct sunlight.

Same colors, different exposures.

The reality is that SOMETIMES, you can’t make all four exposures, AS WELL AS your stone, brick, roof, AND yourself 100% happy. 



So, does that mean you should focus on the FRONT of your home only? No, but you may need to prioritize, so here are some tips for figuring out which side of your home matters the most.

  1. Which side faces the road (curb appeal)
  2. Which side do most people in your neighborhood see?
  3. Which side affects YOU the most (i.e., you don’t have much road and spend a lot of time in the backyard, not the front – in which case, you might focus on the back

Why does it even MATTER which side is the most important?

Well, as you saw in the last example, a single paint colour can look DRASTICALLY different from one side of your home to the other, based on the type and quality of light they’re getting. A colour you LOVE on the front might not be your fave on the back, but SOMETIMES, something has to give.

Green exterior siding paint colour palette. Benjamin Moore Cypress Green, Forest Floor, Pure White. 2 storey, gray roof. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color advice blog and virtual help

(I’d rather see a browner mulch, but the house colors look good!)

So, now that you’ve figured out which side is your most IMPORTANT one, you need to figure out which DIRECTION it faces!

  1. Bust out your Boy Scout toolkit and use a compass
  2. Use your phone (a how-to for i-phones HERE / looks like it’s an APP to download for Blackberry users)

And if all else fails – look out the windows on what you’ve decided is the most IMPORTANT side of your home and think…

  • Does the sun shine in my windows more or less all day? Probably south-facing
  • Does the sun shine in my windows only in the morning and not in the afternoon? East-facing
  • Do I get no sun in the morning and LOTS in the afternoon? West-facing
  • Do I get NO FRIGGIN’ SUNSHINE ALL DAY LONG? You live with me on beautiful Vancouver Island…or you’re north-facing (and I love my island in all of its rainy glory!)

Looking at this next home, I would bet the FRONT of the home is north-facing, and the side is west-facing.


Notice how much WARMER and brighter the right side of the house looks compared to the slightly flatter look of the colour on the front – it hardly looks like the same colour!

Exterior split level, painted brick and siding. Cream, brown and orange palette. Kylie M Interiors E-design. Subtle mid-century style

Let’s look at a boring beige before of that bad boy, just for fun – also notice the previously unpainted brick…

Brick split level BEFORE painting

See the full blog post of this project HERE

Lastly, let’s talk about TREES. Even glorious southern sunshine can be blocked by a well-placed forest or front yard full of trees.

Check out this next gorgeous, stucco and stone home…

Exterior with yellow orange brown stone BEFORE Edesign with Kylie M Interiors

Because of all the trees, this home isn’t as affected by the exposure, although they will get a bit of green reflection.

Exterior with warm yellow, orange stone and dark roof. Best paint colours by Kylie M Interiors Edesign

5 Tips for Picking the Best Paint Colour for the Exterior of Your Home

The more the trees block the natural light, the less of a part exposure will play in your painting process as the trees will limit the amount/quality of light you get. However, as the sun breaks through the branches, expect it to pick up a bit of a green hue that can be cast on your home. If every paint color you sample looks slightly green, this could be why (the same goes if you have grass that the sun bounces off of).

Sherwin Williams Dorian Gray on exterior siding, medium depth color, Benjamin Moore Brilliant White trim, Tricorn Black front door, stone or paver driveway, white windows. Kylie M

So, now that you know the EXPOSURE of the most IMPORTANT side of your home, let’s look at each one more closely…

BTW, I don’t remember the exposure of ALL of these projects; I’m just using the photos for reference.



A home with a north-facing light isn’t a BAD thing, even though this light is often the grayest. North-facing light is the most CONSISTENT light and has the LEAST change throughout the day, making it more predictable when choosing exterior house colors.

Let’s look at a good before and after.

Exterior split level with siding and brick BEFORE painting

Realistically, they could have kept the white paint color on the siding and trim, as it tied into the brick and windows. It was the green shutters that were really dating this home. Regardless, these homeowners were ready for a bigger change…

Exterior with red brick. Paint colours Sherwin Williams Dovetail and gauntlet gray with Iron Ore front door and white trim. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consultant

The 10 Best Dark Shades of Gray

North-facing homes will have a more shaded front. Now, don’t confuse SHADY with SHADOWS. Shady is when you pour me four ounces of wine when I asked for six OR when there isn’t any direct natural sunshine. SHADOWED happens when light hits a surface, creating a grayish space (a shadow) behind it. Because north-facing homes don’t get direct sunshine, they don’t get shadows. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have an overall ‘gray cast’ created by the lack of it.



  • The gray north-facing light will subdue earth tones, toning them down slightly compared to how they might look in the southern or western sun.
  • Gray northern light often suits gray paint colors with a BIT more ‘colour/undertone’ to counteract some of that gray light. Of course, it also depends on what your brick/stone/roof can handle!
  • With north-facing light being that bit heavier, you’ll want to pay attention to your paint color’s LRV so your house doesn’t look TOO dark. READ MORE HERE
  • North-facing homes often suit LRVs above 15, although there are exceptions (such as personal tastes…below) depending on mixed exposures and your home’s natural surroundings and landscape.

black panther body, tricorn black, gray tint around front door. Black exterior, black windows and trim.

FULL Paint Color Review of Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black



A south-facing home is often considered the most desirable; however, that can change if you have a pool and want that glorious sunshine on the BACK of your home, heating that pool water – it’s ALLLL about perspective and what’s best can be SUPER subjective to the people living in the home!

South-facing light is not as simple as north-facing light but is WAY easier to work with than east or west-facing homes (which can be real buggers).

Exterior colour palette with green vinyl siding, cedar shingles and Cloud White trim by Kylie M INteriors E-decorating services

(no before pic, this was new construction)

So, there you are, basking in the glory of your south-facing light…

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

And THEN it happens…clouds, and everything looks a little flatter…

Exterior with red brick painted Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter and Creamy White trim, client choice. Graystone shutters. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consultant

The above home belongs to an E-Design client of mine, House of Blue Hues – Jenn is CRAZY talented!

The difference is subtle, but notice in the FIRST photo…

  • The color palette looks warmer in the direct sunlight than the photo showing a gray, cloudy day. The siding color looks a touch more yellowish.
  • The shutters look a wink greener in the sunny photo vs the cloudy one, where they pick up less green and more gray.
  • Notice the trim in the sunny photo looks warmer and creamier than the cloudy day trim.
  • I LOVE that brick!

The 9 Best Benjamin Moore Gray Paint Colours

Want to see an even BIGGER change? Check out this next exterior on a sunny day in the late summer…

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

Cloudy day (in early Spring)…

Dark gray exterior, white trim, stone, roof, black garage doors. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consult. Southern exposure

This is our home, which I’ll be doing a blog post on soon! 

SERIOUSLY, this is why I write these blog posts and why I don’t sleep at nite – paint colors are CRAZY, and the more info you’re armed with going in, the better chances you have of picking the best colors for your home!



A home with southern exposure will change throughout the year as the seasons change. Now, I’m a Colour Consultant, not a meteorologist, so I’m not getting into the nitty-gritty of that, but I can tell you a few things…

  • At noon, paint colors will appear the MOST washed-out as the sun is brightest/whitest. So, if you sample your paint at NOON and no other time, you might be surprised at how much colour shows up in the morning and afternoon once you’ve slapped that paint on your home! You HAVE to look at your samples at all times of the day – says me.
  • In the mid-morning and mid-afternoon, you’ll hit the magic spot of southern light, where its warmth is at its loveliest.
  • You can FULLY expect south-facing light to make paint colors look lighter than expected – even two to three tones lighter is not unexpected!
  • South-facing light can enhance colors slightly.
  • If you choose a shade of blue (especially gray-blue), when mixed with the yellow of the southern light, it can sometimes grab a green undertone, depending on the type of blue you pick.
  • You can also get some green if your light is filtering through trees with a lot of greenery.
  • With south-facing light being brighter, you’ll want to pay attention to the LRV that you choose so that your house doesn’t look too washed out. READ MORE HERE
  • When choosing the LRV, a great place to start is 50. Of course, this might not work if you want a white or off-white home, but for everyone else, start at 50 and work out from there.



To answer THAT question, the best color is the one that suits your exterior finishes. The crux of this question is more related to the best DEPTH so that a) your paint color doesn’t wash out and b) doesn’t absorb too much sun and fade. And while today’s paints are much better at handling extreme sun, paying attention to the depth of your color can help it last long.

Pay attention to your paint color’s LRV

The higher the LRV a paint color is (the lighter it is), the more it will look washed out and lose its color in full sun exposure. What’s the tipping point? Generally, colors about 65 or so are touch and go.

On this next home, you’ll see Benjamin Moore Half Moon Crest. This is a light-medium shade of stormy gray with a cool green-blue undertone. Its LRV is 51, and you can see how it settles in the sun…

Front door painted medium blue, blue-green, Benjamin Moore Bella Blue, exterior gray siding, Half Moon Crest, front porch, white trim. Kylie M Edesign

The other thing to help your exterior’s color hold up to bright sun is to use the right white trim. The whiter your trim is, the more it will contrast with your siding color – the difference between the two will help you see your house’s colors a bit better compared to a low-contrast siding/trim combo.

If you want your exterior color to hold up reasonably well (knowing that ALL COLORS, no matter what depth they, are will look lighter in the sun), start around an LRV of 55 and work out from there.

Let Kylie M choose your colors for you! 

Online edesign, Kylie M Interiors paint color consulting using Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Farrow and Balls best colors. Marketing image

By the way, HUGE thanks to my Online Colour Consulting clients who send in their AFTER photos; you make my colorful little world go round, and inspire my readers to update their own homes! 

This also means that sometimes the photos aren’t 100% magazine-ready, but that’s okay because this is the REAL world, and sometimes we need to see REAL homes in action.



East and west-facing exposures are the redheaded step-children to north and south-facing homes. They’re unpredictable and UNDENIABLY the trickiest lights to pick paint colors for.

East-facing light will be brighter in the morning. It’s not necessarily WARM, but not cold – it’s more of a soft, clean light that can sometimes wash colors out a wink.

before exterior with brick. Before using Kylie M interiors Edesign

And then BOOM, the light’s gone, and just like magic, your home is a different color! In this case below, it really IS different…because it’s the AFTER photo, but regardless, any colour will look quite different from morning to afternoon.

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

This home has a slightly mixed exposure, as you can see some dappled sunlight.

And here’s the BACK of the same home, totally shaded…

Exterior north facing back of home with gray siding and brick. Kylie M Interiors edesign

See the full blog post of this project HERE



  • East-facing morning light is bright and will make paint colors look MUCH lighter than in the afternoon.
  • An east-facing afternoon will look an AWFUL lot like a north-facing one in that it gets NO sunshine or warmth but also no shadows. It’s also similar to a west-facing morning light – flatter than a pancake.
  • In the afternoon, east-facing homes can look more shaded – more like they do on the north-facing side (or western morning)
  • With east-facing light being tricky, you’ll want to pay attention to the LRV that you choose. This way, you can land on an LRV that doesn’t wash out too much in the morning but doesn’t look too heavy in the afternoon. READ MORE HERE
  • If I were to find the best LRV for a home with eastern exposure, I might start around 50-60 and adjust from there according to my tastes. Of course, if you want to go darker, have at ‘er, or if you want a white exterior, fill yer boots – this is just for those wanting a place to start.

Sherwin Williams 10 Best Gray and Greige Paint Colours



Just like east-facing light, west-facing light is a tough one to pick paint colors for.

West-facing light will be flat and gray in the morning – no shadows and acting more like northern light. A west-facing afternoon will be GLORIOUS and warm. Did I say warm? Oh, I meant HOT FRIGGIN’ TAMALES!

The facade of this next home is a good example of a slightly cloudy, western afternoon light being filtered by trees. You can see the blotches on the home where the western light has filtered through the trees (this is the before image)…

Exterior before painted. Benjamin Moore Stone Hearth. Separate garage.

After, the same filtered western afternoon light, but on a sunny day…

Exterior siding, Sherwin Williams Gauntlet Gray, Pure White trim, brown brick gray roof, wood shutters minwax. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour coach advice

And look at the detached garage and how dark it looks, getting NONE of that warm afternoon sunshine…

Exterior siding, Sherwin Williams Gauntlet Gray, Pure White trim, brown brick, wood shutters minwax. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color coach advice

The dark gray paint color on the above home is Sherwin Williams Gauntlet Gray, with stained wood shutters, white trim (Sherwin Williams Pure White), and a brick foundation.



  • Western morning light is flat and drab and will make colors look that bit flat as well – a bit more like a northern light or east-facing afternoon light.
  • West-facing afternoon light will cast an almost orangey-golden glow in those later afternoon hours.
  • A home with western exposure will LIGHTEN and BRIGHTEN colors, so be prepared to see your house look like a different colour – same IDEA, but a good two tones lighter and MUCH warmer looking.
  • If your western light filters through green trees, the color of your home, especially lighter neutrals such as gray, tan, cream, and white, can pick up some of this undertone.
  • Western light will cast SUPER long shadows on your home.
  • With west-facing light being so unpredictable, you’ll want to pay attention to the LRV that you choose. This way, you can land on an LRV that doesn’t look too drab in the morning but doesn’t look too washed out in the brighter afternoon light. READ MORE HERE

These are before photos of a client’s home (I don’t have the after photos yet), but they’ll show you how DRASTICALLY light can change from morning to afternoon!

Exterior brick house, before being painted with Kylie M Edesign BEFORE PHOTOS

SERIOUSLY, you’d hardly think it was the same house, and I can’t wait to see the AFTER photos!

Exterior brick house, before being painted with Kylie M Edesign BEFORE PHOTOS


5 Steps to Picking an Exterior Paint Colour for Your Home

4 Things to Consider BEFORE Picking an Exterior Paint Colour

The Best Paint Colours for Your Front Door

The Best Navy and Teal Paint Colours for Your Front Door


Get the online paint color expert that Designers hire.

The best paint colors for exterior with brick, stone, siding, hardi. Benjamin or Sherwin. Edesign, online paint colour consulting. Diy home decorating ideas blogger.market

Chat soon,

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


  1. Wow, it’s amazing how the paint colors look in different sun exposure. What about if your house faces north west?! Front of the house is shaded until about 3 o’clock but then we have two big trees in the front yard that keeps 1/4 of the house shaded while the rest has sunshine on it.

  2. Do you know what color is on the exterior of the light gray house in the second photo? I’m wanting to paint my West facing house a light warmish gray. It seems the warm grays all look brown in that light though. I was thinking Stonington but it does look very light in afternoon. So then I thought it would be better to go with something darker, Coventry or Gray Huskie. But then it looks darker than I like in the morning. What would be the best with that light?

  3. Thanks for this post! It’s great to see some info on exterior paint options and the impact light has. I am wanting /needing to repaint our exterior trim after painting our house exterior in SW Peppercorn and SW Grey Matters. Would you recommend SW Extra White or SW Pure White for the trim? Thanks for all the great info. Watching your YouTube videos and reading your blog is my new hobby!

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  4. My husband and I are remodeling a 1956 ranch style house for our retirement. Our little 1400 sq.ft. house is facing West. We have a very light gray metal roof and hideous faded blue hardy board siding.
    We want to paint it SW Alabaster on body and trim and have a cedar color front door and window box. We will eventually (when our money tree replenishes) have cedar trimmed porch added.
    Should we reconsider our choice of paint? Or will Alabaster hold up in the changing west sunlight?

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  5. Hi Kylie, do you have any general color or LRV recommendations for an East facing house with no shade? Thank you for letting me pick your brain!

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      You bet, that’s actually Hardi Light Mist, HOWEVER, it’s VERY SIMILAR to Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray 🙂 Remember, the sun hitting the house washes it out A LOT, whereas it does have a bit more depth to it in normal, average light.

  6. I love the blue color of your home with the accented garage doors. Would you mind sharing your color scheme? Thank you so much.

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      Hi Stephanie, that’s Sherwin Williams Roycroft Pewter, BEnjamin Moore White Dove trim, and BEnjamin Moore Midnight Oil on the garage doors (I believe we lightened it by 25% 🙂

  7. Great post!! Now I know that I am not crazy! At any point in the day, the brick on the house is orange or purple. The siding is either green or yellow.

    Because the house sits at a weird angle on a corner lot and has parts that jut out, all the different undertones appear at once and almost all face the streets.

    The brick undertone seems more finicky in different light/shade conditions than the wood shutters and doors and the aluminum siding.

    So sometimes the colors are even more disjointed right next to each other depending on the time of day.

    Are there products or specific brick stain colors that can minimize the range of undertones in bricks in response to light/dark?

    Is it possible to find paint colors that “split the distance” and look good with ALL the brick undertones that appear at the same time?

    Or do I just have to look like a circus tent all day, lol?

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      Right? It is so hard! And you know, I’ve seen some pretty nice circus tents in my day ;).

      So, I’m going to say ‘maybe’. There have been some homes where we’ve hit a happy medium of sorts, however, there’s always something that has to GIVE. When looking at the average home, I’m goin gto prioritize what looks best in the front of the home at the height of the day – like I want to capture that kind of 10-2. So, if a home has western afternoon light, it’s going to warm RIGHT up in the later afternoon hours, but there’s just not much I’ll be able to do about that, you know?

      1. Thanks, Kylie! I guess I will need to be content with a partial circus tent.

        The “front” on our house angled on a corner lot is always going to show cool and warm tones at the same time.

        Do you know if brick stain (or certain colors of stain) can stay more neutral and not throw off both cool and warm tones?

        Thank you!

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