Time for a Home Makeover—Try These Exterior House Paint Colors

Updated 10/16/17
Christopher Patey

So you’ve bought your dream home and decorated the interior to a T, but something’s still missing. It might be time to turn your attention to the exterior of your house. Whether the paint has been through some wear and tear or the color just isn’t your style, painting your home’s exterior can be a great way to refresh the property.

Before you’re ready to take on this project, you’ll want to make a plan. “Painting the exterior of your home is a big task—and whether or not you can tackle it on your own is completely dependent on factors like the size and height of the home, your timeline, and the equipment you can access,” says Erika Woelfel, vice president of color and creative services at Behr.

Woefel warns that taking this on without professional help is only for the “handy, DIY-savvy homeowners,” but if you’re up for the challenge, the money you save will make it all worth it. Otherwise, you’ll want to turn to the professionals, leaving you with the task of picking the exterior house paint colors that are right for you.

Ahead, Woelfel takes us through the project step by step, suggesting color schemes along the way.

Prepare the Exterior

Before any painting can begin, prepare the home’s exterior by cleaning away any dirt, chalk, and pollen off the surface. “I recommend using a hose or power washer, working from the top of the house to the bottom to rinse anything off that will interfere with the paint’s adhesion,” Woelfel says. Now’s also the time to patch up any minor cracks and holes that might be present on the exterior and to scrape off peeling paint. “After the house is dry, like any interior painting project, taping is a must.”

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Get Inspired

Now for the fun part: selecting the perfect color. “To help narrow down which color would be best, try touring the neighborhood, scrolling through Pinterest, or browsing décor magazines for house styles similar to your own, and note which shades catch your eye,” Woelfel suggests. She also recommends looking to your home’s surroundings for inspiration. “For some, that means a grassy lawn scattered with trees set against a blue sky or brick and concrete in an urban area. You can then decide whether you want to create contrast to attract attention or use color to blend into the background.”

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Pick a Timeless Color

“Since exterior painting isn’t as easy as a quick living room refresh, it’s important to choose colors you won’t get tired of a few years down the line,” Woelfel says. For a project as big as a home’s exterior, you’ll want to think long-term. What colors will you want to greet you when you arrive home for years to come? Woelfel advises choosing colors that reflect your personal taste and style. “That can mean honoring the history of your colonial or midcentury home with true-to-style colors or choosing a fresh palette with a contemporary twist.”

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Plan a Color Scheme

“Every house is different, and choosing the right color palette depends entirely on its style and history, the neighborhood, and the people who live in it,” says Woelfel. If you’re unsure where to start, she names a golden tan as a classic exterior house paint color that works well with other accent hues. She also suggests using a natural medium brown to create contrast on shutters if your home has them (her choice is called Road Less-Travelled). For a bit more color, Woelfel recommends light green hues for the main color with pops of white on the trim and a bright orange like Civara for the front door.

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Help Your Home Feel Unique

Paint choices can go a long way in making you feel good about the place that you call home. Woelfel says the right color can even give you “a renewed sense of ownership.” While some homeowners’ associations may dictate certain color schemes that you must abide by, there is always room to be original in your own way. “Whether it’s emphasizing your favorite details or minimizing a feature you don’t like, color, where it’s placed, and the combination you choose can make your house unique.”

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Avoid Common Mistakes

As with any home décor projects, even the most seasoned decorators can make easily avoidable mistakes. Woelfel warns you to not rely solely on paint chips when selecting an exterior house paint color. Instead, test the colors on the surface of your home’s exterior just as you would if you were repainting an interior space. Purchase a few samples, and paint large test swatches on one or more sides of your house. “Observe how the colors change throughout the day and from different angles before making your final decision.”

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Are you planning on painting your home’s exterior? Share your color scheme in the comments below.

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