Finding the Right Exterior Paint Color for Your Home

While interior design colors tend to change from season-to-season and year-to-year — think mustard yellow appliances of the 1960s and peach and gray florals of the 1980s — much of what goes on the exterior of the house has stayed the same.

While it’s a relatively easy way to increase your home’s curb appeal, repainting the exterior is a huge time and money investment so you want to get something you’ll love for years. Whether you’re hiring someone to paint, or tackling the project yourself, here are a few hints to help you get the right exterior paint color(s).

What do you like?

Before you hire the painters or buy the drop cloths, do some research. Take a walk around your neighborhood and take note of the paint styles you like. Check out a few home improvement magazines or blogs and save photos you love. Browse Zillow’s Dueling Digs exteriors and click through to get an idea of what you like.

Fixed features

When choosing an exterior paint, there are several things to consider, explains color consultant Barbara Jacobs of Boston, MA.

“Among the things to think about is the size of the house, the architecture and style of the house and how much detail you have on the house, ” Jacobs said.

It’s not that you should pick a color that looks good on a big house, but a color that will work on the big house and with the architecture style and details.

This Portland home, pictured above, is for sale on the Portland real estate market. The homeowners added visual interest to the exterior with two different paint colors.

Consider your neighborhood

Love the colorful homes you see in Italy or Mexico? While you may love a brightly colored home, a turquoise-colored or orange-colored home may not work if you live in say, Indiana. Whether you live in the West, Midwest, or the East can impact your color choice.

You should also consider your neighbors and neighborhood, says Jacobs. Not just to be nice, but to help your home look better.

“You want to choose something that will enhance the overall space of the neighborhood,” she explained.

Going with the common vanilla hues you see in planned development is not the answer, Jacobs says. The color you pick should be just be different enough to make your home stand out.

Blue can be a tough color for a home’s exterior but a bright color on this modern California home on the Daly City real estate market works well with the architecture and surrounding landscape.

How many colors?

The typical home has three colors: one for the body of the home, one of the trim and another color as an accent — most often on the front door. How many colors you choose is based on the features you want to highlight.

You can segment the house into an upper and lower section and paint those two different shades. In addition to the trim, you can also outline the windows or do a different color for the window casing.

“You can definitely do a lot of with an accent color,” said Jacobs. “Just because it’s a simple structure of a home — a nice little ranch or Cape Cod — doesn’t mean it can’t pop.”

This Seattle craftsman for sale pops with a darker shade of green on the lower level and a bright orange door. It is for sale on the Seattle real estate market for $749,900.

Need exterior home ideas? Browse Zillow’s Dueling Digs exteriors.