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Exterior Colour

5 steps to choosing the right Exterior Colours

By 04/14/2009January 27th, 201720 Comments
Your existing house is not a blank canvas. Even though this house is white without any other fixed elements that might help determine the colour, the style eliminates many options already.

1. The architectural style of the home is the first step to consider when choosing a new colour for your home. A modern house like the one shown above would not work if painted your favourite shade of periwinkle blue, like on this Victorian style home (below).

2. Location. The neighborhood you live in must be considered so that your home fits into the surroundings and blends with the other houses on the street.

My sister lives in an older neighborhood with 50’s style homes, however the house across the street, is a bright mint green colour which is so wrong for the era of the house (well I’m not sure which era would fit with a bright minty green colour) and also totally sticks out on the street she lives on.

It just screams something like “this is my favourite colour” or “oops I didn’t know colours get ‘twice as bright’ when they go up”!!
Once you have determined the architectural style of the home in addition to the neighborhood, the next step is the colour of the fixed elements already on your home. These elements are natural starting points for building a exterior colour palette.

3. What colour is the roof?

This house is an great example with the red roof and this colour scheme is well done as the neutral picked for the siding (field colour) is neutral which keeps the roof the most important element in this colour scheme. The roof colour has also been repeated in the window trim which ties it into the exterior colour scheme.

4. Is there any stone or brick on the house?

photo by Maria Killam

This house is so colour coordinated with the brick you almost don’t notice where the colour starts and the brick ends. But it’s a great example of the fact that you must consider the existing stone or brick on the house before you finalize the colour.

5. Are the windows vinyl and/or can they be painted?

There are 2 standard colours for vinyl windows. White or a greeny biege. If you go with vinyl, (which more and more people are doing now as vinyl windows are 30% less expensive than wood), that colour then becomes a fixed element that you cannot ignore! Therefore, make sure you repeat it somewhere on the house (like in the fascia as shown above), or it will be simply be too obvious that your windows are vinyl (a fixed colour).

Stay tuned for more on choosing colour for the exterior of your home now that the season is here!

Related Posts:

How to Test Exterior Colours – 3 Steps to get it Right
Should your Interior Colours Flow with the Exterior of your House?
The Best Exterior Trim Colours NOT Cloud White
Exterior Undertones
Clean vs. Dirty Colours
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  • Brett Walther says:

    Thanks for addressing one of the most frequently asked questions this time of year! Did you do the exterior colour consultation for any of those homes depicted? (The brick home you have the photo credit for is so pretty!) And a big round of applause for noting that the colour of the vinyl windows need to be repeated elsewhere… So important!

  • Kelee Katillac says:

    Good thoughts! I just called some exterior colors for a Coastal Style home–think Robt. A.M. Stern in Nantucket–part brick and shingle all painted or stained. The influence of trees and foliage on the colors was stunning. Watch out for green bounce….

    Thanks for the informative post!

  • Kwana says:

    Great post! So informative. Thanks.

  • Michelle says:

    Great information Maria! The exterior of a house is a hint at the interior…

    This weekend, I cleaned out my carport, and just de-cluttering has made all the difference to curb appeal. I also bought this really cool 4′ tall sailboat for my LR window. It looks really great with the gray of the house.

    The modern house (first pic) is teh kind of house that I am more drawn to now-adays.


  • DesignTies says:

    The house with the red roof is fabulous!! I also really like the red brick house with the blue.

    I’m painting the front door AGAIN this year. The people who moved into the house next door painted the entire exterior last fall. Now it looks exactly like our house, right down to the front door colour 🙁

    If you have any suggestions for a good front door colour for a house that’s white brick with gray brick accents and a black roof, let me know, please 🙂 The front door is the only place I can add colour to the house, so I need to make it a good one!!


  • Awesome Sara says:

    welcome back!!! i love that brick/stone house thing, gorgeous!

  • Imogen Lamport says:

    I’m so glad my house is brick as I don’t have to worry about painting it. My last house was rendered and had to be repainted every few years.

  • Lauren says:

    Maria, could you have done a better post for me today or what?!! 🙂 perfect!! I just finished emailing you about outside paint colors for my house & then came over to see this post!! haha

    one more question- my friend (the lanscape designer) also said she researched that you could paint vinyl windows- is it possible? (Ours are brown— eeeeeash help me please!! hahaha)

  • hello gorgeous says:

    I think people are going with vinyl (even if they choose wood inside) due to its maintenance-free aspect. I’m tired of having the house painted and am considering Pella replacement windows which are wood inside and vinyl-clad exterior that match my outside trim color (most brands have at least 5 color choices).

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Hello Gorgeous,
    In my experience (in Vancouver anyways) vinyl windows come standard in the 2 colours I talked about. And that might have just changed in the past year but I’ve seen them a million times. The worst is when people choose the greeny beige for the interior as well. That now becomes part of the trim colour and it’s awful.

    And you make a very good point on the maintenance aspect that’s for sure!

  • Rebecca Sherman says:

    I loved reading this! Will you do something on how to paint for light indoors? I have only northern light in my high rise apartment, and at times the light makes everything look sallow. I live in Dallas, and my walls are painted pale blue/green. It’s actually the Bay Laurel color from Restoration Hardware.

    I read about a paint company once in the Seattle area that specializes in paint colors for the Northwest, to capture that light best, and that got me to thinking about how to figure out what colors work best in my area.

    I know I’d read the post if you wrote about it, as would others, I’m sure!

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Rebecca
    I’ve already written one. And perhaps I could elaborate more on a future post. Thanks for the idea!!

  • kathleen says:

    Your posts are always full of good information. Thanks for sharing what you know!

  • Brenda says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog. The photos, and your insight are truly valuable.

    Exterior colour seems to be something so many folks get confused about. Too many seem to stick with the Builders' Blahhhs!!
    The home with the red roofing I have seen in a magazine prior. We all seem drawn to it's detailing I think.

    Could you give a bit of insight into what may not be in your portfolio, but, I do think it ties in with exterior housing paint choices; the fencing.
    Why are people leaving them that horrid green colour of the preservative?? I believe they aren't supposed to be painted for one year following installation, but, what is the best method and paints to use here when the opportunity comes up??
    I'm Pro "GREEN" when it comes to environmental common-sense all the way… I just fall off the fence when unstainity takes over!
    [Ok…that didn't work as well as I thought it would …but I tried for humor there. A for effort? ]

    Appreciate your thoughts,


  • Nancy says:

    I would love it if you could show some examples of updated exteriors for tract type homes from the 60s and 70s many of which combine brick and siding. It seems like most of the examples one finds online show lovely out-of-the-ordinary homes.

  • Miriam says:

    I am so happy I found your website. I have been reading so many of your wonderful posts. But I really wish you lived close to Vernon,fl. To help me with my exterior color dilemma. I have a brown roof, SW7040 Smokehouse. Brick that has a lot of yellowish. While trim and gables. ranch style home. Is time to paint the brick. I am scared of making a big mistake but we need to update our home. And yes we are replacing our window and they are vinyl/white. In short thank you so much for sharing your insight with us (color blinds).

  • Miriam says:

    Do you know of any color experts that live in Panama City beach, Florida. Or even in destin, Florida.?? I really would love to talk to them to Eli me with my exterior remodel.

  • Amy Armitage says:

    Is your choosing exterior color webinar a live on-line presentation or a lecture or something I could go back to and read? Just curious. Thanks, Amy A.

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