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How to pick Exterior Colour without a Designer

By 06/04/2009January 26th, 201716 Comments

I have always admired the combination of colours on this elementary school so yesterday, I stopped and walked right up to the building and matched the colours to my  fan deck. I highly recommend simply owning a fan deck from any paint company for this reason but I recommend Benjamin Moore fan decks because most designers specify their colours as they are one of the most ‘designer-friendly’ paint companies around. This way you are sure to get the closest match as 9 times out of 10 it’s a Benjamin Moore Colour.

The main field colour is Benjamin Moore HC-6 (Windham Cream), the foundation is HC-93 (Carrington Beige) and the blue/green is HC-144 (Palladian Blue).  I was actually surprised at how much lighter the yellow was, I expected it to be closer to HC-4 Hawthorne Yellow which is two shades darker.  However as blue & yellow are complementary colours, the blue’s that surround the yellow on this building make it pop even more which is why using complements work so well because each colour makes the other one appear even more vibrant!

The fascia above the doorways and the railings are CC-770 and the accent fascia is HC-154.

Yesterday I also had lunch with my good friend Nancy DeVries with Urban Aesthetics at  the Holiday Inn in North Vancouver.  This is another colour scheme I have always admired.  The lighter shade is 2108-40 and the darker colour is CC-512.

I love the orange window frames and the fact that the windows are tinted blue, it relates so well to the blue roof!  It’s a happy yet sophisticated combination of colours!  I would stay here based on the colour of the hotel alone!

Photos by Maria Killam
If you want to choose your colours without the help of a designer, I recommend reading the following posts I’ve written on undertones and the fixed finishes you need to consider, then just find a house or building that you like and match the colours yourself.  Some exteriors are easier than others so if you only need a single colour, this is one way to do it yourself.
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  • Velvet and Linen says:

    I have got to start doing this, Maria.
    I think it will help me when I need to select colors for projects. Great idea!



    This is such a great post! Exterior colors always mystify people.

  • Christine says:

    Great idea (although, I plan on contacting you when the time comes to paint my house). I'm also very impressed by the Holiday Inn. That is a great color combination.

  • DesignTies says:

    I never thought of going right up to a house or building with a fan deck to figure out the colours — but I guess that's really the best way to do it!! I find exterior colours never look the same on the chip as they do on a building. I swear our front door colour was black on the chip — but it looks blue on the door!!


  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Kelly,
    Blacks have undertones too so if you are worried that you may not have the right one, you can just buy the pre-mixed black paint, it's the blackest black there is so it will just be black!

  • Kelee Katillac says:

    Great stuff Maria….Those outside colors are a slippery slope! And love the umbrellas–picking two right now
    for myself–going neutral…have so much outside color already.

  • Awesome Sara says:

    i wish i could send this link to the people that paint m apartmnt complex bc the colors they chose. good greif, yucky!

  • Ideezine says:

    Color can be intimadating to most. Only because they can't decide…it's overwhelming for them. But just a click away and the situation is resolved quickly. Thanks Maria great post!


  • Lauren says:

    I have a couple of houses on my list!!! I'm wondering what they'll say hahaha

  • Nancy DeVries/ Urban Aesthetics says:

    Great post Maria! Good thing I had my colour deck with me, hey? 🙂
    And don't you just love it that our first choice for lunch didn't work out so that we would end up at the Holiday Inn? Have a great weekend.

  • Brillante Home Decor says:

    I agree with Awsome Sara and I tried to convince my strata to choose a different colour, no success but at least I tried. Exterior of a house/building? call a professional like Maria

  • Mary says:

    What a great idea! We are getting ready to paint our two story colonial and I didn't want to repeat our last mistake (choosing a beige that read pink after the second coat).

  • Karen says:

    Hi Maria… I’m doing some renovations on my home, including replacing the front of the vinyl siding, new windows, and doors.

    My color scheme is: siding (whole home) almond / cream
    Front and back decks along with shutters are a deep brown. (Gutters: deep brown or white to match soffit w/deep brown down spouts).

    What would be your suggested color scheme options for the entry and storm door. I’m also planning to use a decorative glass in both the front
    and back door. (A camber arch or fan on the front and a 1/2 lite on the back, with brass or bronze hardware, maybe antique bronze?) Note: the window exterior we remain either white vinyl or tan vinyl With matching aluminum trim.

    You don’t do this everyday so I really want to get it right, your assistance would be greatly appreciated. Finding your site really helped make sense of things…Help!!! Thank you…

  • Tabatha says:

    I have green metal roof that looks like olive green and glay color siding. What color should I paint the shutters and front door . Any suggestions?

    Thanks tabatha

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