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Six Best Exterior Colours For a Lake House or a Beach House

On a recent lakeside vacation, I couldn’t help but notice SO MANY drab, grey or charcoal exteriors. So, here are 6 of the best (and I might even say happiest) exterior colours for your lake or beach house. 

1 |  Stephen Alexander Homes 

Our summer holiday this year was at a lake house in Shawnigan Lake. It ended up being cloudy on the day we rented a little boat to tour around and see the homes right on the water.

And you know what I was most struck by? 

The overwhelming amount of charcoal upon charcoal homes. Countless homes that were a variation of this colour scheme:

Then, after the whole huge house is basically made to disappear in bleak, heavy charcoal, turquoise (or there were many that added red umbrellas and chairs as well) was introduced to try and brighten the situation.

I’m here to tell you once you’ve come this far with charcoal, it looks just a little too late to throw in a colour.

Should a beach house ever be grey?

The best look for a grey beach house, in my opinion (if you MUST have grey) is to paint it the colour of weathered wood (in other words, a light to midtoned green grey). The look is plenty fresh enough to support the pretty turquoise accent on the front door.

2 | The Turquoise Home

Or a fresh, pale blue grey that leans slightly warm and green. Like this one (below). AND it should have a generous amount of white trim to pull it off.

3 | Houzz

Blue is the colour of water and sky

Any kind of blue is a classic choice for a beach house of course. Look how this one below looks like the deep blue sky.

4 | Cornflower Blue Beach House

Blue and white decor is a classic beachy look inside and out.

Home Zine

What about contemporary modern homes?

But Maria, what if my house is not a traditional beach house with crisp white trim? What then?

On the West Coast, where we live and where we vacationed this year, modern contemporary homes are more the rule than the exception. And they are designed to blend with the rugged natural surroundings of the coast line. 

But that doesn’t mean then need to be doldrum charcoal grey and black! 

Introduce contrast into a neutral palette

While this style does lend itself to darker bronze or black windows, wood and stone accents and neutral palettes, you should still be striving to create a look that is fresh and appealing. And that means introducing contrast.

Instead of choosing EVERYTHING in charcoal grey or black (or in the previous trend, brown, taupe and dark beige), choose a soft white or pale neutral to break up the heavy darks. And warmer wood tones to give the palette life.  Or some green to give the palette some colour.

This house below would make a lovely West Coast modern beach house. 

5 | Lanefab

Honestly, if I was building a beach house, I would go more traditional so I could paint it blue or turquoise with lots of crisp white trim. That would be my happy place.

6 | ourboathouse.com

But you DO have to consider the style of the neighbourhood. The trick is to find the freshest, most timeless look possible within those constraints. 

My Best Advice for Choosing Exterior Colour for Your Lake or Beach House

Please, please don’t simply choose everything in charcoal and black! It’s a vacation waterfront home. It shouldn’t look so heavy and serious. If you’re in love with the black or grey trend, consider that you will be on the other side of it within the decade for sure and use it sparingly if you must.

If you would like help finding a happy palette for your beach or lake house, you can find my Essential Exterior Palette eDesign consultation here.

If you have purchased my Exterior Masterclass, all the exterior colours in this post will be found in the facebook page connected with the group. If you are reading this post late, search it on the page and you’ll find the colours.

PS. Here’s Terreeia and my Mom and I at the nearest tourist attraction:

Related posts:

What Everyone Should Know About Blue

Two Timeless Blue Exteriors; Before & After

From Grey Gardens Disaster to a Timeless Blue Exterior; Before & After

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14 Comments

  • Pam says:

    What exactly are the six colors you recommend? Maybe I didn’t read it carefully enough, but I don’t think I can name them based on the post. I’m remodeling a lake house with lots of blues, grays, and white. Hoping this will be a timeless look for a lake home! Blue has always been my favorite color so I expect to love it for a long time, regardless!

  • Lorri says:

    This is proof that most people don’t color too far outside the box of what other people are doing.

  • Fran W. says:

    Black and charcoal are far too heavy and oppressive when overused, especially on lake and beach houses. I think homeowners are jumping on the all-dark trend because they think it’s dramatic; in reality, it’s just depressing.

  • Holly says:

    Oh, Maria…. I got to thinking this morning about life, money and the pursuit of happiness. My husband and I have concersations about what we’d do if we won the lottery. I know exactly what I would do. The first thing I would do is hire you to come and work with my existing home and redo my interior and exterior color palette. I work from home so to make my business handicapped accessible, I’d build a Reiki healing center on my property where I would give my services for free. My only ask would be any donation that would go towards cancer research. Of course, it would be the most classic and timeless Reiki healing center ever because I would hire you as my color expert there as well…

    I would like to thank you and the contents of your blog for getting me through the prep last night for the colonoscopy that I’ll be having this morning. So many delicious things in your world of interior decorating to look at since I haven’t been able to eat since Monday. Nevermind that I was held prisoner in my bathroom for hours looking at where we went wrong with our shower tile installation with too many accent tiles and frikken travertine (tumbled marle?) that has no business taking residence in there. Kicking myself for not finding your blog 9 years ago and it’s the one room that won’t get a reno and will have to be ignored.

    Have you ever thought about what you’d do with interiors and exteriors with your gift if money was no object? I’m sure we’d have neighbourhoods full of classic and timeless finishes! 🙂

  • Gilda says:

    Yea, she got it ‘fixed’…that’s been bugging me forever (I’m a dentist)….

  • Pursuit of Perfect says:

    Those smiles – beautiful! So glad you had a wonderful vay-kay just down the road from me. Now back to work!

  • Pursuit of Perfect says:

    Not a very tactful one…

  • Rebecca Burlingham says:

    Now I want to see and move to the beach. My big quandary is what color to paint the front door on a orangey-red brick ranch with a black roof and black shutters. The trim is white, but the white door is just BLAH.

  • Heather says:

    Outside of color, huge fan of Hamptons / Nantucket style cedar shake siding for beach houses. Classic and timeless.

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