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Exterior ColourHow to Choose Colour

Timeless Exterior Colour: Stand Out Without Being Trendy

My Exterior Colour Selection Masterclass has a new module covering all things colour. It’s the ultimate guide to choosing exterior paint colours for your home – so you can make your home stand out without being trendy.

Do you ever think about what’s next after the black and white modern farmhouse exterior? 

Well if you don’t that’s ok, I’m here to think – obsess – about it for you.

The black and white house trend

I’ve been doing colour for a loooong time. And I’ve seen the pattern of trends coming and going. Let me just say, I’ve never seen an exterior trend take over faster and more completely than any the black and white trend. Ever.

And you all keep sending me pics of what you’re seeing around your neighborhoods. 😳 Follow me on Insta to see these daily.

black white farmhouse trend

And I predict that if it’s true that a trend falls out of favour as soon as we’ve seen it done too many times (and too often done poorly) then that’s also when it suddenly collapses into feeling dated.

Well that’s going to happen to the biggest exterior trend of all time at a relatively overwhelming scale.

So what then?

Not long ago, I would have said that a white exterior is perfectly timeless. And technically it is. 

But context is everything, and it’s the CONTEXT  that has shifted. If your house is stark white right now, especially if it has black windows and black accents, it now gets lumped in with the TREND that will very shortly have us looking for the next thing.

Because novelty is a real driver of trends in design. And so is creating a look that expresses who you are.

What makes a home timeless?

I’m constantly honing in on what is timeless. Not to create strict conformity, but instead to create spaces versatile enough to offer just that–a backdrop to decorate with your personal evolving interests (and NOT require a renovation every 5 years).

It’s not as easy to distinguish the look of an exterior with the storytelling that is good decorating.

timeless home exterior and garden

My previous home and white garden

While I guess it’s possible that stark white siding with black windows and black linear accents everywhere is an evolution of American culture, much like the relatively uniform stone villages of Europe. I don’t see this black/white look as being charming enough to be as CLASSIC as the always elegant and understated Cape Cod, for example.

I predict that very soon, people will be coming to me desperate to update and differentiate their black and white exterior from the rest of the houses in the neighbourhood. 

In my eDesign department, we already have constant requests in our All Inclusive Exterior consultations to create a look that is “different” to the white house on the left and the white house on the right.

All black has become the “bold” (not so bold if bold means distinctive 😏) alternative to white. But I don’t recommend that.

Dark exteriors date even faster than white ones. Because every trend cycle is defined by a specific neutral. Remember brown? Grey? Well, black is the new brown.

SO. What do I recommend? Of course, I always try to nudge my clients towards COLOUR.

How to choose timeless COLOUR for your exterior

I was thinking, in time, as black begins to look as flat, boring and predictable to everyone as it does to me (and so many others in the design industry) people will probably start painting their black trim a colour.

But I don’t think that ever looks right. It just looks like, “I couldn’t commit to colour so I just painted the trim.”

Instead, consider painting your exterior a colour with crisp white trim. That’s what’s timeless.

The 36th Avenue

When you’re ready to leave black and white in the past, or if you’re building and you don’t want to just do the same as everyone in your area, I’ve got you. 

I’ve just added a NEW module to the MasterClass for Exterior Colour Selection. It’s full of visual examples of the best non-neutral colour for exteriors, especially for updating the ubiquitous modern farmhouse exterior. 

*If you already have this online course, simply login here to view the new module.

Since so many exteriors have fixed elements such as stone or brick to coordinate with, that up until now the Exterior Masterclass has focused largely on getting the neutral undertones right based on my System for Understanding Undertones

Looking for a silver lining for the black and white trend? If you’ve managed to avoid unnecessary stone on your exterior, and you have ample trim to paint white, chances are good that your exterior can be a COLOUR rather than a neutral.

Country Living

Yellow is a classic colour for a charming farmhouse. In the new module I’ve got tips on how to get yellow, the trickiest of colours, right. 

If you’re adventurous, almost any colour will work as long as you get it right for the surroundings. I teach you how to do that as well in the new module. 

Home Hacks

But if peach, or whatever your favourite colour is, feels a bit too eccentric for you, greens are a great bridge to colour.

Earthy greens are trending. And while I personally prefer happier colour, I can absolutely get behind and earthy green exterior. It’s a warmer, less predictable alternative to stark black and white.

Clean happy greens, pale muted greens and deep dramatic greens all play well with the landscape and with black and white accents. So they will happily fit into any neighbourhood that is predominantly black and white.

Better Homes and Gardens

What are timeless neutral paint colours for exteriors?

And if colour is too much for you, this new module has YOU covered too!

I recommended some pale neutral body colour options with white trim and black accents as a less predictable and softer alternative to stark white and black. If you’re not ready to take the plunge into colour, a pale neutral is always a timeless choice. I’ll show you how to do it RIGHT.

Because, it’s my job to stay one step ahead.

And it’s my job to keep determining what is timeless to help you from falling into the ditch of constantly renovating to chase the trends.

My prediction is, once you paint your house your favourite colour, you’ll never go back to the boring neutral everyone else is defaulting to. Find the best colour and neutral inspiration, along with tips for choosing the right exterior elements in my Exterior Colour Selection Masterclass.

Self-guided online learning with 18 highly-focused video lessons you can watch over and over again from your computer or iPad. Buy now.

So, I want to hear from you now… do you feel stuck when it comes to choosing a colour? Are you renovating or building in a neighborhood filled with black and white? 

Related posts:

Take the Burden Off with Customized Exterior eDesign Services

The Black & White Exterior Colour Mistake EVERYONE is Making

Six Best Exterior Colours For a Lakehouse or a Beach House

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20 Comments

  • Bette says:

    I know I’m a little neurotic, but in my opinion, an exterior house color has to complement the trees, grass, sidewalks, and driveway. Period. And that’s in addition to any fixed exterior features like brick or stucco — and, of course, the roof. Then, after choosing and painting that perfect color, the car(s) in the driveway also need to blend in, otherwise they become a garish eyesore. That’s a lot to think about!

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    • Suzanne says:

      Bette, I’m with you. Since we don’t park in our garage, I like our cars to blend in too! LOL. The neighbor houses are a story I must ignore. Very Green and large and another in poop brown across the street. Historical bright Pumpkin next door. Eeeek

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  • Stephanie says:

    I would love to see more examples of color with classic stone exteriors, like the Austin Chalk Limestone that’s ubiquitous down here in Texas. Thank you!!

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  • Vicki says:

    A black/dark house color just draws heat and will increase the cooling costs even if there is good insulation—and it will lose its color vibrancy sooner unless the paint has a UV protection blended in—the only houses I would think could benefit from a dark exterior would be those where there is significant snowfall/cold weather and than cuts out almost everything south of say Chicago and those in the temperate areas like Seattle…

    It is just stupid decision IMO for almost any house or commercial building…

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  • Paula says:

    Hey Maria,
    I took your Exterior Colour course a few years back.
    Is this one an uptick from that one?

    Thanks,
    Paula Van Hoogen

  • Nancy says:

    Love it, thank you Maria. I look forward to checking out the new module.

  • Katie says:

    Exterior color is tough because there are so many elements at play! I painted my simple stucco cottage a grayish midtone blue (SW Debonair) with white trim, a few minor black details (numbers, door handles, mailbox), and a trendy blush door (like yellow for Maria, pink is my signature color). For me it was always a little off. I struggled to find decorations that worked with my bossy color combo, particularly Christmas decorations! And fresh green always felt like it was clashing with the blue. I worry with my new house (a 50s cottage style charmer) that I will do the same thing! I love the idea of a happy color, but want my existing landscape and decorations to be able to sing too!

  • Janie says:

    I can see 6 white and black houses when I look across the county road. It reminds me of the pandemic every time I see one, and it makes me sad. We went with a navy blue and white trim and windows. I absolutely love it. Our lane actually has 3 blue houses including ours but the best thing about blue is there are so many shades to choose from, so we all look different!

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    • Violet says:

      Yes, the lockdown! We have one new house in our HOA that is black and white and I get depressed every time I pass by it. Now I know it is because it makes me think of the lockdown.
      I would love to have a green house, but my HOA only allows white, beige, or gray (even though a lot of the beige owners have nudged into yellow). I have a Colonial in white, red brick, and black shutters but it doesn’t evoke the feelings of that trendy house.

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  • Beth says:

    Yes, I definitely feel stuck trying to select an exterior color for a non descriptive style lake cabin in northern Minnesota where most of the cabins are log cabin brown with green metal roofs. We added a walkout under the 1950’s/60’s one level and want it to blend into pines, so we are thinking a green would work, especially since you mentioned that green exteriors “play well” with the surrounding landscape. In a previous post, you cited SW Rosemary as a good option. That’s one of my gazillion green options! I’d love to find that timeless green!
    P.S. Because of your helpful expertise, I was able to convince my husband not to paint the cabin black or charcoal grey!

  • Wendy says:

    All the lovely examples of colourful homes that are timeless are all houses with wood (or wood-effect) cladding of some sort – what about houses which are rendered with stucco? I think when you paint them a lovely colour they look more garish somehow, as if they were never meant to be painted and should be a neutral stone-ish colour. Any examples of those coloured well? Or does it not apply to them? I can imagine a really cute cottage style house, but what about a two-storey more suburban house?

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    • Susan Hilger says:

      Out here in the desert southwest there are VERY few dark houses because it would be impossible to keep cool. Almost all the houses are stucco. Design blogs and websites don’t mention the colors that work best in the desert or the unique challenges of desert landscaping (rocks, little or no grass, and drought tolerant plants).

  • Squeak says:

    I live on a one-block long street. Of the 6 houses on the street, 4 are painted in tasteful colours that reflect the owners personalities. The 5th one is currently being repainted by the new owners. The colour they chose – Easter egg purple. Not a dusty lilac or gentle mauve or lavender or even a moody eggplant. Easter egg purple. The good news is that, when giving people instructions on how to get to my place, I can just say it’s the street with the Easter basket coloured house!

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  • Laura says:

    What colours go well with traditional red brick?

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  • Kathryn says:

    When we had our house resided also fifteen years ago I wanted something other than the trendy neutral tan colors that were everywhere. I chose SW convivial yellow with white trim and SW sequin for the shingle trim on the gable ends of the house. Still love it and get many compliments, except for one neighbor who lives in a poo brown house…….go figure.

    • Paula Manderfield says:

      Do you have a picture you could share? I am trying to pick an exterior color for our lake cottage that is cedar shake siding with a green metal and half asphalt roof. I lean toward the blue/greens but I am also considering a pale yellow with white trim. Thank you

  • Magen says:

    We have finally saved up to paint our 1902 Arts and Crafts home! The previous owner painted it pale yellow with rusty red trim. To make things worse the surrounding fence was painted a blue-gray. I hate the color red and just realized that we are most likely going to have to pick paint colors based on the reddish roof shingles and brick pavers surrounding the house. I am going to take your exterior color course and hope it helps me pick colors that help the red fade into the background. Thanks for all your helpful info on the blog and Instagram! Love it 🙂

  • Kelly says:

    I love the exterior paint color of your dream house! (The aqua one that days 36th avenue above.) Anyone know what paint brand/color was used. Thanks so much!

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