Paint Your Home a Color You’ll Love

    Photo: Jade/morgueFilePainting your home’s exterior is quite an undertaking. It has tremendous potential to improve curb appeal and how you – and your neighbors! – feel about your house. Select the right color(s) for results that you will be delighted to live with.


    Look at the fixed elements of your home. The roof and any stone, brickwork, or siding are major components of your house’s exterior surface. A paint color that complements them will offer a more pleasing, harmonious effect.

    Your immediate physical surroundings – plantings, paths, or water features, for example – also need to be taken into account. Depending on personal preference, your exterior color can form a beautiful background or a charming contrast to these aspects.

    You’ll also want to consider the character of the neighborhood in which you live. Should nearby homes tend to focus on a subdued color scheme, your plans for fire engine red walls might fall a little flat … unless, perhaps, your home is shaded with a high hedge. If you are new to the community, strolling through the streets will give you an idea of its “personality,” and perhaps a few decor inspirations to boot.


    Your local climate ought to play a part in your color choice, and not just for aesthetic reasons (although, in winter, cotton-candy pink trimmed with turquoise works better as a Miami Beach painting style than in snowbound Midwestern cities). Light, bright colors also help to keep your home cooler by reflecting sun rays. These colors have the added advantage that they tend not to show signs of fading as quickly as darker hues.

    Whatever the weather in your corner of the country, here’s a tip: Take chips of your favorite paint colors outdoors. Look at them at various times of day to see how the light affects them. (You might even want to paint a small sample area of your home for a more accurate impression.) A general rule is to buy exterior paint a shade or two darker than you think is suitable, because it will lose some of its intensity in the open air.

    Curb Appeal

    Factor curb appeal into your decision as well. Potential buyers are drawn to classic, classy neutrals with clean white accents. Even if you have no plans to sell in the near future, coming home to an attractive, inviting house will give your spirits a lift. It also will create an atmosphere that puts guests at ease, equally important whether you are wooing potential clients or entertaining old friends. Pay particular attention to the entrance to your home; paint the front door a warm color that welcomes visitors and expresses your personality.

    Tips from the Pros

    Follow tips from the pros to get the best results with your paint job. Use two or three colors – or shades of the same color – to give your home’s exterior interest and excitement. First choose the color of the field (the major expanse of outside wall space), second the trim, and finally the accent – for small areas such as shutters. These may complement each other or contrast. Call attention to a handsome architectural feature or make your home look larger with a light color; do the reverse with dark. Opt for colors and painting styles that match your home’s period and design.

    Laura Firszt writes for

    Updated June 28, 2018.

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