Every home has its own architectural style, and there is little you can do about that, short of major remodeling that changes the whole shape of the structure. But it is surprising how much can be accomplished if you do nothing more to a house's exterior than change three of its paint colors.
Exterior paint schemes typically involve three or four colors: wall (also called field); trim (fascia, eaves, posts, window casing, corner boards, etc.); door (most any door can be painted, even metal doors); and accents (also shutters, etc.).
Let's look at how changing these basic color schemes can dramatically change a home's style. Our examples are created with Sherman-Williams proprietary colors, but any brand can be used to the same effect. Figure out how much paint you need with The Spruce's Paint Calculator.
01 of 10
Twin Peaks Forest Cabin
Here, forest and meadow colors create a woodsy exterior scheme for the Twin Peaks lover in all of us. A spot of contrasting accent is provided by the red door.
- Wall: SW41 Dard* Hunter Green
- Trim: SW6390 Bosc Pear
- Door: SW6863 Lusty Red
* Dard Hunter was a print-maker instrumental in the Arts & Crafts movement, which fits perfectly with this type of green.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
Sweet Cottage Candy
What gives this paint scheme such a sugary look? Take a gander at the field—it's just plain old easy-going Casa Blanca. Add Rosedust (dusty rose, shall we say?) for the trim, and it becomes something else entirely. Something dustier. Rosier. Sweeter. The door could use many colors for contrast, but the Grand Canal green works well in the wooded setting.
There it is: the power of trim.
Continue to 3 of 10 below.
- Wall: SW7571 Casa Blanca
- Trim: SW0025 Rosedust
- Door: SW6488 Grand Canal
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This exterior paint scheme, ripped straight from the pages of Sherwin-Williams' Classic Exterior Colors Collection, is reminiscent of Mad Men and 1950s suburbia. Except for that punch-in-the-mouth Poppy Flower door, this color scheme is a calm classic. But who knows: Maybe that red door is the key touch.
Continue to 4 of 10 below.
- Wall: SW6199 Rare Gray
- Trim: SW6182 Ethereal White
- Door: SW2904 Poppy Flower
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Here is a dark, quiet, sedate exterior paint color scheme featuring a rich Nautical SW7615. Quiet complementary tones for the trim and door make this a highly relaxing color scheme.
Continue to 5 of 10 below.
- Wall: SW7615 Nautical
- Trim: SW2832 Colonial Revival Gray
- Door: SW2824 Renwick Golden Oak
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Got a house stuck in a shadowy spot? Need to give it some pizazz? This field color, Grandiose, is just the ticket to pull your house away from the darker background. The lighter trim and door further brightens the home.
Continue to 6 of 10 below.
- Wall: SW6404 Grandiose
- Trim: SW6148 Wool Skein
- Door: SW6148 Wool Skein
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Looking for strong, assertive, yet comforting and...sturdy exterior paint color schemes? Check out this Sturdy Brown field, with a nice counterpoint of fresh Sequin on the trim. The Interactive Cream door brightens a setting that might otherwise be too subdued.
Continue to 7 of 10 below.
- Wall: SW6097 Sturdy Brown
- Trim: SW6394 Sequin
- Door: SW6113 Interactive Cream
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Some communities readily accept shocking exterior paint color schemes, some don't. If you live in a place like New Orleans' Upper Garden District, it's almost de rigueur to have blatantly shocking and cheerful colors.
Shocking or normal, it all depends on where you live.
Continue to 8 of 10 below.
- Wall: SW6979 Verve Violet
- Trim: SW6140 Moderate White
- Door: SW6140 Moderate White
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Gray and White
Careful with gray in exterior paint colors, unless you want to drag the whole house down. This Gauntlet Gray keeps everything cool and sophisticated. Brighter colors for the door and trim keep the home lively.
Continue to 9 of 10 below.
- Wall: SW7019 Gauntlet Gray
- Trim: SW7634 Pediment
- Door: SW6140 Moderate White
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Bronze, gray, and emerald: The colors of precious stones and metals provide your house with grace and stature.
Continue to 10 of 10 below.
- Wall: SW6412 Eminent Bronze
- Trim: SW6199 Rare Gray
- Door: SW2936 Black Emerald
10 of 10
A low-key exterior paint color design that fits right in with the earth: Sherwin-Williams' Colonial Stones. There is nothing more "earth tone" than the colors of actual stone and this home is a perfect fit in a wooded suburban setting.
- Wall: SW2826 Colonial Revival Green Stone
- Trim: SW0050 Classic Revival Light Buff
- Door: SW2827 Colonial Revival Stone
If you need a little more help choosing your exterior paint colors, take a look at these helpful apps and color tools.