How to Choose an Exterior Paint Color

exterior paint

Whittney Parkinson Design

What exactly should you keep top of mind when selecting exterior paint for your home? According to designers, there are several factors that you'll want to prioritize before committing to a new color. After all, exterior paint is more of a long term commitment than indoor paint, and we all know the importance of our homes making an excellent first impression from the street. If you're preparing to paint your home in the near future, you won't want to miss reading the following tips that will ensure the process goes smoothly.

lake house paint

Anastasia Casey

Look to Your Surroundings

The next time you step outside, focus in on the homes around you and examine their hues. This can be useful whether you're looking to have your house blend in with neighbors' homes or if you wish for your place to make an unexpected statement. "If there are a bunch of white and gray homes, then a navy blue could be a nice color to stand out," says Linda Hayslett of LH.Designs. "That way, you don't look too similar to other homes in your area."

This concept doesn't just apply to nearby homes, though. Hayslett also finds it helpful to closely examine the surrounding landscape. "Depending on what the natural elements are, you can use the colors of plants and scenery to help determine if you want the exterior to blend in to nature, or pop and stand out," she says. "A home in the desert could blend in with a nice creamy sand color or a house could stand out in the mountains with a nice rich black exterior paint color to go with the thick of the woods and branches."

Examine Your Interiors

While scoping out the neighborhood can be helpful, you'll also want to evaluate your interiors. "Look to the inside of your home to see what would go with the exterior paint choice," Hayslett says. "It's nice to have a cohesive feel with the interior when it comes to an exterior color." After all, your exterior paint color is what makes a first impression! "It helps set the narrative," Hayslett states. For example, she adds, "If you have dark greens throughout your house then considering something in that family will make your exterior really feel homier."

Plus, in some cases, you may be able to see your exterior paint from indoor rooms, and you won't want the overall result to clash. "In my home, the porch ceiling and columns are visible from my living room, so I made sure to select colors that looked great from that vantage point as well," says Bethany Adams of Bethany Adams Interiors. "Your inside and outside needn't match, just pay attention to bold color choices and make sure you can literally live with them if need be."

Your decorating style may also play a role in shaping what exterior paint color is best suited to your home. If your style is traditional, Tracy Morris of Tracy Morris Design suggests going for warm neutrals alongside a deep green, black, or navy door and shutters. Transitional decorators may wish to opt for cool neutrals paired with charcoal or purple-based black doors and shutters, and contemporary enthusiasts will want to keep neutral tones in heavy rotation outside, Morris adds.

home exterior

Greg Powers for Tracy Morris

Test Your Swatches and Make a Mockup

As Anastasia Casey of IDCO Studio states, you won't want to commit to an exterior paint color without giving it a test run first. "Exterior paint colors often appear several shades lighter when applied to the entire house," she shares. "Make sure to test paint swatches and check them throughout the day as the sun shifts."

Creating a mockup that showcases your exterior paint before it is applied is also essential, says Lauren Sullivan of Well x Design. "Seeing everything together first in a small section makes it much easier to visualize and make adjustments—rather than after you've had your entire home painted in a color that doesn't quite work," she explains. Still, renderings are not the end all be all—swatches are still essential. Sullivan notes, "In the end nothing replaces seeing an exterior paint option in real life in the space where it will live."