Trending Home Exterior Paint Colors

by Cassandra McCullersMarch 27, 2017

Good first impressions matter most when looking to sell, but are also of tremendous value when going about everyday life in your home as you welcome guests, family, and neighbors to visit. When thinking about what color to paint your exterior, you’ll want to keep in mind personal preference, curb appeal, any neighborhood rules or regulations, and sell-ability. Checking with your neighborhood’s homeowner’s association (if you have one) regarding allowable colors and exterior renovations is extremely important as they often will set guidelines that may restrict your choices and options.

Tying the color scheme into existing fixed colors in and around your home is important, too. Examples of colors that are difficult or nearly impossible to change include roofing, stonework, brickwork and certain metallic finishes. Neutrals can tie in surprisingly well to just about anything, but be careful to avoid clashing combinations. When painting, pick both the main color and the accent colors ahead of time and make sure they go well together. Most hardware stores will have guides on what specific shades go especially well together, but you can also stretch outside the box. Many stores can sell you a small sample of the paint you selected to use on your walls, allowing you to test different combinations before committing to the entire paint job.

Unless your house is very, very lightly colored, you’ll typically want the main accent color to be lighter and less saturated than the house color, for the trim and some architectural features like pillars and porch railings. A second accent color will generally be much darker and bolder, suiting shutters and doors. White, cream, or a very pale pastel like eggshell blue are popular primary accent colors, while dark reds, browns, blues, and grays work beautifully as secondary accent colors. Most people experiment more with secondary accent colors than anywhere else, allowing a pop of color without overwhelming anyone looking at the house. If the trim, doors, and shutters are all the same color, some people will also have bolder trim colors, to great effect. Some homeowners use up to four or five colors as well, with a separate color for the siding, the doors, the windows and trim, and the porch and decks.
When picking colors, it’s important to take a look at your home at different times of the day to gauge what effect the sun has on it from different angles. Your final colors will be dependent in part on the amount of sun you get at different times so you may want to keep that in mind when selecting specific shades of paint.

Another thing to consider is the palate of colors used by your neighbors. If the entire block uses neutral tones and muted colors, you may provoke unwanted ire by selecting a bright pink exterior with yellow trim. On the other hand, if you are nestled between a row of bright Floridian styled homes, a selection of dark jewel tones may not win you that “Neighbor of the Year” award. Individuality is great, but you don’t want to drive down local property values either. Take a walk around the neighborhood and look at what everyone else is using. This can also be great for inspiration since most of your neighbors are probably working with similar architectural styles.

Once you’re to the painting stage, check to make certain that you’ve picked the right type of paint for your surface – some paints are meant for wood, vinyl, cement, metal, etc., and will do poorly on other surfaces. Some surfaces either need specific paints or to be primed before painting. You’ll also want to pick a weather-proof paint, rather than one meant for indoor use. Someone at the hardware store should be able to help you navigate all the choices.

For base colors, neutrals are your best bet, followed by bolder traditional colors. For more saturated base colors, you’ll generally want to go with neutral accents, most often white or off-white.


Various shades of off-white or cream are among the most popular colors and for good reason. Creams match well with just about any accent color you can think of, though are typically paired with white and a dark brown or red.

Plain white has long been a staple, though more and more homeowners are moving away from the simple shade. Usually, it’s better to choose an extremely pale off-white with cream undertones than a stark white. White goes well on its own, or with dark accent colors.

Taupe, especially warmer shades of it, has been on the rise lately as a neutral meant to let the house blend neatly into the surrounding landscape. It goes best with less saturated accent colors, especially white and cream, but can work with more colorful accents.

Sable brown makes a house feel far more substantial and represents a more stand-out statement than most other neutrals. The shade does best when paired with white or ivory trim and red, blue, black, or yellow shutters and door.

Shades of gray are among the more popular neutrals, giving a house a stately feel. Dark grays pair best with creams, ivories, and blues. Paler grays match most styles of stone facing fairly well, too.

Traditional Colors

Dark blue-grays give a house a sense of serenity and can do well with a vaguely nautical design. Blue-gray best complements a simple white trim.

A light desaturated blue works best on Victorian-style housing but can do well even on more modern architecture. The best accent colors are white, cream, or a dark reddish-brown like mahogany.

Yellow can be a tricky but potentially effective shade. Too bright, and it turns into an eyesore. Paler shades work best in most styles, though mustard yellow can go well on smaller houses. Pale yellow is best complemented by a white or light ivory trim, while mustard yellow pairs especially well with dark brown, wood-toned accents.

Wheat, a buttery shade in between yellow and cream, gives a house a warm, inviting feeling. It goes best with dark brown and gray-blue accents.

Cypress green straddles the divide between gray and green, giving it a neutral feel with all the personality of a more saturated shade. White trim with shutters in dark gray or black will show this shade off at its best.

Forest green is an older color, popular on historic homes. It works best with a trim in a darker ivory or cream, plus shutters in dark gray or brown.

Lighthouse red takes the opposite approach to most paint colors, popping out and drawing the eye rather than blending in. Slate gray and white are two of the only accent colors that work with rather than fighting against this bold shade.

Regardless of the color palate you decide upon, remember to have fun with it and allow the colors to help tell the story of your home. Exterior colors work together with the architecture to create a powerful first impression among visiting friends, family, and neighbors. Your home’s colors can reflect who you are, and the aesthetics you value. Get inspiration from neighbors and your community at large, and take your time in selecting colors that will help to make your house into a home. is the place to dream and discover your ideal home! Are you starting to get the itch to look for your first or next home, but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place! Browse our real estate and lifestyle blog for home buying tips, mortgage guides, DIY ideas, interior design, lifestyle topics, general home inspiration, or just some homes fun. We are sure you can scratch that itch and find all the information and tools you need to help in your home search. Want to start looking at available real estate right now? Head to our home page and check out homes for sale or rent listings all over the country.

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About The Author
Cassandra McCullers
Cassandra is a writer with a background in engineering, enjoying the rural life in the Virginian Appalachians. When not working, she enjoys writing fiction, running a blog, camping, working in the garden, and tending to her flock of chickens! In addition to writing, she has a passion for art and graphic design. Her interests include disaster preparedness, homesteading, landscaping, cooking with natural ingredients, history, and animal husbandry.