Choosing the Right Exterior Paint Color

A new coat of paint can be aesthetically transforming, but selecting exterior paint colors is always challenging. Typically an exterior color palette has three major components: the field color, which dominates; the accent color, which brings doors, shutters and other smaller areas to life; and the trim color, used for window and door moldings, roof edging, railings and other millwork details. Here are a few tips to help simplify the process of selecting the best exterior paint colors for your home:

  • Plan around the elements that will not change. Unless you're doing a complete renovation, surfaces such as roofing material, stonework, pathways and driveways will remain in place. Take these into consideration as you select exterior colors as these should play a role in determining your color choices. For a façade that's partially stone, for example, using a similar color will add visual harmony. If the fixed colors are intense, like a terra-cotta tile roof, a neutral color will bring balance.
  • Consider your home's architectural style. Whether you own a Cape Cod, a Craftsman bungalow or a Monterey Colonial, your exterior paint scheme should feel appropriate to the style. 
  • Consider the adjacent landscaping. Select colors that fit in with the surrounding palette. If you have brilliant-colored spring blooming trees or a sea of green foundation plantings, choose colors that will complement them.
  • Choose a color scheme that is compatible with neighboring homes. You don't have to imitate the palette or application exactly, but can put your own individual spin on similar color combinations.

Most major paint brands, such as Benjamin Moore and Dunn Edwards, offer some basic exterior color palettes that can help take the guesswork out of coordinating your exterior palette. Farrow and Ball offers an inspiration site to help see first hand how color selections will look. Of course a designer also can help you come up with a combination that's attractive and unique to your home.

Robert Frank Interiors is a full-service interior design firm located in San Marino, California. We work in collaboration with our clients to create beautiful, functional spaces that reflect our clients' lifestyles and personalities. Visit us on the web at