Choosing Exterior Colors for Your Home

Posted on April 27, 2011 within


We are pleased to introduce PBS stars Matt Fox and Shari Hiller as our most recent contributing bloggers! Matt and Shari?have been?respected experts in the home improvement and decorating industries for years. Their first endeavor was the?HGTV hit show, Room by Room, which ran for 14 years and 350 episodes (the longest running decorating show in history). Since then, they have authored instructional?books, written newspaper columns, produced many television specials, and performed at home shows across the country. They are currently back on their air with their show Around the House with Matt and Shari?on PBS and the Create Network. Check out their first article below!

A home featuring insulated siding

When it comes time to select the exterior colors for your home, whether you’re building or just replacing one of the key features of your home, it’s a good idea to start with some research. Many of us rush out to the paint store or meet with contractors and forget the most important part of the process… making sure we know what we want!

Exterior color selection, meaning new roofing, siding, doors and windows, are difficult decisions. They cover large surfaces and are expensive, so you really don’t want to make a color mistake! Here’s how to avoid it… do your research first!

#1. Start with home magazines, architectural books and regional magazines that show photo after photo of home exteriors. Take a look at the color combinations that are appealing to you, and determine why you like them. It may be the siding color, or perhaps it’s the facade, or you may find it’s the landscaping you are drawn to!

#2. I have also found that?exploring the?color palettes put together by paint companies can be helpful. Remember, an expert in color has already put them together for you!

#3. One of the simplest ways to get color ideas is to drive through your neighborhood, or a neighborhood in your area that you’re particularly fond of. Check for homes that have the same roof color as yours and the same brick if you have any surfaces that you won’t be changing.

#4. Finally, keep in mind that there is an order to how you select exterior colors (you wouldn’t pick the shutter color before your siding, right?). The order goes pretty much from top to bottom: start with the roof, then siding, trim, windows, garage doors, and front doors.


Roof colors are generally warm or cool; warm colors are the browns, reds, oranges and tans, while cool colors are the blacks, grays, blues and sometimes green. Generally, a warm roof looks much better with a warm siding color, and the opposite holds true for cool roof colors. When roofing and siding don’t match in temperature, something just doesn’t seem right.


Keep the roof and other non-changing materials like brick and stone in mind as you select siding colors. Make sure you consider the landscape around the home; if there are no trees, use natural hues. If you have lots of trees, you can choose a color that contrasts with the greenery. Classics always look picture perfect, like white siding with black shutters and a red door. Finally, you can change the size of your home by choosing light colors to englarge and dark to shrink!


?Trim includes window and door trim, fascias, vents, details, posts, railings, etc. The rule of thumb is to take the safest route and go two steps lighter or slightly darker than the siding color. You can also go the classic route with white trim, but I recommend off whites with warmer color palettes and true white with cooler colors.


Light windows frames that contrast with the siding makes window sseem larger and make the impression of the interior as open and sunny. Dark window frames lessen the impact of the window and may make the home look dreary.

Garage Doors

Your garage door can be as much as 30% of your home’s exterior, so the placemen to the door will help determine the type of design you should choose. If the door is near the street, it should blend into the siding and trim; if it is in line with the house, you can contrast in color. Intricate details such as windows and molding can finish the look.

Front Doors

The color and details of your front entrance can be used to really make a statement. The color of your front door should stand out against the siding, trim and perhaps other accent colors. Wood doors give the appearance of quality and elegance.

You can finish your exterior color selection with accessories like mail boxes, shutters, fences and more, but that is such a huge topic, I think we’ll save it for another time. So get your exterior in good shape by doing your research, considering your home from top to bottom and making good color choices that can make your home the envy of the neighborhood!

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