Choosing the right colour isn’t easy

Paint Swatches


The colour of your house goes a long way when it comes to curb appeal. A pink house gives off a very different impression than a white house, and there are also textures like brick and stucco to consider. If you aren’t currently happy with the look of your exterior, maybe you don’t need a ton of renovation work — maybe you just need to paint. Picking a colour can be nerve-wracking, though, because you’re making such a big change in the how your entire exterior looks. Yes, you can make mistakes. Paint colour is often the reason a house looks boring, too bold, or otherwise undesirable. Here’s how to choose the very best colour for your home:

Consider the colours that won’t change

Right away, you can rule out colours that clash with the colours that aren’t going to change. You can paint molding and even your door, but it is much harder to change the colour of your roof, the trees around your house, and your neighbors’ house colours. You don’t want to copy other colours exactly, but at the same time, you don’t want to choose colours that completely clash. If you belong to a homeowner’s association, you may also have rules about the colours you paint your house. You may need to get your colour choice approved before you start to paint.

Stay true to your home’s history

If your white farmhouse from the early 1900s has always been white, that doesn’t mean you have to stick to white. It also doesn’t mean that you should paint your house neon pink. Before you start looking at paint colours, do a little research on what was popular for home in the era your house was built. Often, certain colours were popular because they look good with certain architectural styles. Choosing a colour that is historically accurate is often a better choice than using a modern colour, though that’s not always the case. If you live in a historically preserved neighborhood, keep in mind that you may need permission to paint, or you may have to select from a limited colour palette.

Choose more than one colour

When you paint, don’t forget that you’ll also need a colour for the trim, and you may need colours for other architectural details, like a deck, a porch, columns, shutters, and so forth. Choosing a single colour can make your house seem washed out and boring. It is ok to have three, four, or even more colours is perfectly ok, as long as they all work together harmoniously. Stick to choosing colours that historically have gone together well, and use neutrals to balance the other colours you’re using.

Don’t be afraid of drama

You don’t have to paint your house purple, but at the same time, a very neutral house can be extremely boring. Don’t be afraid of using colours that add drama, especially darker colours. Trim in chocolate brown or even black can look great against just about any siding colour or texture. You should also consider a colour that stands out for your main house colour. Again, you don’t have to go wild and paint your house purple, but if everyone on your block has beige houses, why not be different and choose a bolder colour like blue or green. Stay away from anything too loud, since it will affect your resale value, and remember that a colour might look a lot bolder or darker when it is covering your entire house, not just a paint swatch.

Colour isn’t everything — also choose the right sheen

Not all exterior paint is flat paint. Some have a gloss to them, which can be both good and bad. Glossy paint shows imperfections really easily, so you may want to use a sprayer for application. At the same time, glossy paint usually looks fresher longer, since it is easier to clean. Usually, higher gloss paint is better on small areas, like windowsills, whereas flat paint shows better on the bulk of the house.

View the paint in the sun

No matter how bright the home improvement store may be, you should look at the colours in the sunlight, and preferable also in the shadows. In natural light, a colour might look completely different. A good rule of thumb is to purchase very small cans of the colours you’re considering, and paint a small section of your house. That way, you can see what looks best. You may be surprised to find that some of the colours that look great to you in the store actually don’t look so great once you put them on your house.

Choose a colour you love

If you love sky blue, don’t count that colour out just because you think it will not blend well with your neighbors or are worried that it isn’t historically correct. Sometimes, it just makes sense to choose an exterior paint colour that you love, regardless of what other people think. After all, it is YOUR house. You have to live in it, so you should pick a colour that makes you feel happy to come home, even if it is unconventional.

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