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Living Space: How to select exterior house paint colors

By Kathryn Weber, Tribune Content Agency on

As the weather warms up, winter's effects can sometimes show their toll on a home's paint. Giving your home a new coat of paint can make it look refreshed and renewed, but the problem is never deciding to paint, it's usually around trying to decide which colors to go with. Following a few guidelines will help you select an exterior paint color that looks terrific for your home.


When selecting colors, it's always best to try to find colors that will work well with your home using the home as your guide. Starting points will include colors that are already in the house, such as from the brick or stone if you have any on your house, or from the roof. A home's roof color, especially if it's a composite type roof, it will have a variety of colors that make it read like one solid color, such as taupe, but you may be able to draw off of the variations in the roofing to help you define your color palette.

House style

Yet another option for selecting colors is to choose based on the style of home. There are certain color standards for various styles of homes, such as a Colonial or Craftsman. Victorian and modern homes also have their own color styles, so looking online at homes that are similar to your home's style is a helpful way for choosing a paint palette.

You may also want to select your house color using regional influences. If your home is located near the shore or the coast, colors that reflect a seaside feel will look appropriate. A house in the desert Southwest will always look better with a color palette that looks right for the region versus the palette for a house on Cape Cod. Most paint manufacturers have paint color palettes that can be used by region or by style of home that help with your color selection.

Which colors?

Start your color search by determining your main house color, which is called the field color. If you want your home to draw you in, or if you feel the house sits too close to the street, try a field color that is darker so that the house recedes. If the house feels too far away or it's surrounded by trees, a lighter shade will help brighten it up and keeping it from fading into the background.


By the same token, small houses will look smaller with dark colors and will seem larger and have more presence with a lighter shade. A large home can handle dark colors more easily than a small one. Once the field color is chosen, then the trim and accent colors come next.

Color commitment

Before making your color selections, be sure to check color palettes from your local paint dealer. They often have a variety of options, and some have smartphone apps that will let you see how your house would look with various colors.

If you can't leave your home, check your local store's website for paint samples and supplies. Places such as Lowe's and Home Depot even have painting tutorial videos for novice painters.

Once you've done all the research and narrowed down your choices, it's still a good idea to order those samples and paint a small section of your home first to ensure that the colors are exactly right before making the investment in paint.


(For more information, contact Kathryn Weber through her website, www.redlotusletter.com.)



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