How to Choose the Best Exterior Paint Colors for Your Home or Business

One of the best ways to add enhancement, resale value, and curb appeal to the exterior of your home is by choosing the right paint colors.

As a licensed Interior Designer, the biggest mistake I see homeowners make when selecting paint colors for their home is that they don’t take into consideration the style of the house, type of roof and the roof color. The money can be well spent if you pick the right colors for your home, or a costly flop if you choose the wrong colors, bringing down your home’s property value as well as your neighbors’.

I recommend looking at the style of the home and the neighborhood when choosing colors. Some homeowners associations have strict guidelines for outside paint colors for this very reason. I recommend considering the following factors when choosing your home’s exterior color:

Neighborhood and style of home: In south Florida where we have a lot of terra-cotta roofs with a southwest style home, a bright multi-colored Victorian color palette would not fit in, especially in a conservative gated community. A blue and white paint palette would look beautiful on a seaside home with siding and shingled or white metal roof, but would look out of place on a southwest style home with a terra-cotta roof. Choose a color scheme that is compatible with the other houses in the neighborhood. You don’t have to imitate the palette exactly, you can pick your hues or shades of the same theme.

Existing Colors: The roof, driveway pavers, and window frames are surfaces that are unlikely to be painted but should play a role in determining your color choices. For example, a terra-cotta (orange) roof looks best with warm golds or neutral paint colors for balance. If there is brick or stone on part of the exteriors of the home, you want to be sure you choose colors that are similar to give harmony. And don’t forget about your hurricane shutters. If the shutters are white and so is the trim around your windows, changing the color of the trim would draw attention to your accordion shutters, and they are not a design element you want to accent.

Accents: If your home has interesting architectural details such as decorative shutters, trims or moldings, you will want to accent them with a lighter or darker shade of the wall color to make them stand out from the walls and a darker or contrasting color on doors and shutters to emphasize these elements and add further interest to your home. A darker accent color on the front door or shutters can add interest to the home, where the color would be inappropriate on wall surfaces and trim. These are also surfaces that lend themselves to faux wood finish which can add richness and character to the home.

traditional-exterior paint
Accent Color Warning: Just because you use a bold accent color on your front door doesn’t mean that you should use the same color on your garage door. Sometimes less is more, and balance is something I pay particular attention to as an interior designer.

Landscaping: Consider your home’s landscaping as an important factor. Select colors and styles that fit in with the surrounding palette and architecture. English garden with sculpted topiaries and English ivy looks beautiful around an English Tudor style home but cacti would not. The same applies to the color and type of landscaping. However, this does not mean that if you have purple bougainvillea around your home that you paint your house purple! Your home colors should neither fight with nor blend in with the landscaping, for example, a  house with green siding, trim and doors could either blend in with green landscaping or the greens could clash with each other, and all that green would lend no visual contrast or interest to the home.

Trendy-Exterior-Paint-Colors-for-HomesThe shade of green siding on this house is a nice contrast to the green in the landscaping. The red accent door and accent color on the shutters provide just the right amount of contrast color, the white trim makes it all pop with crisp freshness. If the red from the front door had been used for the garage it would have been too much.

If you think you may be selling your home in the near future, consider that a neutral color palette both inside and out is more sale-able. This way you don’t have to worry about losing potential buyers because they dislike the colors and they clash with their interiors furnishing.

One trend that has been popping up even in higher end communities is the use of color choices that the original architect or builder would not have selected for that style of home. This trend cheapens the community and can bring down property values. It could be that in older communities when the board is getting pressure from homeowners to be able to change or update the colors that were selected by the original design team when the homes were built and they try to pick their own colors without a professionals help and input.

The way to solve this would be to hire a licensed interior designer to pick updated paint color schemes for the community that goes with the architecture and style of the homes and each roof style and color but gives room for individual’s tastes.

We provide our clients a written out color palette selection for all surfaces with paint samples, and a visual, so that there is no confusion or mistakes made when giving the paint colors out to contractors for bids. If the contractor does make a mistake on paint color (and it does happen) you have your color pallet chart to compare signed by the contractor to protect you. 

Katheryn de Wolfe Walker is a licensed interior designer who lives in Palm Beach County that has been practicing interior design in South Florida for 30 years. She can be reached at 561-364-0074,, , or like us on Writer for the Palm Beach Post “Tips from the Home Team” and “Where the Pros live”