Happy May, guys! Okay. I know. But, what should I say, instead?
Gee, it sucks to be alive right now. And, it’s May. Big whoop.
And, it’s Saturday and tomorrow is Sunday. Right? Well, when you read this, it will be Sunday.
So, before we dive into the best house colors, I thought it would be fun to share a couple of funny things I found this week.
Above is an eBay accepted bid for four rolls of toilet paper. That comes to $2,300 per roll. I hope it’s double-ply. ;]
And, below is a dating profile. That is not a photo of Christopher. But, this was a screenshot of his message to me.
Isn’t this fun? I’m thinking about planning for an October wedding.
Okay, on to the best exterior house colors.
This is tough.
It’s tough because if it weren’t trying, you would be cleaning the oven instead of reading this. One reason it’s difficult is that there are many house styles and locations.
So, let’s go over those variables first.
- Where is your home located?
This is huge because the colors for a home in Nantucket are apt to be quite different from a house in Phoenix.
- What style is your home?
What is it made of? Brick, siding, shingle, stucco, stone; or, a combo of two or more of those elements?
- What are the other homes like that are nearby?
- What’s going on inside your home? You already know this, but you wouldn’t have a red door if the interior is mostly orange. The exterior colors should relate to the interior colors.
- And finally, what size is your home?
I read not too long ago that a large house should never be white.
Okay, I’ll send the painters down to DC just as soon as it’s deemed safe to do so.
I think it’s the opposite if anything. Large homes look better in lighter colors, IMO. But again, if there’s a lot of architectural interest and white trim, a dark house can also be okay.
But, this is another point. I feel quite strongly that an architectural gem is going to look great in a lot of colors. It’s the fugly, plain, weird architecture that’s going to be more of a challenge.
There’s a game I’ve played with myself for years– especially when I travel. And, it’s seeing a hideous building and then imagining it painted white. Every time, in my mind’s eye, I see it looking much better.
Before we get into some of my favorite exterior paint colors and combinations, a few essential things to know if you already don’t.
Exterior paint colors behave differently than interior paint colors.
Well, one of those is that the exterior paint colors almost always appear lighter outside than they do on the interior walls. And if the house is in bright sunlight– very much so.
So, a lovely soft off-white inside might look too bright for what you have in mind. Therefore, I would go a shade or two down from what you are thinking of.
But ALWAYS test your colors! And we do that the same way we check them on the inside.
Not like this. Sorry, if this is your house. But it’s best to look at the colors one at a time.
Okay, there are so many wonderful exterior house colors.
But, today, I want to focus on some of my favorites and possible colors to use. I say, likely because the color I suggest might not be right for your home.
Another crucial point and this one is the same as for interior paint colors. What you see in a magazine or online is not always what you’re going to get.
Design – Pak Heydt & Assoc. Body: Whitewash – Shutters: Black Forest Green by Benjamin Moore – Doors: Classic Burgundy Benjamin Moore – photo – Laurey W Glenn via Southern Living
For example, they are saying that the body of this lovely home is whitewash. Above is Lancaster Whitewash. That doesn’t look anything like the body color. But, just as bad is the door color. They are saying that it is Benjamin Moore Classic Burgundy.
This is Benjamin Moore Classic Burgundy. See what I mean? This is why when folks ask me, “what is that color?” it drives me a little coo-coo. As I always say. Just match what you see. What it IS, is irrelevant at least 90% of the time.
Above, is another home with a Benjamin Moore Classic Burgundy front door.
It is closer to Heritage Red, which is a beautiful red for a front door.
PJ Havel Kennebunkport Maine Benjamin Moore Heritage red door
For more fabulous front door paint colors, go here.
It looks even closer to Benjamin Moore Million Dollar Red 2003-10 – a very true, vibrant red.
Black forest green pm 12 – is that cool darkest shade of green.
You often see it done for the shutters on a white home.
Let’s continue with classic white homes and some of the best white and off-white exterior paint colors.
We’ll also be looking at some favorite coordinating door and shutter colors.
This Federal home near where I used to live is a long-time favorite. It is all white. And, certainly, painting a house all white or any, ONE color is a valid design choice. In fact, it was commonplace to paint a house all one color in the 18th century.
Julia Berolzheimer – Gal Meets Glam – photo- Hector Manuel Sanchez – Lizzie Cullen Cox – Southern Living
The shutters are Benjamin Moore Blue Porcelain 1641
The body is Benjamin Moore Simply White oc 117
Please note. I color corrected this image as the original image was skewing pink.
The shutters look like DUXBURY GRAY hc – 163
I just think the architecture is incredible in this lovely home. All of it. The colors and the landscaping too. It all needs to work together.
Benjamin Moore ICICLE – with TARRYTOWN GREEN hc Door
ivory white 925 is another lovely off-white.
ACADIA WHITE ac-43 is Ivory White’s identical twin – From my client’s home in Kentucky.
WHITE DOVE – oc-17 is an enduring classic. For more homes in white dove, please check out this post.
SWISS COFFEE – oc-45
I love it when folks paint their home to match the dog. :]
CHINA WHITE – is not my favorite interior color because it can go rogue and look like a pale muddy pale gold or go gray and cool. But outside, it’s a mellow cream.
The trim could be KENDALL CHARCOAL hc 166
BALLET WHITE oc-9 – is a little deeper than Swiss Coffee. It will most likely look like a warm, pretty off-white on the exterior.
The shutters look like STONINGTON GRAY hc-170. This is a classic gray with a slight blue undertone.
Tim Adams – Architect – Photo by Emily Jenkins Followill
Handsome home in Florida- via Traditional Home. The trim and shutters look like REVERE PEWTER hc-172 I love this classical Florida style.
Remember when I was pretending to look for a classical home in Florida?
Yes, this is the same house. I know… Sick. And talk about the inside and outside connecting!
Bruce Wilkin in Oak Bay, VANCOUVER Island, BC
Oh, what a beauty! Can I have this one, please? Love the Chinese Chippendale railing.
LANCASTER WHITEWASH hc-174 is a classic cream.
Another nice one is MONTEREY WHITE hc-27.
White Dove goes with most of the light to medium historical colors– or any of the other white shades too. But please test first.
HAWTHORNE YELLOW hc-5 – looks very fresh and unexpected in this charming one a half story craftsman bungalow. The image was taken from a real estate listing, and the home is no longer for sale.
This is a fabulous reno! Please check out the rest of the home in the link.
This is their recipe for the body of the house color:
Siding Color: 1/2 SOOT & 1/2 WITCHING HOUR by Benjamin Moore
Trim: DOVE WING by Benjamin Moore
The siding colors are both dark blue-blacks. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. But this is one of those homes that looks different in every photo. I do love the white trim. Dove Wing has a lot of gray in it, but with the dark color looks like a relatively crisp white.
But please know that there are dozens of whites that would be absolutely fine with this dark, rich navy.
Another fabulous off-black is the color Nancy Keyes used on her charming garage. And blimey. She sent me the interior, and I cannot find the photos.
HALE NAVY hc-154 – is a classic and popular navy. I love how fabulous it looks on this home. I’m not sure about the door color, though.
PURITAN GRAY hc-164
This color was not on my radar, but I absolutely adore how it looks on this fabulous four-square by Donald Lococo.
And now, my very favorite exterior paint color
If I was a house and I needed to be painted, I would want to be one of Martha Stewart’s houses in her compound in Katonah, NY. This is one thing I know quite a lot about because I lived only 3 miles a day and drove past it dozens of times as it was on my way to clients and a choir I sang in for several years.
One can say a lot of things about Martha, but one marvelous thing she did was develop this enormous piece of property, which is in the Hamlet of Katonah in the town of B,edford.
There are several buildings of various sizes, and each of them is painted this ONE COLOR.
This is an accurate 17th-18th century way of painting country homes–particularly in New England and Salt Box styles. They didn’t have the luxury of selecting a contrast color. OR, maybe they just preferred it that way. Me too!
The color is most likely Martha’s Bedford Gray. (and please check out the rest of her stunning property)
I spent several
days hours obsessing over which Benjamin Moore color comes the closest. And the one I ended up with is…
drum roll ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ROCKPORT GRAY – hc-105
And yes, another one of the historical grays. Perhaps you’ve noticed by now that most of these are from the Benjamin Moore historical colors.
Rockport Gray is a nano touch darker than Martha’s Bedford Gray, but over-all the same tonality.
It’s warm, putty color, with a touch of green and brown and a lot of gray. There is a lot of stone on the property, and the color looks amazing with it and with all of the lush greenery that abounds.
I found a closeup!
It’s 150 acres of heaven!
please pin for reference
And, please pin this one too, if you like.
Phew! I did it! I hope that you enjoyed this collection of some of my favorite exterior paint colors.
By the way, many of these colors are in the Laurel Home Paint Color Collection.
Also, you might enjoy checking out the best paint colors to go with red brick.
***Mother’s Day is only ONE WEEK away!***
You still have time to get her a gift online. So, please check out the Mother’s Day Gift and flower shop. You can access it here. Or, there’s a link to it on the main HOT SALES page.
Laurel – the link to see more of that “sick” Florida house isn’t working. Can you fix? What a wonderful post. Thank you.
Oh, sorry about that. That’s an old link as this post was a heavy re-working of an old post. At least 80% of the content is new. The reason that link wasn’t working (it’s gone now), is because it linked to the now-defunct, Traditional Home Mag. I liked that publication. It’s a shame it went under.
I know I’m a bit late, but just chiming in to agree that Simply White is a wonderful exterior color. We just painted our 1990s mcmansion Simply White – I had to convince my husband and the painter/contractor to do the whole house in Simply White, with no trim. As a concession there will be a tiny strip of deep navy on the fascia, just on part of the house.
They thought all white would be boring, but everyone in our area has muddy colors, to match all the evergreens. Our white stands out without trying. Thanks as always for your posts.
I recommend hiring someone in your area for help with this.
Thank you for this timely post. My house is a neighborhood favorite (everyone calls it the Hansel & Gretel house), but previous owners did it no favors with stark white paint and the cheapest, most bland roof shingles on the market. It’s an English cottage with what I believe is considered a false thatch roof (the edges are rounded). The ugly shingles finally gave out, so I’ve replaced them with a lovely three-dimensional cedar-shingle lookalike in “weathered wood” color. The roof is looking great, but now it’s time to paint the soffits (they’re very deep, so the color will make an impression) and fascia. I don’t know whether to stick with white or go with something darker to coordinate with the new roof. I hope to re-paint the whole house eventually, but that’s not in the budget right now.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Laurel: I , too, love the Martha house with body and trim all in one color, but it looks like the windows are also the same color–probably original, painted wood. Do you think you can do this look if you have, for example, white replacement windows that can’t be painted and you do the body and trim in something like Rockport Gray? Or do you need house body, trim, and windows to be all the same color for this to work?
I love your sense of humor! I always like reading your posts to see what you have to say next. I just finished painting my screened in porch ‘Raccoon Fur” by Bennie Moore and was tickled to see that you mentioned it in this post. Not that I need your approval to use it, but it always feels good to pick an out-of-the-box color to discover an honorable mention on one of my favorite’s blog post! I like to push the envelope when it comes to design and needed a change for my boring, all white screened in porch. As I sat having my morning coffee, it hit me that I needed to paint it black or something close to it. I love the inky black-blue of this color. I have never seen a blue raccoon, but the color is spot-on for what I envisioned in my mind. Once I get the furnishings installed, I will send a photo.
I’d love to see that, Carolyn.
Hi, Laurel! Thrilled to see your focus on exterior colors, because in my restlessness to DO something) and get outside in the quarantine, I somewhat recklessly bought paint online to paint my front door. No testing, not even a real paint swatch in hand – yikes. I have Farrow & Ball Hague Blue in a gloss. My husband said yesterday, ‘What about the shutters?’ Oh..double yikes..hadn’t considered the shutters..Well, the shutters desperately need to be repainted too (now more so..) If our house is a creamy neutral, any thoughts on your picks – Kendall Charcoal or Puritan Gray – to coordinate with Hague Blue?
I’ve proudly avoided the at-home haircuts, but please help me avoid a much worse mistake!
I love your posts and pictures. I have a ranch style up in N. Calif. The house has a rock facing on the bottom half of this cream,sandy beige almost peachy tones?? I so don’t want a beige house or peach any ideas?
There is a lot of advice on this blog on how to choose colors. Please use the search box located on the sidebar. Only someone standing in your room can do that. So, option one is to hire a professional to help you. Option two is to do it yourself.
Hi Laurel- my input is off topic, but in a good way 🙂 – my husband and I, at home and totally bored, have been doing alot of baking during these corona weeks. He had a taste for chocolate cake. I recalled reading your “Plotz” chocolate cake a while back, so I dug the recipe out of your archives and we made it yesterday. IT’S FANTASTIC! We didn’t have buttermilk, but substituted with sour cream and milk. We followed the directions exactly- room temperature everything, and even waiting for the cake to cool before frosting. It took a long time, but we got a fluffy, perfect sponge that’s very moist and tasty. So, on top of all the design tips you share, thank you for passing on that recipe!
I have to laugh. Chocolate cake is never off-topic. hahaha. Forewarned. The cake will be even better, tonight.
As I walk around my neighborhood I’m seeing more & more homes painted white with black windows. There are some less than terrific ones. Some of the white paint colors are less than desirable. Too stark!
I guess they don’t read your blog. 😉
Yeah, it’s a common mistake to paint a too-bright white for the exterior. But, it depends on the lighting. Sometimes a brighter white like Chantilly Lace, for example, is just the ticket. That’s why it’s so important to test.
Thank you for this! We’re getting a plain jane tiny house for our property this summer (for guests, relatives, & a little air bnb. I’ve been mulling over what color(s) to paint it… a fairly light shade as we live in a hot climate, and something that will fade into the woodsy background rather than stick out. Now I have a few more ideas! Love the Martha paint dupes.
Thanks so much, Julie!
Wonderful blog Laurel,
I tried a couple of white samples on my 1890 farmhouse (straight, almost Greek Revival lines, original 6 over 6 windows) and ended up with BM Parish White from the Williamsburg Collection (hint of pale yellow outside) with BM Bracken Cream trim and BM Newberg Green for the window muntins (and future restored shutters and front door). The stark whites that I tried were too severe for the old house with our cold northern light.
A very timely post, as I will soon be embarking upon a major exterior renovation of my mid-19th century Greek Revival. It’s currently kind of a pale sage green with cream-colored trim and dark green shutters and doors (this was done by a previous owner, hence the vagueness) and judging from what’s peeking out from beneath the green was once upon a time a pale yellow. I’ve decided to go with Rockport Gray, China White for the trim, and an even darker shade of green for the doors. The shutters are coming down and won’t be replaced at this time.
Thank you for your reply. I did use your search…..
Thanks for the Sunday morning eye candy to enjoy with my cup of tea. How lovely to see the Bruce Wilkins home which is in my neighbourhood. It’s even more gorgeous in person. I didn’t know who designed it until you enlightened me. His website is spectacular. He gets it right every time in an style. What a talent.
As for the $9000 tp, they could have installed a bidet for that money. Crazy town!
I painted our house Porous Stone, a Dunn Edwards color that they had in a color brochure on a gorgeous wood clad home. Unfortunately, ours is stucco and it just looks dirty. I did have large swatches of 4 colors on the front before choosing. The neighbor across the street was kind enough to tell me one of them turned lavender in the morning sun. I was very grateful since I wasn’t looking at all times of the day. Wish she would’ve told me to keep looking. So expensive to repaint a whole house. Great post.
She could try Color Muse. Have you done a post on it? I can’t remember. Love your blog!
I’m not familiar with Color Muse. And also not sure who “she” is. But, thanks for the suggestion, Dian.
Laurel, great post as usual. I’ve heard that yellow is one of the hardest colors to get right on the exterior, and I can attest to that! I spent over a year searching for the right yellow and finally chose BM Philadelphia Cream for our New England home. It’s perfect: not too pale, bright or vivid, just soft yellow. Looks very muddy on the chip, so never would have chosen if not for the suggestion by a color expert.
Reading your blog has come to be a part of my Sunday morning ritual. I love your posts and look forward to them each week. I live in sunny Florida with an architecturally average Joe house. Next time we paint, I had planned on using Hawthorne Yellow. I’ve loved it for years. I’m hoping my strict and outdated HOA will approve! I was pleasantly surprised that it was one of your favorite picks. It gives me more confidence in my choices. Thank you for your generous gift of teaching us each week!
On a side note, my SIL is building a beach house and I feel she has a lot more leeway on what would be appropriate. I love those bright happy colors. I can’t wait to see what she picks!
I’m disappointed you didn’t show any “earthy” colors. We are building a new home in Williamsburg VA surrounded by woods and water. It seems everyone has either a White House or a Gray house. I wanted something different, that blended with the surrounding nature. I went with Sherwin Williams Warm Stone, SW Tricorn Black Shutters and BM Chantilly Lace trim. Used the same trim inside with Farrow and Ball Skimming Stone walls. Front door and garage doors are stained walnut. For a bit of color, the headboard ceilings on the porches are BM Palladian Blue. I don’t think I can attach a photo here.
Gosh, I think they’re all earthy. Maybe you mean colors veering more towards brown or bronze? However, your colors sound terrific and appropriate for your location. At one point I was thinking maybe it should just be the best white colors and another, the best dark colors. Of course, I’m always going to disappoint some people, I guess. But, also, in my Laurel Home paint collection, there are at least 3 colors that are very close to SW Warm Stone. There are also numerous shades of black and Chantilly Lace is both here and in my collection.
I realize that you’re building a home; it’s expensive and you don’t want to think that you made a mistake. Please trust yourself and your advisers, if there are any.
Laurel, as always I enjoyed your post. I don’t believe I noticed any beige colors. I can only assume it is not one of your favorites. Maybe I am just a tad offended because I live in a boring beige house with white trim. :). Thanks for your hard work, maybe my next house will be a beautiful deep blue!
Well, I’ve never said “boring beige” unless I’m disputing that it’s a “boring” color. It’s how beige is used, or any color for that matter, that can make it boring. Maybe I didn’t make it clear that this is not an exhaustive list of great house colors. I’m sure I could’ve come up with at least 100.
Thanks for this beautiful post–I could feel myself relaxing reading it. I would be happy to live in anyone of them!!
PS. I hope we will all get an invite to your wedding in October 😉
Your aces at helping people discuss color for their architecturally perfect homes but what can be done about my ugly duckling? (Destruction is not an option)
I believe there are already some posts about that. Please look up ranch and split level, builder home. Those key words in the search box. in the blog sidebar on a desktop computer or tablet. There’s no search box on mobile, unfortunately.
Great post, Laurel! As always, thanks for the mention of our garage! I was about to go out there to trim the boxwoods and took a few minutes to read your blog and was happy to see the little “house”! XOXO
This is when you get a can of black spray paint and you write on the siding. What on earth were you thinking? haha
Thanks so much, K!
Hello Laurel, I think the bigger the house, the lighter and more conservative should be the paint color. Taking walks near where I live in Ohio (when will I get back there?), there are some very large houses painted dark gray, and they have a depressing, institutional look. The Stewart gray look more like a stony gray-beige, and is much classier. There is another large house painted regular beige, but it is mid-century and the beige gives it such a 1960’s retro look that I like it for that house, but otherwise would think twice about that color. I once was considering buying a house (you would have loved that one!), but the house next door was painted bright pink!
I like to see white making a comeback as an exterior “color.”
Did white go away? I don’t know. I don’t get out much. haha
I just read Martha Stewart Living magazine – May 2020 issue. On page 31 she has a picture of her monochromatic Turkey Hill home. It says “This soft, historically appropriate gray is a custom-blended Sherwin-Williams color; for a similar look, try Sherwin-Williams paint in Amazing Gray.
I love reading your posts! Thanks for all the research you do.
It could be a similar color. But, they’re two different homes. Her Turkey Hill home is in Westport, CT. The home I’m talking about is her estate in Katonah, NY which is comprised of half a dozen or so houses. I think the exterior color is a little deeper than Amazing Gray. One thing for sure. The homes are painted all in one color, including any brickwork, trim, shutters, and doors. The effect is stunning with all of the mature trees and plantings on the property.
Hi Laurel, Happy May! Beautiful post! A neighbor re-painted the exterior of her home white and except for the door which is a dark stain it is all the same color. With her lush landscaping its spectacular. Its a softer white than what was before and the trim is the same as the body of the house. Unfortunately she wouldn’t tell me which BM white it is, I have since learned she is a designer but I am determined to make a trip to the BM store and do some sleuthing. Have a wonderful Sunday!
What a b*tch! I have no patience for people like that. If I had found the perfect white for my house and the neighbors wanted to know, I’d be more than happy to tell them what it is so I didn’t have to look at their sometimes not-so-great selections. I hope you’re able to crack the code. Please let me know if you do. xo
Very interesting blog this week, and mostly all of the weeks too! Good job. I’d like to send you an image of the exterior of my 18th century farmhouse In upstate NY for comment (this is not a wedding invitation). A “how to” if interested. Kind regards.
I’m not invited to the wedding??? Why not? ;] I’ll be there– with bells on! Or, I can leave the bells at home, if you’d prefer. You may email me: admin at laurel bern interiors dot com. (spelled out because of spammers) Speaking of which, only one or two emails and no more than a dozen images, of fairly large resolution. Thank you.
I’d love to see a post about door and trim colors for brick homes. My house is antiqued orange brick with some darker tones mixed in.
I linked to a previous post about colors that look good with red brick. – There it is again. Also, look at the post about colors that look good with stained wood.
Love reading your blog. Always informative and allows me to have a different perspective on decor. A question I have is with different colors in brick, siding, shutters, trim, would you introduce a fifth color or choose a shade drawn for the siding or brick? I have a white door but wanting to have a change. I like the idea of a soft color. Thanks.
I can’t say without seeing the whole situation. I might suggest doing something completely different from what’s already there. I can’t say, blindly.
All beautiful homes in wonderful colors. But as you stated, they are all architecturally perfect, so they’d look good in any color!
I’m partial to Black Forest Green–I used it for a wood fence in a small yard rather than the traditional white. It blends in perfectly with the foliage and appears to recede rather than advance, so you focus on the garden instead of the fence.
Thanks for a great Sunday morning read!
Please note that I said “a lot of colors,” not “any color.” I think it’s quite possible to muck up beautiful architecture with a not-so-great color(s). But, most of the time, if people have the architectural part right, they have the taste to come up with beautiful colors and landscaping for the rest.
Hi Laurel –
Your blog is such an informative – and entertaining – source of information. Thank you for your candor with so many subjects – I really enjoy reading your site – I always learn something new. You are a fantastic writer!
Best to you!
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