Exterior Paint Colors that Withstand the Test of Time!

Color911 Amy Wax Exterior color
The exterior colors of a home say something about the people that live inside!

There are many ways of choosing exterior colors for a home. Every day, I am creating custom color palettes and there can be a dramatic difference between the colors for one home to the next. This is usually because the people inside are very different, and my color palettes will reflect their individual sense of style.

So often people will focus on decorating the inside of their home, but this time, we are going to take a closer look at choosing the best colors for the exterior of your home.

I will be writing several posts on creating exterior color palettes, because there are many ways of approaching this topic. For now, I want to focus on choosing colors that withstand the test of time!



Across this great country, there are a wide variety of architectural styles. You will more likely see New England colonials in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and quaint bungalows in the southern California. You might see sprawling ranches across the southern states, and vintage farmhouses in rural Pennsylvania, every location has it’s own personality and it’s own style!


The style of your home is the first thing to consider when choosing paint colors. You can research colors that are appropriate for your style or choose colors that reflect the time when your home was built. For the history buffs out there, it might give you a sense of direction as to where to start this process.


The style of your home matters, but should not restrict you from choosing colors you love. It is only one way of finding color inspiration. It only matters if your homes historic beginnings are important to you.




A second important factor to consider is whether your home is in daylight or in shadow. Where your home is built, might influence the color or depth of color you choose for your exterior. Is your home in blazing sunlight, with little to no tree cover? Are you living further south where there are longer days of blazing sunlight? The harsh lighting conditions can wash out a stronger paint color, and cause your paint color to fade more quickly. Either way, if you’re in full sunlight a medium to lighter color might be the best option for your home.


Consequently, if you are in complete shadow, perhaps a brighter color will liven up your exterior colors. Keep in mind when you are choosing your exterior paint color, that it will appear a little darker where it is in shadow. A brighter color might be the way to add life to a color palette that lives in the shadows!


If you are looking at the amount of light, focus on either the front of your home or where you spend the most time. Decide if your priority is curb appeal or resale and focus on how much light is on the front of your home. If you spend countless hours enjoying your back deck, then look at the amount of light in that area first.


It’s all in the details:


A third factor to keep in mind, is your architectural details, and the contrast level between your colors. If you would like to accentuate your molding, decorative millwork, shutters or front door, then you should add more contrast to those elements so they stand out.


For example, contrasting shutters that are a rich color will stand out against a lighter body color. The contrast will add interest and make your home more interesting. If you have shutters that almost match the color of your house, they will almost disappear.


A more contrasting color palette can have more visual interest, whereas a less contrasting color palette will be quieter and more understated.


Lets Talk Color:


There are a few colors that have been popular and continue to be crowd pleasers! Natural colors such as, an earthy taupe, softer grays and sunny yellows have certainly stood the test of time. What makes these color families unique is that they are popular at the palest and boldest ends of the spectrum.


A feathery light gray, can be just as beautiful as a charcoal gray. A creamy yellow is as popular as a sunny bright yellow, a taupe is often thought of as the warmer version of gray, with the same appeal. Another great color to try is a softer blue gray. It’s a very popular choice which looks dynamite as a saturated navy blue! Sage greens have also been a popular color for residential exteriors.


If you are looking for a reliable color palette, any one of the colors will stand the test of time.


Make it your own!


Adding your own accent colors will make the colors of your home reflect your personal style! If you are looking for accents, look towards accents in the burgundy, plum or purple family. Midnight blue is an elegant choice and will contrast beautifully with the siding of your home. Choosing a saturated color for your shutters or front door, will add personality and give your home a look all it’s own.


Traditionally the front door is a place where homeowners will play with fun color choices. It is the smallest place to add color, and it can have the biggest impact! Try a brighter yellow or even a teal blue or lime green. The most traditional approach is the bright red door. Any of these colors can certainly make a great first impression!


Choosing colors for your home is an extremely important decision, and I think you should LOVE the colors of your home. Take the time to sample colors on several places on your home, it is worth it to give this process the time it deserves to get it right!



For color inspiration or if you’re looking for a place to start, use the Color 911 app as a guide, clicking and pointing at colors for inspiration. The Color911 app also provides you with over 100 pre-made color themes to choose from, so you can see what colors go well together. Let the colors inspire you to create a color palette that makes your heart sing!


Finally, think of the architecture of your home, the lighting, the details and the accent colors. Put all of this together and will be able to create your own exterior color palette. I hope you are inspired, and transform your home’s exterior with new colors and become the envy of your neighbor’s eye!


If you would like to see my personal color work, feel free to take a look at my website at AmyWax.com





About the Author: Amy Wax

Amy Wax, creator of Color 911®, is an artist and experienced color consultant, recognized for her expertise in the world of color and design. Fifteen years ago, Amy created Your Color Source Studios, Inc. a company specializing in the architectural application of color. Amy has received numerous awards for her color expertise.

Learn More About Amy

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