Choosing Exterior Paint Colors

It’s that time of year and you probably need the exterior of your house painted or stained.  One of the biggest challenges our clients seem to have is choosing exterior paint colors.  Mostly it is because it is such a large investment, they just don’t want to choose the “wrong” paint or stain color.  Let’s address a few things to help you out.

Home Styles in the Midwest

Honestly, home styles play a part in the exterior paint color selection process.  What colors work for one home style would look silly or horrible on another.  Let me try to break it down for you.  There are five or six style homes that we see here in the Midwest and some of the tips that I give to folks.

  1. Contemporary Home Style –  Integrate Beautifully with Plants and Environment
  2. Cape Code Home Style – Steep Pitched Gabled Roof
  3. Colonial Home Style – Dutch Lap Sided, Front Porches
  4. Georgian Home Style – Brick Houses, Big Columns
  5. Tudor – Wood Cladding around Windows with Contrasting Colors, High Gables
  6. Victorian Home Style – Looks much like a Dollhouse, Gingerbread House with Ornate Millwork


Contemporary Style Home:

The contemporary style home really is designed to flow with the surrounding environment, by which I mean the trees, background, and typically has earth tone colors to match nature.  I guide my customers to a one-color or two-color application.  I think the best look is not a dramatic contrast either between the two colors, but subtle.  I call the subtle 2-color look for this style of home tone-on-tone.

Cape Cod Style Home:

I typically don’t see many cape cod style homes.  I love Cape Cod homes for their simple, less ornate look.  I would call a Cape Code home quaint with it’s larger lap siding.  One of my favorite paint colors to use on a Cape Cod is a light yellow, marigold or buttercup yellow.  This turns out very stunning.  Most times, homeowners paint even the corner boards or soffits the same color as the siding.  We might accentuate the dormers or shutters, but the front door is the star of the show in a Cape Cod.  The front door should make a bold statement.  With a yellow home, I like to use for the front door a bright red, burgundy, cranberry, deep blue, deep greens, teal blue, charcoal, and slate.

Colonial Style Home:

Colonial homes are light in nature.   I would say 7 out of 10 most of the colonial style homes I see are either are white or some version of an off-white or Navajo white.  With this white, there typically is a very stark contrast like a deep color for the shutters like a deep plum, black, or charcoal gray.  This contrast is color should pick up the roof line.  The front door, again, is the star and should make a real pop or impression with a bright, bold color.

Georgian Style Home:

Georgian style homes are generally mostly brick with tall columns and white trim work.  White is typically the big driving color with a contrasting color for the shutters, such as black or charcoal slate color.

Tudor Style Home:

Believe it or not, the typical exterior paint color for most Tudor home styles is actually called Tudor Brown.  The stucco panels and trim work are white or Navajo white.  Also, a tone-on-tone looks amazing as well.  An amazing color is Sail Cloth by Benjamin Moore.  I am actually not a big fan of doing a contrasting front door on the Tudor style home.

Victorian Style Home:

Victorian style homes have no real hard and fast color rules.  You pick a color and roll with it.  The color options are endless.  I’ve seen Victorian homes with as little as five colors and as many as twenty colors.  I love yellow on the outside of Victorians, otherwise known as Painted Ladies.  I think the yellow paint colors give such a unique, classy look to the home.  My favorite is Benjamin Moore’s Hawthorne Yellow.  There are many ways to accent the yellow too with Benjamin Moore’s Montgomery White, or blues, plums, black, deep black or charcoal.  With a Victorian home, color can be determined by how much money you want to spend on the home.  The more colors, the more costly the exterior paint project will become.

Choosing Exterior Paint Options:

Another great way to get ideas for exterior paint choices for your home is to just drive around the neighborhood. Find homes that you really love their exterior colors.  But keep in mind, you need to make sure their roof color matches yours.  Your exterior colors have to blend well with the exterior roof color and the color of your gutters and downspouts too.  So when looking around the neighborhood, keep that in mind.

Secondly, drive over to your neighborhood professional paint stores like J.C. Licht which carries Benjamin Moore or a Sherwin Williams store.  They are multi-billion dollar companies and they make these paint charts up for a reason.  They typically now have not only the exterior colors selected for you but also accent colors were chosen which would go well with that siding color.  

Call up an interior designer who specializes in color selections.  Ask the designer if they are comfortable picking out color choices for the exterior of homes.  They are great to work with because they take into account all the surroundings as well, like your trees, perennials, and bushes. 

Make sure you have your home prepared properly so that you can have the longest life possible out of your exterior paint job.

Don’t forget, if you need an estimate on getting your home’s exterior painted, give me a call.   My team and I have been serving the South Barrington, Barrington, North Barrington, Inverness, Lake Zurich, Schaumburg, Elgin, Long Grove, South Elgin, Palatine, Wayne, Deerfield, and all of Chicago area for 30+ years.

Other Home Improvement Videos:

Exterior Paint or Stain:  Which One Should Use?

Woodpecker Holes – How to Repair Cedar Siding