When it comes to maintaining your home’s exterior, sometimes the hardest part is choosing colors. Finding a skilled contractor and using their recommendations to find high quality materials is fairly straightforward, but deciding on something like your home’s exterior color palette isn’t so cut and dry.

There are a few rules of thumb to remember when you’re choosing a color scheme that’s right for your exterior. These key principles will help you plan ahead for your home’s design or remodel to give your home the look it deserves.

Take Cues From Your Neighborhood

Choosing the right exterior colors for your home is a matter of balance. While you want to make your home stand out, you also want the exterior to fit in with the aesthetic of the rest of the neighborhood.

Take a look around your block before you start choosing hues. Chances are you’ll notice a common pattern in the colors you see: they’ll likely all be similar shades.

In the photo above, for instance, you can see that all of the homes pictured have a warm color scheme. Each has its own individual palette made of different colors, but they all stick to the same family of warmer shades complemented by light neutrals.

Blending in with surrounding homes is a safe bet. But there’s room to stand out, so long as you choose colors that are still within the same color scheme as the rest of the neighborhood. If you wanted to stand out in the neighborhood pictured, for example, you could go with bolder colors in the same warm tones, like rust orange or a deep, brown-based plum.

Use Nature’s Influence

If you live in an area where neighbors aren’t so close by, it may be better to look to the surrounding landscape for color inspiration. Base your color palette on hues that naturally occur in the scenery outside your door.

If your home is surrounded by trees, for example, you can choose colors that complement the landscape. Mountain or forest homes tend to look great with rich, woody browns, rugged stone grays and accents of pine green. A home located on the coast would look very different with oceanic blues, sandy tans, dune grass greens and shell pinks.

Using your setting to inspire your color choices doesn’t always require matching. You can also opt for colors that complement or contrast flatteringly against the natural hues present on your property.

Consider Your Architecture

If your home has unique architectural elements, you may want to consider highlighting them with one or more accent colors. This technique works great for ornate trim, railings and columns, not to mention other unique decorative details in your design.

Should you go this route, you’ll need to decide whether you want your accent colors to be conservative or bold. If you go the more reserved route, stick to accents that are a few shades darker or lighter than your exterior’s base color. You also can’t go wrong with a crisp white or off-white, whichever complements your palette best.

If you’d like to showcase a more vibrant accent, you’ll need to make sure it’s in the same family of tones as the rest of your exterior.

When considering your architecture, you’ll also want to think about the other aspects of your exterior design, like your home’s shape, size and its unpainted elements.

The colors you choose and how you use them can impact how large your house is perceived to be. Generally speaking, darker colors tend to make things appear smaller and shorter, while lighter colors make things appear larger and taller.

If you have a small property with a relatively big home, choosing all light shades might make the home seem too big for the lot. Additionally, if you don’t have any tall trees around, a tall, light-colored house can seem looming.

Conversely, homes can be made to appear taller by painting their top portions a lighter color. This might be a solution when there are taller homes on either side of your home or large trees surrounding the property. The exterior colors featured in the home pictured above are a perfectly combination of lighter and darker shades of gray. This gives the whole property a balanced, clean design, especially when offset by the home’s natural surroundings.

Note that your home’s unpaintable elements should also have a big influence on your choice of exterior colors. A traditional red terracotta roof, for example, is unlikely to go with every color scheme. Avoid a clashing exterior by picking colors that go well with the parts of your home that won’t be modified later on.

Take Cues From History

If you have an older home, honor its history by looking at typical color choices for the time period. You may be able to find information about local historic color palettes at your city’s Chamber of Commerce or historical architectural organization.

Don’t forget to check with paint manufacturers. Some brands like Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore and Rodda have their own collections of pre-selected color palettes based on historic records.

By choosing a color scheme that matches your home’s style and period, you can actually increase its value. Buyers appreciate when an old home has been preserved well and is refurbished in a way that emphasizes its history.

Stay Happy in Your Home

There’s a lot to navigate in your quest for the perfect exterior color scheme! Keep an eye on local trends and have a few of the above strategies on hand. Doing your research ensures that your home looks its best, no matter what color palette you choose.

By planning ahead and knowing what goes into choosing your home’s exterior color, you’ll be happier in your home for years to come.

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