The #1 Biggest Challenge When Picking Home Exterior Colors
Over the years, I’ve spoken to hundreds of homeowners about why they find selecting home exterior colors so challenging, and it always seems to come down to just a handful of reasons. Of these, one is by far the reason I hear most often. The #1 challenge is, “There are too many colors, and I can’t make up my mind.”
I understand the frustration. Whether you are selecting a DaVinci Roofscapes blend or choosing from thousands of paint colors, selecting a color can seem overwhelming. I know because the truth is picking the colors for a home exterior without a tried and true method is challenging.
Right here and right now, I’m going to turn what you once thought was a challenge into a straightforward step-by-step process you can follow in choosing colors.
I’ll summarize here but you can also find this color selection process in each of the books below that you can instantly download with just a click.
FRESH: a 5-step way to find the correct hues for any house’s exterior more quickly
Taking the frustration out of choosing colors begins with knowing how to hone in on what colors might work well on your home. Once you understand how to do that, you will no longer be looking at all of the colors but instead just choosing from a small range of colors.
The process is not complicated. It is five steps that you can easily remember by using the word FRESH:
Each letter in FRESH stands for one of the five elements I consider. By looking at each of these five, you, too, will be able to pick the right home exterior colors confidently.
Environment or Surroundings
Style of the Home
Historic or Have-To-Use Colors
Let’s begin with the F, which stands for fixed features. I like to start here not just because it is the first letter but also because it is the first thing you need to consider.
Unless your home is being built from the ground up, it is not a blank canvas. Before thinking about adding or changing any element, you need to consider the colors already part of the home’s exterior. When it comes to color, I call the fixed features the most influential pieces of the house. The fixed features are the more permanent elements of a home and include foundation, roofing, retaining and walkways, and even your decks and patios.
The fixed features may be different materials, but they work best together when their colors harmonize. Repeating the color from one fixed feature to the next begins to unify the exterior color scheme visually.
When all of the permanent elements from the roof down have a similar tone or color cast, it sets the stage for your exterior color scheme by opening up options for the primary and accent colors.
Next is “R” for regional colors. Look at how the location of your home can influence your color scheme. For example, a brighter terra cotta color that would seem odd in northern climates may be an excellent choice for areas where the sunlight is intense.
Regional color preferences come from a blend of your region’s natural characteristics –climate, topography, landscape, and quality of the natural light –together with the available materials historically used in your area.
Environment and Surroundings
Honing in on this idea further takes us to your environment and surroundings represented by the “E” in FRESH. As you determine your home exterior colors, you’ll want to consider the overall look of the neighborhood. While you won’t want your home to be a twin of another house close by, you do want your home to blend in with the community. I like to find a color scheme that stands out while still fitting in.
Your surroundings include your lot and landscaping. If you have a heavily wooded, you might think twice about a dark color that will seem even darker when it is in the shade. A dark color is also not the best choice to show off great landscaping around your house.
Style of the House
We are up to the “S”, which is all about the style of the house. You will want a color scheme to respect your home’s architecture.
Exploring the traditional colors used for your style of home can inspire a scheme right for today. Don’t worry about matching colors exactly but rather find hues with a similar character and fits today’s taste.
Historic or Have-to-Use Colors
Always remember that the color and materials support the home’s look and architecture, not vice versa. The final step represented by the letter “H” is two factors — historic colors and have-to-use colors.
While you want a home’s exterior to reflect your personality, you may not have carte blanche with your color choices. Both older and newer homes may be subject to regulations of a homeowners’ association (HOA) or historic district.
Some neighborhoods have pre-approved color palettes for homeowners to keep a similar look to all community areas. You will want to fully understand any rules these organizations impose or any approvals the homeowner needs to gain before you make your final color selections.
Having to follow guidelines may limit your creativity since the colors are generally selected to keep uniformity in the neighborhood or protect an area’s historic nature. Still, you will usually have enough options to choose from so that the home doesn’t look just like the home next door.
Even if the home isn’t in a historic district, you can use traditional colors. Whether your home is old or new, using historic colors allows you to create the same design excellence found throughout history. The good news is that most of the most popular exterior paint colors have their roots in the past.
So there you have it, an overview of my five FRESH steps to get you started. I am confident that if you follow the FRESH approach, you can put together a color scheme you can be proud to show off on your home’s exterior.
Now that you understand the process of home exterior colors, are you ready to be inspired? See dozens of the FRESH color schemes I’ve created.
About the Author
Kate Smith is an internationally recognized color expert, consultant, and designer. She is a skilled colorist & color consultant who for the past decade has lent her expertise to DaVinci Roofscapes. Kate’s goal in sharing her color knowledge and know-how is to help YOU select colors for your home that you’ll love for many years to come.