Trim Color — How to Select the Best One for Your House

Would you like to know how to select the best exterior trim color for your home without frustration or anxiety? If so, keep reading. Today, I share my favorite tips and tricks for finding the right trim color.

Brownstone Philadelphia Cream

Trim Color for Every Style Home

Traditionally homes have an exterior color scheme of three or four colors. The primary color is light to medium, with the trim being white or a lighter neutral or color. Accents such as shutters, doors, and secondary trim are darker and bolder, giving the home personality and creating a well-balanced arrangement of colors to draw attention to the house’s best features.Brownstone Almond Cream

Do You Want the Trim to Blend in or Contrast with the House’s Main Color?

The first step is to decide the primary color. From there, determine if you want your trim color to blend in or stand out? For example, white with black or dark bronze window grids work well for the modern farmhouse style. A larger stucco home often looks best with a monochromatic palette. If you aren’t sure which you prefer, look at similar homes in your neighborhood or find pictures of similar houses online or in the DaVinci gallery to help you see which look you like.

Trim That is Similar to the Primary Color

Find a slightly lighter or darker color similar and at least two steps away from the primary color. You don’t want the body and trim colors too close in value (lightness or darkness). There are exceptions, such as a white house with white trim or historic homes painted in one color. When low contrast is the goal, go for lower contrast but not so close that you can’t see a difference between the two. Your trim pieces need to stand out enough to highlight the lovely details of your home. Below you see several trim examples in low contrast with the house’s primary color.

Examples of the best trim colors that blend with primary color

Contrasting the Color of Your Trim

To contrast, consider going with a light or dark neutral, such as white, off-white, beige, brown, gray, or black. To contrast, consider going with a light or dark neutral, such as white, off-white, beige, brown, gray, or black. It is still essential to find a color in a tone that harmonizes with your house’s body color, even if you choose a neutral one. For example, if your home is a creamy light gold, your trim will blend if it has a bit of gold too. It could be a deep golden tan or an off-white toned down with yellow.

Some painters advise homeowners to add 10-20% of their body color into a white base to come up with the trim color. While this does increase the odds that the two will harmonize, I do not suggest this practice. It is tough to mix up the same color a second time, no matter how carefully you measure. Instead, go to the paint store and tell them that you want to ensure that the body and trim colors have the same tones. They can direct you to the correct trim options and give you a formula that they can recreate if the need arises.

White Stone Exterior Color Schemes with Multi-Width Slate Slate Black

Contrasting Trim Color

To contrast, consider going with a light or dark neutral, such as white, off-white, beige, brown, gray, or black. To contrast, consider going with a light or dark neutral, such as white, off-white, beige, brown, gray, or black. It is still essential to find a tone that harmonizes with your house’s body color even if you choose a neutral color.

Even with charcoal or black, you want to coordinate the tones. Sometimes, black reads dark and inky, but sometimes it has a touch of blue, green, red, or violet. If you have a blue or blue-green house, a black that leans a tad navy will be lovely. Having a bit of color in the black can make the trim or door read as black from a short distance and show the hint of color as you visitors get closer revealing a more exciting paint choice.

Trim with Bricks or Stonework

To figure out the type of trim you think will look best, decide between having contrasting trim or a color closer to the primary color of your home. If your house has brick or stone, you can choose one of the tones in the mix. Don’t try to match the tone in the stonework or brickwork too closely. It is challenging to select the right paint color to match a surface that incorporates multiple colors unless you stand back from your house closer to the curb. By putting some distance between you and the bricks or stones, you can see how well the hard materials and paint color blend.

Single-Width Slate Castle Gray
Full Circle Select Shake Mossy Cedar

Exterior Color Scheme for brick and Select Shake Chesapeake roof

Test Your Color

The next step is to try out the color by looking at samples of it outside your home:

  1. Start by looking at samples of the trim color alongside the primary color. Also, look at it with anything else it needs to blend with, such as brick or stone.
  2. Stand back about 15-20 feet and determine which color you find most appealing. 
  3. Look at the color at different morning, afternoon, and evening times to understand how the trim color blends with the primary and accent colors.
  4. Finally, paint the trim color alongside the primary color on the actual material as a final check that you are happy with your choice.

The tips above can get you started. To get all of the details on how to create your best exterior color schemes, download our complete guide  – FRESH Home Exterior Color Guide.

Find even more inspiring color schemes; check out the Best Exterior Color Scheme Match for Your DaVinci Roof.


About the Author

Kate Smith is an internationally recognized color expert, consultant, and designer.  She is a skilled colorist & a color consultant who for more than a decade has lent her expertise to DaVinci Roofscapes. Kate helps YOU select colors that you will love for many years to come.