How to Choose the Right Exterior Color for Your Home

Choosing the right exterior color for your home is exciting, but it can easily become an overwhelming decision. This is particularly true if there are color restrictions in your neighborhood or you’re anticipating a move in the next few years. Regardless of these concerns, it’s possible to make your home an extension of yourself and create a space you’ll enjoy for years to come.

These are some of our favorite ways to utilize color to create a unique finished product, whether you’re looking for a bold or understated final result.

Natural Light Plays a Key Role

Choosing the right paint color is more than the color itself. Because it’s for your home’s exterior, sunlight will affect its appearance. Natural light in San Francisco is different than Boston’s, which is why the painted ladies work so well here. There wouldn’t be the same effect in the North East.

Practically, choose a color that’s a shade or two darker than your goal shade. Colors tend to appear washed out in sunlight, so to get just the right shade you’ll want to go darker. Moving one shade grayer can help minimize this effect as well.

Test your top colors on an exposed area of your siding so you can experience how the color’s affected at different times of day. While a foot square swatch can work indoors, you’ll want the swatch at least two by three feet so you have a substantial enough example to base your decision on. Leave it up for at least a week, so you can get an idea of how it will look in different lighting and weather conditions.

Do You Really Love the Color?

Remember, your home’s exterior paint is good for at least eight years, even in the Bay Area’s changing weather. Accent colors play very differently when used as the primary color and may not match the aesthetic you desire.

If there’s a chance you can move in the next few years, this is particularly important. Unique paint colors may make the home stand out against your neighborhood and make buyers less likely to purchase. Choosing a color that enhances your home’s design and adds to the neighborhood’s aesthetic can help improve your home’s curb appeal.

Use Contrast to Make a Statement

Adding a stark contrast between siding, trim, and shutter colors makes a great statement. It’s striking but doesn’t require colors that will scare potential buyers away. Focus on pairing dark and light colors throughout the exterior. A light color for your siding and a deep green or dark grey creates a beautiful finished product.

We created this color palette to make the statement many homeowners desire without standing out too much. By highlighting the shingles with a similar shutter color, we increased the contrast with the white siding. You can’t go wrong with a red door, and we love how this shade integrates with the rest of the palette.

Trim Colors Are Important, Too

Trim colors are one of our favorite things about painting homes! This is where you can add your aesthetic. If you prefer understated elegance, a classic white is a perfect trim color to enhance the siding color. If you enjoy creating a statement, mixing black and white for the trim will help your home stand out in the right way.

For this home, we created a neutral yet unique paint design with contrasting siding and trim colors. The black shutters and white trim highlights the beautiful charcoal tone of the exterior, as well as providing a backdrop for the burgundy front door.

Your Home’s Exterior Is More Than Paint

When reinventing your home’s exterior, remember that it’s more than paint. Use lighting, bushes, and flowers to help create a cohesive finished product. Joey Lang, Principle Interior Designer of Downs Design Group, Inc. in San Francisco, shares, “To me, you have to see what’s around you to see what your benchmark is.

“You have to determine if you’re bold or you’re classic. You want to take inventory of what the homes in your area look like to improve your home’s curb appeal with exterior paint. But you also have to realize that outdated embellishments or trim can be omitted.”

Another way to boost your home’s exterior is to remove shutters completely. Depending on how your home was built, these serve as decoration that may appear outdated to some. It’s typically an easy process to remove shutters, though you’ll definitely need to repaint the siding due to uneven fading.

By taking a holistic look at your home, you can go beyond the paint to create a beautiful exterior for your home.

Matching Paint with Natural Brick Exteriors

Even if you prefer to leave your brick as is, you can still add color to your home’s exterior. This is true for homes built entirely of brick and those with both brick and non-brick materials. It’s an ideal solution to keeping the traditional nature of your home while adding your personal touch.

Unpainted brick ages beautifully and is low maintenance. If you want to keep these advantages, focus on the trim and windows.

Some ideal color combinations for brick homes include:

  • Rich green and gray
  • Cool gray and cool green
  • Plum and cream or taupe
  • Stained wood trim with medium red

These color palettes highlight the natural brick while still creating an engaging final product you won’t be able to get enough of.

Unique Color Palettes Are Still an Option

We should note that unique color palettes are still a possibility for your home’s exterior, it just needs to be done the right way. This home uses two different colors for the siding, with one trim color that unites the exterior. The tan color is also used for the window and detail, adding further cohesion.

Another option is to choose a bright color for your trim and pair it with a subtle siding color. We love this past project that uses a Robin’s egg blue for the trim. It stands out without being too much.


If you know you would like a unique exterior paint job for your home but aren’t sure where to begin, hiring a paint colorist is can be an invaluable asset to the home painting process.

Hire a Color Specialist to Review Your Options

If you’re feeling particularly stuck while choosing your home’s exterior colors, hiring a color specialist can help you refine your choices. Their trained eye will spot the best color combinations for siding, trim, and railings. They’ll take your neighborhood, personal style, and other requirements into account, and create a home aesthetic you’ll love coming home to.

Recreating your home’s exterior with paint (and more) is one of the best ways to enjoy your home all over again. It can definitely be difficult, though! Thinking through all the various elements like HOA requirements, personal style, and weather can make it hard to decide the right color palette. Whether you want to use bold contrast or create and understated and classic final look, these tips will help you decide the best colors for your Marin County home’s exterior.

For a free in-home consultation, give us a call at (888) 977-2468.