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How Should I Choose a Color to Paint My Home?

A can of red paint.
The existing color schemes of nearby houses is one consideration when painting a home.
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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 22 June 2014
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    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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There are two schools of thought when it comes to selecting the right color of paint for the exterior of your home. One is that you own your home and the land beneath it, so you should have the right to choose any exterior paint you want. Let the neighbors grumble and murmur — they don't have legal control over your property. Go ahead and select whatever color you feel best matches your home's aesthetics.

The second school of thought is that you don't live on an island, so respect your neighbors when selecting an exterior paint color. No one wants to live next to the hot pink house for the next 20 years. Color choices for exterior paint should be compared against the existing schemes of other homes in your area. You don't have to match your next-door neighbor's home shade for shade, but be aware of unspoken community standards before investing in paint.

The exterior color schemes of most homes are generally more conservative than interior schemes. Some may choose to coordinate the exterior with the interior, but this isn't strictly necessary. As long as the transition from exterior to interior is not too jarring, the exact color scheme doesn't have to match. Consider the color of the first room guests will enter for some ideas on an exterior hue that won't clash.

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Unlike interior paints, exterior paints are not known for their subtle differences in tone and warmth. Essentially, you're choosing between white, not-so-white, brown, tan, light green or some other muted primary color. Forget about ecru and sandstone and eggshell when selecting exterior paint. This is a time to use a very subtle tint to suggest a lighter green or blue or yellow, but the overall color is still going to be defined in broad strokes. You'll be living in the white house on Cedar or the blue house on Maple.

When shopping for exterior paint, consider the color scheme of your neighbor's homes. You might want to select a color that will define your home as an individual entity, but also appear to coordinate with the neighborhood. If your neighbor's home is yellow, for example, you may want to look at greens or browns. Those colors complement the yellow spectrum without being too jarring.

What you don't want to do is counter your neighbor's bright blue home with an equally bright red paint. Two primary colors in close proximity create an unwanted comic book effect. If you happen to have a neighbor with a bold hue, think neutrals like white, off-white or a lighter shade of the color of your neighbor's house.

You may also want to consider a natural color scheme that will help combine your home with your landscaping. Browns, greens, yellows and other earth tones will create a sense of camouflage. If your home is surrounded by trees, bushes, or flowering plants, you may want to follow their lead. A Victorian purple home may look out of place by itself, but if the front lawn features a large display of purple flowers, then it will have more visual interest. Look at your home's exterior during all four seasons and then decide what natural colors are predominant.

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Discuss this Article

anon72306
Post 5

Well I might have been more considerate of my neighborhood if they even said good morning to each other. Since they are extremely unfriendly, I chose a color we liked and to heck with them!

anon21915
Post 3

I totally agree with the 'your house, your choice' school of thought. Sure, your neighbors made an investment in their homes, but like any other investment, it is subject to many factors over which you have no control- nor should you expect to. My neighbors business is their own, I don't have the right to tell them what to do, I just handle the things I do have control over. If I don't like the color they chose, I either have to deal with it or move. Personally I hate the idea of neighborhood associations that tell you what you can do with your house or put on your lawn etc. If you are going to make such an expensive investment, maybe you should know something about the neighborhood/neighbors ahead of time if you care that much- not try to find a way to control their lives and their property. Just another example of ways people blame others for their own problems...

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