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How to pick exterior paint colors for your home

Your home is a big investment, so you want to protect that investment with smart decisions. That can make something like choosing an exterior paint color seem like a daunting task. If you do your research and keep some rules of thumb in mind, you can make an educated decision that you’ll be proud of for years to come.

Don’t disregard your home’s architectural style

When choosing paint colors for your home’s exterior, keep its architectural style in mind. Certain styles of homes simply look better in certain colors and shades. Here are some ideas for common home styles in Minnesota:

Mid-Century Modern Ranch: Start with a main neutral color—like a shade of gray, brown/beige or white—and add a pop of color.

Modern Farmhouse: Use white, off white or other neutral color palettes with high-contrast black or dark colored trim and accents.

Prairie: Try earth tones.

Colonial: White is the most common color, followed by blue, neutral colors and earth tones.

If in doubt, look into paint manufacturers that offer collections of historically accurate colors to help guide your decision. (For example, Cityscape Painting only uses top-quality products from Hirshfield’s and Sherwin Williams, both of which provide this resource.) You don’t have to follow them to a T—unless there are city codes that require that for your neighborhood—but they are a good place to start.

Keep your neighborhood vibe in mind 

Look around and get inspired by the world around you. That starts with your own neighborhood. Is there a house a few blocks down that you admire? Is there a house that stands out for all the wrong reasons? You probably don’t want to copy the color scheme of the house right next to yours. You also don’t want your house to stand out like a sore thumb. When looking for examples, try to find homes with a style that is similar to your home so you can get an idea of what that color would look like if you chose it.

Plan around your home’s existing elements

When choosing paint colors, you may think the options are limitless, but that’s not entirely true. Your options are limited by the color of your home’s existing elements, such as your roof, brick or stone. You certainly don’t want the colors you pick to clash with existing colors. Try to align your home’s paint color with your home’s existing undertones. For example, if you have a brown roof, neutral colors will be your best bet. If you have a black or gray roof, you have more options. If you also have brick or stone, you’ll need to pick paint that complements those colors, as well.

Recognize the power of light

Are you in love with a light paint color? Consider going a shade or two darker. Why? Because when the sun hits your house, whatever color you choose will look even brighter or lighter than it is, and the last thing you want is a house that appears to be glowing or washed out. The sun also has a way of adding a blue hue to things, so keep that in mind, as well. 

Don’t rely on paint chips

And that point feeds into this one well: You have to remind yourself that the color of paint you choose will look different on your house than it does on a paint chip. In addition to light, you need to consider how your exterior surface absorbs the color. So, go ahead and throw a sample or two up on your house and look at it at different times of the day to see how the sun and your home’s surroundings affect the color. This is the second-to-last step.

Choose a contractor

Professional painters have the expertise and equipment to give your home a uniform coat of paint. Cityscape Painting can help you take all these factors into account, and decide how you’re going to get your house painted. With more than 35 years of experience, we know a thing or two about making homes look their best.

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