Pick the Right Exterior Paint Colors
Committing to a paint color for the exterior of your home is well, quite the commitment. Especially when you factor in the nuance of color—how shades can be so different depending on light, texture, and the colors around them. Luckily, you don’t have to navigate all the possible exterior paint color combinations alone. We’ve asked some of the South’s most respected architects for their input on exterior house paints. Whether you’re looking to achieve the perfect patina, or to play up a coastal vibe, or are aiming for a harmonious, nature-inspired palette, these architects can guide the way to the best exterior house paint colors. If you’re not sure what you want, this list may help spark some new exterior paint color ideas. (Or, try this quiz for a fun start.) A few things to think about: location, light, architecture, and scale. Looking looking for interior inspiration? We have that too, broken down by color.
“This paint palette is reminiscent of Scouts at summer camp—dark uniforms all alike with bright green scarves tied at the collars.”
–Bobby McAlpine, McAlpine Tankersley Architecture, Montgomery, Alabama
Body: Black Fox (SW7020) by Sherwin-Williams; sherwin-williams.com.
Trim: Sassy Green (SW6416) by Sherwin-Williams; sherwin-williams.com.
“Charleston is all about patina. As these colors wear over the years, they'll look even more beautiful than when they were first applied.”
–Mark Maresca, Maresca & Associates Architects, Charleston and Greenville, South Carolina
Body: Weatherboard (DCR103) by Duron; duron.com.
Doors: Historic Charleston Green (DCR099) by Duron; duron.com.
Trim: Palladian Blue (HC-144) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
Natural and Harmonious
“This natural, harmonious palette reinfores the colors of slate roofs and limestone. The tone-on-tone look is very pleasing to the eye and fits well within the Southern landscape.”
–Stan Dixon, D. Stanley Dixon Architect, Atlanta
Body: Relaxed Khaki (SW6149) by Sherwin-Williams; sherwin-williams.com.
Trim and shutters: Universal Khaki (SW6150) by Sherwin-Williams; sherwin-williams.com.
“Painted brick has a particularly Southern feel when paired with contrasting working lowered shutters. The effect of this palette is one of a warm-weather location.”
–Bill Ingram, Bill Ingram Architect, Birmingham
Body and trim: Lambswool (2269) by Pratt & Lambert; prattandlambert.com.
Shutters: Blue Spa (2052-40) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
“I call this my Chesapeake Tidewater suite because it updates the colors of Colonial Williamsburg, the richly saturated, earthy mineral paint colors used in the 18th-century Virginia captial. These classics are always appropriate for a new old house.”
–Russell Versaci, Russell Versaci Architecture, Middleburg, Virginia
Body: Ludwell Tenement Sage (CW417)by Pratt & Lambert; prattandlambert.com.
Shutters: Chowning's Tavern Brown (CW121) by Pratt & Lambert; prattandlambert.com.
Trim: Outside White (CW712) by Pratt & Lambert; prattandlambert.com.
“We like a warm yellow paired with a classic terne metal roof and red shutters, for projects in locales where there is a lot of red clay in the soil, such as in Middleburg, Virginia, to make the house look more natural in the landscape.”
–Anne Fairfax, Fairfax & Sammons Architects, Palm Beach, FL
Body: Warm Yellow (9036) by Keim; keim.com.
Trim: Incarnadine (No. 248) by Farrow & Ball; farrowandball.com.
Simple and Clean
“This scheme is very simple and clean and is especially well suited for home designs that are influenced by English and European styles.”
–Hank Long, Henry Sprott Long & Associates, Birmingham, 205/323-4564
Body: China White (74) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
Trim: Iron Mountain (2134-30) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
“The dark blues and greens reflect the colors of the Gulf Coast. This palette is quintessential for a Southern-style beach house. The look is warm and inviting.”
–Michael G. Imber, Michael G. Imber Architects, San Antonio, TX
Body: Cromwell Gray (HC-103) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
Trim: Narragansett Green (HC-157) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
Doors: Country Redwood by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
Light and Fresh
“For a traditional American home, try a deep green on the shutters and a high-gloss dark red on the front door. Paint all other solid doors to match the shutters. Have French doors and trim matched with an opaque sample of the whitewash. The combination is light and fresh with high contrast and punch.”
–Charles Heydt, Pak Heydt and Associates, Atlanta
Shutters: Black Forest Green by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
Doors: Classic Burgundy by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
“This off-white palette has roots in the Southern Colonial style but with a twist—the tone-on-tone scheme creates soft shadows that bring forward subtle texture variations from the materials of the house.”
–Ruard Veltman, Ruard Veltman Architecture, Charlotte, NC
Body: White Down (970) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
Shutters: Manchester Tan (HC-81) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
A Blue Blend
Bright and Cheery
“A friend of mine insists that people who live in yellow houses are happier. For a more traditional look, try a dark green on the trim. For a less traditional accent color, we like a dark red.”
–Jane Frederick, Frederick + Frederick Architects, Beaufort, SC
Body: Yellow Jasmine (DCR009) by Duron; duron.com.
“Buildings of a more modern, pared-down aesthetic and smaller structures, such as weekend cottages or outbuildings, lend themselves to the deeper tones that allow them to sneak into the landscape. With this color palette, we prefer a monochrome look.”
–Philip Dufford, Dufford Young Architects, Charleston, SC
Body and trim: Copley Gray (HC-104) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
A Rich Timelessness
“There is a rich timelessness and a patina to these colors that reminds me of the many great homes where I grew up in Florence, Alabama.”
–Michael Franck, Franck and Lohsen Architects, Washington, D.C.
Body: Blackened No. 2011 by Farrow & Ball; farrow-ball.com.
Shutters: Railings No. 31 by Farrow & Ball; farrow-ball.com.
Porch ceiling: Parma Gray No. 27 by Farrow & Ball; farrow-ball.com.
“These subtle, creamy shades take on the effect of an old limewash when paired with hand-molded brick. We've been using it for years, and it never looks oudated or out of place. It's a classical palette that can be seen on raised cottages from Louisiana to the Lowcountry.”
–Jim Strickland, Design Principal, Historical Concepts, Atlanta and Peachtree City, Georgia
Body: Roycroft Vellum (SW2833) by Sherwin-Williams; sherwin-williams.com.
Trim: Classical White (SW2829) by Sherwin-Williams; sherwin-williams.com.
Shutters: Andiron (SW6174) by Sherwin-Williams; sherwin-williams.com.
“High-contrast color schemes look best on cottages. The stone color is used only at the front door to add a subtle punch of color to the otherwise austere scheme.”
–Norman Askins, Norman D. Askins Architect, Atlanta
Body: Iron Mountain (2134-30) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
Trim: White (01) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
Doors: Carrington Beige (HC-93) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.
A Burst of Color
“The crisp white trim enhances the cottage-style details and provides a strong contrast to the red siding.”
–Bill Curtis, Curtis & Windham Architects, Houston
Body: Sedona Clay (SW2313) by Sherwin-Williams; sherwin-williams.com.
Trim: Pure White (SW7005) by Sherwin-Williams; sherwin-williams.com.
Charming in Green
That bright green color! Taking cues from Mother Nature's favorite neutral (and to best complement the flower-filled yard), architect Sam Greeson painted the siding a bold green and the shutters a deeper, nearly black green. Then he used crisp white paint to highlight the trim and Victorian-inspired millwork.
Archictect: Sam Greeson, Meyer Greeson Paullin Benson; mgpb.com, Charlotte, North Carolina
Siding: Vine Green (2034-20); benjaminmoore.com
Shutters: Roycroft Bottle Green (SW2847); sherwin-williams.com
Trim: Alabaster (SW7008); sherwin-williams.com
Cool & Crisp
Skipping the bold colors and intricate millwork commonly found in Acadian architecture for tone-on-tone white palette and simple front columns gives this classic look a new, modern feel. A gray metal roof blends in with the paint scheme and keeps the facade light, while a low hedge of evergreen shrubs preserves the view.
Residential Designer: Billie Brian