10 Classic Southern Paint Colors

Idea House 2020 Front Exterior Entry with Dog sitting on Porch
Photo: Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Kendra Surface

Take a drive down a country road and see Southern architecture and charm. House exterior styles range from farmhouse to cottage, but there are a few paint colors that are quintessential Southern classics. There's a history behind everything in the South—even paint colors.

Choosing a paint color can be daunting because it exudes a degree of permanence. It can also set the stage for your entire house's decorating style. When searching through the incrementally different shades of white to fit your home, you might think there are too many options. To help filter through the countless choices, we rounded up the paint colors most closely associated with our region's architecture.

We've tracked down the most recognizable colors, explained their stories, and recommended our favorite color to get each look. We hope you are inspired to try one of these Southern looks for your own home.

01 of 10

Barn Red

Barn Red

Years ago, Southern farmers concocted a mixture of orange-colored linseed oil and rust to protect wooden barns from the elements. The combination kept the barns standing longer and created the iconic red barns that dot the Southern landscape.

Paint technologies have evolved, but barn red is still a sought-after paint color to make your home stand out. It's a strong color best used as an accent or for outbuildings. Punch up your exterior with small doses of red on shutters and doors against a more neutral base such as white or cream.

Get the Color: Stadium Red (RLTH224) by Ralph Lauren Home; ralphlaurenhome.com.

02 of 10

Texas Leather

Texas Leather

In Texas, the land of wide-open spaces, it's imperative that buildings and nature blend seamlessly. Brown or tan, typically used to paint Texas ranch homes, keeps the focus on the landscape and bright blue skies rather than the house.

Take this ranch-inspired color beyond Texas. A brick home painted a dark brown comes alive with charming pale blue shutters and doors. Or try the deep brown as an accent color on a beige home for a tone-on-tone color scheme.

Get the Color: Texas Leather (AC-3), also known as Stampede (979), by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.

03 of 10

Charleston Green

Charleston Green

Local legend says that Charleston Green, a green so deep it looks black, came about after the Civil War when Union troops sent buckets of black paint to help rebuild the decimated town. Charleston residents couldn't bear the thought of their brightly-colored city painted a government-issued black, so they tinted the paint with yellow. This new paint combination created Charleston's signature greenish-black accent color.

Regardless of the tale's truth, the inky green is ideal for defining shutters, doors, ironwork, and window trim on homes everywhere. It looks especially great against white clapboard or trim. For maximum impact, try it in a glossy finish.

Get the Color: Jasper (SW 6216) by Sherwin-Williams; sherwin-williams.com

04 of 10

Creole Pink

Creole Pink

You will find plenty of pink houses throughout New Orleans, Savannah, and other Southern towns influenced by the Creole and Caribbean cultures. Not a hot pink, but a more subtle hue mixed with khaki.

You don't have to live in one of these coastal towns to bring their signature muddy pink to your home. While it works as a backdrop to darker trim, consider painting your exterior Creole pink with gray trim for a fresh look. If you prefer a lighter and more classic effect, update a traditional white home with pinkish-khaki accents.

Get the Color: Pink Ground (No. 202) by Farrow & Ball; us.farrow-ball.com.

05 of 10

Williamsburg Blue

Williamsburg Blue

Colonial settlers turned to nature for their vibrant color palette. Looking at the sky and ocean, they came up with the chalky blue covering many buildings throughout Colonial Williamsburg, most notably the Blue Bell Tavern.

This color works best on wooden Colonial-style homes. The symmetry of these homes keeps the look restrained. Paint trim a crisp white that plays up the blue.

Get the Color: Nocturne Blue (HDC-CL-28) by Behr Paints, behr.com.

06 of 10

Haint Blue

Haint Blue

Blue porch ceilings are prevalent throughout the South. Pale blue is not only visually expansive, but it's also a ghostbuster of sorts. The Gullah culture of the Lowcountry believes that spirits, known as "haints," can't cross water. Using light blue paint to symbolize water, the Gullah people applied the shade to porch ceilings and doors, preventing evil spirits from entering.

Though we aren't sure how effective paint can be against evil spirits, we can't resist the Gullah look. The calming shade of blue adds both culture and charm to porch ceilings. We also love to bring it inside to interior ceilings!

Get the Color: Palladian Blue (HC-144) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.

07 of 10

Classic White

Antebellum White

No roundup of Southern colors would be complete without mentioning the white shade that coats the grand columned homes throughout the South. Early Southerners, inspired by ancient civilizations like the Greeks, started building homes based on classic Greek temples to represent the prosperity of their young country. Why white? It emulates the marble that composed the original Greek structures.

Of course, not all white houses must have columns. But we recommend a white with dark undertones to get the right shade. It adds instant patina and keeps the home from being blindingly bright in the sunlight. Shutters and doors can be a slightly darker cream color for a monochromatic look. If you prefer a more formal look, use black to add definition.

Get the Color: Site White (SW7070) by Sherwin-Williams; sherwin-williams.com.

08 of 10

Traditional Blue

Charleston China Blue Front Door
Photo: Hector M. Sanchez; Floral Design/Props: Heather Barrie (Gathering)

A classic Southern color combination is blue and white. Painting your front door this inviting shade of blue, paired with a white clapboard house and front porch swing, defines a scenic home.

Blue paint works great on exterior shutters just as well as it does not on interior walls or cabinets. Pair this shade of blue with lighter colors to create a relaxing space.

Get the Color: Blue Danube (2062-30) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.

09 of 10

Agreeable Grey

Lake House Living Room
Photo by Nancy Nolan

Try a grey that blends seamlessly with your home for a classic neutral paint color. For a barely-there tint of color on your white walls, this tranquil grey creates a relaxing environment in all rooms of your home.

Using this color on your exterior is a great way to allow your landscaping and outdoor decor to stand out against the blank background. The subtle shading in this mostly-white, sometimes grey paint will complement its neighboring colors by reflexing its hue.

Get the Color: Classic Gray (OC-23) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.

10 of 10

Vintage Black

Alabama Cabin Kitchen with Black Walls and Natural Wood Island Table
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Kiera Coffee

Adding a little dramatic flair is never a bad thing in the South. The classic pairing of black and white transforms any space into a traditional farmhouse. Add pops of a rustic red to complete this look.

Using black to paint shutters can add sophistication to the exterior of your home. This vintage paint color, contrasted with white brick or clapboard, will stand out in the best way.

Get the Color: Soot (2129-20) by Benjamin Moore; benjaminmoore.com.

For more inspiration try Tips on Choosing Farmhouse Paint Colors.

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