Exterior Paint Color Schemes | Create Fantastic Exterior Color Combinations

Choosing exterior paint colors proves overwhelming for most homeowners. After all, it's a major decision not easily undone. Follow this simple seven-step process and you'll be on your way to major curb appeal:

Modern Brown Painted Cabin

1. Download or launch one of the many color viewers available online.

These software programs allow you to upload a photo of your home so you can see how paint combinations look on it. Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams and Behr each offer a color viewer for free.

2. Take a digital photo of the front of your home.

Shoot straight on for best results. Upload the photo into the color viewer according to the program directions.

3. Identify the three main areas of your home.

For most homes, this will be the body (shingles, clapboard siding, stucco base), trim (fascia, window and door casings) and any accent pieces (window sashes, doors, shutters).

4. Keeping in mind the architectural style of your home, use the program to choose a body color that blends with the color of your roof, trim color that complements the body and an accent color that complements the trim.

For example, if you live in the southwestern part of the country in a Spanish Mission-style home in stucco, look for warm earth tones that will complement the design of the home and its surroundings. The Benjamin Moore Southwestern Style palette uses creamy Peau de Soie on the body, with Warm Brownie on the trim, and Covington Blue on the front door and other accents areas. The colors highlight architectural elements while fitting nicely into a southwestern landscape.

If you have a Mid-Century Modern home anywhere in the country, consider bright, clear colors for its simple lines. Sherwin-Williams shows Birdseye Maple on the body, Cocoon on the trim and Olde World Gold as an accent color in its Suburban Modern palette.

If you live in a contemporary home in the northwestern part of the country, look for muted colors that will blend into the surroundings. In its Soothing Calm palette, Behr uses Chocolate Sprinkle on the body of a home with clean lines and large windows that let in deeply wooded surroundings. Chocolate Coco covers the trim, and the lighter Mountain Elk makes the accents stand out.

If you own a Colonial in the Northeast, update the classic style with more contemporary colors, such as the Colonial Chameleon palette from Benjamin-Moore. It shows Stonington Gray on the body, Mascarpone on the trim and Kendall Charcoal on the shutters. The red of Dinner Party allows for a pop of color on the home, without sacrificing the elegance of the architectural style.

5. Save and print out five favorite color schemes to take to the paint store.

It's important to see the color schemes in person, as they might look a bit different than what your monitor displays. Stick to no more than five, so you don't become overwhelmed by options again.

6. Buy quart samples of two color schemes and apply to your home.

This way, you can see what the colors look like on your home and in the different lights of the day. If at all possible, apply to the back of your home to keep your upcoming repainting a surprise for neighbors and friends.

7. Decide on a color scheme and hire professional painters.

While you may have painted an inside room or two before, tackling a home's exterior proves a much bigger challenge. Not only must the home be prepped properly to ensure a quality result and years of enjoyment, you likely don't have the skills or time necessary for such a big job.

This post is part of our series on Exterior Paint tips.

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