Sunday, March 23, 2008

Color Tips for Exterior Paint Colors

Color can change the way you perceive architecture, and it's the least expensive "remodel" you can do! Artists know that color "moves" visually in space. Colors recede or advance depending upon where they are in relationship to each other and their surroundings. The photos below are examples of paint colors that I used to enliven the structures. The first picture is a residential home. The second is Cascade Middle School in Bend, Oregon. The third group of photos is of a spa housed in a remodeled old church.

If you are a homeowner choosing exterior paint colors, here are a few color tips:

  • Check to see if your neighborhood has any restrictions regarding color use. Often titled Covenants and Restrictions these rules will limit the choices you have. If your neighborhood is a designated historical area check with the local Historical Society or Building Dept. to learn if colors are restricted to historical colors typical to the era your house was built.
  • Choose at least 3 colors for the home so things don't get too dull. Please don't think that painting the whole house one color will make it "blend in". The result is usually very "lumpish". In a typical home the colors can applied like this:
    • Body Color (main part of house)
    • Trim Color (around windows and Doors)
    • Fascia Color (trim around the roof and possibly the belly band (6" - 12" wide plank trim that separates 2 stories, or the body of the house from the peak of the roof).
    • Door Color
  • The example of the home below (my house) shows this idea contemporized to suit the mid-century modern sensibility of my 25 year old home. Originally the windows were un-trimmed, so I only specified a fascia trim (in tan). To enhance the modern segments of the architecture, I had those segments each painted contrasting colors. The palette was inspired by the colors of the beach pebbles and flora at Elk Lake, a nearby High Cascade lake.
  • Buy the best paint you can afford and make sure it has a UV blocker in it.
  • Whether you are painting it yourself or having it done, make sure that the prep work is well done. A good foundation of prep work will make your final paint colors last years longer.
  • If you have a strong prevailing wind/sun direction, put a extra coat of paint on those sides of the house. The entire paint job will last years longer.

Contact me to schedule a color consult for your project.

All writing and images on this blog are copyright protected by Cristina Acosta




  1. Lovely choices on all these structures! Very inspiring. I am in the midst of choosing new color for my doors and an awning. Thanks for your thoughts. There is an incredible amount to consider -- including -- does the paint really work with my flower gardens.

  2. Please give me some advice. I am building a one-level secondary school in an Amerindian village in the interior of Guyana. I've finally received the money to put the roof on this 70'x 40' concrete building and I need color ideas. I am planning to purchase royal blue metal roofing material. What color should I paint the school to coordinate with the roof. I am also planning to build two small dormitories, two staff houses and a kitchen/cafeteria. Do these buildings need the same color roof? I would really appreciate it if you could give me some suggestions.
    Siparuta Mission Academy