9 Colorful Books to Help You Choose House Paint Colors

American Bungalow
American Bungalow. Photo by Patricia Harrison / Moment Mobile / Getty Images

Whether your home is new or old, the colors you choose will dramatize (or disguise) architectural details. How do you find a color combination that will bring out the best qualities of your home? These beautifully illustrated books combine inspiration with practical advice. To find help online, be sure to see the resources at the end of this article.

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Bungalow Colors: Exteriors

Bungalow on Cover of Book Bungalow Colors: Exteriors by Robert Schweitzer
Bungalow on Cover of Book Bungalow Colors: Exteriors by Robert Schweitzer. Cropped photo from book cover courtesy Amazon.com

Paint Color consultant Robert Schweitzer shows how to paint bungalow style homes in historically accurate color schemes. Arts and Crafts, Stickley Craftsman, and even Prairie styles are all explored.

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The Perfectly Painted House

Section of book jacket from The Perfectly Painted House
Section of book jacket from The Perfectly Painted House. Cropped image courtesy Amazon.com

Bonnie Rosser Krims Krims promotes herself as an architectural color consultant. Her book, subtitled A Foolproof Guide for Choosing Exterior Colors for Your Home, has gotten mixed reviews, but it just might be the right book for you. 

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House Colors: Exterior Color by Style of Architecture

Part of book cover of House Colors, Exterior color by style of architecture, by Susan Hershman
House Colors by Susan Hershman. Cropped image from book courtesy Amazon.com

Since its first publication in 2007, this 336-page book by interior designer Susan Hershman has received a ton of positive reviews. It might be because Hershman is trained in art and interior architecture and obviously knows her colors.

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America's Painted Ladies

America's Painted Ladies - The Ultimate Celebration of our Victorians
America's Painted Ladies. Image crop courtesy Amazon.com

The "painted ladies" in the title refers to highly-colored Victorian houses, specifically a row of homes on Steiner Street in San Francisco, California. Subtitled The Ultimate Celebration of Our Victorians, this book by Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen and other titles in the Painted Ladies series include lavish photos of elaborately painted Victorians. Mind you, the colors may not be historically accurate, but they are dramatic and inspiring. Photos by Douglas Keister and the Painted Ladies website tells all.

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Exterior Style by Benjamin Moore Paints

Exterior Style, Inspiring Color Ideas and Expert Painting Advice by Benjamin Moore Paints
Exterior Style by Benjamin Moore Paints. Image cropped from Amazon.com

Benjamin Moore is a company that sells paint, and they want you to be happy about your purchase. Subtitled Inspiring Color Ideas And Expert Painting Advice, this 128-page book is as good as a paint catalog. Many people have had some success with Benjamin Moore exterior paint through there are some not-quite-as-good results. But if you know nothing, Benjamin Moore can get you started.

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Exterior Planner by Better Homes & Gardens

Better Homes and Gardens Exterior Planner
Better Homes and Gardens Exterior Planner. Image cropped from Amazon.com

Better Homes and Gardens magazine was founded in 1922, at the height of America's love affair with the single-family home. Through the Great Depression and the mid-century Baby Boom, the company has been steadfast in providing helpful information about color, siding, roofing, windows, and curb appeal. Really now, who doesn't want a better home and garden?

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Exterior House Trim

Exterior House Trim by Steve Willson, Creative Homeowner
Exterior House Trim by Steve Willson. Image cropped from Amazon.com

Long-time Popular Mechanics writer Steven Willson has written about appliances, do-it-yourself projects, and now house trim. At 208 pages, this book from Creative Homeowner may not be a thorough treatment of the subject, but it does get us thinking about the styles of our homes.

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Paint in America: The Colors of Historic Buildings

Paint in America, The Colors of Historic Buildings
Paint in America, edited by Roger W Moss. Image cropped from Amazon.com

Edited by architectural historian Roger W. Moss, Jr., Paint in America is not a how-to, but it's a fine lesson in American history. If you are interested in historic preservation, this hard-to-find book may answer many of your questions. At about 200 pages, the book is not intended to be a thorough treatment of all historic buildings—it does paint with a broad brush, so to speak. Originally published by Wiley, Paint in America may be too academic for the typical homeowner.

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Can't Fail Color Schemes

Can't Fail Color Schemes by Amy Wax
Can't Fail Color Schemes by Amy Wax. Image courtesy Amazon.com

The Color Guide for the Interior & Exterior of Your Home by Amy Wax won't tell you what paint to buy, but it will guide you toward color combinations you may not have imagined.

More Resources to Help You Choose House Paint Colors

Books are only the beginning! To learn how color can bring out your home's best qualities, don't miss our resource page, Choosing Exterior Paint Colors. You'll also want to browse this photo gallery of paint color combinations, from historic to jazzy to Frank Lloyd Wright red. Be sure to explore free online color pickers and, if you have an iPhone or iPad, download free house color apps from the iTunes Store.

Most importantly... have fun!  Unlike vinyl siding, paint allows you the freedom to experiment. If you don't like the results, you can always change your mind.