Paint Color Charts and Palettes - The Search Is Over

See Color Schemes and Combinations for All Your Home Painting Projects

Fan of color scale variations
Color Scale. Photo by focusstock/ E+/Getty Images

What colors go together? Coordinating the mix of house paint colors can be confusing. Most houses will use a set of colors, or palette, with at least three different exterior colors—one each for siding, trim, and accents. Your local paint store or home supply store can give you a color chart with suggested color combinations. Or, you can view paint colors online by using one of the color charts listed here.

Before You Begin:

When we talk about color (or colour), there are some basics to remember. Note that colors you see on your computer screen are approximate. Always try a sample of the actual paint on the surface to be painted before making your final decision. Consider using easy, free House Color Visualization Software to view color choices on your house. Lastly, remember that color needs light, and the nature of the light will alter the appearance of color. House colors will change shades as the sun rises and sets, peeking into interiors along the way. Try to examine your sample colors during different times of the day and, if possible, during different seasons of the year. Ready? Now, let's start mixing some colors.

Colorful Interior Walls at Le Corbusier Apartment House c. 1957 in Berlin, Germany
Colorful Interior Walls at Le Corbusier Apartment House c. 1957 in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Swiss Bauhaus architect Le Corbusier (1887-1965) is known for designing stark white buildings, but his interiors vibrated with color, ranging from pastels to brights to deep earthen hues. Working for the Swiss company Salubra, Le Corbusier created a series of color keyboards with cutout viewers that allowed designers to see various color combinations. These color chords were reproduced on the Polychromie Architecturale color chart. The Swiss firm, kt.COLOR has manufactured reproduction colors from Le Corbusier, including Variations on White. More than 120 different mineral pigments are used to reproduce each color, making the Le Corbusier palettes especially rich. Les Couleurs Suisse AG is the exclusive wordwide licensor of the Le Corbusier colours, and Aranson's Floor Covering distributes KTColorUSA.

Learn More About Le Corbusier's Colors:

  • The Architectonic Colour: Polychromy in the Purist Architecture of Le Corbusier by Jan De Heer, 2009
    Buy on Amazon
  • Polychromie architecturale by Le Corbusier
    Buy on Amazon
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The 1935 Fallingwater House Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Mill Run, Pennsylvania
The 1935 Fallingwater House Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. Fallingwater House Photo by Walter Bibikow/AWL Images/Getty Images (cropped)

Inspired by the work of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater® Inspired Colors includes Cherokee Red and a dozen other colors found in Wright's famous Fallingwater. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has authenticated the color chart. Fallingwater® Inspired Colors are part of the Voice of Color® Collection by PPG, Pittsburgh® Paints.

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Exterior of Taliesin West, the winter home and studio of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Exterior of Taliesin West, the winter home and studio of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Taliesin West photo by Stephen Saks/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

"Color is so universal and yet so personal," notes PPG Architectural Finishes, Inc. at The Voice of Color. Their Frank Lloyd Wright collection not only includes Fallingwater-inspired colors, but a broader palette of colors found in Wright's winter retreat at Taliesin West in the Arizona desert.

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Historic 1931 silkscreen illustration of patrons sitting at tables in an Art Deco colored style jazz club
Historic 1931 silkscreen illustration of patrons sitting at tables in an Art Deco colored style jazz club. Photo by GraphicaArtis/Archive Photos Collection/Getty Images

Art Deco, the movement that arose from the 1925 Decorative Art exposition in Paris, was short-lived but influential. The Jazz Age (and King Tut) ushered in new architectural ideas and a palette of pastels never before seen on buildings in the US. Paint companies still provide palettes of art deco-inspired colors, like the colors shown in this 1931 illustration. Behr is right on target with their Art Deco Pink and the color's associated palettes. Sherwin-Williams calls their historic palette The Jazz Age. These color combinations are found in art deco neighborhoods, most famously in Miami Beach. Single-family homes from this era (1925-1940) are most often, however, maintained in simple shades of white—or Fifty Shades of Grey. Sherwin-Williams also has a mix ("Part art deco, part 50's suburban, part 60's mod") called Retro Revival.

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Art Nouveau Paint Chips
Art Nouveau Paint Chips. Photo by Found Image Holdings/Corbis Historical/Getty Images (cropped)

Before Art Deco in the 20th century was the Art Nouveau movement of the 19th century. Think of the colors used in the stained glass decorations of Louis Tiffany, and you'll recognize the range of Art Nouveau. American architect Frank Lloyd Wright seems to have been influenced by these earthy shades. Behr paint has arranged palettes around Art Nouveau Glass, a soft gray color, but, as you can see from the historic palette shown here, these period hues have a wider range. Sherwin-Williams expands history by calling their color collection the Nouveau Narrative palette. These are colors that tell a story.

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Painting the Exterior of a Wooden House in a Different Shade of White
Painting the Exterior of a Wooden House in a Different Shade of White. Photo by Lewis Mulatero/Moment Mobile/Getty Images

You've got the workers, now get the paint. CBN Systems provides an online database for you to view thousands of colors from major paint manufacturers like Benjamin Moore, Behr, Sherwin-Williams, and many others. Select a manufacturer's name to view color charts and popular color combinations online, or download free trial paint color software with free paint color palettes. CBN also lets you mix your own paint—simply select a color from their database, send them the code, and their paint formulation service sends you the formula to take to your local paint store. This service will help you achieve the exact color you need.

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Zobop! (2006) by Jim Lambie, a floor installation on display at the Tate Liverpool, is part of Colour Chart: Reinventing Colour, 1950 to Today
Zobop! (2006) by Jim Lambie, a floor installation on display at the Tate Liverpool, is part of Colour Chart: Reinventing Colour, 1950 to Today. Photo by Colin McPherson/Corbis Historical/Getty Images

PANTONE® is a color information service geared toward informing the professional "across a variety of industries." The company began in the 1950s to bring color to graphical advertising, but today they decide what the Color of the Year will be for the entire world. They are the leaders, and many seem to follow. The Pantone Colour Matching System (PMS) has been used for years by artists and designers in a number of business sectors. Today they've also developed palettes for painting interiors, often with a decidedly 1950s hue and offer a variety of services in addition to suggesting distinctive color palettes. The palettes are so vibrant, like cotton candy, that they appeal to children.

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Color Wheel by August Macke (1887-1914) of the German Expressionist group "The Blue Rider"
Color Wheel by August Macke (1887-1914) of the German Expressionist group "The Blue Rider". Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Hulton Fine Art Collection/Getty Images (cropped)

For those who are new to choosing colors, California Paints is reassuring. The collections of interior and exterior colors are straightforward, limiting choices to the cream of the crop. At times the company collaborates with regional organizations like Historic New England, so you can be confident that what they offer is not simply a marketing tactic.

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Close-up of a Valspar paint can on a green golf course
Valspar Paint. Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images Sport Collection/Getty Images

Valspar Paints is a large, global company with many distributors, but it began as a little paint store in 1806, when the United States was a new nation. Think about the history of your own house. Valspar helps you explore ideas for your own home with Virtual Painter and other tools. Their color palettes are often organized by house styles, like what colors go well on an American Victorian home? You can also explore the Valspar library of ideas to see how your chosen paint colors look on rooms and houses.

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Signage for Benjamin Moore paint store, with brightly painted Victorian style home in the background
Benjamin Moore in San Francisco, California. Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Find your favorite Benjamin Moore paints in this enormous color chart from one of America's most respected paint companies. View color families and color combinations, and learn about trends and issues related to interior and exterior house colors.

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Man with paint roller, painting wall yellow
Man with paint roller, painting wall yellow. Photo by Asia Images Group/Getty Images

KILZ® is known for manufacturing stain-covering primers, and they claim that their Casual Color paints also provide great hiding properties. If you use a roller and choose a color from the KILZ color chart, you shouldn't need to apply a second coat. (Although you may still need to use a primer.) KILZ Casual Colors paint is sold at many retail hardware and lumber stores. KILZ color family choices are what you might expect.

Providers of paints should help us choose color combinations. A variety of color charts assists us in making sense of what the Swiss architect La Corbusier calls Polychromie Architecturale. Poly means "many" and chroma is color. Many colors and certain combinations of colors will change the perception of architectural design, inside and out. If the tools of one paint manufacturer confuse you, move on to the next.

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