A Gallery of Houses, A Paint Bucket of Tips

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Colors for a Second Empire House

Second Empire Style House
House Paint Color Workshop: New Colors for a Second Empire House Second Empire Style House. Photo courtesy the homeowner

Readers get help choosing exterior paint colors for their homes

The houses in these photos need a new coat of paint - but, what color? In this workshop we discuss these homes and suggest new exterior paint colors. Follow the links for house color charts, house color tools, house color ideas, and resources to help you choose exterior paint colors for your own home.

This Second Empire home has a brand new roof, and now the owner wants a new color palette for the trim and siding. What colors would you pick?

From Randy LaCoille:

"My wife and I purchased this Second Empire style home in 1991 and have completed all necessary renovations to the interior and are now working on the final renovations to the exterior. Sadly, we had to replace the slate on the mansard roof and budget would not allow for new slate. We have installed black architectural shingles which really do look better than I had thought.
"Our major problem is trying to figure out the new paint colors. We both like the period shades of green or gold for the body color but can't decide on trim color. Should the trim color be a darker or lighter color than the body? Someone please help!"

Readers' Suggestions:

Trim color: The house color is beautiful. I think you show flow with a darker trim because it brings detail to the style, character, and design of the home. This will bring people's eyes to the detail and character of the home. —Guest Sandra

Colors for a 2nd Empire Home: If you like green for the body, go tan for the trim with 2 accents. If you like tan for the body, choose rusty red for the trim with dark brown for accents. —Guest Daun

From Palliser, Architect of the Era: Paint clapboards light olive drab. Paint corner boards etc. Indian Red. Pick out all chamfers [beveled edges] and cut work in black. Paint window sashes Venetian red. Paint the Veranda ceilings ultramarine blue with rafters Indian Red. —Guest S. Brodie

Depends on what you want to achieve: A dark color trim will make it more subdued, while a lighter color will stand out more and be a more bold statement. Personally, I like the house the way it looks in the picture. You have a beautiful home! —Guest Amber

Choose Dark Trim: I believe that I am acquainted with your beautiful home. If it the one that I am thinking of, you sit above Grove Street in a town in The Quiet Corner. I have passed your home several times while walking my dog. I am also working on a Second Empire Victorian in Central Village and have decided on a light body color (medium drab), a dark trim (Rookwood Green) and Indian Red and Old Gold accents. The shutters will be the traditional shutter green. Going with the dark trim rather than the light trim is a very dramatic combination, but is also correct for the period. I finally just went with my own scheme, keeping with the period colors and combinations. —Guest Brent

Gold, Maroon, and Green: I think a gold base color, with a maroon trim color and a third color, maybe a dark green, on the screen frames would be just beautiful! Be sure and send us a picture when it's done! —Guest Cate

Gray and Maroon: I think that a gray base color would look nice with maroon or dark red shutters and windows. —Guest Paige

Get Rid of the White: Hi. No matter what color you choose, get rid of the white window sash. A cream color like the trim is good, a dark (essex green - Benj Moore) or dark red would be best. The white stops your eyes from looking further - you lose that sense of depth. Good luck, Ken. oldhouseguy.com —Guest Ken

A Reader's Cautionary Tale:

My house is a Cape Cottage, but my color choice was inspired by a picture of a Maine fisherman's house. When we hired the painter he was supposed to paint samples first, but instead he brought us a Benjamin Moore picture of a Victorian house with the exact colors and then just started painting! What a DISASTER!!! We went with all oil - stain on the siding and paint on the trim. The house in the photo was under the canopy of trees, but ours is in full sun so the colors look completely different. The siding color is B.M. "Garden Path" but it actually looks just like the shade lighter "Antique Jade." The siding color looks great - a perfect backdrop to the Azalea and Rhododendron bushes in front of the house. My house is a combination of Board-and-Batten under the sloping roof (first floor), 10" reveal cedar shakes everywhere else, and 5" reveal cedar at the peaks (addition seen above sloping roof and dog house dormer). Trim details: The siding is "B.M.'s "Garden Path" and the trim is a dark burgundy and dark green. The burgundy was originally B.M.'s "Bordeaux" but it looked like circus clown purple on the house, so we had a custom color matched to our dark burgundy screen door. All the trim around the windows and doors and the fascia (just below roof) is burgundy. The corner boards, portico posts and portico trim below the fascia is dark green. The painter used "High Park" (based on the picture) for the dark green, but it is way too light, so I will be re-painting it in "Backwoods" which in full sun should look like "Cambridge Green." Also all the doors, including the garage doors are dark green. So the burgundy is used as a "frame" color that separates the siding from other elements (doors, windows, roof) and the dark green is for any trim between the siding (corners, ledger board), large masses (garage), and accents (mailbox, window boxes). The portico ceiling is sky blue. Hope this helps! —Guest natschultz

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Happy Colors for a Bungalow

Brightly painted bungalow
House Paint Color Workshop: Happy Colors for an Historic Bungalow Brightly painted bungalow. Photo Courtesty the Homeowner

Are historic colors always drab? What colors would you paint this Bungalow?

"Mr. T." sends us this house paint puzzler:

"My house is a Bungalow, built approximately in the 1950s. After I painted my house, I found out it was located in an Historic District. I chose a yellow because we wanted a bright happy look that kids would favor, seeing that we ran a family child care. Well the kids loved it, and so did the parents, which was the general idea to attract child care clientele. My surrounding neighbors liked it also, but some passersby who didn't even live on the same street complained to the City. The City says, in keeping with the Historic District Standards, I must change the colors to a more subdued nature.

"How can I keep the lively image and still conform to the dull dark drab, subdued colors? What are some good happy choices for external paints?"

Readers' Suggestions:

Just small changes: I would keep the yellow, but maybe change the trim to a warm medium brown, soft copper, or olive green. Paint the porch columns in cream and you'd be quite in keeping with bungalow color schemes of the 1910s and '20s. See the book Bungalow Colors by Robert Schweitzer and grab the Sherwin Williams Arts and Crafts color samples, both interior and exterior, before you go chat with the historic folk: you'll be ready to support your choices! —Guest jeannet

Caribbean Classic: Living on the Caribbean island of Curacao, I'm used to a lot of bright and happy colors on both historic and modern buildings. For your bungalow I would choose a shady green and dark purple trim. A second option would be a light purple building with white trim, probably better in line with historic guidelines.... —Guest marjory

More Earthy: Just to let you know, I'm an architectural historian and a Master's student in Historic Preservation. I can understand the complaint by the local historical board, because I agree that the colors are inappropriate for your house. They really fight against the house instead of enhancing it. I think there's nothing wrong with the color yellow on a bungalow per se. The problem is the bright color of yellow, and an even greater problem is the choice of black. Black is a cold color that never would have been used on a house like that. Plus, the black next to the yellow makes the yellow look more garish than it really is. My suggestion is to use a warmer, softer yellow, with a bit more beige in it, and then use a warm brown (like the color of leather) as your accent color. Your house would look lovely. —Guest Valerie

Patriotic Colors: How about a more patriotic color scheme... but one that almost features rich primary colors? I'm thinking that if you paint every surface that is now yellow, a rich federal blue... then the surfaces that are now a dark green (?), a vanilla... then paint that front door a "Hey, look at me!" red... your city officials may feel less threatened. You might even paint the porch the same vanilla, but paint the steps and a wide stripe from the steps to the door, the red color you use on the door... sort of a red carpet that invites folks in. —Guest Pam

Pale Yellow: How about a paler (much paler) yellow. I am sure it would pass muster (or mustard, haha) with the historic district. I live in an historic district, and I hate to say it, but if you had gotten a building (painting, or whatever) permit beforehand, you would have been directed first to the historic/architectural review board, who would have cheerfully given you guidance and saved you trouble. Those who reported you have an interest in making sure that guidelines are enforced in all parts of the district, not just their own streets. Any renegade paint jobs or renovations alter the character of the district and make it harder to enforce guidelines in the future. I am on the local review board and assure you that if you consult your review board or historic commission, they would be more than glad to give you guidance. They are a tremendous resource for the homeowner, not an adversary. —Guest Bobby

Keep yellow, tone it down: I agree with going more earthy. Softer yellow, with soft brown trim would be perfect. —Guest guest

Happy, but conforming to heritage: As some here have mentioned, the softer yellow variant would look great, and yes, I also agree with giving the historic/architectural review board a call. I bet you will be very happy with color options they can show you too. Ron. ( ;-} > —Moonpagan

Do the Research:

A Reader's Lament About Historic Districts:

Why do we HAVE to conform? Two (conflicting) thoughts come to mind here. No. 1 - when looking at the picture of this lovely little home, I see a horrific apartment building in the background - doesn't look too "historically correct" to me! Secondly, I agree that conformity needs to be 'policed' if you will, in neighborhoods - if for nothing else, to be pleasing to the eye of the general public, not to mention property values. My home has a large front window in the living room which looks across the street to a dumpy little house in disrepair - painted the gaudiest shade of blue I have ever seen!! When I bought this house in 1972, we had a lovely little neighborhood, but this one house has fallen into the hands, numerous times, of persons less and less caring, it seems. Sadly, one home not conforming to the neighborhood can reduce property values for all the neighboring homes! I do NOT mean to imply this one does, however. —Guest Jeanharpist

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Colors for a Colonial House

Traditional White Colonial House
House Paint Color Workshop: Colors for a Colonial House Traditional White Colonial House. Photo courtesy the homeowner

Does a Colonial house have to be white? What colors would you pick for this Colonial home? See more Black and White Houses.

From Patrick Sinclair:

"I have been told this house in Georgian Colonial. I want to get it painted other than white and want to know my options/colors to stay within historical context. I have done some research and found it looks like a mix of Georgian Revival, Colonial, and Federal. Although I don't know which one fits best. Any insight on colors and styles would be appreciated."

Readers' Respond:

Historical precedent: Colonial Revivals are not colonials. They are early 20th century adaptions. They are usually in pastels with white trim. You can also use a dark color with a trim in a slightly darker or lighter. The main goal is to avoid high contrast schemes, as these houses were a rebellion from the high contrast polychrome schemes of the Victorian era —Guest steven R

Try authentic colonial colors: One of the most amazing Georgian colonial homes I've visited is Hunter House in Newport, RI. It has a "cafe au lait" exterior with no shutters and a green door. Very modern looking but still authentic. You can also get a book called "Williamsburg Reproductions" (1989, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation) on Amazon.com that shows the colors used for interior and exterior painting of colonial homes. Lots of pictures - and they're anything but white! —Bennyhannah

Pick the Colors You Want: I believe this is a relatively new home? It is quite nice looking with some nice colonial details. I especially like the pedimented front door treatment and the semi-circular brick porch. I believe it might better fit the Federal colonial or perhaps Adam colonial style. In any case there is no reason to retain the white color. I am told that white only became available during the latter part of the 19th century when the Victorian style became popular. The older colonial colors often contained an ocher tint. My in-law's 1700s vintage center chimney colonial was a deep yellow with white trim on the windows and black shutters. TOH had a colonial revival house they worked on 6-7 years ago called Kirkside in MA. They did very scientific paint research on that house and came up with the yellow & creamy white; as described; and a dark green (park bench) color for the shutters. Go with what you like however. Good Luck. —Guest Don

Builder's Colonial: Don and Steven are right - the best stylistic description of this attractive home is "builder's colonial". Both "Colonial" and "Colonial Revival" refer to specific time periods of home design. If you were to use say, Colonial Williamsburg as a model, you'd find white to be entirely appropriate. But as Steven said, in the Colonial Revival period, more color was common. —Guest RLTarch

Bright eye-catching colonial: Pale yellow with white trim, columns, shutters, etc. will really add color and brighten it up, catch the eye for more curb appeal, and adhere to historical authenticity. —Muti1

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Paint This Victorian

What colors would you pick for this rambling Folk Victorian house?
House Paint Color Workshop: A Folk Victorian House What colors would you pick for this rambling Folk Victorian house?. Photo courtesy the homeowner

What colors would you pick for this rambling Folk Victorian house?

From Robert:

"We're doing a restoration and addition to our 1890s Folk Victorian Farmhouse. We need to choose exterior paint colors very soon. We're leaning toward a basic white, but there's lots of trim that we'd like to highlight. The window trim will have to be white, because we're using some Marvin Replacement Sashes with a white cladding on the exterior. We're planning on adding shutters at some point soon.
"Some details: Exterior is wood clapboard, with scalloped shingles on the bays and gable ends. There is a fleur de lis facia under the rooflines, and some decorative porch brackets."

Readers' Suggestions:

Butter Yellow: I would paint it a buttery yellow with white trim. The yellow would make the white windows and trim look very nice. Maybe some green as well with shutters or such. —aslfdioj

Fabric-Based Colors: In picking Victorian house colors for our own house, I chose fabric that I love with several colors and used this to paint our Victorian.... it worked out great!!! —Guest Tsal

Deep and Bold Colors: Roberto, this is a Victorian. So you need to use deeper and bolder tones. Most houses from that period were painted with burgundies, bordeaux, and cognacs. And although Folk Victorian houses are orderly and symmetrical houses with an old fashioned flair, they represent an aura of incredible architectural outburst where intricate masonry made wood ornaments possible, resulting in the passionate nature of their expression. I do like the idea of the Marvin Replacement Sashes with a white cladding on the exterior, but I would pick a white with peach hues in it. As for the shutters, there are good catalogs featuring good choices. As for their color, I would go with crimson and match with gable ornaments, corbels, and elaborate porch railings. Black or brown roof is a must. Not an easy decision, but one you should make eventually. You may want to check for holes in your roof, too - not unusual for Victorian houses. L. Franck —Guest Liam Franck

Victorian Colors: Green roof - architectural shingles. Gray house - medium to slate. Cranberry trim. —Guest martha

Cream and Blue: I am not an expert on either Victorian houses nor designing in general, just an enthusiast. I think a creamy yellow (butter is what I call it) for the siding would highlight the white cladding beautifully, especially if you use white on your window & roof trim. I would also suggest a couple of accent colors for the porch, shutters, etc., but use two in the same color family. I think a blue coupled with a lighter blue would look fantastic with the cream and white color scheme. Good luck! —Guest "K"

Watch Out For White Window Sashes: In choosing colors for your home a great book by Roger Moss is Victorian Exterior Decoration. If you paint your home WHITE, then the white window sashes will be acceptable. If you choose period earth tones - DO NOT use white on your window sashes. The white will create sort of block when viewing your home. Darker sashes will create a sense of depth and character. Just because your windows are vinyl or aluminum doesn't mean they can't be painted. There is nothing worse than seeing a house painted in earth tones and the only white on the house is the window sashes. Please reconsider. For more information refer to Victorian Homes Magazine. There is a house color section and I believe the last issue or so mentions about white sashes. Good luck. —Guest OldHouseGuy

Consider Off-White: I would add the comment that old fashioned 'white' paints were not nearly as bright as modern whites, and they will have yellowed faster too. So an alternative to a dark colour is to use a cream or other off-white. —Guest Simon TL

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Accent Colors for a Traditional Farmhouse

The owner would like to add color accents to this traditional white farmhouse
House Paint Color Workshop: Accent Colors for a Traditional Farmhouse The owner would like to add color accents to this traditional farmhouse. Photo courtesy of the homeowner

The owner would like to add color accents to this traditional farmhouse. What colors do you suggest?

Lance sends us this paint color challenge:

"Built in late 1949. Painted white stucco exterior. Dull red brick lines bottom of each window sill. I believe it is Colonial, but am not sure.
"I do not want to paint entire house. I was thinking about adding shutter details. What do you recommend? Also want to change color of shutters, and add accent colors. What do you recommend?
"How about the porch? I also want to detail it."

Readers' Suggestions:

Highlight the Reds: Shutters: Enlarge and make functioning (actually moving/ swinging) ones that match the size of the window. Ignore anything that keeps the shutter from opening all the way... it only makes them more charming and real. Very cozy look. --- Colors: Use the red to your advantage by highlighting the inside of the arches, porch ceiling, front door, and perhaps the alcove-like ledges where the windows and doors are recessed into the wall (remember, you don't have to use that same value of red... play with the different shades until you find one that's not so bold and contrasting; you could cause a brain aneurysm of a passerby by using such dark red everywhere). But the natural brick is a cool thing. Don't paint it, but if it already is, then your possibilities are endless. -- Great House!—Guest J. Meyers

Choose Soft Colors: Very nice house. 1949 is late for the style, but it looks like a foursquare with gable roof. There were lots of variations. I would go with natural soft colors like light tan, very soft yellows, creams etc. for the body and browns, reds and woodtones for trim and shutters. -- I used Duron "yellow buff" on interior "stucco" plaster in my house. It is a warm, creamy white that is almost yellow. It really enhances the texture. I considered using it on my stucco exterior, but feared being too repetitive. -- J. Myers is right: shutters should operate, or look like they could. Sometimes storm windows interfere with complete closure of real shutters, but no one would know the difference. The classic shutter color is dark green, which might be nice in your case. -- Have fun. If you make a mistake, paint is reversible.—Guest Bobby

Depends on your location: Hi. The red brick is a minor player according to this picture, so I wouldn't worry about clashes with colors. If you were my client, I would suggest painting the exterior porch walls a deep color (those under the arches). I would then paint the front door the same deep color for a balanced tie in. Finally, I would then paint the shutters a lighter coordinate than the door & porch walls. Applying the deeper colors below grounds the house, & the lighter shade above draws the gaze upwards. For a traditional look, a navy bottom and slate blue shutters would be nice (or, slate blue lower and a lighter shade off the same paint chip card would be great too). For a less traditional look, paint the exterior porch walls a deep grey, and the door/shutters the same shade - whether blue or purple-blue or red...Due to the scale/massive amount of white paint present on the house, deeper colors are needed to balance things out. Good luck!—Guest Lisa

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A Pink Victorian?

Owners seek colors for their 1902 home
House Paint Color Workshop: A Pink Victorian House Should the owners paint their Victorian "pink"?. Photo © Forum Member "savannahlady"

The owners are restoring porches and picking paint colors for this 1902 home. What colors would you pick?

Husband wants to paint the body pink - Not too pink, but a sandy pink with brownish cream tones. Wife wonders about the gables, trim, and other details. Can this marriage be saved?

Readers' Suggestions:

Do it! What a lovely house! The color scheme as it is is very nice. I do agree that the house offers rather straight lines or pointy triangular shapes and little curvy features for a Victorian, and is more masculine in essence. A touch of pink would definitely do it! I like the idea of a deeper tan though. Although a bit of red accents could make it look pink. Any of them work. Hope this helps!—Guest Titi de la Patinesca

Don't Do It!! I think pink would be horrid on this house. the color scheme that it has already is nice. I would paint the body a slightly richer shade of tan, and play up the red in a few more accents. I think this house is more masculine and would look silly in pink.—Guest B

It could be gorgeous: I've seen historical homes use colors like what you are suggesting. Trim colors have been a maroon-brown (more red than brown, but with a brown base), white and deep green either used in combo with either other (use the 3 colors for an intense, intricate look) or just the maroon & white for a softer, yet sophisticated look. If you were my design client, I'd feel confident recommending the maroonish color combo - see Benjamin Moore's HC-61 through HC-66 paint chips for color ideas. Another idea is Benj. Moores AC-13 through AC-18 chips. There's a pinky beige color shown with blue greys, blue greens and a couple browns that would be another interesting (but not as typical) color combo. Good luck!—Guest Lisa

Think Pink: I like the idea of a pink Victorian. We are painting our house and I just asked that exact question. No response yet but I'm sure they will get to me. I think it would look very nice with a muted pink body and cream trim. I've looked at quite a few and they are beautiful. Be brave and do it. I'm going to.—aslfdioj

Try a contrasting match: Too much peach/pink- needs a contrast. Try painting the porch ceiling sky blue to really make the rest stand out and not suffocate the eyes with too much pink tones. Similar to a New Orleans pink with muted green, sky blue ceiling is not only historically accurate but will help bring out the rest of the porch details to the eye.—Muti1

Accents: Trim could be dark rose and deep brownish charcoal.—Guest Pegi

New Orleans Color: There is a lovely coral-pink that is frequently used in older New Orleans homes, with accents often in creams and muted greens. I suggest using the Google street view and strolling down the historic areas to get some ideas!—Guest Julie

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Painted Cedar Siding

Owners seek color ideas for cedar-sided house
House Paint Color Workshop: House With Painted Cedar Siding House with painted cedar siding. Photo © Forum Member "kittiwakecoast"

This ranch style house used to be sided in natural cedar, but the previous owners painted the wood and the foundation a dull white. What colors would you pick?

The owners of this ranch style house are looking for color ideas for the siding, trim, and door. The roof will be re-shingled, so they'll need color ideas for that, too.

Readers' Suggestions:

Lots of choices! Wow, great house! With so many choices for a home like this, the only thing you need to remember is paint the deepest color on the bottom (if you were going 2 tone) so that it 'grounds' the house. Benjamin Moore has a wonderful Audubon Russet color (HC-51) that could be used as a base against accents colors in green or smoky blues. Another great choice would be BM's 2144-30 Rosemary Sprig. This is a mellow green with a yellow base and can be used with black accents or even reddish-brown/burnt orangy accents. Whichever way you go, it will look awesome.—lisaapb

Siding color: I bought a house 25 years ago that had redwood siding, both horizontal and vertical. Unfortunately, over the years it had been stained with an opaque stain in a russet brown shade, so the only thing I could maintain it with was the same type of opaque stain. It does look pretty good, but I will always regret that the original wood was completely obscured this way. The stain I used was Olympic Overcoat flat latex in Russet. This is a good quality paint and will last a long time. Of course, this will not work over a previous oil-based paint! If that is your case, you must use some sort of oil-based finish to avoid incompatibility.—madlilviking

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Craftsman House Colors

Turn-of-the-century home in New Hampshire
House Paint Color Workshop: Choosing Craftsman House Colors 1900 Craftsman House. Photo © Forum Member "Jen3bros"

Built in New Hampshire in 1900, this home has Craftsman styling. Color choices stumped our readers.

Right now, this Craftsman-like house is sided with green aluminum siding and brown board and batten. The owner wants to change the color scheme, but maybe that's not all.

The first decision is whether or not to keep the two-tone look. Painting it all one color may add unity and harmony to the structure. If the owner does stick with two colors, try the lighter color on the top. Dark colors over lighter hues tend to give a house an unbalanced, top-heavy look.

Another consideration is to remove the aluminum siding and see what's underneath. That's a scary prospect, but often worth the examination. Sometimes siding is hiding not only "mistakes" that can be fixed, but also irreplaceable detailing that can give back a home's original character. Paint decision may be made more easily without dual-siding distractions.

Homeowners—take the chance!

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Cedar-Sided Ranch House

The owners would like to add curb appeal to this cedar-sided Ranch Style house
House Paint Color Workshop: Cedar-Sided Ranch House The owners would like to add curb appeal to this cedar-sided Ranch Style house. Photo © Forum Member "ADKatie"

The owner of this cedar-sided Ranch Style house seeks ways to give it a bit of sparkle. What colors would you pick?

Should the owner of this cedar-sided Ranch Style house paint it a different color? Add some architectural trim? Or maybe give more definition to the house style—is this house really a ranch or does it want to be a Monterey Style?

Readers' Respond:

Colors aren't the first question:The first floor windows across the front of the house are all different and very jarring. It seems that a solution to this problem must come first because no color can hide the different sizes. The easiest answer I think is to construct a covered walkway across the entire front of the house. Get rid of the pediment and make the entry more interesting with some carpentry. Use simple columns to support the new structure. If there's a cement pad in the front of the house, you might want to consider making this a sort of covered porch (also full length). Next, tear out the landscaping which is not in keeping with the design of the house and probably obstructs the path from the garage to the front door. When you get around to re-landscaping, keep it loose and asymmetrical. (Symmetrical plantings are for formal buildings.) Now, with the portico on the lower level, you essentially have a 2 story house which can be painted in 2 shades of taupe w/ a dark accent color.—agoodeye

An Olympian green: It is a deep solid color but not too deep and not gloomy or too dark. A whitish not too bright white but not too vanilla trim. The garage door can be the same color as the house and just paint the front door a deep color of a rustic, redwood red.—Guest Laurarosee

Ranch House Colors: If the house is rather warm, paint it pure white with light blue. Doors and windows can be colors like red, orange, or terracotta. Plants and greenery provide natural insulation. In colder climates, choose colors like sand, light brown, or gray. Window frames can be colored green, gray, or red. Also consider staining the wood and coating it with a clear lacquer or wax. I love a white house with contrasting dark frames. Gray, red, orange, or green adds a touch! [Translated from Portuguese.]—Guest newtinho

Brighten it up! A buttery yellow with sage green shutters would ease the boxy shape of this house. This will create a nice back drop for the landscaping!Remove the current landscaping, and add some height towards corners to soften, and flank front porch with some medium-tall plants to make your entrance a focal point. Line your walkway with low growing colorful plants. Paint your front door a complimentary color, and keep in mind your roof color...The key for you is to soften the rectangular shape of your home, and draw your eye away from the imperfections...make that landscaping spectacular! Good luck!—smax9294

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Pearl Gray Ranch House

Ranch Style House
House Paint Color Workshop: Pearl Gray Ranch House Can you add "umph" to this Ranch Style home?. Photo © Forum Member "AKCGSD"

This Ranch Style house is pearl gray. The owner would like to give it "umph" by adding color to the door and other details. What colors would you pick?

Readers' Suggestions for this Ranch Style Home:

Highlight the trim! I suggest painting the trim at the roof line a darker color and perhaps adding some shutters or painting the window trim the same color as the roof trim, thereby showing off your home's best features: the gables and windows. Try going to Better Homes and Gardens house painting tool online to try different colors. You're sure to find something you like!—Guest elbie

Landscaping, Landscaping, Landscaping: This house needs landscaping first! Choose Purples (Japanese maples or bonfire peach), blues (bluestar juniper) and lime yellows...then fill in with greens. Dark mulch or rock...Definitely shutters (charcoal) and a pretty color on front door (sky is the limit with gray). Add the grids to your front windows!! A nice resin wicker set! A charcoal urn with hot pinks, purples, greens and yellows...as well as those colors for cushions, wreaths, etc. My house is this color, and I get compliments constantly!! Good luck!!—smax9294

Ranch House: How about adding some brick facade to get some color, or some nice hedges with a little bit of color with them in it?—Guest azgirl

Highlighting: It may depend on the color of your roof, but I have a ranch style home, painted in a blueish- gray. It has a white roof. What I did to punch it up was to add trim entirely around (the fascia and gutters were painted) in a darker shade of blue-gray, plus painted the window sills (which are concrete/stucco) and fake shutters on the front windows the same darker blue-gray shade. Then I framed the front door with white trim, and painted the door a poinsettia red. It looks great!—doryg

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Restoring a Texas Bungalow

Texas Bungalow
House Paint Color Workshop: Texas Bungalow Texas Bungalow. Photo © Forum Member "PJLRRL"

When the owners bought this Texas bungalow, it was smothered under aluminum siding. Now it's zippy purple and yellow. But do the colors work?

Choosing Yellow and Purple:

One reader, ori93, thinks these colors work well inside and out. "It was green and grey. It looked nice," says the reader, "but now is more fashionable and I like it."

Why I Chose These Colors: "I chose these colors because I thought they would look good with the furniture and would give a nice aspect to my home. It wasn't difficult for me to find the colours, but it was difficult to find the correct nuance of the colour. Finally I found it and now I feel very comfortable in my home and, what's the most important, is that my eyes are always relaxed. I'm very happy with the colours of my home. I stay for a long time just to admire the walls. In my home I feel like I'm in a Barbie house, because the colours are very warm. I advise all the persons to colour their homes according to their personal taste."

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New Colors for a Remodeled House

Remodeled House
House Paint Color Workshop: Remodeled House The owner seeks help in choosing paint colors for this remodeled house. Photo from Forum Member "Kinnakeeter"

The owners of this remodeled house are looking for color ideas that will bring out the architectural details. What colors would you pick?

The owners have tried using Paint Color Software to experiment with color choices, but still aren't satisfied with the results. How can they get more ideas?

Talk to someone who has been there.

Submitted by kenroginski:

About My House: The restoration of my home resulted in a career change and a quest to guide others in proper restoration.

My house, a late Queen Ann, was built in 1910 and by the time I found it, it was in bad shape after many years of neglect. Fortunately it still had all original features -- most importantly, the original windows and no plastic siding. On the interior, all woodwork was painted and floors were carpeted.

My restoration was also featured on HGTV's Restore America.

What I Did: I began with lots of research. It was important to do things right and find qualified people to learn from and do what work I could not do.

On the exterior, the roof needed to be replaced but it was important to find someone to remake the Pole Gutters system, as this was a character defining feature.

Unfortunately I did not have the original rail on my wrap around porch. The current rail was to code and proportionally wrong (about 8" higher). The top of the rail should not be higher than the window sill. I hired a contractor to remake a new railing NOT to code but historically correct and install it secretly to avoid a permit. Only in a historic district is this permitted.

Soon after I began my restoration, I returned to school part time enrolling in Drew University's Historic Preservation Program. A position with the state and a title of Sr. Historic Preservation Specialist followed.

I also set up a website www.oldhouseguy.com to assist old home owners in their restoration and caution them from making mistakes that most people make to their home. There are more before and after photos there.

Tips and Tricks by the oldhouseguy.com:

  • Just because someone has experience working on old homes does not mean that they are qualified. You will most likely need to train the people you hire.
  • Only consult an architect that specializes in Historic Preservation or you will be sorry.
  • Remember your house will live on longer than you will. Respect and preserve its history and original design for future owners. If it no longer fits your needs it is best to move on to a larger, etc. house.
  • When stripping paint, you will never remove it all. Some will remain in grooves and dents. Touch it up with brown acrylic paint to match the wood.
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Queen Anne House Colors

Queen Anne Victorian Photo
House Paint Color Workshop: Queen Anne House Colors The new owners of this impressive Queen Anne Victorian are planning major repairs. Photo from Forum Member "sonjos"

The new owners of this Queen Anne Victorian are planning major repairs. What colors would bring out the beauty of the home?

This Queen Anne house appears to be sided with stucco, but the siding is damaged and will need to be replaced. What type of siding was typical for this era? What colors would bring out the beauty of the home?


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Paint This Bungalow

What colors would you paint this bungalow?
House Paint Color Workshop: Paint Colors for a Bungalow What colors would you paint this bungalow?. Photo courtesy of the homeowner

The owner of this charming bungalow is looking for colors that suit the period and style. What colors would you pick?

"Jhrgar" sends us this paint color challenge:

"I would like to know the style and period of my house. I am planning on repainting this summer and would like to know what are the correct colors to use for the style."

Do the Research:

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Paint this Dutch Colonial Anything But White!

Dutch Colonial Revival House
House Paint Color Workshop: Colors for a Dutch Colonial Revival House Dutch Colonial Revival House. Photo © the homeowner

The owner of this Dutch Colonial Revival home says she does not want white. But, what else will go with the red roof?


"I just bought a 1930 Dutch Colonial. I'm feeling limited on color options because of the roof color. I really don't want a white house. I would have liked to go with a medium blue, but my next door neighbor's house is blue. So, now I'm thinking either medium green with creamy yellow accents or a creamy yellow house with darker green accents. Thoughts? (I'm ignoring the 'deferred maintenance' aspects of the yard until Spring!)"

Readers' Suggestions:

  • You're on the right track! Yellow base with Hunter green trim would be bee-u-tiful!—Guest GoofusArufus
  • Medium/Cloud grey for the body of the house, a dark charcoal grey for some shutters, and black for the entry doors. Possibly Charcoal grey for the garage doors as well. It's a beautiful looking home, by the way!—Guest Ron
  • Black. With white trim and fire-engine red doors.—Guest Jack V.
  • Try something tasty: barley, caramel, light cocoa. Trim in navy. Trim back bushes, plant tulips. Great house.—agoodeye
  • I think the medium green with creamy yellow accents sounds perfect!!! I also have an old dutch colonial home I'm trying to pick a new color for!—Guest Patty
  • I feel confident a light gray will not conflict with a red roof at all & add a bit of richness to the exterior of the house. Additions of matching red shutters or awnings could bring a bit more dimension or personality. Adding a red door to the garage will bring the eye down from the roof. Trim back or remove the larger bushes to replace with small ones.—Guest Michael E
  • Your red roof would look beautiful against cocoa colored walls. White trim would pop against those two colors, but chocolate colored trim would give additional interest.—Bluegrassgypsy
  • Light beige, with white trim and dark red shutters.—oldbluehouse
  • I also have a house of this style and from the 1920s. My husband and I have just compromised on changing the old black roof to a more modern charcoal gray, but I want a paint color that will be more interesting than white but will also still show off the architectural details. I was thinking gray with white trim and keeping a red color door of some kind.—Guest dutchcolowner

Dutch Colonial House Pictures:

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Colors for Stucco and Brick

Stucco and Brick Home
House Paint Color Workshop: Stucco and Brick House Stucco and Brick Home. Photo © Forum Member KRALCO

The combination of stucco, brick, and vinyl on this home make choosing colors especially difficult. What colors would you pick?

From Forum Member KRALCO:

"I have a house with a stucco front, vinyl siding on the back and each side, and a brick foundation. The vinyl siding and stucco are a pewter (gray/blue) color which does not match the brick foundation or roof. I would like to change the vinyl siding and stucco paint color to a color(s) that would match the brick foundation. I believe the color of the brick is referred to as a marlboro color. The roof has colors of tan, gray and black. Please help!"

Readers' Suggestions:

House Colors by Name: "Toffee Crunch" stucco on front of the house and "St. Augustine Brick" on the rest.—Guest jacobs

The roof color dictates the rest: It really depends on the way the sun hits your house and as a result what color the roof appears. If most of the day, (6 to 7 hours), the roof appears tan/brownish, then I would go with a nice "Bohemian Peach" for the stucco (make a sample first - looks great under the rain!-) accompanied by a "Rose Bonbon" for the brick. If the roof appears mostly gray/black, then a nice "Venetian Orange" for the stucco with some element of Maroon in the brick would complement the roof. Be aware that the roof color may vary depending on the luminosity of the sun (winter or summer sun). The roof color really dictates the rest in my humble opinion. It took me a while to pick the roof color for my farmhouse but looking at other houses and at ideas from this blog helped me a lot.—Guest Ingua Steinwasse

Reddish: Something reddish, near bright, but not too bright, not too dark.—Guest reddy

House Colors To Go With Brick: I would suggest Valspar Lush Sage for the main color of stucco and siding. Then Stony Path for edging and trim. I think Blackened Pine would do a dramatic pop to your front door and maybe around window frames. Or, do all edging in Stony Path and reserve Pine for front door and garage door. The Pine will pull the black color from the roof tiles, the Stony Path will lend it self to any grays yet be a brightener and the Sage will be elegant. Use some plantings of vibrant Reds and deep greens as well as Mono grass to pop that brick. You might consider creating a more dramatic walkway to your house as well from the driveway - too many straight lines right now. Or, if you need to bring the brick drama to life, use rich milk chocolate, with Cinnamon cake trim and a Chinese Red front door.—titaniumtrainer

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California Colors?

Contemporary home in California
House Paint Color Workshop: Colors for a California Contemporary Home Contemporary home in California. Photo © Forum Member KAYCB47

What colors would bring out the beauty of this contemporary home in California?

From Forum Member KAYCB47:

"We don't know what colors to paint our house located in California. We feel limited by the brown tile roof and the white window shades. The white window shades are the backs of cellular window shades that we won't be changing. We were thinking sand for the main part of the house, white trim where it is dark brown now, dark khaki (or Oat Straw) outlining the garage doors, and between the four windows and the pillars to the right. What do you suggest? We'd love to read your suggestions!"

Readers' Suggestions:

California Cream: Paint it a clay color with cream trim. Leave out the straw color.—Guest Rita

Modern look: Chic lines and subtle tones will awaken the senses on this home. Dark brown garage doors highlighting a taupe sand siding with will make it look splendid.—Guest Tom

Color Me Taupe: I would paint it a medium warm taupe with a couple shades lighter in the same color for the trim. That will keep the size down and accentuate the positives.—Guest Karen Wagner

Go for some drama: I think that the raisin color available from Sherwin Williams would be great. The white windows would really pop then. You could use heather grey accents. Don't be afraid of drama. You can use their virtual painter and you will see what I am talking about.—Guest Reese

Bohemian Peach: Since the shades are white and you don't want to change them, I would pick a warm Bohemian Peach. There are several shades of it from Benjamin Moore, so I would sample them out. Maybe a washed, stressed glaze would give a more provincial look to a house otherwise too modern. If you make sample colors of the peach, look at them carefully in the daylight, at dusk and at dawn. Natural light is tricky. Trust me! Don't forget your samples outside under the rain!—Guest Barbie Poofy