Painting your home is a big investment, so you want to choose a color that will work for years to come. Exterior paint colors tend not to be trendy, but just as we've embraced organic elements in our food and clothing, there's been a shift toward earth-inspired shades. "Natural hues and textures-from the soft grays of natural stone to understated lichen gray-greens to warm red clay tones-provide inspiration for exterior color," says Melissa Birdsong, vice president of trend, design and brand at Lowe's. And people are considering more saturated colors. "There has been a shift toward browns with a deeper red undertone, and driftwood grays," says Mary Lawlor, color stylist for Kelly-Moore paints. But don't despair: Even if you stick to a "safe" color, the way you treat the trim can pull it in a different direction. Victorian homes usually have high contrast between the trim and the body of the house for a traditional look. If you want to downplay that, use a trim color with less contrast to make those traditional elements blend in for a more modern look.
One place it's easy to experiment with color: the front door (which can be repainted in a weekend). "Inject some personality there," says Sonu Mathew, senior interior designer for Benjamin Moore. A few colors to try: Kelly- Moore Timeworn Terracotta KM3623-3 (shown here); Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron 2124-10 (a deep charcoal); Behr Kingfisher 520F-7 (a complex teal); Sherwin-Williams River Rouge SW6026 (a dusty purple).
Where Do You Live?
When it comes to your home's exterior, almost every color expert tells you the same thing: Your paint color is influenced by your neighborhood, environment and region. Here are some expert favorites:
Northeast: "Traditional Cape Cod architecture calls for tried-and-true colors like slate or barn red," says Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. Try: Olympic Sheffield Grey D51-5 (shown), Sherwin-Williams Accessible Beige SW7036, Benjamin Moore Gray Mirage 2142-50
Northwest: "The Northwest's gray skies make natural earth tones, grays and browns the most popular," says Jordan. Try: Sherwin- Williams Harmonic Tan SW 6136 (shown), Kelly-Moore Granite Cliff KM3933-2, Behr Aloe Thorn UL210-5
Southeast: Lighter, brighter colors and strong pastels work with the take-it-easy attitude here, say experts, and warmer tones can camouflage the region's red clay-filled mud. Try: Behr Cinnamon Cake W-F-220 (shown), Benjamin Moore Healing Aloe 1562, Olympic Belgian Waffle B14-2
Southwest: "Tuscan architecture's muddy golds and browns are used in many areas," says Jordan. "But California is all over the place, with more colorful Victorian and Craftsman homes." Try: Benjamin Moore Rustic Taupe 999 (shown), Olympic Dusty Trail D13-3, Kelly-Moore Earth Stone KM3972-2
Painting Your House
Unless you're confident in your ability to do it, hire a professional to do exterior painting. "It's a very difficult do-it-yourself project to take on," says Steve Revnew, VP of product development for Sherwin- Williams. For DIYers, here's how to get started:
• Prep the house. You'll need at least a full day to scrape and power-wash. "Otherwise you'll have a pretty color over a horrible surface," says Mathew.
• Remove everything you can, especially house numbers, lights and plants that touch your home.
• Make sure you have the right equipment: ladders, sprayers, stirrers, cleaners, drop cloths and brushes.
• Estimate how much paint you'll need. Measure your home and ask an expert at the paint store, or try the calculator at BenjaminMoore.com. Plan for two coats.
• Rally a crew. "You'll need help with all that work, so gather your most enthusiastic friends," says Mathew.
• Check the forecast. "Avoid painting when it's really cold or when there's high humidity," says Mathew.
• Ensure that the paint is mixed properly and all your tools are in place.
• Consider paint with built-in primer (like Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior, Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exterior or Sherwin-Williams Duration Exterior) to save a step.
• Start first thing in the morning. "Begin in a shady area, and move around so you'll always be out of the sun," says Revnew.Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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