Finding Inspiration for Your Exterior Color Scheme

Does someone else have a say in your home’s color? Your Homeowner’s Association or community charter may dictate (or forbid!) the use of certain exterior paint colors. Be sure to check; painting over a shade you’ve fallen in love with can be heartbreaking as well as expensive.

Likewise, if you live in an older home with historic value, your local housing authority can recommend historic paint colors or schemes appropriate to your home’s architecture. Some communities provide incentives to restore your home to its former glory. Some homeowners may receive as much as 50% of the contract fee as a tax credit! Well worth the price of a few phone calls, don’t you think?

When you are facing HOA limitations, where do you find inspiration?

Drive around your neighborhood. Chances are, imitating your neighbors exterior color schemes will work out well. You don’t need to take the cookie-cutter approach, but choosing coordinating colors will help you get a feel for what buyers want and ensure that your house will never be “that weird one on the corner.”

Look in books and magazines. You will be surprised at how many ways a paint color scheme can be modified.

Are you free to choose any exterior color scheme you like?

Starting with a home-improvement magazine like Better Homes and Gardens is an inexpensive way to get started. You’ll find a wide variety of paint color schemes for every taste.

Books are another good option. Check them out at your local library, or purchase them from your home-improvement store. Books usually go into more depth than short little magazine articles can.

In either case, be aware that what you see is not necessarily what you get. Graphics programs and printing presses are somewhat limited. The colors you see on the page may not accurately represent the true color of the paint, although they’ll be close. Your best bet, if you want an exact match, is to bring the page into the paint store with you and find swatches that are close to what you see in print. Many paint and hardware stores can actually read the color off the page and custom match it for you if you don’t find a swatch that matches.

Of course, if the article mentions the specific color and type of paint, you can seek a sample of that color. It may be exactly what you are looking for. Just don’t be surprised if it isn’t exactly what you expected.

Another alternative is to let the manufacturer inspire you. Experimenting with a manufacturer’s paint color fan deck (basically a color wheel on steroids) is another way to find exterior paint colors that work well together. Because there are so many options, however, a fan deck can overwhelm you even more!

Your contractor can help. Ask your contractor for ideas. He knows what other homeowners are asking for, what colors hold up best to weather and sun, and which colors provide good coverage with the least effort.

Inspiration for you exterior color scheme is all around you—in your neighborhood, in magazines and books, at your local hardware or paint store and from your local painting contractor. Refreshing the appearance of your home with a new color scheme can be a very rewarding project, especially when you love the final results.

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