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How To Choose Exterior Paint Colors For Results You’ll Love

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How To Choose Exterior Paint Colors For Results You’ll Love

When we bought our Connecticut lake house a little over two years ago, I knew immediately that we would be painting the exterior at some point. I love a funky house, but brown houses are not my jam. As soon as the weather warmed up last spring, we began the process. Painting your exterior can either be a big undertaking or a big expense (or both!). We followed a few key steps along the way to ensure we were happy with the end result.

How To Choose Your Own Exterior Paint Colors

We’ve made a lot of changes since we bought our little home in October 2021, but the exterior paint may have had the most dramatic impact on the overall vibe of the house. Check out the full before and after reveal here.

Below are the steps we followed to choose our exterior paint colors. 

1. Build Your Moodboard

Chances are you have some idea of what you like and don’t like. Start gathering inspiration that falls into the category of what you want! My Pinterest board was extensive, and it was crystal clear the direction I wanted to go. I wanted either a black, dark grey, or moody blue, which I thought would look great with the board and batten siding and all of our lush green surroundings. I went so far as to track down sources of photos I liked and messaged people to ask which paint colors they used. Of course different paint colors show up differently depending on your lighting and natural surroundings. But I ended up selecting the color used on my two favorite houses from my inspiration moodboard and I do not regret it! 

Note: If you’re close to other houses, be sure to consider the personality and dynamics of your neighborhood. While you don’t have to “match” your neighborhood, you also don’t want your house sticking out like a sore thumb. Walk around, take pictures, observe elements you like, etc.

Exterior Paint Inspiration: Jenny Komenda Evergreen House Reveal
Exterior Paint Inspiration: Jenny Komenda Evergreen House Reveal
Exterior Paint Inspiration: Black Barn in Sharon, Connecticut, Photo: Theo Coulombe
Exterior Paint Inspiration: Black Barn in Sharon, Connecticut, Photo: Theo Coulombe
Exterior Paint Inspiration: Black Beauty Farmhouse, Photo: Leslie Brown
Exterior Paint Inspiration: Black Beauty Farmhouse, Photo: Leslie Brown
Exterior Paint Inspiration: Black Barn House, Photo: Philip Ficks (Source: Apartment Therapy via Lonny)
Exterior Paint Inspiration: Black Barn House, Photo: Philip Ficks (Source: Apartment Therapy via Lonny)
Exterior Paint Inspiration: Black Lake House By Paul Bates Architects; Photo: @eyeforfun
Exterior Paint Inspiration: Black Lake House By Paul Bates Architects; Photo: @eyeforfun

2. Develop A Shortlist of Paint Options

Based on all your pinning, googling, and pouring over paint samples at the hardware store, build your shortlist of paint color options.

For our Connecticut lake house, we got a little help from a lovely color consultant, and our short list was as follows: 

Our Paint Color Shortlist For The Exterior Of Our Connecticut Country Home
Our Paint Color Shortlist For The Exterior Of Our Connecticut Country Home

3. Order Large Paper Samples Of Your Favorite Paints

Seriously, do not skip this step. Paint looks so different digitally than it does in person. Services like Samplize are a gamechanger and make it super easy to get large paper samples of your favorite paints basically overnight.

Painting Your Home Exterior: Order Paper Samples
Painting Your Home Exterior: Order Paper Samples

4. Paint Test Your Short List Of Favorites On Your House

Again, do not skip this step. You’re going to paint the house anyways, so there’s no reason not to get some small sample pots and throw some paint up there so you can actually see what it looks like on your house in different lights, in different spots, etc. Honestly the test patches we painted probably weren’t big enough. Go big! Seriously, you lose nothing and gain everything in clarity on which direction you want to go. We ended up not going with any of the paint colors from our short list because after seeing them I realized I wanted more of a blue black so we added on the sample on the bottom left in the photo below (which ended up being our ultimate choice!).

Painting Our Connecticut Country House
Paint Test Your Favorites On Your House!
Paint Samples In Bright Sun
Paint Samples In Bright Sun
Paint Samples In Bright Sun
Paint Samples In Bright But Dappled Sun
Paint Samples As Light Fades
Paint Samples At Dusk (Please Excuse The Post-Winter State Of The Yard)

5. Don’t Be Afraid Of Last Minute Pivots

If you’re not happy, go back to the drawing board, order more paper samples, paint more test patches. Or if you paint a section and hate it, pivot! I absolutely did not like the first color we painted our front door (and didn’t have the budget to replace the wood door and go with the recommended stain). So we changed it! 

Not Happy With This Bright Yellow Door Color!
Eeek! Not Happy With This Bright Yellow Door Color!
Before: Bright Yellow Door
Before: Bright Yellow Door (And OMG, Please Excuse All The Junk)
After: Black Door
After: Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black Door

So what paint colors did we end up using?

After much deliberation, we landed on Benjamin Moore Soot for the exterior of our lake house, including all trim and deck. After experimenting with a few lighter color options for the front door (which I hated, as mentioned above), we went with Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black. See the full before and after transformation here.

Have you painted your home exterior recently?

Any tips to add? Thoughts to share? Let me know in the comments.

xoxox, A

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Ashley Patterson