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Expert Design Tips to Refresh Your Client’s Home Exterior

Springtime is in full swing, and clients are ready to refresh their homes’ exteriors. Perhaps the fronts of their homes are looking a little faded or they want to add a pop of color for some street-side style. Either way, now is the time to get them ready. April kicked off the exterior painting season, with longer days and warmer weather, but before the intense heat of summer. Painting the outside of a home is a much bigger job than just an interior room or two — and making sure you get the color right can be daunting, even for the seasoned design professional. For inspiration, one of the aspects to consider is the architectural style of the home so refer to the historical colors in that region if the building is of a certain historic era.

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Mid-century Modern Home exterior. DET648 WHITE PICKET FENCE. Door: DET419 PINK DAHLIA.
Image credit: FRED MOSER


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Mid-century Modern Home exterior DEW340 WHISPER. Front door:
custom color Yosemite Gold. Image credit: PATRICK KETCHUM, KETCHUM PHOTOGRAPHY


If the client is comfortable trying some trending colors, gray exteriors tend to be waning, with browns, greens and blues gaining favor. Bolder, stronger colors are popular now so think about testing darker shades, while
still tying in with the architecture type. For example, the bright colors of a Mid-century Modern home might not work on a Spanish or Craftsman home.

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Spanish-Mediterranean home exterior with Moroccan influences. Body: DEW340 WHISPER. Image credit: Dunn-Edwards Paints


Remember to take the time with your client to test several colors. Too often, once people decide to paint their exterior, they want to get it done right away and rush through the color selection process. Never rely on paint chips alone. It’s important to paint some large blocks of color and live with them for several days. Because colors may appear different depending on the time of day, paint sections of the house where wall, trim and accent colors can be viewed together. Check them throughout the day to see how they look.

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Craftsman bungalow home exterior. Trim: HISTORIC WHITE DET653. Body: RECLAIMED WOOD DET625. Door and side windows: THE GREEN HOUR DET544. Stone facing: BABY SEAL DE6361. Image credit: BETHANY NAUERT


Surfaces on and around the home — such as landscaping, hardscaping and roofing — all have color influences and should be considered. Look at the colors’ undertones as a way to tie in the paint color choices.

Here are some additional advice on creating a designer look for the exterior:

  • The main body color is what most of the home will be painted, setting the tone for the rest of the home.
  • If you have a change in material, such as an entry feature, second roofline, dormer windows or any other secondary main material feature, include a second main color to complement the first.
  • Add an accent color to highlight smaller details such as doors and shutters.
  • Tie everything together with a trim color around the windows, fascia and eaves.

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Traditional home exterior. Body: IROGON BLUE DEC796 Trim: SWISS COFFEE DEW341. Accents (front door & shutters): OLD MILL DEA185. Image credit: Dunn-Edwards


  • If the client isn’t ready to paint the entire exterior, you can still give their house a facelift with some practical touch-ups on accent pieces. Fresh, bright paint on the front door, stair rails, balconies, shutters or window sashes can make statement. Plus, it’s easy to change the color on these smaller details every year or two.
  • What direction does the home face? If it receives full southern or western sun exposure, those areas will fade faster than the back or sides of the house. In addition, certain colors — like yellow, orange and red — will fade faster. On Dunn-Edwards color chips, the letter “I” indicates colors that are recommended for interiors only.
  • Select a high-quality paint like EVERSHIELD® to help reduce UV color fade. In addition, it will look better and last longer.
  • Choose a color scheme that blends with the neighborhood. If they belong to a HOA, check to see if there are any color restrictions. Dunn-Edwards maintains an HOA color library. If the community is painted with Dunn-Edwards paint, you will find the approved color schemes in this section.

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Ranch home exterior. Body: TRADE WINDS DET647. Trim: VULCAN DE6341. Door: LAKE REFLECTION DET556. Image credit: Dunn-Edwards

  • You can minimize attention to unattractive elements, such as downspouts, air conditioning units, vents and gutters, by painting them the same color as the wall of the house or by choosing a trim color that is a similar shade.

Additional trending color palettes can be downloaded here. And to view other palette ideas, click here.