The exterior of your home is the face you turn to the world -- or the neighborhood anyway. When the mansion needs a new coat of paint, consider architectural style, location, and the houses around you before selecting siding and trim colors.

Curb Appeal

Potential buyers need an invitation to enter your home, and the exterior colors can really boost curb appeal. Some colors are more equal than others when it comes to selling the old homestead. So, if a sale is imminent, choose from a proven palette of neutral or traditional colors -- and skip the lilac siding.

  • Off-white is a very clean look against stark white trim and shiny black shutters and front door.
  • Grays are as trendy on the outside as the inside of the house -- light shades such as putty, smoke and warm taupe update an older home with timeless classic good looks. Darker grays like dove or even gunmetal work with both darker and white trim -- pick a color from a stone foundation or walkway to use for the main house paint.
  • Yellow can be cheery softened by black or charcoal and white trim. But choose a muted yellow, or your castle will look like a banana -- gold and honey are good shades.
  • White siding is the little black dress of exterior paint colors. Use whatever trim color works with your landscaping, foundation and chimney or the roof colors and neighborhood.

Painted Ladies

Special houses get special dispensations. A period house needs its own color treatment -- not all homes are equal. If you own a turreted, gingerbread-trimmed, Victorian painted lady, you can indulge your inner artist with a lively mix of colors that wouldn't work on the average ranch or four-by-four. Think in color triads -- those colors equidistant from each other on the color wheel.

  • The main siding might be a light blue with white gingerbread and porch railings and barn red details, eve borders and front door.
  • Medium blue-green siding, sunny yellow pillars and details and dark ruby muntins, shutters and front door are strong colors that harmonize on your fancy house.
  • Lilac-blue siding, blue-violet decorative roof shingles and white and coral details on all trim and shutters are show-off colors that work for a perfectly restored home in a neighborhood of Victorians or on a large lot.

Southern Comfort

Sunny climates have their own architecture and climate-related considerations when it comes to house color. Stucco finishes tend to look best with light or neutral colors, but the bright light means you can go all out on trim. For a Spanish colonial, a cottage, a concrete block ranch or split level, try:

  • Oyster or ivory with teal trim and a barrel tile roof.
  • Get earthy with olive-drab siding, a charcoal roof and door and clean, creamy-white trim.
  • Putty or toast siding with a midnight green door and shutters and pale sea-foam trim hides wear and tear in a low-key neighborhood.
  • Apricot siding with a mix of bright salmon trim and turquoise trim, terra-cotta tile roof and turquoise front door says Southwest or tropical. Pair it with some cactus or palm trees in an entry garden.