It’s house painting season once again and I’m seeing a huge uptick in requests for more unusual paint schemes. It seems that homeowners are no longer satisfied with the go-to light and neutral siding with a dark (or white) trim. I’m all for getting creative with exterior paint colors, but there’s often a fine line between a paint job that elicits a good “wow” versus a bad one. One way to change things up, tastefully, is to go for a coordinating duo of hues rather than a single color for the body or siding of the house. Check out some successful examples of two-tone color schemes for exteriors.
A two-tone exterior color scheme looks right at home on contemporary architecture. You also have the freedom to go quite bold with color on this style of home — the vibrant citrus yellow is a great choice here. I like how this bold hue is paired with a soft neutral gray and how all of the other elements are kept simple to support rather than fight with the dazzling color.
Of course, two-tone schemes need not be limited to contemporary-style homes. And you don’t necessarily need to go bold, either. A subtle color contrast is a good option for a more traditional home. Pick a house color you like and simply go a couple of steps lighter or darker on the swatch card to find your coordinating hue.
Here’s another example of a two-tone scheme using subtly different colors. If you keep the siding colors neutral, think about adding a splash of color at the door — a great way to welcome visitors to your home.
Take a quiz to see which color you should paint your front door
Paint colors: Ashley Gray (lighter gray on left) and Fairview Taupe, both by Benjamin Moore
Being a child of the ’80s, I spent many of my formative years in split-level or raised ranch style homes. I was never a huge fan of them, but I love the look of this one and may have to reevaluate my dismissal of this style. Clearly, with the right color scheme it can look fresh and modern. A duo of cool blue-gray hues helps to break up the boxiness of the home, giving it a sleek and linear appearance.
Paint colors: Hearthstone (brick), Westcott Navy (siding), Poppy (front door), all by Benjamin Moore; garage door: custom door in sapele mahogany, Clingerman Doors, with two coats of Solo exterior latex satin coating by Sherwin-Williams
Here’s another nice example of using color to modernize a ranch-style home. If your home is clad in two different siding materials, it’s likely a terrific candidate for a two-tone color scheme. In this example, the brick and the vertical siding get two slightly different shades of cool gray. A bright blue hue adds a fun and vibrant touch to the front door.
Paint colors: Westchester Gray SW 2849 (brick), Chelsea Gray SW 2850 (siding), Stratford Blue (door), all by Sherwin-Williams
Another tip for deciding where to add a contrasting hue is to look for areas broken up by a line of trim, such as on the gables of this lovely home. Unlike in the previous examples, these are not shades of the same color, but because the gold is soft and the taupe is neutral they work well together, as well as with the colors in the landscape.
When considering house colors, be sure to factor in any fixed materials that aren’t being painted or replaced, such as any stone or brickwork and the roof. There are quite a few different colors going on here, but the body and trim colors play together well and coordinate with the stone on the chimney. The dash of zesty orange at the front door is the perfect bit of fun color in an otherwise handsome, neutral scheme.
Paint colors: Knockout Orange SW 6885 (front door), Porpoise SW 7047 (dark siding), Nuance (SW 7049) (gutters and trim around windows and doors), Amazing Gray SW 7044 (panels), all by Sherwin-Williams
If you have bay windows or other elements of your home that project outward, think about painting them an accent color. You could paint them the trim color or go for a contrasting hue, as was done here. Just make sure they’re worthy of drawing extra attention.