Picking the Right Paint or Siding Color(s) for your House

Newport Art Museum, Griswold House, Newport, Rhode Island

When it comes to picking the color(s) to paint or side a house, most people don’t take into consideration the roof. The roof probably has the second largest amount of surface space (color and texture) next to the front, back and side walls of your home.

Over the years roof styles have changed. There have been periods when you had the streamlined look of the Hip Roof, and other times when multiple dormers, peaks and gables were all the rage. What ever style of roof is on your house, other than a flat one, that you can’t see from ground level, it is a large surface of color that should be considered, when picking out color(s) for the body of the house.

For years we’ve traveled to Newport, Rhode Island. Saturday mornings are spent at the Newport Art Museum, which is housed in Griswold House. Griswold House was designed by the famed nineteenth century architect Richard Morris Hunt, in the American Stick Style. The Griswold House has the most gorgeous slate roof, an artwork in itself, done in shades of russet-red and gray tones. A roof like that is a jewel, a starting point, that a color scheme for the facade of the building should be culled. Instead of pulling colors from the magnificent roof, and working them down onto the body of the house, they painted the facade in tones of medium-brown and a kind of chocolate-brown. The body of the house, does not, in any way enhance the fabulous roof, and the roof does not set off the colors chosen for the Stick Styled house.

After being inspired, in an odd way, by the color choices for the Griswold House, I started to look more closely at roofing colors on both Slate and Man-Made Shingled roofs.

SLATE ROOFS ..Slate roofs have a lot of colors that could easily be worked down onto the body of a house, or even used as accent colors on front doors, shutters and trim.

The colors I most often see, when looking at roofing slates are: light, medium and dark tones of gray, blue-gray, greenish gray, grayish rust, russet red, gray-brown, and grayish purple. Even with this small list of colors, you can easily come up with some exciting color schemes, to use when painting / covering your house.

Picking Paint Chips …Let’s pretend you have a roof that has gray, greenish gray, and grayish purple colored slates. My first suggestion to you is to go to the paint store and get every paint sample strip they have, that are in those colors. Look for paint chips that you think are exact color matches, to both the dark and any light toned slates on your roof. Bring home everything! What you think is it in the store, might not be it at all in true life.

Next, when you get home, take the paint samples up to your slate roof, if you can, to get an exact / close as possible match. If you are afraid to go up to the roof on a ladder, or don’t have roof access, then try this approach…

Stand in front of, or behind your house, with the sun at your back. Take a paint chip in your hand, and extend your arm out and up in the direction of the roof. Hold that paint chip in the air, so it is visually in front of the roof. Close one eye when looking at the paint chip and roof, it will help you focus better. One by one put up the paint chip samples against the roof, until you find the ones that match the roof best for color. These will be the paint color chips that you will want to use.

Paint color chips show many tones of the same family of color. You have the lightest tint (color with much white added), to the darkest shade (least white added), and medium colors in-between. Any of the different color samples, from that paint color strip, will be fine for your painting (siding color choosing) project. The choice is yours.

After finding the matching paint colors to your slate roof (gray, greenish gray and grayish purple (all mentioned before as examples) you can have fun with your painting options. One option might be a greenish gray house, with light gray windows and trim, and grayish purple for the front door or shutters, if you have them. Option two could be a medium gray house, light gray trim, deep greenish gray windows and gray purple on the door. Your objective is to move the colors, down from the roof and around the house, not isolate them in one place. Your color options can go from safely traditional to colorfully whimsical, if that is your style.

If you are questioning your paint color choices, go back to the paint store and get many samples of the same colors you are thinking of working with. Tape together many color samples to make a larger sample of that color. Do this for the body color, trim, and accent colors. With some painter’s tape, go outside and tape them (together) to your house, to see how they look in daylight. This will help you make your final choice. What you think is dark inside, will probably look lighter in daylight. You might have to come up with two or three tonal ranges, (light, medium and dark) so you can have a few color-ways to choose from.

MAN MADE SHINGLES ..Picking colors to go with asphalt roofing shingles is easy. The shingle, itself, is made up of different colors of sand. Those different colors of sand are what you will be matching, when picking painting / siding colors for your house.

Now look at illustration #2 This roofing shingle is made up of sands that are dark, medium and light gray, along with a medium russet red. There are 3 easy options to consider. Option 1 (shown) is a red brick, or red painted facade, with light silver-gray for windows, doors and trim, and dark gray for shutters. Option 2 could be a white house, with russet red shutters and gray-black doors, or gray-black shutters and russet red doors. Option 3 could be a medium gray house, light gray trim and front door, russet red for the windows, and gray-black shutters.

Next look at illustration #3 This roofing shingle is composed of sands in the colors medium-gold, russet-brown, and medium-light gray. Option 1 (shown) is a house with a medium-gold body, light gray door and trim, with russet-brown shutters, and side box window. Option 2 could be medium-gray house, light gray trim and door, light russet-brown for window sashes, and dark russet-brown for shutters. Both of these options are different, and only work because they have the roof to justify these colors being used together. A third more common option, that would go with this roofing shingle is: a medium-light gold house, white trim and door, and russet-brown shutters (forgetting the gray in the shingle altogether).

Now look at illustration #4 This roofing shingle is composed of sands in the colors dark chocolate-brown, medium gray, and medium-light gold. Color option 1 (shown) is a medium gray house, light gray trim, doors and side box window in a medium-light gold, and dark chocolate-brown for shutters. Option 2 is a medium gold house, light gold trim , medium-light gray doors, and dark chocolate-brown shutters. Option 3 is a medium-dark chocolate-brown house, with medium gray for windows, light gray for the trim, and medium gold for doors.

So there you have it. Hopefully I got you to look at shingles and slates as a source of color inspiration. At the beginning of this post I wrote about Griswold House and its marvelous roof. The color-ways of that roof is the same color-ways as the shingles in illustration 2. If I were going to pick the colors for Griswold house, its body would be a light gray, its decorative Stick Styled skeletal details would be in a medium gray, and its windows would be a russet red. The front door would be painted a gloss dark gray-black.

Companion Posts
Choosing the Right Color Roof for your Home 10-7-2011,
Picking a Color for your Front Door 1-17-2012,
Foundation Planting, Laying out Foundation Plants in Front of your Home 9-28-2013,
Planting Foundation Plants Across the Front of Your Home 10-21-2013,
Distance Foundation Plants from your house when planting 5-3-2012,
Looking at Evergreens in the Garden 1-31-2012,
Some Ideas about Planting Trees by your Home for Curb Appeal 4-26-2012,
Siting a Garden Shed on your Property 6-9-2012,
How to pick the Perfect Gray Paint…A Popular Color choice of the Moment 2-15-2014,
Picking the Right Paint Colors to go with the Wood in your Home..Color Theory 3-9-2013,
Paint a Room a Dark Color, then add Light Accents 3-27-2011,
Pick (Use) Four Colors when Decorating a Room 3-7-2011


About fredgonsowskigardenhome

Your eyes deserve to view beauty. I hope Fred Gonsowski Garden Home helps to turn your vision, into a reality.
This entry was posted in Picking Paint Colors Interior / Exterior / Front Door / Roof. Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Picking the Right Paint or Siding Color(s) for your House

  1. Verna says:

    Love all combinations…. you are the best! What about a dark green roof with bits of black with a greige color body with dark green shutters? I will pay you!!!!!!!!

    • Verna you are too much ;-} I like the dark green roof as a starting point. Though, I don’t know what style your house is. Just make sure the same (close as possible/exact) green is used to paint the shutters. You want to move the green of the roof down onto the facade of the house. I like the gray (gray-beige??) for the body of the house. Bring a sample of the roofing with you when you go and buy paint, or pick siding. Pass the roofing sample by each paint or siding color, one by one, to see which colors of paint or siding look best with the roofing color. If it is paint, take many of the same sample color home with you. Tape them together to make a big sample of that color, and tape it/ but it next to your house to see how it looks in different kinds of light. Paint the front door in high gloss Jet Black. Have fun with your projects.

  2. Irma says:

    Hi. We chose the color for our house from a sample in the store, which looked fine there, and bought a bucket. When the painter was almost done with the front, we were not sure that we liked it, but it was too late, after the expenses. I made a research about exterior painting, and found out that I made the mistake of not considering the color of the houses around us, to go with them, according to what I read. The color of our house is peach, and our neighbor’s are white, yellow, brown (like Tuscan), and gray. My daughter hates the color, and says it looks like a splash of sherbet. The trim around the windows is cream, almost white, and the garage doors very very light peach, almost white. With the examples I see in this article, in your illustrations, am I right putting the peach color in the range of red, pink, and brown, which are included in the three examples? In all the cases, it looks like blue would be a matching color, to my surprise. (I did not know) .

    I like your advise of bringing the colors of the living room/entrance outside, which in my case they are brown, blue, and beige/ivory (plus green and orange in accessories, in little bits, with white trim).

    Right now the front door is hunter green (I hate it) and I am about to start the project of applying primer and then painting it. I am sure that there has to be a way to blend this peach house with the rest of our street and make it look better, adding other colors, but I am stacked there. I suggested brown for the trim or door, but everybody in my family went like “Brown!!!???”

    i need help here with the peach color (our budget does not allow to change that color for now). Please, Fred, what would you recommend?

    • Irma says:

      Sorry, I forgot to mention that the roof was changed after we painted and we picked the color black. We are talking about a house from the 60s, split levels, two levels in the left (bedrooms over garage) and only one level in the right (entrance, living room). There are vertical 1 by 4s all along the outside walls, every 16 inches (probably they go over the studs). I don’t know what style is this.

    • Irma, this is my suggestion. Keep the Sherbert Peach color of the body of the house. Go to a paint store and find every paint sample that you can of Khaki for the trim color. Pick a Khaki that is a bit darker than the body of the house, and look for one that has a lot of gray-beige (taupe) undertones to it. It is like illustration #3 bottom center, but a bit darker and gray-browner. Bring home a few of each sample and tape them all together and put them up on the trim spot of your house so you can see which one you like best. The Khaki will pull the brown-tan colors of the neighboring houses. For the front door pick a medium-dark-bright moss green. Again put the green samples with the color of the body of the house, and trim colors to see how they all work together. Never just go to a paint store, and pick out something and bring a gallon of it home. Always bring many sample pieces home, tape the samples together to make a bigger sample, and then bring the paint color around your house so you can see it in different lights. I don’t think you have to have a vanilla colored house like your neighbors, sometimes you have to be the first person on the block to get a new trend going. But when starting a trend, you have to get it right ;-}

      If you like the khaki and moss scenario, paint the garage doors the moss green color also, and if you wanted to, you could put shutters on the front of the house and paint them that color too. I’m thinking about black shutters, but that might be a bit too dark. Good luck with the project!

  3. Irma says:

    Thank you, again, Fred. Now I feel much better knowing that there is a solution for this. I will take a picture of my house and print it very light so I can color on it the trim and garage doors the way you told me here to see how it would look like, and do what you told me to do with the samples from the store. I’m sure if we follow your advise, the house will stand out.

    • Irma, there is quite an artist inside of you. When I was thinking about putting shutters on my house, back in the day, I taped heavy clear mylar plastic over a photo of my house, and with acrylic paint painted on shutters to see how it looked. My home, Whimsey Hill House, is a brick and marble split level mid-century modern with georgian overtones, if you can envision that.

      If you ever do black shutters, do them in a black-brown (black with golden overtones). Pick a black color and then go for a lighter version of the black so it is not soo Jet Black colored.

  4. Irma says:

    Oh, yes, I can envision that.
    Thanks for the tip for the shutters.
    And thanks for the compliment 🙂

  5. Andrea Berch says:

    Hi Fred, I’m having trouble deciding what color to paint my home. It is a ranch and we decided on a green roof before we decided on how limited your options are with paint?? What color would you go with?

    • Hi there Andrea, First of all, I would try to bring some of the green of the roof down onto the front, sides and back facades of the house. Use the exact shade of your roof or a middle toned tint on your window sashes, or trim, front door, shutters, etc. The first color that came to mind, with a green roof is some kind of a medium-dark khaki beige with green trim and a russet red front door. A second option would be a medium silver-gray or gray with green undertones for the body, with green trim and a purple-plum front door. A third option would be to isolate the green of your roof on a paint color strip, and then pick a lighter shade of green from the strip for the body of your house, and an even lighter tint, from that same paint strip, for the trim. With something like that you will need to have a pop of color like a tomato red-orange or bright yellow for the front door. A forth option is a Bright lemon yellow for the body, with white trim and a green door to match the roof. A fifth option, is to paint the body of the house a russet red (kind of like the color of brick) and do the windows frames a green pulled from the roof color and also the front door. You could also introduce a Khaki for the window trim and have the front door the color of the roof. Painting the house white will be the most common, but if you do the front door, and any shutters the house might have, in the green from the roof that will also be fine.

      The number one thing is to go to the paint store with a sample of the roofing material and pass it by each paint sample that interests you. Bring the samples home. Pick up like 4 to 6 of each sample, so you can cut out the samples and make a bigger sample. Tape the samples up to your house and step back to see how they look from a distance. Move the samples around your house so you can see how they look from the north, south, east and west. Look at them in the morning, afternoon and late afternoon, so you can see how light effects the colors. Lay the roofing shingle on the ground/floor and start putting your choices for body of house, trim and front door on/next to it to see how all the pieces of your puzzle work together.

      Good luck with your project, hope this post and I were of help.

  6. jvhiatt says:

    Would it be possible to send a photo of our home to get some ideas on exterior colors? We just purchased it. It was a “spec” home built in 1987. Current colors are: roof is dark grey/black; siding is bluish/grey; gutters/downspouts are black; brick is multi with blue/grey/white/black/brownish; Here are the problems: sliding door, windows and storm door are bark brown; garage door and soffit is white. Seems like the contractor may have used materials he had left over from other homes. The roof is new so changing that is out.

    Thanks for any advice!

    • Hi there JvHiatt, sorry to say, but I don’t want to have people send me photos of their projects for examination because if I help one person, I might have to help a thousand. If you can put a photo attachment of your house in the comments (another reader did that), i will look at it there (and so will everyone else), but that is the best I can offer. I’m not promising to reply back, but you never know ;-}

      Thinking about your house, I have two paint options for you, Option #1 I feel you need to paint all the windows, sliding door and storm door a white to match the garage door and soffit. With all that dark on your house, you need to accent it with a light color.

      Option #2 Find a paint chip with the exact blue-gray color of your siding. That color is your darkest shade. On that same color chip should be the lightest tint (darkest shade mixed with a lot of white). I think you could paint all the trim etc. a light silver-blue (blue-gray) that is a very pale tone or almost a white. If you decide to do option 2, get many samples of the silver-blue (light and even medium tones ), bring them home and tape them together to make bigger samples of the colors. Put them up next to your siding, brick etc. Only by putting the paint chips next to what you have, will you really know if any of the colors will work for you. One of the tones should smile at you, and that will be the color you should try. Good luck with your project..

      • jvhiatt says:

        Thanks for the suggestions! I think I’ll try option 2 to begin with and see what happens with the color chips.

  7. Julie says:

    Hello! I have a boring mid century modern ranch beige/blonde brick (sandy?) house with a chocolate brown shingle roof and brown siding above the garage door. The house is very flat with limited trim other than the siding above the garage and soffits, fascia. Blech! There is a big picture window, and 2 bedroom windows facing front that have a tiny viewable exterior trim line. I do not want to paint the brick, but would love some color ideas for the siding, garage door, front door, soffit, fascia. What do you think?

    • Hi there Julie, reading your house description a few times, my first suggestion for you is to go out and get every paint color strip that the paint store has, that has the beige-blonde tone of your brick on it. From the paint color strips that you bring home, look for the strip with the best match to your brick on it, then pick one of the darker colors on that strip and do your siding in that. Doing your siding in a color that is a bit darker than the brick will not be such a high contrast as the chocolate siding you have now and it will probably/hopefully change the look of the brick for the better. Remember, if the exact color of your brick is one of the colors on that strip, all of the other colors on that one strip will all be part of the same color family as your brick. If you have any paint-able trim, pick one of the lighter or the lightest (tint) on that strip and do your trim in that.

      Next, how about a chartreuse-lime, or bright moss green front door? That color would pop against the blonde beige brick. If that sounds good to you pick every one of the chartreuse-lime or moss green paint strips up at the paint store and put them up against the brick and paint color you choose. Once you find a paint color that you think you like, go back to the paint store and get like 6 of the same paint color strip, cut out the paint color you like, from each of the strips, and tape them together to make a bigger sample. Also don’t be afraid of a too dark color. Take that sample and tape it up on all sides of your house (north, south, east and west) then step back, look at it at different times of the day. A color will probably look washed out at noon, with the sun at the highest part of the sky and most intense. The same paint color will probably look darker around 4PM or 5PM when the sun is less strong. You will have to then decide what tone of the color appeals to you during most of the day.

      I’m having another idea. How about a brownish-rusty-gold tone for the house. That kind of color will be closer to the color of the roof. Some people call a color like that cognac. That might look really nice against the brick. You could still have the green front door and the trim and garage door could be the light tint from the brick, talked about before. Again don’t just pick a paint color at the paint store and buy it, bring home as many paint color strips as they have in that kind of color and see how it looks up against the brick.

      Do you have any loose bricks that you could bring to the paint store with you. If you could bring a brick, and pass it by each of the paint colors, there might be a color in that brick, that would pop and be perfect with the brick. Not seeing the brick myself, I can’t see if there are other colors in the brick that you are not seeing that would come out when putting it with different paint colors.

      Finally don’t go overboard and do something too over the top, especially if you live in a neighborhood where all the houses are close together. You want your house to look nice, but you still want it to fit in with its surroundings a bit. Good luck with your project.

      • Julie says:

        Thank you for the fast response! My painter, who came today after I posted on this site, has an excellent color eye and said basically the same thing you have said about matching the brick, but I was reluctant because I thought it would be too bland. So I am reassured! We talked about a blue door, but chartreuse would be even more interesting. I appreciate your time and advice. We will start with samples next week!

      • Hi there Julie, Glad to be of help …Bring home some samples of the blue paints also so you can see both color choices, and then make up your mind. Good luck with your project ;-

      • Hi there Julie, I don’t know if you will see this, but I was thinking…Do you have any iron rails on your front porch? If you do, what do you think about painting them the same color/tone of brown as your roof; by doing that you will be bring the brown of the roof down to the face of your house. Or could you put planters/urns on your front porch that are painted the same brown of your roof. A bench or two somewhere on your front lawn in brown would also work the roof color down to ground level.

      • Julie says:

        I do have a black metal rail that would be easy to paint. Good idea! I also have new lighting (a post light, porch light and sconce above the garage) which are a bronze/brown color, that should work well to tie in the roof. Thanks Fred!

      • Julie, Glad you came back and saw my comments. Best of luck with your project, Happy Spring!

  8. Karen cudzilo says:

    Hello Fred, I’m in a quandary of what to do with our house…we have a 1970’s canary soft yellow vinyl siding with chocolate brown trim cape cod style house with a concrete front porch..no railing..white garage door with the chocolate color painted in the outside of squares design..very ugly! I can’t stand the chocolate period! Very heavy and dreary looking..painting all the metal trim and gutters is a no from hubby..I’ve been slowly painting the wood trim parts a white just to break it up..I would love to add some color shutters and repaint the garage door. I am in the process now of painting the front porch beams (3 of them ) to match the remaining wood trim. (White)
    I don’t have a clue as to what color..I want to stick with the cape cod look here in CT..also, we just replaced our front door with a nice medium brown color wood grain door..with a rectangle window..
    Please can you help me with suggestions..

    Racking my brain (Karen)

    • Hi there Karen, as soon as I read your note the color for the shutters that came to mind is a medium-dark green, kind of like the color of a maple leaf. I would say, go to the paint store and bring home every shade of green they have, place them up against the front door, siding and white trim, and see which tone of green smiles at you. The green is a classical color, as you live in one of my favorite destination states Connecticut (love the Mystic area and the Litchfield Hills), and it would bring the tonal quality of foundation plants, if you have them, up onto your house. I hope my suggestion, not seeing you house is helpful. In my mind, I think that the brown of the trim with the pale yellow of the body of the house is just too high contrast. Can you tell you husband that by painting the metal trim and gutters white, it would boost the curb appeal of your house up, which would give your house a higher price point, if you ever go to sell it ;-}

      • Karen Cudzilo says:

        Thanks so much for your fast reply..I love the green suggestion as I do have a nice garden in front.. Can you add one more additional suggestion for painting the garage door? Thanks again..can’t wait to get started on the shutters..and we are a town away from mystic..great area..

      • OK Karen…how about painting the garage door completely white, I like gloss or semi gloss paint, and when you pick the green for the shutters, paint the trim around the garage door the green on the shutters. You would be moving the green, in a small amount, across the front of your house, and the white of the door will be a spot for the eye to rest. Does this work for you in any way?

      • Karen Cudzilo says:

        Wow! I love it! What a great idea..thank you so much for taking time to answer …I’m feeling not so stressed..can’t wait for the finished product..;0)

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  10. Denise says:

    Fred, I have been struggling for over a month on what to do with my house colors. I found your article the most helpful of any on the web. It is both practical and completely makes sense. My biggest dilemma was trying to match my roof. Thank you for the great suggestions!!!!
    Here is my house as it is now, I am scheduled to get all new hardie siding in 2 weeks. I must make a decision on paint at that time and I am so confused.
    The poorly executed paint rendition is of the proposed siding. Lap on bottom, board and batten on upper body and staggered shake on the gable. A much needed Japanese Jew will be planted to balance the weirdly proportioned gable. I’d like a 4 or 5 color scheme and am leaning toward a dark trim over light but am not certain.
    I have papco shingles in the pewter gray which has a blueish, greenish gray black, depending on the sun they sometimes show all gray, sometimes more green, sometimes light, others dark. But as soon as the sun shows you know I’m pulling the ladder out but since my deadline will soon be here I was hoping you’d give a bit of a steer.
    Once again thank you for your blog, I’m so glad I found it!.

  11. Therese says:

    Roof is rust Color what colour siding would match ?

  12. Kelli Cornwell says:

    I love your articles! Found you while searching how to pick roof and siding colors to go with brick.
    /Users/kellicornwell/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/Thumbnails/2016/10/31/20161031-192230/mY1DqmF4SJCG+k+ZwHKtyg/thumb_P1040316_1024.jpg
    This is my home, I need to pick siding and roof colors I would love your opinion.
    Kelli in MO

    • Hi there Kelli, glad my article was inspirational, wish your link worked, but it did not, so I can’t see your place. Try again linking it, and maybe next time it will work.

      • Kelli Cornwell says:

        I uploaded to flickr so I hope this works.

      • Hi there Kelli, I would love seeing the siding (guessing it’s on the sides or back of your house) in the color of the shutters that are on the front of your house; if you want to go dark. If you want something light, I would try to match the color of the trim stone above the garage doors. From the photos, I like the color of the roof as it is, The main thing is to bring home large samples of roofing shingles that have some of the colors of the brick on your house, and put them up next to the house and step back and see what you like; look at the roofing samples at different times of the day to see how light changes the look of the facade of your house and the roofing samples. Good luck with your project.

  13. Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I are doing some home renovations and are having a hard time choosing a color for the new house siding. I like that you suggest considering the roof when choosing a color because it fills up a large part of the house. I think matching the siding color to the roof would look really nice. Thanks for the tips!

    • Hi there Derek, right now I’m helping my sister pick roofing colors for her Cape Cod styled house. I’ve put/laid the large samples of the roofing product on the edge of the gutters, on the roof, so she can see the roofing product at the exact angle it would be laid when the roof is completed. She has a white house, and wants a light roof, so there is not a high contrast between the color of the body of the house, and the roof, itself. She/we also had to think about staining of the roof. We drove around and see it happens if the house is in an empty field, or is surrounded by trees. Good luck with your project, thanks for making a comment;-}

  14. Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I need to get new siding soon, so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about using color samples to narrow down your choices. I’ll have to trying taping some samples together and comparing them in the daytime so I can match them up with the rest of the house trim.

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