Creating Curb Appeal


When it comes to first impressions, the paint you choose for your home’s facade matters. “Refreshing, changing, or brightening up the exterior can make a huge difference,” says Cara Woodhouse of Cara Woodhouse Interiors in Roslyn Harbor, N.Y.

It’s not just about the color; the type of paint you choose is vital. “With exterior paints, durability is key,” says Rick Watson, director of product information and technical services at Sherwin-Williams. “The best exterior paints hold color longer and resist peeling and blistering. Look for paints formulated to resist chalking, mildew, and dirt, which will save you money and time in maintenance,” he says. The company’s new Emerald Rain Refresh, has a self-cleaning technology that washes dirt away upon contact with rain or water, requiring minimal maintenance, Watson says.

But painting your home isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing. It requires upkeep, which can depend on where you live. “It’s all about the weather,” says New York City architect Kevin Lichten. “If you live on the coast of Maine or North Carolina where your house is pelted with salt spray, sand, and wind in the winter, you may need to touch up every spring and repaint every three or four years. In more mild climates, you may only need to repaint every 10 years,” he says. “And remember that the sun can be brutal.”


When considering the hue, your selection should be driven by the home’s character and architectural style, says Vancouver-based designer Stephanie Brown. “Generally speaking, a simple color palette of one to two colors helps modernize most homes and more complex color combinations of three or more lend themselves to more traditional homes, especially if you are trying to highlight various details and moldings,” she says.

The secret to painting your home’s exterior is more than just finding the right color; it’s finding the right color combination, says Mike Mundwiller, end user product experience manager at Benjamin Moore. “To narrow down your color choices, build an exterior palette around the elements of the house that won’t change, such as roofing materials and stone or brick components,” he says.

Color choice can also be a product of your surroundings. Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams, recommends first looking at the colors your neighbors have chosen for their homes and avoid using those exact same shades. “Choose a color that complements—a curb appeal trick that will benefit you and your neighbors,” she says.

And look at the location. “A dark brown house with green trim would not look great near the beach, but would be very happy in the mountains or a forest,” Lichten says. “Likewise, a gray-shingled house with white trim would not fit into a wooded area but it’s happier by the ocean,” he says.

Grays, whites, and beiges are classics that help the siding of a house look prim and freshen up the curb appeal, Wadden says. But there are other choices too, of course. “Charcoal gray, navy, and hunter green are more popular in areas with pine trees, mountains, and sea access, while terra cotta, burlap, and rust colors dominate areas of the country in the desert,” she says.

Dark, saturated hues, such as Tricorn Black, Iron Ore, and Urbane Bronze, have been trending for exteriors in recent months, Wadden says. “Not only do these colors pair beautifully with a home’s surrounding greenery, they also help create a focal point when used on a front door or shutters.”

And you don’t even need to paint a whole house to make an impact. “Painting your front door is one of the easiest and quickest ways to boost curb appeal.” For a classic and elegant look, Wadden suggests a bold navy blue, or, for a door that really stands out, a jewel-toned blue/green or even a deep pink.


Trims are an important finishing touch—much like an accessory is to an outfit. “They add a layered look to your home,” Woodhouse says.

Wadden advises making sure your accent, trim, and siding colors are varied enough to discern them from each other, unless you’re purposely going for a monochromatic look.

The shades you choose can also impact how big a house feels.

To make a small house seem more substantial, Lichten suggests keeping the walls and trim the same color. “Likewise, a massive hulking house can be made lighter and more delicate with a contrasting trim,” he says.

Homes with the most curb appeal tend to have opposite hues of paint and trim, Mundwiller says. “If your home’s exterior is painted in a lighter hue, consider a trim in a darker color, and vice versa,” he suggests.


The outcome of any painting project is only as good as the preparation you put into it. Everything needs to be washed, cleaned, and sanded and any loose paint or damaged or rotten wood should be replaced before starting.

“A good primer will render the surface more uniform and, because of this, the topcoat has a better chance to adhere to the surface, which ultimately results in longer coating life expectancy,” Watson says.

Timing of the work is important, too. “Check the weather forecast. Paint dries faster in warmer temperatures, lower humidity, and when it’s sunny,” Watson says. For best performance, avoid painting in direct sun, and try for a material temperature above 35 degrees Fahrenheit, Watson says.

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