Here in New England, painting season begins as soon as the weather turns warm and continues unabated until the first frost. Around our neighborhood there are painting contractor sings in nearly every other yard! But before you can hire the painter, you have to pick the colors!
Picking exterior color combinations is a delicate balance and depends on the style and location of the house, the surrounding landscape and hardscape, and personal preference! But the finishing touch for any exterior color scheme is the front door color.
A front door should be obvious and welcoming and one way to accomplish that is to draw attention to it with color. Here are some color families that work well together.
For medium to light toned neutrals
like the taupes and grays so popular here in the New England, there are a multitude of choices, but the door MUST compliment the undertone of the neutral.
This light taupe house has a surprising shot of coral at the front door that totally evokes welcome…and will look gorgeous decorated for fall too!
Also notice - the storm door was painted the same coral color as the front door, which is always a good idea. Had they left the storm door white, the striking door color would be reduced to an out of proportion narrower sliver of color undermining the whole point of a WOW color.
Below is an illustration of the difference painting the storm door makes. I’ve recolored the trim and shutters to a better tone for the siding color as well.
Shades of red are great for front doors. A brighter shade is a better choice for doors in the shadow of a deep front porch, like this lovely house below with the cherry red front door.
Other door colors that work really well with mid tone taupes, beiges, and warmer grays are deep teal, eggplant, various shades of green, navy blue, and black. Darker shades of neutrals need more intense hues while mid and light tone neutrals can use both strong and muted colors depending on what is going on around the door.
which are plentiful in my neighborhood, also look great with red shades on the door - especially if there is red brick somewhere in the hardscape. Black shutters and doors also look terrific on blue houses.
Black doors are almost never wrong.
City townhouses in brick or stone or stucco look stately with shiny black doors, but bright colored city doors are a great way to personalize and differentiate your rowhouse or brownstone from its identical neighbors!
Brick, yellow, or white houses
Back to suburbia…brick houses, yellow houses (and please use a muted or warmer yellow - at least in the light in the northeast - lemony acid yellow just looks unhappy), and white houses look classic with…black (of course!) or a very dark black-green.
Brown houses are quite tricky and few house styles look good in brown (so PLEASE don’t put a brown roof on just ANY style house), but this saltbox next door to me is a lovely example of a very well done brown house. The orange-red door is perfect for it! For cabin-in-the-woods type brown houses, forest green is another viable door color.
Remember when I said black doors are almost always appropriate? Doors, yes, trim details? Not so much! There are some, though very few, houses where black trim works, but outlining fake ornamentation in black is generally inadvisable.
A word about location and light
The colors below all work well for the style of homes and common house colors found in New England and areas with similar climates and light. In more tropical and subtropical climates where the light is more intense, brighter and clearer colors can be appropriate. Pay attention to the location, light, and style when choosing exterior colors!