Home & Style

Curb Appeal: An Expert's Tips on Exterior Paint

If your spring cleaning effort involves freshening up your home’s exterior, check out these tips from a Farrow & Ball consultant.

With the advent of spring, our attention naturally turns to all things outdoors. While landscaping can make a huge difference in a home’s curb appeal, the home itself still takes center stage. Ann Pailthorp, a color consultant for Farrow & Ball (which has a curated palette of 132 shades and a reputation for great depth of color), recently spoke at Color Wheel in McLean on the transformative power of paint, with a focus on exteriors. Here are some of the takeaways from our conversation with the expert:

• The exterior of your home acts as a calling card for what you might expect to find inside. For a seamless connection, use a similar color palette on the outside as the interior.

• When selecting exterior colors, you can go one to two shades darker than the interior color to achieve the same look. For example, Farrow & Ball’s Old White No. 4 used on an exterior will look similar to the lighter Off White No. 3 used inside the home.

Farrow & Ball’s Off White No. 3 (left) and Old White No. 4 (right). Photographs courtesy of Farrow & Ball.

• If you have a townhome, consider the colors of the bordering homes, as they can affect the appearance of the colors you select. A warm beige next to the dark color of the home next door may end up looking white due to the juxtaposition of the two hues.

• The Washington area is well known for brick homes in all shades of red, orange, and even a bit of pink. Painting brick is a controversial topic in some circles, but if the brick is not historical or particularly attractive, a high-quality masonry paint can transform the home’s look. To create a long-lasting finish, be sure to use the right masonry primer.

• If you have a brick home you love as is, take a second look at the color the trim and moldings are painted. Often bright white is chosen as a “safe” choice, but a white that is cold and stark will fight with warmer shades of brick and mortar. Look for a warmer neutral to complement the brick, or introduce a strong contrasting color to make a definitive design statement.

• Typically a front door serves as a welcoming focal point. However, some designs make the garage door compete for attention. To resolve this problem, paint both the same color but use a high-gloss finish for the front door and a lower sheen finish for the garage door.

• Painting your front door a strong, bold color is also a great way to draw attention to the entry and express your personality. To increase the entry point’s scale and presence, paint both the door and the frame the same color. This will expand the visual weight and the proportion of the door in relationship to the front of your home.

• To create interest and whimsy, paint an exterior element in a color that contrasts with the home’s exterior. A bird feeder in marigold yellow would pop against a gray house.