Painting exterior facades, what to consider and what will stand the test of time

When it comes to creating a beautiful home, colour is an essential reference point. Like artfully applied cosmetics, house paint delivers that vital first impression, working to highlight a building’s best features while concealing its less-than-perfect ones. But painting your exterior is a costly exercise, both in terms of time and money, so you’ll want to choose a scheme that will look great for years to come.

Where to start when choosing 

 Several factors come into play when planning an exterior colour scheme. First, your home’s setting; every home is part of a wider environment and this will help inform your colour choices. Choosing your own colour has a lot to do with the surroundings. If you are close to your neighbours then their homes may impact yours. It doesn’t mean you need to match, but it is good to use similar tones or a contrasting palette to help yours fit in.

Consider fixed features

Next, look at the permanent features and existing colours on and around your home that can’t be changed, such as the roof, brickwork, timber joinery or aluminium window framing. The roof and driveway are large areas that carry colour, whether it be warm-toned brick or cool-toned tiles. The colours you choose need to tone in with these. The style of home also needs to be considered, especially if you are in a heritage overlay.

Think long-term

Painting the outside of your home is costly, so from an investment perspective, exterior colour schemes need to have more longevity than the interior. Ideally, you’d want the results to see you through the next decade at least. For this reason, it’s not always a great idea to go too fashion-forward with your colour selections. However, a nod to contemporary styling often works wonders to perk up a tired facade. 

So here are my three colour schemes.....

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Image Dereck Statwell | Design Heartly design studio

1. Classic yet thoroughly modern 

A simple black and white scheme can deliver a high-impact facade. The most contemporary treatment of this colour scheme is to use generous portions of each colour – 50/50, 40/60 or 30/70 – and apply it in blocks. Use the contrast in colours to visually sculpt the building, highlighting bold architectural elements or different substrates.  

A less challenging but equally assertive technique is to team white walls with black accents. The high-definition contrast showcases your home’s architecture.

Tip: Black and white sound easy, but natural light can do all sorts of things to colour externally. Be very careful to identify undertones; some whites can be very warm and appear cream when really you just wanted a warm white, while blacks can often have a blue or red undertone that is only noticeable when the colour is applied to large external walls.

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Image source: Dulux
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Image source: There Birds Renovations

2. Pretty in pastels

For timeless elegance, you can’t go past a classic, two-colour palette. Pairing a muted pastel on the walls with a white trim looks clean and fresh, and is particularly well suited to weatherboard homes. Picking out window frames, fretwork and other architectural details in crisp white conveys a Hamptons feel.

This type of scheme can work for coastal – or country-style homes too: look to the surrounding environment for inspiration.

Tip: The sun can wash colour out so you can afford to go darker outside than you would inside. It’s also important to ensure you have a nice sharp contrast between the main wall colour and your trim colours.

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Image source: Auhaus

3. Down to earth

Colours inspired by our own sunburnt country are inherently appealing in any setting. A palette of earthy hues takes its cues from the colours of the surrounding landscapes. Build the look with layers of warm ochres, slate grey and rich browns, incorporating tactile elements of timber, brick and stone. This type of colour scheme is easy on the eye and can add warmth and interest to the stark lines of contemporary architecture.

While there’s no rule around the number of colours to include in an exterior house palette, three to four is generally sufficient. Don’t forget to include the colours of the roof, driveway and any other substrates such as brick walls, feature stonework or timber joinery in your number count.