Say it with Paint

Boost your curb appeal with a fresh coat of color // Photography Courtesy Dutch Boy Paints

When it’s time to update the outside of your house, paint makes a great first impression. Whether you pick a new palette for the façade or highlight other features, here are some bright ideas to consider.

To add color and interest to the exterior of your home, embrace the existing architectural details, said Ashley Banbury, senior color designer with Dutch Boy Paints ( For a weekend project that can increase curb appeal, paint your front door, porch floor and window trim the same color.

Dutch Boy’s 2020 Trend Forecast can offer inspiration for your front door. Her favorite playful shades include the color of the year, Jasmine Flower, as well as Estuary and Atmospheric Blue. If your entry has sidelights, you can highlight them with the same hue.

For lakefront living, natural watery shades with a dose of vibrancy can play up architectural details like shutters, doors and flower boxes. “Colors in the green and blue families always feel timeless and elegant however you incorporate them on a home,” said Banbury.

Faux elements can be fun. “Use your front door color for inspiration to paint an area rug on your porch floor, a perfect way to add graphic impact and designate a living space,” she said. “Paint the same color on a house number plaque for another colorful accent.”

To draw the eye to the front steps of your home, paint the porch floor and stair treads the same color with vertical risers in a contrasting shade. For a more cohesive feel, the risers can be done in the same color as the exterior trim.

It’s okay to break with tradition to make your picket fence less predictable. Paint a subtle striped wall effect featuring three colors in slightly varying shades with a rotating pattern on each picket. “This project offers a fun and easy way to bring your personality to your outdoor living space,” Banbury said.

Paint the porch floor and stair tops the same but add a contrasting color to the vertical stair risers.

Color story

Exterior paint selections become even more significant when selling your home, said Dan Gutfreund, a real estate specialist for Signature Sotheby’s International Realty in Birmingham ( For curb appeal, light tones can be a better choice for luxury properties. “It’s a blank canvas that lets the home speak for itself,” he said. In general, white tones are more appealing to a buyer’s eye than unconventional colors, he said.

Though white and light gray are on trend for residential exteriors, they aren’t the only options. One property Gutfreund sold featured a light mint green porch railing, while another had an asymmetrical front door painted red to make it pop. A classic house covered in a soft shade of black combined white architectural features with a red door and porch swing.

On the water, a nautical nod to the color blue can appear on front doors and window trim. “It really pulls the palette together on porches and patios,” said Gutfreund, who has a background in custom cabinetry working with new construction.

Front door colors say a lot about the house and the owners. For instance, a red door can be considered a symbol of protection. The vibrant color also represents energy and strength. Navy blue is said to be a sign of intelligence, while yellow characterizes happy inhabitants. Gray denotes sincerity and pink exemplifies those who may be more outgoing or mischievous.

When selecting the right exterior shade, Gutfreund said it’s important to conform to your neighborhood. “If you blend with your neighbors, your home will always look its best. It’s okay to be a little different as long as you don’t overdo it,” he said. “The first time most people see a real estate listing online, the color appears even stronger on a high-definition screen. Making it more neutral will show better in a photograph.”

Jeanine Matlow is a Detroit-based writer and BLUE’s Home Décor columnist.

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