Exterior paint palettes are tricky. Colors appear different in both direct sunlight and full shadow (making neutrals tough to decide on). And of course, the decision feels more permanent (and more of an investment) than interior colors. With all this in mind, we turned to a group of architects for their favorite exterior palettes. Here’s what they told us:
Above: Architect Hope Dana of New York-based Platt Dana Architects cites wine red and warm gray as a favorite color combination. In the firm’s recent project in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Exterior Stain in Amherst Gray HC-167 was paired with Marvin Windows in a wineberry aluminum-clad material. “The color palette was carefully considered for both summer and winter months. The summer months are lush with Arctic Willows and Aspen trees; the earthy palette of the house blends in with the surroundings. And in the snow-covered winter months, the red windows stand out against the snow and bright blue sky,” says Dana. Above: “Our go-to exterior paint colors are Benjamin Moore Gloucester Sage and Benjamin Moore Iron Mountain,” says Los Angeles architect Oonagh Ryan. Shown here, Gloucester Sage (HC-100) was used to color the cement plaster on the house. “It’s a warm neutral that picks up natural landscape tones and doesn’t feel washed out in the strong California sunshine,” she says. The steel windows on the house are then painted with Iron Mountain (2134-30). “It’s a warm gray that works well with the highlights of the cement plaster, and is very close in tone to natural steel.” Photograph by Eric Staudenmaier Photography courtesy of Oonagh Ryan. Above: “In our exterior work, we tend to showcase the natural colors of materials—red brick, gray concrete, rusty Corten steel—and leave the painted portions as a neutral backdrop,” says Brooklyn firm Delson or Sherman Architects. “That said, we occasionally make an exception.” In Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights, the architects chose Benjamin Moore’s Hearthstone (1601) for the trim work. The cool blue-gray “amplifies the warm tones of brick and brownstone,” they say. “This is a classic pairing you find all over the South, thought it’s less common in Brooklyn.” Above: In a house in Larchmont, New York, Brooklyn firm O’Neill Rose Architects worked with a palette of strong greens and a neutral base white to “relate to the lush greenery that surrounds the house,” they say. Shown here in the greenhouse, Benjamin Moore Caldwell Green (HC-124) “draws in the garden beyond and unifies the blue-gray schist of the greenhouse floor and brick ground plane beyond.” The architects tested a variety of whites for the exterior by painting swatches at each light exposure and observing the color throughout the day. “This was the white that responded the best to all light conditions; the most natural, crisp, not too stark, but not dingy either.” It’s Benjamin Moore White Heron (OC-57). Photograph by Michael Moran courtesy of O’Neill Rose Architects.