"Fortunately, you don't have to resort to beige siding and basic black shingles to play it safe when it comes to exterior color," says Leslie Segrete, co-host of the Money Pit home improvement radio show. "Contrast can be tastefully done with the home's enduring architectural elements, while bold or trendy can be reserved for elements that are more easily changed, like landscaping."
Whether you're planning to sell your home in this highly competitive market, or just create a classic look you'll enjoy for years to come, here are some things to keep in mind when adding color to create curb appeal.
From the top down
Homeowners might not think of their roof as a part of the overall aesthetic of their home, but it is one of the first things a prospective buyer sees. A roof can account for as much as half of your home's exterior, yet is an often-overlooked design opportunity.
"A new roof is certainly a selling point for a house, but an interesting new roof - one that makes a statement with color or design - can really help pump up curb appeal and enjoyment," Segrete says.
Color choices in asphalt shingles have been expanding in recent years, and it's no longer necessary to resort to costly exotic materials - like tile or slate - to create a character-filled look. You can add elegance or whimsy by creating patterns with splashes of color outlined in a contrasting color against a conservative background.
Color can help sell a house, real estate experts agree, and a poor color choice can alienate your neighbors; not only will it be an eyesore but it can devalue your home and others around it.
Classic white, which is clean and elegant, consistently shows up on the top of the list in surveys of Americans' most popular color choices for homes, says Segrete. Earth tones of beige, green, brown or tan usually follow closely in terms of preference. While, historically, the more conservative colors have been popular to Americans, times are changing and homeowners are becoming more adventurous with color. Blues and grays are slightly less popular but still considered within the range of what's acceptable. Reds and pinks are the least popular, unless, of course, your home has a brick facade or is in a tropical or historic neighborhood.
Whatever color you choose, don't forget that complementary colors and shades can be used to highlight the architectural style of your home. Darker color blends provide contrast while lighter colors simplify a home's lines and angles and can make the home appear larger. For example, you may be able to get away with lavender on a gingerbread-style Victorian, but the color would be far less appropriate on many of today's modern homes.
Liberty to landscape
Landscaping is the area where homeowners can have the most versatility - and fun - with color. Because plants are not permanent, it's possible to take risks or make bold statements with color choices. If you don't care for something or your real estate agent advises you to tone down the color scheme, it's relatively easy to redo small landscaping elements.
While you have more wiggle room choosing plant and floral colors, do keep in mind positioning and location, especially for large elements like trees or shrubs. Generally, you want colors near the home that will contrast or complement the color of the house itself, and remember to avoid one of the worst landscaping faux pas - obscuring windows or the front door with large trees or shrubs.
With a little know how, homeowners can easily differentiate their home from the neighbors, and in a down market that can make other sellers green with envy.