Choosing Exterior Paint Colors

Serving the Washington,
DC Metro Area
Bruce Wentworth, AIA, is a practicing architect whose
insights on residential architec-
ture have been published in
House Beautiful, the New York Times, Southern Living, the Washingtonian, Washington
Post, Colonial Homes and Other periodicals. Ask the Architect appears frequently in the Times Mirror news group, and has been featured in titles published by Media General, Network Communications and others.
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“I have a fifties brick cape that resembles many of the homes that I have seen in Bethesda, Silver Spring, Maryland and the surrounding area. My house has a brick facade with dark red brick and shades of blue and taupe. The mortar is sort of a beige-to-gray color. There is a front gable and one dormer. All of the gables and front and rear dormers are the red "fifties" solid stained shake siding. I also have a black roof. I am considering painting the shake shingles and am absolutely stumped as to which direction to head. My wife loves the pewter gray type colors and she is against painting the brick. Which, I guess I kind of am too. I am not nearby, but would love some advice. ”

- S.K., South Carolina


There are many options suitable for older homes such as yours. Here is what I would recommend:

Use a paint color in a gray/taupe warm shade that is similar or related to the color of the mortar. Go with a warm shade—not a battleship cold gray.  Do test patches with 3 x 3 feet areas on the gable ends to see what you like. I have had a lot of success with the warm gray/taupe shades. You can even try a slight hint of green to complement the red brick. At least this gives you some direction for samples.

Benjamin Moore has some great warm grays to try. And several paint manufacturers have what they call “historic colors” that can be helpful for vintage homes.

The exterior of your house is important—and choosing the right colors can make a significant difference in the overall aesthetic of the space. Below are the before and after pictures of the home:

Choosing Exterior House Paint

Before/During Construction


Choosing Exterior Paint Colors



What a great improvement!


Choosing exterior house paint colors can seem overwhelming with so many choices, but it’s all about working with what you have—adding visual interest and choosing colors that complement each other. Check out the Wentworth blog for more tips on adding color to your home’s exterior »

Have another question? Want to know more specifics about choosing paint colors for period style homes? Feel free to contact us!

About Bruce

Bruce Wentworth, AIA, is a practicing architect whose insights on residential architecture have been published in House Beautiful, Southern Living, Washingtonian, Colonial Homes, and other periodicals.