The first post I wrote on trim colours, The Best Trim Colours – NOT Cloud White is the second most popular post on this blog next to White Kitchen Cabinets. The reason for the 'NOT Cloud White' headline is a lot of people rely too heavily on go-to colours without first considering the important aspects of why you would choose a white-or-any-other-colour trim. And they are as follows:
The first thing you need to consider when picking a white for your trim is the ‘fixed white’ on the house already. These days a lot of people are specifying and installing white vinyl windows and although custom colours are always available, the standard 2 colours in trim seem to be CC-20 Decorator White or HC-81 Manchester Tan (a greeny beige).
If your vinyl windows are already white, it may look better to repeat the white on the fascia and columns of the house (shown in above image). Otherwise it could scream – vinyl windows! Better to choose the colours with the windows in mind.
The exception to this is if the colours on your exterior are earthy and muddy, white will not look the best with those tones. Better to then ignore the white vinyl and choose a creamier/or darker-than-the-house colour for your trim.
The other fixed element to consider are the gutters in determining the trim colour. They can be painted; however it’s better if they are already a colour you can work with, since obviously painted gutters (which I would still definitely paint if they were a bad colour) will eventually chip. A tip about gutters, never paint plastic ones black, they will warp with the heat from the sun!
White trim in general looks the best on fresher colours. like the yellow shown above, or a fresh green, or a fresh blue (below);
The exception to this is navy blue which looks great with white trim but would also look just as good with the complement to blue which is a yellow cream colour.
And, I would never use white trim with a cold blue gray on a house unless it looks something like this shingled beachy looking house below:
Anytime I see a house that looks like it was painted that ‘pre-mixed’ gray I get the urge to knock on the door of the home owner and give them a colour like HC-36 to bring the house back to life!
And remember when you are viewing whites you must compare them to the whitest white in the deck (as described here) or you cannot see them. Some whites I like are OC-125 Moonlight White, OC-65 Chantilly Lace, Cloud white is fine here in this category, in addition to OC-117 Simply White.
Sometimes people just pick the lightest colour on the chip (or a lighter colour) for the trim colour, as was selected here. This body colour is HC-94;
And the trim on this house is HC-96, which is two shades lighter on the Benjamin Moore fan deck.
Here (above) there is not enough contrast and is a perfect example of what I talked about in my Interior Trim post, when you don’t go light enough, the trim just ends up looking dirty.
Traditional English Tudor trim (seen above) is brown or black with white stucco. Here a non-traditional ‘green gray’ has been used instead of white. A lot of people here in the West Coast are opting to switch out the dark for a lighter shade as in the image below where the trim has been painted a greenish gray tone.
When I was new at specifying exterior colour, I arrived for a colour consultation at a traditional tudor style house with black trim and white stucco. The owners were looking for something new, a non-traditional combination. At the time–this was during the GG trend (Green Grays), before the Brown Trend (BB) approximately 8 years ago– I would say the brown trend started approx 6 years ago, I suggested a green gray shade. One of the historical colours. The problem was, even though I was enthusiastic about a change, I had not been specifying exterior colours long enough to sound like I knew what I was doing, so they did not follow my advice. Every time I drive by that house (which is close to where I live) in the original combination of black and white, I think about that consultation and how far I’ve come!
In the image above all the green in the landscaping was taken into consideration with the green colour that was chosen for the tudor trim with the stucco in the goldream or beige trim look the best with earthier shades although there are always exceptions, it’s hard to cover every possible colour in one post. Since the brown trend is still going strong if that’s the colour you are going for on the body of the building, a great trim colour that looks like a marshmallow you can just bite into is HC-174 Lancaster Whitewash.
How about Black trim? If you have a house with small windows, you might want to consider a different colour because the windows are like the ‘eyes’ of a house (which already look black in general when viewing from the street) painting the trim black could make them look even smaller. The black windows certainly look fabulous in this house designed by Bruce Wilson;
I have a pet peeve about trim on a white house (this includes shutters which are often the trim colour) painted any other colour than black. It just looks like “We can’t afford to paint the house so let’s just paint the trim a new colour”. In my world, a white house should have black trim, period. It just looks classier that way. And if you have a black roof to go with it, even better. Speaking of roofs, if you have a roof that is any other colour than black, I might re-think the black-on-black rule but still keep it neutral.
There are always exceptions to this. Houses with a lot of character, details, and beautiful landscaping can pull it off or if you have a cottage or bungalow you can even have more fun with colours like this one in France:
Or this one in Ireland (below
When choosing black, you can buy a pre-mixed black in the paint store, which is the blackest black there is but at least it won’t have an undertone. If you want to go lighter, black undertones are green (2131-10), blue (2129-10), or purple (2117-10) and sometimes it’s nice to pick a black with an undertone that changes with the different lights of the day, for added interest, depending on the style of your house
and which features you want to highlight.
As Victorian style homes (below), have more than one trim colour, I recommend hiring a professional colour consultant
if you want a colour combination that is really beautiful and will work with the style of your home
. There are too many ways you can go wrong, if you need 2 or more trim colours (which is typically the case) and you get one wrong, it will ruin the entire effect!
This way you can also be sure that the undertones
on your house are right. The one tip I have about picking darker trims are they can’t just be 1 or 2 shades darker. They must be several shades darker. If you have a green house and you pick a darker green for the windows or trim and you don’t go dark enough? It will be hard to tell the difference once the sun comes up.
If you pick a different shade for the trim, than the body colour (and make the mistake of going too light and not saturated enough) it will just look like something is wrong, it might even look like you tried to match it and failed. In the example above, the designer chose a green gray for the window trim, repeated the siding colour on the brackets and added a truer green for the fascia in addition to the orange accents. All 3 accent colours are much deeper than the field colour which has each feature stand alone for a finished look that is truly beautiful.
I had to end with this image I found on flickr a while ago and saved for an occasion like this post! Talk about creating colourful curb appeal!
If you would like to schedule an on-line Exterior Colour consultation please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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