When planning your outdoor renovation project, it’s easy to get caught up in the big picture—what features you want, what materials they’ll be made out of, and how you’ll keep them up over time.
One crucial part of design that may go overlooked is color, which can totally redefine the tone and atmosphere of an outdoor space. As you’re dreaming up your ideal outdoor living space with Transblue, take a look at these exterior color palettes for homes to help you create a cohesive space that uniquely represents you.
How to Choose Exterior Colors
There are a few elements to consider when choosing colors for your exterior space. We’ll take a look at some current and rising trends later in this article—for now, let’s talk about the important features you should think about no matter what outdoor style you want to emulate in your space.
Consider Your Exterior Paint Color
Begin with your home—do you plan on repainting, or leaving it as is? If exterior paint is part of your backyard renovation, choose your new color along with the accessories and features that will be decorating your new space. If you’ll be leaving your paint color, don’t try to design your outdoor space in spite of the color; let your furniture and features be accents and complements to your paint color rather than detractors.
If you’ve opted for a bright, colorful exterior paint, you may want to go a little more neutral with your furniture to avoid clashing. A neutral-colored house can be brightened up with pops of color or accentuated with similar colors, depending on what kind of style you prefer.
However, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to color choice. A monochromatic look can be gorgeous if done intentionally, and the bohemian look of lots of color and texture is increasingly popular. If you like the way two things look together, go for it! Your outdoor living space should be your haven, so don’t worry too much about what’s trendy and what isn’t.
Test Your Exterior Colors in Light and Shade
The way a paint chip looks in a store can be quite different from how it looks outside. How it looks outside may vary as well—the harsh midday sun can make a color look brighter and more saturated, whereas the afternoon shade may dull a color and make it look cooler. When you’re shopping for outdoor color, whether it’s pillows, paint, or furniture, consider how it’s going to look in a variety of lighting conditions.
Weigh Your Care Needs
An all-white decor style might sound appealing until it comes time to clean it. Proper maintenance and upkeep can minimize the in-depth cleaning you need to do, but if you have children or pets, you may find that the upkeep requirements are more than you’d like.
As you’re weighing your color choices, keep in mind that both light and dark colors can attract dirt and stains. If you’re worried about upkeep, patterns and stain-resistant materials are your best friends. You can also opt for wicker or rattan over metal furniture, which can potentially rust over time.
Use a Color Wheel
You don’t have to be a trained designer to pick exterior colors that look great together. A little basic color wheel understanding will help you design a palette to suit your needs and desires.
There are a few ways to look at a color wheel depending on how many colors you want to choose and what kind of look you’re going for. Of course, you can design a beautiful space without choosing colors from a wheel, but if you’re struggling with all the color options out there, this is a great place to begin.
Complementary colors are the easiest place to start. You can find two complementary colors by choosing two colors on opposite sides of the color wheel. If your house is a cool minty green, for example, your complementary color at the opposite side of the wheel would be a cool-toned mauve. This might look a little too bold at first, but keep in mind that you can mix in neutrals, including black or white, and use the complementary colors as accents rather than as dominant colors.
A monochromatic color scheme uses shades of one color rather than colors at opposing sides of the wheel. For example, using the same minty green from the previous example, we would decorate with similar-toned shades of green. You don’t want to venture too far away from the tone—that is, whether the green is more yellow- or blue-toned—because your colors may begin to clash, but that can easily be avoided by using paint chips and swatches to coordinate your color scheme.
Analogous colors are those that are near one another on the color wheel, but represent different tones of the same shade. If our house is painted a minty green, we can use analogous colors to create an overall green scheme using a bluer-toned green like teal, and a more yellow-toned green like chartreuse. If you want to use color theory to evoke a certain mood in your outdoor space, such as shades of yellow for happiness or blue for calm and safety, using an analogous color scheme is a great way to do that.
Split complementary colors, like complementary colors, use opposing sides of the color wheel. In this case, colors are chosen by looking at the opposite side of the wheel and using one cool-toned and one warm-toned color. This can create a vibrant, energetic look or something very soft and subdued—but far from boring—depending on what color you’re basing it around.
A triadic color scheme uses three colors at equal distances from the center of the color wheel and from one another. With this kind of scheme, you get some colors you may not ordinarily choose with one another—such as a bright purple to accompany our minty green—that can create some beautiful contrast.
A tetradic color scheme is similar to a triadic color scheme but with one additional color. In this case, four colors at opposing sides of the wheel are chosen, though they are not all equidistant from one another. This kind of scheme is great for bold, colorful designs, such as those leaning toward bohemian styles, but can also be great for people working with more neutral colors. Mixing a couple of pastels in with your creamy beige can really make all the colors stand out.
Think of Your Exterior as an Extension of Your Interior
One of the core philosophies of exterior design is to think of your patio or other outdoor living space as another room to your home—just one without walls. If the interior of your home favors a midcentury modern aesthetic, you can bring many of those same features, such as warm woods, rounded shapes, and colors like orange and brown to your exterior as well. The same goes for a shabby chic vibe, glam design, or even a hygge-influenced feel. You don’t have to opt for cool steel furniture or tiki torches just because that’s what is expected of an exterior space. Let your personality shine through indoors as well as outdoors!
2020 Exterior Color Palettes for Homes
If you’re looking to get ahead of the curve, staying on top of current and emerging trends as well as classic ones is a great way to ensure your outdoor design will still look fresh and modern a few years down the road. Rather than chasing what’s hot this exact moment, evaluate your home’s interior, what designs you’re loving on social media, and what trends are up-and-coming (as well as trends that are on their way out!) to find inspiration for what to do outdoors.
Here are a few different ideas for exterior design in 2020—let them inspire you rather than feel like a blueprint you must follow!
Pantone’s Color of the Year – Classic Blue
Pantone’s color of the year for 2020 is “Classic Blue,” a pretty, saturated blue meant to emulate the sky at dusk. Depending on how bold you want to go, this blue can make a great exterior paint color accented with complementary colors like rusty orange, carmine red, or bold, vibrant purple, or work well as an accent to something more neutral.
One of the benefits to basing your exterior design on Pantone’s color of the year is that you know you’re going to be able to find it—or colors very similar to it—pretty much everywhere. Hampton Bay’s Cambridge Collection in Midnight is a good match, as well as Gloster’s Fern line in shades of indigo.
You can be bold or subdued with a color like this, depending on what outdoor styles you like.
Farmhouse Exterior Design
If you favor a farmhouse style inside of your home, you can bring that style outdoors with colors, textures, and materials. Farmhouses and homes made to evoke the farmhouse style are designed with long-lasting function in mind—think sturdy metals, real wood, and earthy tones.
To make these work outdoors, start with a clean, simple color palette of white and gray accented with earth tones, such as a cream-colored wooden dining table with chair cushions with blue or even rusty red accents. Build that out with statement lighting, such as mason jar string lights or vintage-looking Edison bulbs. You can add a rustic-looking fire feature, such as a metal bowl-shaped pit or stone pit, to complete the look. Remember, match neutrals with earthy tones and use natural materials and you’ll have the farmhouse chic look outdoors in no time.
Mix Nature with Industry
As consumers grow increasingly earth-conscious, we’re seeing a rise in design aesthetics that prioritize eco-friendliness, abundant greenery, and low-maintenance materials that can be re- or up-cycled for new uses. If you favor the clean, modern look of industrial interior design, keep that feeling going by opting for a mixture of warm tones with cool ones, incorporating metal, wood, and concrete into your design.
Industrial color palettes tend to be neutral but not cold—rather than blacks and whites, you’re more likely to find warm beige bricks, cool concrete, and the welcoming glow of Edison bulbs. Especially outdoors, pops of color come from plants like ivy and ornamental grasses rather than flowers or bright cushions.
Bohemian Outdoor Style
Bohemian decor style stems from the traditions of the 19th century, particularly the lifestyles of marginalized people and artists of the time period. Though this term referred to a lifestyle rather than a design aesthetic, it’s since come to refer to an artsy, sort of cobbled-together style that mixes patterns, textures, colors, and other elements from a variety of sources rather than purchasing an existing furniture set.
Bohemian color palettes make use of bold, bright colors, often in triadic or tetradic schemes. If you’re bringing a bohemian style outdoors, mix and match your patio furniture, bringing in natural materials, bold colors, and an assortment of materials to create an artistic, eclectic outdoor space. If you enjoy thrift or flea market shopping, bohemian style is a great choice for you.
Mid-century Modern Outdoor Style
The mid-century modern style has been thriving in the past few years, and it’s just as adaptable and sleek outdoors as it is inside. Characterized by minimal, uncluttered design and an emphasis on functionality, midcentury modern style uses traditional materials like wood alongside glass, metal, and even Plexiglass. Colors tend to be primarily neutral, with bold colors appearing as accents.
Outdoors, this means strong lines alongside curves, such as a wooden slat bench with a large concrete fire pit, and neutrals mixed with rich colors. Rather than going for bright jewel tones, mix your wood and metal furniture with yellows, rusty oranges, and even vibrant blues. Brass and wicker make for nice textural contrasts. If you feel like you could be a Mad Men character sipping a cocktail in your outdoor space, you’ve hit mid-century modern right on target.
Hygge Outdoor Style
Hygge is a Danish concept of coziness, contentment, and gratitude that’s often considered to be an antidote to the long, cold winters of northern Europe. Inside, this means warm knits, a cozy fireplace, and clean, rustic minimalism.
Given that it’s meant to evoke coziness in the cold season, hygge might seem at odds with exterior design, but that’s not true. The concept stems from coziness, but also frequently encourages the sense of communal living associated with winter holidays. When designing an outdoor space influenced by hygge, focus on that sense of coziness and community—think comfy chairs around a fire pit, a shared dining space, and chatting with friends under warm blankets and soft fairy lights. The best colors for outdoor furniture in the hygge style are natural and clean colors like whites and warm browns, with accents coming from natural greenery or soft pastels.
No matter what your style is, we can help you design a yard that emphasizes your outdoor space’s unique features with your tastes in mind. Transblue’s experienced professionals not only understand the latest trends but also have the vision to design you something fresh and modern unlike anything you’ve seen before. Call us today to learn more about how we can transform your backyard into the outdoor living space of your dreams!
Melissa Brinks is part of Transblue’s marketing team. She enjoys relaxing outside with her dog and an ice-cold can of Cran-Raspberry La Croix.