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Once you’ve finally decided to repaint your house, whether inside or outside, you face the questions about what colors to choose.

Should you go neutral or do you want to make a trendy statement? Do those little pieces of colored paper, the swatches, really help you make a decision? Holding them up against your walls or your furniture doesn’t help much, does it?

Here are suggestions we received from some experts that might help in your search for a color:

Exterior choices could be changing

Painting earth tones on your home’s exterior, a 20-year trend in Arizona, maybe a trend that is losing popularity.

“We’re always in a cycle,” he said. “Earth tones have been slipping away. Right now, white or off-white or gray with black accents on the fascia boards and windows have been becoming popular. Then you can highlight those neutral shades as well with an area of orange or yellow, blue or green. As soon as someone started trying it, everyone else jumped on board. You see a lot of apartment buildings in Tucson with accents of orange and green.”

He thinks that eventually we might see that 1980s and 1990s Southwest favorite, pink walls with blue trim, make a comeback in the desert. 

Karen D’Andrea, color program supervisor in the Phoenix district office Sherwin-Williams, also told us that white is getting to be a popular choice with homeowners who are hoping to imitate the “modern farmhouse” look they’ve seen on the HGTV show “Fixer Upper.” White can also be an excellent choice, she said, for desert-style and Mediterranean style architecture.

Remember homeowners associations set the tone

Don’t rush out and buy white or gray paint yet. Aaron Reming of Dave’s Adobe Painting in Phoenix doesn’t think that earth tones will die out soon. “A huge percentage of the homeowners out there don’t have a choice in colors. They have to choose from a palette of earth tones picked by their homeowners associations,” he said. “Though it is possible to pick a color and take it to a homeowners association to get special approval for it. Occasionally, I’ve helped homeowners do that.”

D’Andrea also said that major color switches are difficult in some communities: “We always have to work with HOAs, but desert colors are getting lighter.”

If you are choosing gray for the exterior, Reming noted, you want to be careful that your house doesn’t end up looking like unprimed stucco.

Gray takes over indoors

Both Reming and Cruze agreed that inside homes, gray has gotten very popular. If you are not sure about that color option, wait a bit and popularity will change.

Gray and white with black accents are often used in living spaces and are taking over kitchens. “If they have gray cabinets, they might have white countertops; if they have black cabinets, they might have gray countertops,” Cruze said.

Dark brown wooden cabinets seem out of style. However, Cruze noted, that doesn’t mean you should rush out to remodel because of the latest trends. “After all, what’s in style changes all the time,” he said. “It pays in the long run to pick what it is you like, and you’ll be satisfied for a long time.”

In fact, Adrian Padilla, a professional color adviser with the Dunn-Edwards paint company based in California, told us that gray has been popular for a long time; perhaps too long in some parts of the country. When gray is used on the exterior of a house, doors are often painted in what he called jewel colors like lime green and bright orange, he said. Similar bright accent colors are being used on some walls inside homes. “We’re even seeing kitchen cabinets that are navy blue or bolder colors,” he said.

How to get help in picking colors

There are thousands of colors out there to look at for your house. Dunn-Edwards, for example, has 1,196 choices, according to Padilla. Of course, that doesn’t include slightly different versions of those colors that paint companies will mix up for you.

If you want to, you can always hire a decorator to give you advice on your color choices. But some brand-name paint stores – like Sherwin-Williams – will charge a nominal fee ($95) to have a color expert visit your house and make recommendations and you will in turn receive a $50 gift card toward the purchase of your paint and supplies. Dunn-Edwards has a similar program.

You can also buy mini-cans of paint to take home and paint test squares on your walls. But somehow a big square of paint isn’t the same as paint that’s covering four walls in a room. If you are going to test the colors on the wall, be sure to do color squares on different walls that face different directions. Try painting your test colors inside corners. That way you can see how changes in lighting may make changes in the same color.

Recently, paint companies – like Sherwin-Williams, Dunn-Edwards and PPG – have all developed apps that allow you to test your color choices in rooms or on exteriors of houses using your phone, tablet, or PC. They call them paint visualizers. How do they work and can they really help you with your choices?

Listen to special guest Karen D’Andrea in studio with Rosie On The House from October 23rd, 2018’s live radio broadcast.

Next week we’ll talk about how those apps work and whether they’re worth trying before you buy.


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