Originally published in STIR®
Color consultant Cindy Bailen provides helpful tips for using color to unify a home's various components.

Cindy Bailen, a color consultant in Waban, Mass., believes homeowners should strive for harmony between their interior and exterior color schemes. She says the goal is to provide a pleasant transition from the outside of your home to the inside.

Her recommendation is to look at the house as a whole, using color to unify its various components and to help it blend with its surrounding environment. Bailen says homeowners should consider a number of factors when choosing external colors.

  • Neighborhood and style of home. Some communities enforce ordinances restricting exterior house colors, while other neighborhoods follow more informal codes. A multicolored Victorian palette may look out of place in a conservative, gated community. Aim to coordinate your home with the buildings around you.
  • Existing colors. Consider the colors in your roof, masonry, doors and railings, because they'll influence your choice of exterior color. For example, a terra cotta tile roof looks best with warm or neutral paint colors.
  • Accents. If your home has shutters, moldings or other interesting architectural details, you may want to include a darker or contrasting color in your plans to emphasize these elements and add further interest to your house.
  • Landscaping. Contemplate your home's exterior during all four seasons to determine which natural colors dominate. If you surround your home with trees and bushes, you may want to choose an earth tone for your exterior color to create a unified whole. However, if your front lawn features a nearly year-round display of flowering plants, a more vibrant color for the exterior would help create a theme.

Just as homeowners should coordinate the home's exterior with the surrounding environment, they should also consider the color of the first room guests will visit when entering the house. The interior color doesn't have to match the exterior, but a similar tone will provide a smoother, more harmonious transition.