Exterior Painting: How to Pick an Accent Color

So you’re painting the exterior of your house, and you’ve got the main color picked. That’s a good start, but the next choice is often more important. How will you choose the accent color — the color of your door, trim, or shutters? It’s all a matter of taste, but we have some time-tested guidelines to help you along the way.


Chances are, your main color won’t be loud or highly saturated — unless you’re trying to paint your home Vikings Purple — but your accent color can be bolder. If your siding is toned-down, your accent should be pumped-up, and vice versa. For a white house, you can pick any color you want as an accent — except an off-white, which would just look like you forgot which paint to buy.

A bright red door is a classic choice for a white house. You could go a bit more contemporary or trendy with a coral or orange.

Benjamin Moore Raspberry Glaze
Benjamin Moore Raspberry Glaze

If you have a brightly colored house, though, pick an accent color that isn’t so saturated — either a neutral or a color with a bit more white, black, or gray in the mix.

Pair Primary and Secondary

Here’s a quick color wheel primer (yep, the pun was intended):

Red, yellow, and blue are primary colors.

Orange, green, and purple are secondary colors.


So, if you have a green house, you could choose a  yellow:

Painted Lady House


If you have a blue house, you might choose a bright green:

Bright green door
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Dealing with Tricky Neutrals

Sometimes it’s hard to tell what colors would look good with a gray, brown, or greige. Here’s a tip if you’ve got a complex neutral: find it on a paint strip. At the bottom of the strip, you’ll find a more saturated version of the color to help you determine if it’s more of an orange, red, green, or blue. Then choose a saturated color from the opposite side of the color wheel for your accent. Here are the complementary pairs:

Here are the complementary pairs:

  • Red with green
  • Yellow with purple
  • Blue with orange


This home is tan with barely-there orange-yellow undertones. Its pale blue-green door is a sublime accent.

Credit: One King's Lane
Credit: One King’s Lane | Norman Pogson/Alamy | Looks like Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue

Whether you go big and bold or soft and subtle, the accent color will definitely define the character of your home. Don’t leave the choice to chance. Consult the color experts at your nearest Hirshfield’s location in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota.

Since Frank and Elizabeth Hirshfield opened their first store in 1894, it has been our mission to do the best job possible meeting customer needs and solving customer problems. Hirshfield’s. People and products you can trust.

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