Exterior Paint Colors Revealed


Browsing our portfolio of work, a timeless color palette emerges for both interiors and exteriors alike. We’ve already shared the secret of Ahearn White.  Today, we venture outside the front door to reveal our tried and true selections for exterior paint.

Choosing exterior paint colors can be a daunting experiencewith so many options, it’s hard to know where to begin. While we don’t follow a prescriptive rule for exterior paints, there are colors we turn to time and again for a look that endures.  Below are some of our go-to choices.

Highlighting architectural accents

Whether an exterior features cedar shingles, clapboard or brick, our preferred accent color for shutters, window boxes, and doors is typically Benjamin Moore’s Essex Green HC-188.  Warmer and richer than stark black with plenty of deep color contrast, Essex Green was originally created to commemorate the bicentennial of the United States.  We find the color as relevant today as it was at its inception, and have used it regularly since it was launched.  The marriage of Essex Green with white trim gracefully spotlights a home’s details and character from the curb.

Both the shutters and the front door on the HGTV Dream Home 2015 are painted Benjamin Moore's Essex Green HC-188.
South Water Street Revisited's shutters and front door were painted Essex Green mixed with Fine Paints of Europe which provides a high-gloss finish to accentuate the architectural details.
MV Island New Farmhouse demonstrates the combination of Essex Green against weathered shingles.

In addition to Essex Green, we are increasingly doing projects with dark blue accents.  In those cases we turn to Benjamin Moore’s Polo Blue 2062-10 to achieve a similar result in a different hue.  Comparable in depth to Essex Green, Polo Blue offers a variation on the theme while still providing a rich, enduring color to highlight our architecture.  When using Polo Blue, we keep garage doors and informal entry doors white, and consider either painting the front door or going with a classic mahogany varnish.

Chatham Cottage Revival's shutters, front door, and storm door are all painted Benjamin Moore's Polo Blue 2062-10.
Here is a closer look at Polo Blue from the exterior and interior.

A special note about coastal shingle-style properties

Thanks to salty ocean air, our cedar shingled homes along the water weather to a quintessential New England grey. These properties typically feature trim that’s painted grey instead of white, which relates to both preference and approval processes. Particularly on Martha’s Vineyard, the conservation commission does not permit white trim on a cedar-shingled property. While available, cedar trim would weather to more of a farmstead look than we typically intend. For these reasons, our designated trim color on a cedar shingled home is Benjamin Moore’s Abalone 2108-60. A neutral grey that complements cedar shingles when they’re first installed and as they weather, Abalone gives the intended delineation for the trim, appropriately sets off Essex Green and Polo Blue, and meets the approval of conservation commissionsall wins in our book.

Here is an example of Benjamin Moore's Abaolone 2108-60 painted trim to complement the weathered shingles of Herring Creek Farmhouse.

Conservation commissions aside, our color choices are flexible. These selections are always rooted in both the character of the property and our expertise. For example, in a recent build on Cow Bay, the goal was to achieve a recessive rural style property atypical of what might otherwise be found in Edgartown. Architectural detail and character including shutters, window boxes, and trim were all layered on the outside of the home, and all of those elements (except for the shutters) were painted Abalone to achieve a relaxed, rural feel.

Abalone projects a softer, rural feel that is perfect for shingle-style homes outside of Edgartown Village Historic District.


When considering a clapboard property, uniform white siding and trim allow for a cohesive architectural presentation. Painted all white, the home gives an illusion of being larger than it’s footprint as a result of consistent color throughout. Three exterior whites we reach for are Benjamin Moore’s Super White PM-1, Chantilly Lace OC-65, and Simply White OC-117.  Whites allow for Essex Green or Polo Blue accents, and permit consideration of a front door in Cottage Red HC-184 with bright brass hardware.

For Concord New Farmhouse, Benjamin Moore's Super White PM-1 suggests clarity and simplicity.
Edge Hill Residence projects a refined white with Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace OC-65.
Benjamin Moore's Simply White OC-117 is perhaps the most versatile shade of white as seen here on Federal Colonial Reinterpreted.

Options with brick

Historically, Federal-style brick row houses like so many found on Boston’s Beacon Hill feature white trim and black accents. Much of that color combination carries over into brick residences in suburban areas today. We see opportunity for brick, however, beyond just black and white. For a less institutional approach on a brick house, we may opt to paint the trim Benjamin Moore’s Greenmount Silk HC-3, a creamy white with just a hint of yellow.  Together with Essex Green shutters, Greenmount Silk couples with a brick facade for a warmer take on a historic colorway.

Click to view our portfolio for even more examples of our time-tested exterior color choices as you consider colorways for your own property.