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Creating a Cohesive Look with Colours, Paints, and Plants

When we think about colour schemes, the mind instantly moves to interiors. But colour has its place outdoors too, and it can be an effective way to create a unified appearance and instant kerb appeal.

From the material finishes you choose to the areas of your home’s exterior you choose to add a splash of colour too, colour is the key to a cohesive look that elevates your property.

Whether you're planning a complete exterior makeover or looking to refine your home's current appearance, here’s how to create a more cohesive and visually appealing home exterior.

Understanding Colour Theory for Exterior Design

Colour theory is a fundamental concept in creating a cohesive exterior design for your home. At its core, it involves understanding how different colours interact with each other. When applying this to your home, you need to consider both complementary and contrasting colours.

Complementary colours are opposite each other on the colour wheel and can create a vibrant, eye-catching look when used together, while contrasting colours are different from each other but not opposite, such as blue and yellow, which can create a more subtle yet interesting visual effect.

A common approach is the 60-30-10 rule, where 60% is your main colour, 30% a secondary colour, and 10% an accent colour. Remember that exterior colours often appear brighter and more intense in natural light, so it's wise to choose slightly muted versions of the colours you like.

Unifying Exterior Structures with Your Home

Creating a cohesive exterior design extends beyond your main house to include other structures on your property. Sheds, outbuildings and garages all play a significant role in the overall aesthetic of your home. So, to achieve unity, consider painting these structures in colours that complement or match your main house.

Garage doors, particularly for attached garages, are a prominent feature of many homes and can greatly influence the overall appearance of your property.

You might consider having the door colour-matched to using RAL colours, an option that’s particularly well-suited to materials like GRP which can be customised with ease. RAL is a standardised colour matching system that allows for bespoke colour creation, ensuring your garage door can be painted in exactly the right shade to complement your home's colour scheme.

Fencing and gates are often overlooked but can significantly impact your home's exterior cohesion too. Choose materials and colours that complement both your house and the surrounding landscape. For instance, the classic white picket fence might perfectly suit a traditional cottage-style home, whereas black metal railings might blend better with a modern design.

Creating a Cohesive Look with Colours, Paints, and Plants

Landscaping to Enhance Your Home

Landscaping serves as the bridge between your house and its surroundings so it’s a great place to add colour and texture. When selecting plants, consider how their colours will interact with your home's paint scheme and choose flowers and shrubs that either complement or pleasantly contrast with your exterior colours.

For instance, if your home features warm tones, you might opt for plants with cooler hues to create balance. A tropical garden can work wonderfully with a pastel-coloured house, or a bright white for incredible contrast.

Remember to consider the changing seasons when planning your garden to ensure year-round visual interest through a mix of evergreens and plants with seasonal colour variations.

Hardscaping elements such as pathways, retaining walls, and patios also help to tie your landscape to your home. For example, if you have a brick home, you might incorporate brick elements in your hardscaping for continuity.

Alternatively, you could select pavers or stones that pick up accent colours from your home's roof. These elements can create visual guidelines that lead the eye from your home to the rest of the garden, enhancing the sense of cohesion.

Creating visual flow from the house to the garden is essential in achieving a unified look. This can be accomplished through thoughtful plant placement and the use of repetition in your design.

Using similar plants or colours near the house and gradually transitioning to different varieties as you move further into the garden is a highly effective tactic, but you could also create outdoor "rooms" or zones that feel like extensions of your home, using structures like pergolas to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Creating a Cohesive Look with Colours, Paints, and Plants

Choosing the Right Paint and Finishes

Selecting the appropriate paint for your home's exterior is a crucial step in creating a cohesive look and a professional result. Begin by considering the types of paint available – latex paints are popular for their ease of use, quick drying time, and resistance to fading, while oil-based paints offer excellent adhesion and durability.

The finish you choose also matters; matte paints hide imperfections but may be less durable, whereas satin and semi-gloss finishes provide better protection and are easier to clean, making them ideal for trim and high-traffic areas.

This extends to hardware too – a brushed metal letterbox, a brightly coloured post box or a classic wooden house number all create visual interest and are easy additions to tie elements of the property together.

When selecting colours, it’s also worth taking into account your home's architectural style, size, and position. Historical homes often look best in period-appropriate hues, whereas modern buildings can get away with brighter, bolder shades without looking out of place.

The size of your house can also influence whether you should opt for lighter or darker shades to achieve the desired visual effect. Consider the overall result and how a certain colour or finish will look with the architectural style of your home.

As you embark on your journey to unify your home's exterior, keep in mind that the most successful designs often strike a balance between cohesion and personal expression.

When striving to maintain a unified look, don't hesitate to incorporate unique elements that showcase your individuality and make your home stand out in a tasteful way.

Image credit: Searle Taylor

Jenny Kakoudakis likes to blog about interiors. She launched award-winning Seasons in Colour in 2014. When she is not chasing criminals out of the financial system (her day job), she gets creative by redecorating her own home.

Download her free kitchen styles guide here.


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