Experts Forecast Bolder Home Exterior Color Choices in 2021

Homeowners increasingly opt for darker neutrals and shades inspired by nature.
Allison Vaccaro of Brick & Batten often works with customers on new builds. She says she is getting more and more requests for black or near black color palettes. Photo courtesy Brick & Batten

Allison Vaccaro of Brick & Batten often works with customers on new builds. She says she is getting more and more requests for black or near black color palettes. Photo courtesy Brick & Batten

As homes become an essential refuge during challenging times, designers are noticing homeowners making unexpected decisions about exterior color choices.

“Colors are getting darker and darker,” says Allison Vaccaro, owner of Brick & Batten, an Atlanta-based online home exterior design firm with numerous clients in California. “In the past, I might have had one of 100 people ask for a black house. But people are getting braver.” 

Here’s what you need to know about home exterior color trends for 2021.


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The Pantone Color Institute chose Ultimate Gray and Illuminating as its 2021 Color of the Year.
The Pantone Color Institute chose Ultimate Gray and Illuminating as its 2021 Color of the Year. Photo courtesy Pantone Color Institute

New Neutrals Emerge

For those looking for an alternative to gray, several tones appear to be emerging from the shadows for 2021. “I’m seeing navy blue, charcoal gray, slate blue, even green on homes,” says Amy Wax, an international color consultant and creator of the Color911 app. “People are taking neutrals and pushing the boundaries.”

Paint manufacturers agree. “It’s true,” says Erika Woelfel, vice president of color at Behr Paint. “Many homeowners, builders, and designers are exploring home exterior paint colors beyond the traditional colors we’ve been used to seeing over the past decade and instead are opting for more bold and expressive hues like Broadway or Royal Orchard.” 

It may also reflect a generational shift as younger buyers enter the market. “I’ve definitely noticed Millennial homeowners aren’t afraid to make an impression or think outside the box when it comes to exterior paint color decisions,” adds Woefel.

Behr Color of the Year
Millennial buyers are more open to more distinctive colors on home exteriors, including shades like Broadway (left) and Royal Orchard (right), both from Behr. Renderings courtesy Behr

Shades of Nature

Months of quarantine at home during the COVID-19 pandemic has given many people a new appreciation for the outdoors, and it’s being materialized in consumers’ color choices, as they opt for blues, greens, and other neutrals that harmonize with nature. “We are doing more green than ever before,” says Vaccaro of Brick and Batten.

“I think there is a movement toward biophilic design, whether or not homeowners realize it,” agrees Wax, referring to a design approach that seeks to connect buildings more thoughtfully with the natural world.

For others, the biophilic connection is an intentional decision. “The colors in the Sanctuary palette are rooted in the idea of nature and focus on the connection that the natural world has to nurturing wellness and calm within the home,” says Wadden of Sherwin-Williams. 

Amy Wax
Color experts say navy blue is becoming a popular exterior color choice. Photo courtesy Amy Wax

Fade to Black?

But the most distinctive color trend of all might be the move toward black, or near black, exteriors. “Younger homeowners are willing to do something gutsier,” says Wax, who says the look is increasingly in-demand and photographs well on social media. 

“In general, moodier colors are becoming more popular in the home, and we’re seeing that translate to darker exteriors to create a modern look,” Wadden says. One of those darker colors is Sherwin-Williams’ color of the year, Urbane Bronze, which Wadden says often gets “paired with a darker color like Tricorn Black on the architectural details of the trim.”

“I feel like it’s a rebuttal to the white farmhouse,” says Vaccaro, who often uses shades such as Iron Ore by Sherwin-Williams and Iron Mountain by Benjamin Moore on such projects. “It’s a bold, exciting way to paint your house.” 

Sherwin Williams
Sherwin’s Urbane Bronze can be used on exteriors, including the front door and siding. Photo courtesy Sherwin-Williams