Two-tone Exterior House Colors to Highlight Details

June 4, 2024
WOW 1 Day Painting - Two Tone Exerior House Colors

Everything is in the details, and if your home’s got them, you should flaunt them! That’s when the two-tone exterior color scheme comes in.

Not every home is so lucky to have architectural details like overhangs, siding, raised split-levels or gables but if you do, you can really make them pop. Painting your house exterior two tones can give your home a modern feel or a more traditional look depending on the architecture and your neighborhood.

How many colors should a house exterior have?


Even if you paint your house one solid color, there’s still a few elements like doors and trim that need to be painted. Usually color schemes have two main tones, but in a two-tone color scheme both colors are present and pop in the design.

What is the best combination of colors outside the house?

One of the biggest reasons two-tone home exterior paint themes are successful is it helps create contrast. You will almost always find a white or off-white as one of the colors to create the highest contrast possible with whichever other color you might choose.

A two-tone paint scheme is a great way to get a bold, deep, dark exterior color without making it too moody or overbearing — it adds balance.

How to Choose Exterior Paint Colors for Your House 

How do you paint a house with two colors?

Typically, you start with painting the lighter of the two colors first. It’s easier to paint dark over light than paint light over dark.

As with any exterior job, be sure to prepare your paint surfaces properly by cleaning, sanding, and patching any spaces before painting. This will help ensure the paint job is consistent and it lasts a long time.

Should exterior colors be light or dark?

The beauty of a two-tone exterior paint job is you don’t have to choose between light or dark, you get to have both! Most homeowners prefer the front and siding of the house to be the darker shade and the architectural details like shutters, gutters or railings to be a light color.

Exterior Paint Colors for the Different Types of Homes

Is two-tone paint in style?

This really depends on the architecture of your house. 

You see a lot of old English-inspired homes with off-white stucco walls and dark brown tones painted on the cross beams and window sills. It’s a very traditional look, but is undeniably a two-tone paint style. 

But if you took that same home and swapped the off-white for a deep, moody gray and painted the architectural details white with a vibrant pop of color on the door and some mid century light fixtures, it would feel quite modern.


How can you tell if two paint colors go together?

If you’re nervous about two colors going together in your two-tone color scheme, here’s a few things to try:

  • Take the paint swatches you are considering home. See what the color looks like in the actual setting — does it look too dark in the shadows of your house? Too many undertones in direct light?
  • Get a sample of the paint color and paint a swatch of your house that color to see what it looks like on the surface.
  • When in doubt, go high contrast. White goes with everything. White can also take the edge off of a bold color.
  • Take a look at your surroundings. If your home is surrounded by greenery, don’t pick a color that clashes with it. Even your neighbors’ home color is a consideration. 
  • Start with the primary color. If you know you want taupe, there’s only so many colors that go with it. Same with gray, same with blue and, same with green.

The Psychology of Color: Picking a Paint Color

Should I paint the exterior of my house all one color?

Many people paint their exterior all one color, or at least almost all one color. Even if you paint the walls and trim the same color, most people will choose a different door color or shutter color. Not exactly a two-tone paint job, but there’s usually more than just one color.

What is two-tone vs three-tone paint color?

A lot of two-tone paint jobs include a third tone. Usually an accent color somewhere like the front door, shutters, or front porch color. We use accent color, but it might actually be quite subtle — a color that disappears into the rest of the details. 

Natural elements are another way the third tone is added to an otherwise two-tone color scheme. Wood and stone tones go with a wide spectrum of colors, just like white. But keep contrast in mind — if the paint color and natural element are too close in color, it could make both look muted.

What does two tone paint look like?

See some examples we love below!


This two-tone exterior paint color highlights the architectural details of the house by giving them their own color. The matching wall and garage door color make the details on the front of the house really pop and makes the house look bigger.


This home is two-toned in a couple of ways. First there’s the low contrast, monochromatic two-tone between the two browns. Then, there’s the interplay between the stained wood details and brown tones. Together with the subtle light fixtures, it makes for a very modern feel.

 Is two tone paint more expensive?

There can be additional prep time, materials (you need more rollers, trays, brushes), and drying time, but it really varies depending on the job. Our WOW 1 DAY PAINTING team will meet with you to figure out the best way to achieve the result you want on an efficient timeline.

Can’t look at your old paint color any longer? Let’s transform your house into your dream home with a fresh paint color this season.



  • Exterior Painting