Design and Ideas


What We Can Learn about Paint Color from "Prettiest Painted Places in America"

The Paint Quality Institute periodically searches for the prettiest painted communities in America. By looking at the towns and neighborhoods that have won top honors in its "Prettiest Painted Places in America" competitions, we can all learn a lot about exterior paint color selection.

The winning communities are often very different from each other. Past winners have come from every part of the country, and they've run the gamut from historical towns to sparkling new, planned communities.

They do, however, have one thing in common: All of the communities take great pride in their appearance. Some go so far as to specify or regulate the exterior color palette.

Whether exterior paint colors are specified or not, virtually all of the past "winners" have been awash in color. Homeowners and business owners in most of the places embraced color as a decorative medium. They knew intuitively that colorful painted exteriors added curb appeal and helped make their communities special.

Perhaps there are tips we can take from these communities to make our own homes a "prettiest painted place".

Happy Painting,


Debbie Zimmer

A common characteristic of homes and buildings in the winning places was the way they made the most of their architecture. In many cases, different surfaces and architectural elements were painted in different colors to make the details stand out.

The use of multiple colors was commonplace. Color schemes often employed not just two or three colors, but four, five, and more. The complex palettes gave texture to the architecture and celebrated the details.

There was also fearlessness about paint color, which might be expected in the beachfront towns. But even inland, understated color schemes were frequently punched up with a bold accent color or two.

What can we learn from these beautiful places? That color is a powerful way to enhance the appearance of any structure. We have to paint for maintenance purposes anyway, so why not create something special with our color scheme?

The next time you plan to paint the exterior of your home or business, take a long, hard look at the exterior. Are there ways to highlight its interesting architectural elements? What if you used four paint colors instead of just two or three? How else can paint color help embellish the exterior? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself.

And, don't be overwhelmed by the many paint colors available today. You don't have to go it alone when creating an exterior color scheme. Check out the literature at your local paint store and you'll find beautiful color-coordinated palettes that can serve as guides. Some paint companies even have color "visualizers" that let you see how different color schemes would look on your home or business.

By the way, after a 12-year hiatus, the Paint Quality Institute is in the process of conducting another competition to find the "Prettiest Painted Places in America" right now. You can follow the search on, where you'll see which communities are in the running... and, in October, which are chosen as the country's 12 most beautiful painted places!

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