How To Pick Roof Color – Let Hue Family be Your Guide


Choose roof color to coordinate with fixed, permanent elements on your house.  If you think it’s possible to choose a neutral roof color that will go with everything, it’s not.  Gray looked like a safe color choice to this homeowner.  But it wasn’t.


The Challenge

Previous roof colors were warm from the yellow hue family matching the brick in a somewhat monochromatic manner.  Which is a typical exterior color scheme. . . monochromatic-like.

The new charcoal gray roof color created a large hue family gap between the brick color and the roof. The color relationship changed from monochromatic-like to levels of color contrast:

  1. The warm/yellow brick to the cool/blue roof.
  2. The light value brick to the darker value roof.

The Color Solution

To bridge the gap,  it was necessary to add more color to shore up and round out the light/warm/yellow to dark/cool/blue color relationship. Objective was a cohesive color scheme instead of a curb appeal story of dramatic and discordant color relationships and contrasts.

The opportunities to add more color to create a well-rounded color scheme were few on this façade. Just the door and the shutters. Which means it was critical to get the colors right. Landscaping and light fixtures play supporting roles but the shutter/door color is key.

Here’s our rendering.


Brick, wood, metal  -the color of all surfaces and substrates – belong to a hue family. The hue family of the brick, for example, is no different than if it were painted siding.  Still using the brick as an example, it’s what I referred to before – a permanent fixed or non-transient exterior element. And it’s from the permanent fixed, non-transient elements that you build exterior color schemes. Because roofs, gutters, shutters, doors, etc. may come and go but you’ll never replace the brick.

It would have been a better plan to coordinate the roof color with the hue bias of the brick but that’s not how this scenario played out.  Once the new roof and gutters were installed, the homeowner suspected the color choices he made were a mistake.  No use looking at it that way.  Instead, see it as the challenge it is and find a way to make it work.

With color, there’s always a way to make it work.

As mentioned, gutters were new too and the color choice, sand pebble clay, wasn’t working either.  Painting the gutters was an option but I thought unnecessary because the sand pebble clay could work.  The new color scheme of creamier trim color, the color of the brick, and a cinnamon-stained door all tie together and harmonize with sand pebble clay.

Distributing some of the heavy black/blue/gray from the roof via navy-black painted shutters Sherwin-Williams Inkwell get a Samplize sample HERE. Black fixtures and accessories creates balance. The color family created with the brick, door, trim and gutters is also balanced. Juxtaposed, the two are a cohesive, technically correct and balanced exterior color scheme. It works.

This took me a bit to figure out.  I’m always suspect of designers who say they know exactly what color, what to do, as soon as they see a room or house. Because I don’t think you can instantly know. If for no other reason than there are always at least three solutions to every color challenge. It requires time to define and determine.

An important takeaway is you do not have to narrowly align (or match) hue family or color temperature. Color relationships and true color design is about contrast as much as alignment. Which one is better depends entirely on each unique room or house.

Another takeaway is I did this virtually.  eColor Consultations are possible and incredibly efficient.

4 thoughts on “How To Pick Roof Color – Let Hue Family be Your Guide”

  1. I am really impressed with the color solution to this exterior. The house looks AMAZING with the inkwell shutters! I also appreciate you saying that it took you a while to get to this solution. As a person beginning in the color consulting field, I feel tremendous pressure to “just know” the right color right away. It is comforting to hear a master in the field say that it can take time to arrive at the solution.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Vanessa. Even if I feel like I know the color answers right off the bat, I always take a minute and let it settle. Color design isn’t a race.

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