Picking the perfect exterior MCM paint colours can be tricky, especially if you’ve never picked outdoor paint colours before. Unlike indoors, if you get it wrong, everyone will see it! Add to that, a distinctive exterior in a street-proud neighbourhood, and the pressure is on. I’m going to walk you through how to pick the perfect exterior white paint color for your MCM home, because I just did it!
*BEHR sponsored this post, but all thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make PMQ for two possible.
Creating an exterior paint and color palette
First, let’s start with why white is a great choice for an MCM home’s exterior.
Why MCM Home Design Principles Matter when picking a paint colour
Mid Century Modern homes come in a variety of colours and styles. You’ll find white homes, black or grey homes, colourful homes, and everything in between.
“There is some variety among Mid-Century Modern homes, but generally they are one-story homes with an open-concept layout, lots of windows primarily on the sides and back of the house, with a unique embrace of the outdoors.” – House Beautiful
Sounds like us!
“Along with inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright’s innovative Prairie School designs, the boom of the Space Age, and a desire to reconvene with nature were the key elements that influenced the Mid-Century Modern movement.”
Because of the many grand windows and expanses of glass in our home’s design, striking a balance between the inside and out means taking into consideration our changing season – and snow.
We spend 6 months of the year with snow on the ground. So when choosing a paint colour, we wanted to keep in mind the principle backdrop of our home’s surroundings.
A note on the historical images
I found the lovely historical plans images online while searching for inspiration. If you’re ever stuck on inspiration and want to be true to your home’s form, look through spec sheets like these!
White MCM Home Exterior Palettes
White is not only reserved for snowscapes, it’s one of the more popular colour palettes for MCM homes on the West Coast in Palm Springs. There, the colour is as much a reflection of the clean space age in which those homes were built, as the desert heat and the need to stay cool (can you imagine a darkly painted house in the desert?).
As Mel of West-South says
“Each region has different catalysts for building neighborhoods, and each neighborhood has different styles. Each region uses different materials for the climate. Knowing what you’ve got will guide every decision you make from start to finish.”
As I explained in my post about our plans for the exterior, we’re unifying and simplifying. With our guiding principle of snow (and lots of it), clean design, and unifying materials – the obvious choice was white.
Picking the right shade of White Paint
This is harder than you’d think. When was the last time you stared at a palette of white paint chips. There are blue whites, green whites, pink whites, and true whites. Each one will highlight a different element, and look different in varying climates. The image below is full of whites, each of which on their own you’d say is white, but put them together and you start to notice the differences.
We didn’t want the house to look like it was glowing at night, but we also didn’t want it to look muted or dirty next to the snow.
In choosing a white, we paid extra attention to the LRV factor (how much a paint will reflect natural light, on a scale of 1 to 100), and focused on the cooler whites. I like that BEHR lists the LRV with all its paints, and allows you to look at samples online based on temperature preferences.
Why we chose BEHR Marquee Exterior paint
At this point, the choice is clear to us. The quality of the BEHR MARQUEE line of exterior paints is unparalleled. I’ve written about my love for the various formulas over the year, and even compelled a comprehensive guide to the paint: Home Painting Tips from an Expert.
One of the reasons I like BEHR Marquee exterior, is that it can be applied down to 0c, and will resist rain within 60 mins of application. You can’t say that about many paints! Additionally, BEHR MARQUEE Exterior has exceptional fade and dirt resistance. BEHR MARQUEE Exterior makes it easy to paint during most seasons, however, I do suggest that you check the label instructions for ideal temperatures, humidity and surfaces to ensure the job is done correctly.
Using BEHR Marquee Exterior Paint on Stone and Brick
As I mentioned above, in selecting a paint to apply to the exterior of the house, it would have to work on various material types. I didn’t want to be priming the stone facade if I could avoid it.
Even though MARQUEE Exterior is the higher end of their offerings, we’re confident in its ability to cover stone, cement and the wood siding in one coat (with light touch-ups). This is where extensive test swatches come in handy, because we wouldn’t have known for sure without testing it.
BEHR Whites for Exterior Paint Palettes
Obviously BEHR doesn’t just make a handful of whites, and obviously they may not all work well as exterior hues on an MCM house, so here I’ve listed some faves for your consideration for you next big outdoor project.
I recommend any of these colours, but for whites, these in particular:
We used an Ultra Pure White to create extra crisp trim around windows and door frames, and to avoid having the house look like one flat colour.
How do you think the house is going to look completed?