Painting your Colonial-Style Home

We paint about 600 homes in our area annually, and about 60% of them are Colonial-style homes. Here’s some history and our thoughts on painting your Boston-area Colonial:

Colonial homes come in all sizes, and today’s homes are descendants of the two-story homes that started out being built with one room on each floor and grew to the “four over four” (four rooms over four-room) homes we see today.

Many South Shore builders in the 1960s and 70s built standard 2500 square foot homes with 3-4 bedrooms. In the past 20 years, many of the larger 3,500-5,000 square foot homes built on the South Shore and Boston region are modified center-hall colonials.

Characteristics of a Colonial Home

Regardless of the size of the Colonial home, most share several features:

  1. Colonials are symmetrical and feature an entry door in the middle of the front of the home.
  2. The Colonial-style home has two windows on either side of the entry door and five windows on the second story. Most of the time, the center window is directly above the 1st-floor front entrance.
  3. Colonials (also called “center hall colonials”) have a staircase directly behind the front door that leads to the middle of a second-floor hallway.

In our area, most Colonial homes are built with wood siding, as wood was the material that was easy to come by for early settlers in the 1700s.

Exterior painting of Colonial Style Homes around Boston:

Paint Colors for your Colonial’s Exterior:

Traditional exterior colors of Colonial homes make good use of conventional historic colors. Still, our designer can work with you to combine traditional colors with something unique to amp up your curb appeal.

White with black shutters is the most common paint scheme for colonial homes, but many color pallettes are equally traditional yet original. Roof color is also a significant factor in choosing an exterior color as well.


Large white house
A traditional colonial in traditional white with black shutters in Hingham.








Blue Large house with black shutters
The blue of this Contemporary Colonial looks great with the cool-toned roof.










White with beige shutters
This Duxbury Georgian Colonial is Sherwin Williams Alabaster White with Pavestone Shutters and a Festoon Aqua front door.











Green house with CertaPro sign in front

Exterior Trim Color for your Colonial Home:

Traditionally, the trim of Colonial homes is painted white or cream. Even though white is still our most popular trim color for Colonial-style homes, Colonial homes also look great when the trim and body of the home are painted the same color.





Shingles on your Colonial:

painting house

Many colonials in our area have cedar shingles on a few sides and wood clapboards on the front of the home. Leaving cedar shingles to weather on their own, without the protection of at least a transparent or translucent stain, shortens their life.

Today, we can get that same “weathered Nantucket Gray” look on your shingles using products that also help protect them and prolong their life. We can even apply a solid stain to your new shingles that will help keep them looking newer for longer. Using a solid colored pigment on your cedar shingles is both protective and beautifying.


2 color home
Accent and stone add curb appeal to this contemporary colonial

Exterior Accent colors for your Colonial home: 

Accent colors can be added above dormers and the entry portico to add some personality to colonials and make them stand apart from their neighbor’s colonials.

Since many South Shore builders tend to build a version of the same colonial throughout a development, using paint color in strategic spots on your colonial’s exterior helps to distinguish your home and add curb appeal. Many Clients who want something unique yet traditional will choose to add an accent color that’s a different color from their home’s trim and main body. Our designer can help you place the paint colors on your Colonial home, so they look perfect.


Gray house with maroon shuttersShutters on your Colonial home:

Most modern Colonial homes on the South Shore and South Suburbs feature shutters that are strictly decorative. Some Colonial “purists” insist on working shutters that are opened and closed.





exterior painting service
Dark grids amp up the curb appeal of this Duxbury colonial we painted in 2020

Light or dark window trim and sash colors for your Colonial?

Most of the time, the window trim and sash (the movable part of the window) are painted white on Colonials. Since about 2010, we’ve painted the window sash and grids with darker colors like bottle green, burgundy, and black.

A darker sash gives the home a very traditional but updated look. In fact, as your drive around the new developments on the South Shore, you’ll see builders building lots of new homes today with these dark windows as standard.






Blue wainscot adds an unexpected punch of color to this colonial’s first-floor entryway.

Interior painting considerations of Colonial Homes:

Traditional Colonial interior configurations feature four rooms on the first floor and four rooms on the second floor. In older colonials, the rooms are nicely separated, so the wall colors you choose can be separate and distinctive. In more modern Colonials with open floor plans, it’s essential that wall colors “flow together.”  Our designer is an expert in whole-house color palettes, and a free in-home consultation is included in every home we paint.




Interior trim in Cape Cod homes is traditionally natural wood or white. Shiplap and wainscot, also traditionally white, is a place to infuse some color to update your interior in an original way.

Commercial buildings in our area are often Colonial Style buildings!

hanover town hall painting project
The Hanover town hall is an example of Colonial architecture

Fast facts about Colonial Style Homes:

-Colonials normally have a square or rectangular and symmetrical footprint.

-Early Colonials featured the same number of rooms on the first floor as on the second floor.

-The front door is in the (almost) exact center of the home.

-Early settlers made most of our colonials from wood in the Boston area because the wood was plentiful.  Today you’ll find this tradition continued on the South Shore as new construction is often still built from wood.




You also might like:

Choosing historic colors for your home

Some photos of our recent painting projects

Weathering your shingles to that wonderful “Nantucket” gray

Painting exterior brick

Paint or stain for my Colonial home’s exterior?