Is Your Homeowners' Association Holding Colors Hostage?

When it comes to your home exterior, a good rule of thumb is to "stand out while still fitting in" but how far does your neighborhood association (HOA) go to make sure your idea of fitting in aligns with theirs?

One in four homeowners report that they are restricted from freely selecting their exterior colors by rules imposed by their homeowners association. In some cases, the homeowners association limits the choices to a handful of colors preselected to maintain unity in the community.

Sherwin-Williams Exterior Color Collection: Northshores and Sea Ports

One example of how a variety of colors can work well within the same neighborhood while
still giving the homeowner freedom to create a look they love is seen above with colors
from Sherwin-Williams Northern Shores & Seaports Palette

It is understandable that in order to maintain property values and goodwill within the community you don't want to have "that house" in your neighborhood. The one that clashes with everyone else's home and stands out like a sore thumb, causing neighbors to be concerned that this one house will bring down the image of the neighborhood and thus the value of their own homes. To ease homeowners' concern about this happening in their neighborhood, homeowner's associations have imposed color restrictions.

While this could be a good solution, most HOA's have limited the colors to such a small selection that they are keeping their residents from creating a home with colors they love. The covenants imposed by some homeowner’s organization are holding colors hostage in an effort to create conformity rather than individuality.

Sherwin-Williams exterior colors collection Southern Shores and Beaches

Another example of how different colors and neutrals can blend within the same neighborhood
to create a harmonious scheme from Sherwin-Williams Southern Shores and Beaches

This is unfortunate since having a home with a striking exterior can be both an asset and source of pride for its owners. Anyone that understands color knows that just about any color can work in any community. The key is finding a version of the color that blends with the neighborhood or stands out in a subtle, unobtrusive manner. Rather than offer three to 6 exterior siding color choices as is common with many HOA's they could offer an entire rainbow of colors of similar value and intensity that all work beautifully together. 

In many cases, I have found that homeowners who paint their homes in a color their neighbors consider too bright were actually going for a subtler look but didn't understand how much bolder the color would look when applied to their home. Once completed, it is unlikely anyone will repaint even if they are not completely happy with the results.

Rather than keep a homeowner from using the color they love the palette of approved colors could sever as guidance to help the homeowners choose colors that will work well on their homes. For example, if a homeowner wants yellow, the HOA guidelines could help them to choose a buttery yellow that fits in with the other home colors rather than a hue that will end up looking more like highlighter yellow and seem out of place in the community.

For many years, developers and HOA's have defaulted to a range of beiges and grays for the main exterior, trim, shutter and door colors, I believe, because they don't know how to offer more choices and still create a cohesive look. If this is the case in your neighborhood you will have to live with their limited color offering and bring your favorite colors in with your landscaping or outdoor decor.

If you your HOA is willing to review your color offering and expand the color selection, a skilled color consultant can help them to find an entire range of colors that will come together to create perfect color harmony in your community.


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