Unlike the inside of a room, an exterior is almost never a blank slate. You need to survey its fixed elements–things you don’t plan (or can’t afford) to change, like roofing, windows, soffits, gutters, and stonework. “These elements dictate your color palette,” says Cassie McDowell, co-owner of Brick & Batten, a virtual exterior design firm. So work with them–or risk having colors that feel “off.” For example, if your home has a red roof, you should balance that out, perhaps by “selecting a warmer shade than you might have planned,” says Lisa Moon, owner of Paper Moon Painting in Austin, Texas. Looking carefully at your exterior, make a list of the fixed colors you see, including undertones in the roofing, brick, or stone. These will all become part of your palette.