front exterior

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Between the replanting of the front lawn and other exterior upgrades, my mind has been on curb appeal this year. So, when a potential sponsor came along with the (possible) opportunity to repaint the house, I started daydreaming. Below, I show you all the options I considered and my favorites!

NEW house colors??

It’s probably no surprise to any of you who have been reading this blog for long enough, but I typically partner with sponsors for my bigger DIYs or higher-budget projects. When it’s the exact right fit, the clouds part, I make it a priority, and I get something done on a deadline. For a procrastinator like myself, that last part can be pretty crucial in terms of priority-making; I never fail to add to my to-do list faster than I can cross things off!

Of course, not all partnerships become a reality, and that’s generally what goes on behind the scenes daily — figuring out what works, what doesn’t, contract negotiations, calendar planning, etc. (and all of this is on top of the physical labor of getting them done and creating the tutorials out of it). As you might imagine (and like any other business), there are plenty of things that almost work but then don’t. I don’t mean that as a complaint, either; the back and forth takes long enough that I get a really good idea of the kind of partners I prefer to work with. It leaves room for SO much potential and gets me to set some pretty big goals, and it always keeps things interesting (some of the requests I get are really quite nutty).

Not long ago, a potential sponsor pitched an idea for their services that began a conversation about one of my biggest to-do items that I haven’t been able to complete: the exterior house paint. The back and forth happened as it usually does, and ultimately, the partnership just wasn’t feasible. However, I had all of these Photoshopped pics I made while considering it, and I got excited at the lingering possibilities. Why hadn’t I finished this yet? What caused all the prior starts and stops? How awesome would the house look with this and that and oooh, what about this??? I think most homeowners have experienced that kind of thought train before! It just goes to show that inspiration can spark from anywhere.

As of right now, there are no current plans to paint the house, but the wheels have started turning again on when we might. And how much we would DIY to make that happen. So, since I just so happen to have a bunch of Photoshopped pics of new paint and trim colors, why not share it, right?

The current house colors

I have to go all the way back to 2010 for this backstory, so I don’t imagine most of you will know the history. The house needed some quick repairs and new paint when I bought it, so I picked the existing color not long after moving in. It was just a few shades lighter and warmer than the previous owner’s brown-on-brown cedar siding, and I convinced myself that adding cream trim could make it a little more cheerful without being as big of a job as changing the entire look. A family friend did all of the spray work while I got to work on the trim section by section.

painting the house tan using sprayer on the roof

It wasn’t necessarily bad, but I thought painting the house an entirely new color would take a lot more work, involve hiring pros (which I couldn’t afford), and I wasn’t willing to put in the extra time. That first year was packed with a LOT of ups and downs and a razor-thin budget, so I made the best decision I think I could have at the time. I lost steam on the project because I also began grad school and I realized that I would have to be on a ladder with no one around to dial 9-1-1. ?

Fast forward to now, and it’s pretty clear to me that not being head over heels with the house color is probably one of the reasons why I could never finish it. Despite a number of “I’m going to finally get this done” attempts over the years, I just kept losing my motivation every time. And, even though browns are making a comeback, it isn’t the color I would choose today.

front lawn and exterior

I floated the idea on my Instagram a few weeks ago to get some color suggestions (to see if there were any I hadn’t thought of on my own), and it got a surprising amount of responses. There were some REALLY strong opinions, which I loved! Brace yourselves for a lot of demonstrations of my really bad Photoshopping skills. ?

New House Paint Color Options

When it comes to choosing a new siding color, trim color, door color, etc., there are lots of things to think about. Things I am choosing to work with/around, things I’m considering changing in addition to the house colors, and the house color options themselves!

Things I’d choose to work with

Limitations are the first thing to consider. What other elements can I live with vs. the expense (labor or actual dollars) of changing? While it can seem like a setback, these limitation rules can actually help. Some colors just don’t work with what I’ve got, so that makes deciding a little simpler. If every option was on the table, it would make every little detail that much harder to choose!

The roof

When I asked for color suggestions on Instagram, the first thing I mentioned was to consider the roof color first. These are reddish-brown asphalt shingles and seem to be in good shape (it could use a cleaning, but it’s not leaking and had been replaced by the previous owner not long before I bought the house). I also don’t want to paint it, even though roof painting products are available and have had decent reviews per my research. As much as I’d probably prefer a gray roof, it’s too much work to change the entire house at once and the shed roof (which I deliberately matched to the reddish-brown shingles on the house).

Black accents in the back yard

I’ve got a strong love for Tricorn Black paint as an accent color, both in the primary bedroom and the exterior (the light pole planters, Adirondack chairs, garden bench seats, etc.). I want to leave all of those the same/painted black. I’ll be painting my new outdoor chairs black as well (with creamy white cushions). I’m considering bringing that color to the front as well on things like the gutters (I’ll show you that below), the little screen I built for the trash cans, and possibly the front door and mailbox.

The siding

I have cedar siding. Like most wood products, that means there’s some maintenance and repairs involved, which I have done before (caulking, insulating, replacing damage around the chimney, etc.). Previously, the color was painted on, so I’m sticking with painting vs. staining. The siding type does factor in a little with color choice because the shadows of the rough surface texture of cedar vs. your typical smooth texture of other kinds of siding can make brand new paint look like it’s peeling (I can’t quite explain it, but certain colors can create a lot of shadows against the house and look dull — my neighbor just finished painting theirs a dark gray-blue and it still looks like it could use new paint).

Neighbor house colors

My neighborhood has a huge mix of house colors, so I think if my house is too matchy-matchy to an immediate neighbor, it would look odd. So, there are certain color combos I probably won’t choose, even if they were a good fit. Currently, a neighbor has a gray house with bright red trim, a pale yellow house with white trim, a white house with gray trim (very farmhouse-y), and a tan house with brown trim (almost the same color as my house but darker trim vs. lighter).

Things I’m removing/adding

Although many of these ideas are already on my to-do list, I wanted to mention them here since they can make a difference in planning for the right color. For example, plants can add some balance, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to put them in before painting the siding (it would just be easier and less overspray).

Changes I'm considering

Remove: The porch balusters

I think removing the rotting porch balusters will open up the porch considerably. After ripping out the front bushes, I like the idea of making it open with low ground cover flowers and new chairs (a DIY design or a porch swing that looks out toward the road). The front porch is just a slab that is barely a single step above the ground, so I’m not worried about railing safety issues if removed.

Add: Thicker columns

I am DEFINITELY going to add some thickness to these front columns. Originally, I was thinking they would match trim color, but I am now loving the idea of wrapping these columns in cedar with some of these new color ideas!

Add: New landscaping

I’ll save this bit to the end, but I’m thinking of adding some cypress (such as blue point juniper) that can grow just a little past the first floor and some hostas in some of the mixed light/shady areas. I have a few hostas that are already growing strong that I think I can divide, so I think I can do this while still sticking to a reasonable budget.

Add: Limewashing the stone?

The front stone facade is very orange with gray and beige tones mixed in. It’s not my favorite, but it’s hard to go back once it’s been painted! So, I’m considering a limewash on some of these color options. It will allow some of the stone color to peek out without covering it completely. Since my living room fireplace has the same stone, I think I’m going to try it on the interior first!

House and Trim Colors

I began with a black trash bin fence and door as a base, as well as removing the balusters and continuing the existing cream trim (I actually really like the cream color and think it plays well with most of these colors!).

Possible house colors

Because the roof color has red undertones, it seems like the best fit is to use a color with similar warm undertones (like the brown) or the opposite on the color wheel (like dark blue). The roof looks pretty bright in this photo because I took it on a really sunny day when I was trying to show off the new grass, but you can see in the other photos above a more realistic reddish-brown like it does in person.

My Favorites

The colors I liked most were the navy/cream, the putty/cream combos with black gutters, and the sage/cream. Once I added the cedar columns, the new plants, and the limewash, things really started cookin’! I played around a little more to try out a few combos (different trim colors, for example), and to make the roof look more realistic.

comparison of final house paint color and trim options with cedar wrapped columns and new landscaping

I wasn’t expecting I’d like the dark gutters as much as I do, but they really seem to play off the other black accents and the black window panes. And the cedar column idea makes me swoon! I like how it brings the reddish tones down and really pops against some of these paint colors.

When I look at these, I still see a big blank space in the middle (where the balusters are currently), but it’s only because I think it would be pain in the ass to add little chairs or a swing in there for the visual. I also don’t yet know what flowers to plant in that larger garden bed when we expand it around the front walk. But those ideas are in my head as well!

So, what’s next?

While I don’t think painting the house will become a reality in 2019, lots of these elements have been discussed at the UDH in the last month, especially in terms of what can be DIY’d versus what would just be easier to hire out. I’m certain one day soon, you’ll see me ripping into those balusters! I’ve been tempted just about every day, but I try to remember that I have about 6 other projects I’m trying to finish before the holiday season. Still, the idea of painting the house has been on my mind enough to give me the “this is probably going to happen” vibe, so I’m currently shopping out a few quotes and keeping an eye out for plant deals. And research. Lots of research!

At any rate, I think this is giving us the opportunity to come up with a game plan for DIYing and the amount of prep work we need to do first.

In the meantime, I’d love to have you weigh in. Which color was your favorite? If I wrap the front columns, would you match them to the trim or add some cedar? Any colors you were hoping to see but didn’t?

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  1. I love the cream with putty trim. Not a fan of dark gutters, though. Painting a house is so personal, isn’t it? Whatever you choose will be perfect for you!

    1. I so agree! Very personal choice, but I also want it to look like it fits the house well regardless. Some things are an immediate no even though they were suggested (a guy who did an estimate suggested medium blue with navy trim and I didn’t even try to add it).

  2. My eye was immediately drawn to the sage with cream as a runner up. I do like the dark gutters! How would they look with the sage?

    1. Good question. I’ll play with that and maybe upload a new one with that this week on this same post so people who are asking for it can see!

  3. I love the blue black with the dark gutters! I didn’t expect to like the dark gutters but it almost feels like eyeliner for your house. Whatever you end up with will look great!

      1. Lol, yes, apparently they are too dinky because I didn’t even see them on the non- beefed up column photos. I gotta get a bigger phone. :0}

  4. I don’t normally like dark colors but the blue-black with dark gutters is beautiful. On your size of house I think it goes well. I would put cedar on your posts. I think you will get your color by how you feel about your house. Do what you think is best.

      1. I just saw a picture of a sage with cream house with black accents. Black front door and shutters. Which could be black gutters instead.

        1. That sounds beautiful! I didn’t consider shutters because a buddy of mine restores old houses and told me the dimensions were wrong to add them (since I can’t add them to the bay windows, it would look weird to add them to just one or two).

  5. Sage, possibly with dark trim and gutters. The high-contrast trim (light or dark) helps to balance out the orange elements. Also, what about painting the garage door the same as the siding, or a little lighter, and painting its casing the trim colour?

    1. I don’t like the garage door being the same color as the siding, but thank you for the suggestions!

  6. Sa ge with light trim. Dark paint fades too easily. Columns should match the trim, the pictures with the cedar columns look clunky.

    1. I’ve heard that if I were to go dark, I’d have to go with Sherwin-Williams paint. No others stack up when it comes to fading (dunno if that’s true or not though). I think the columns need to be beefed up for sure, but cedar could look right with one color but not another. Tricky choices all around! And so many of them to make!

  7. I love the white with dark trim and gutters, makes an impact. Also like the navy, not sure how a black house would work in the south as it draws heat.

  8. Love several of the potential choices, but here’s my thought: I have that exact stone on the fireplace in my bedroom. It took me 10 years to find a wall color that would tone down that orange so it wasn’t so “in your face” when you were in the room. The name of the paint is Tea and Honey and its a Glidden paint from Home Depot. It goes well with the stone and the stained wood wainscoting in my room (which also has an orange tone). Good Luck! You have some hard choices to make, but it’s so satisfying when it’s done.

      1. Thanks. Only took 10 plus years to decide on it. Plays well with the stone colors.

    1. I love the navy with cream trim because I like high contrast color. I also think the black and cream would look sharp. The dark colors seem to make the house stand out and look larger. I may be one of the few people that likes your rock wall. ? and I think the dark colors go with it nicely…especially the navy. I like the look of the cedar columns. If the rock wall was painted the same color as the rest of the house, the cedar columns would really look sharp, and might be more of a focal point instead. If you decide to pull the black and white decor to the front, the blue-black might look even better. And I would probably then paint the wall the same cream color as the trim so seating could be a focal point against that wall. Whatever you decide will look just as nice as the other projects you have completed. Sweet dreaming. You can probably tell I tend to be a bit dramatic in my color choices.?? After all…I painted my home with a cool medium silvery gray on the siding….bright semi gloss white trim….high gloss black gable sections….painted the old metal storm windows with black rustoleum with red trim around them……and a semi gloss cool cobalt front door. Outside chairs are dark red with colorful cushions. And a couple of cobalt gazing balls thrown in just to pull my inside color outside. ??yep…..dramatic for sure.

      1. I also love Navy and White. I have to stay away from dark colors on my own home because I live in So. Louisiana and no a/c. The stone fireplace in my home was the previous owner’s addition.

  9. So many good options! My favorites are the blue/black with dark gutters and the white with dark trim. The white with dark trim comes across as kind of European villa-ish, and the dark blue has a very Pacific Northwest vibe. Whatever you decide, I’m sure it will look great!

  10. LOVE the white with the dark trim and gutters. It’s amazing how much of a difference colors and accent shades can make on a home, right? What an exciting project!

  11. Definitely the cedar posts. I like the white, dark trim and gutters and the navy with white trim.


  12. Oh…. and I’m not a fan of bushes/trees in front. But that’s just me. I like lots of light in my home. :)

    1. That’s totally fair! I love light too, but this side of the house faces afternoon sun, so I think a balance would be great and add some comfort!

  13. Picking paint colors can be really challenging. I prefer the putty for the entire house color. I think they cypress tress are a great add. I vote for lime wash. Huge difference! Have you considered trimming the windows in your favorite black (archibald?)? The reason I prefer the putty color is it feels like it draws the least attention to the roof color. I think you could achieve a “modern farmhouse look” if you go this way. Have you considered doing a millennium pink like the ‘young house love’ pink beach house? with putty trim. It would be very cheerful.

    1. I actually want to avoid the farmhouse look! I’ll agree the house leans that way a little and is cottage-y. Pink would be neat if this were a coastal home like theirs is, but it wouldn’t be right in this neighborhood. There are a few brightly colored houses around me and they REALLY stick out in a bad way.

  14. I love the navy. I also like the sage. Just wanted to put in the thought that I haven’t seen anyone else state, that a darker color can really increase your cooling bills. I recently took my rental from a faded yellow/cream to a medium tone gray blue (with black trim and purple garage doors!) and the difference in how much the exterior of the house heats up is significant. I also have a tan to reddish roof (that I want to change to a very light grey for heat reasons) but still has a lot of useable life so I had to find a color scheme that works with both. I have actually been surprised how well the blues play off the redbrown roof.

    1. I was advised that the house color doesn’t really make as significant of a heating/cooling cost change as the roof color does. To the point where I really shouldn’t think that much about it.

      1. hmmmm interesting. I installed a radiant roof barrier with a continuous ridge vent system in the attic as well as blowing in 3 inches of insulation on top of the substandard insulation that was there (made a HUGE difference!), but cannot do much about increasing the wall insulation (without tearing off the interior drywall – not going to happen) so I guess I saw the walls as the weakest link. But nice to know it doesn’t matter as much as I thought since I painted my house dark red (it was a tear down to the studs, so it is better insulated on the walls) :-)

        1. I thought the SAME thing but someone told me it was the roof that made a huge difference and the overall efficiency in things like windows. They seemed to have enough confidence in their opinion of it. They did mention that the bigger concern would be fading since I live in the south and my house gets BAKED.

  15. btw I probably would have totally painted this house sage, but it is in between two other houses in shades of green. The neighbors across the alley are tan and brown so blues were the way to go. Also I did the opposite as you, I did the spraying myself and hired out the trim painting – I couldn’t do the hours of second story ladderwork that the trim would have taken.

  16. I think the columns would look great with stacked stone on the bottom with cedar on top, especially with the railing gone. Sort of a bungalow look. The stone would have to match the other stone of course. I loved the white and black, but it looks (and should probably be) cream instead of white. Navy also looks great with cedar. Would also ask you to consider a dark plum?

    1. That’s the cream color already, called Rustic Cream. Because of the way things always look brighter on exteriors, it looks white without the hassle. I like that it looks crisp but is FAR less maintenance than actual white!

  17. I love all of the options, but my personal favourite is cream. It looks so clean for me :)

  18. Can I ask how you were able to try out these color options online??? Is it an app??? I’m stuck picking colors for our house and would LOVE some help visualizing it like you’ve done!!!

    1. I used Photoshop! That’s all I did. Took some work to mask out where the siding was and wasn’t. I didn’t pick a specific paint color, I just played around to get an idea of a color family. But I hear good things about the Sherwin Williams paint app where you can attempt colors, and most of the paint manufacturers nowadays have the ability to upload your own photo to their site to try out colors. I keep my expectations low for those websites because they aren’t great at delineating lines in some photos (sometimes they’ll also paint the furniture, etc.) But at least it gives you something if you’re not keen on doing the work that Photoshop would take!