Choosing Exterior House Colors Is Hard

Seriously, you guys, this is a big one. Working on the inside of the house is one thing, but the outside is a whole new level of pressure. We paint rooms all the time, as you know, and it’s as simple as changing our minds and spending 30ish bucks on a new can of paint and a couple of days of work. No big deal. But the outside… that’s like thousands of dollars and weeks of work, so we can’t change our minds in six months and redo it. Plus EVERYONE WILL SEE IT. Eek!!! We really don’t want to mess this one up.

This is what our house looks like now:

our house, currently

A lot of tan, beige and brown, it’s definitely a little blah. But it’s not bad. I don’t mind it. The houses on both sides are very similar colors, though, which means ours doesn’t stand out, which would be nice, as long as we’re standing out in a good way.

Years ago, we spoke with the local historical society about what colors would be appropriate for our house, and they said it would have been painted in muted earth tones — browns, greens, dusty blues — and no pure white. This is a little difficult for us because those aren’t colors we naturally are drawn to. We tend to like bright, clear, cheerful colors. But after talking it over with our painter we decided on … BLUE!

So we’re going to have a blue house.

We actually need 5 colors: a main body color, a secondary body color for the band between the first and second floors, an off-white main trim color, a darker secondary accent trim for the fishscale-patterned siding on the third floor, and finally a dark trim color for the window sashes. Plus, the underside of the porches will be painted sky blue (to keep the ghosts and mosquitos away!). We are still deciding what color to paint the doors, so we may need a sixth (or is that seventh?) color for that! I know this is confusing, so here’s a little diagram so you can see where each color will go.

house color layout

Finding five or six colors that you like together, that you’re willing to look at every day for years and have represent you to everyone who will ever see your house… not easy. The whole back of our house looks like a crazy art experiment went wrong, because it is covered in paint samples.

We started with a plan: blue for the main body, purple for the secondary body, off white trim, tan trim, and blue-black for the sashes. Left to right (all Sherwin Williams): denim (SW 6523), grape harvest (SW 6285), pacer white (SW 6098), sands of time (SW 6101), inkwell (SW 6992).

plan 1

When we tested samples on our house, we hated them. The blue was SO BRIGHT and the purple was SO PURPLE. They didn’t look anything like our mock up in Photoshop, taken from the Sherwin Williams website. As you can see in the photo below, they’re SO much brighter on our house.

paint samples #1

So on to Plan #2: a darker navy blue with a more muted purple. Left to right: gale force (SW 7605), exclusive plum (SW 6263), and the same trim colors as before.

plan 2

We liked them!

Our painter hated them!

paint samples #2

He thought the blue (bottom left) was too dark and the trim (top left) was too white. Looking at this now, I agree, but at the time I was so frustrated. Plus it turns out I don’t even like purple. So I spent literally an entire day looking at paint colors, googling blue houses, agonizing over paint chips, completely stressing myself out trying to find a combo that everyone could agree on.

Good news: the third time’s the charm!

BUT since this post is already so long and so dramatic, I’m going to be a huge jerk now and tell you to stay tuned for Wednesday when we’ll show you the colors we finally chose!! Ahhh, I’m so mean!!

Have you ever painted the exterior of your house? I’d love to hear your experiences. Do you have any advice for us?

— Kerry

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