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The Ranch House



Thanks for your blog!

We are finally doing the roof and am terribly unnerved at choosing a product you want to keep forever.  I am thinking about using Tamko Heritage rustic black.

Your ideas would be greatly appreciated.  (Bench and shutters are on the outs also ;p ) thanks


- Elaine


Hi Elaine,


Black is such a nice safe selection.  A truly timeless color.  Keep a black front door, and you can change your house color ten times and it will still go. Select it with confidence, you made a good choice.


I don't know what your floorplan looks like inside, so this might be impossible, but- I would suggest a stronger entrance.  Your front door is practically hidden in a corner.  Check out below what your house would look like with a double door. 




I would also create a little front porch feel.  Changing the pitch of your roof and actually having a covered porch would be quite expensive, but you could simply add a raised deck area.  I would extend it all along the area from where the house comes out by the fireplace, to the end of the house.  Then add a couple of chairs and a table, and you have created a little living space, to watch the neighbors walk their dogs while you sip some tea.




 Also- see how on the left you have window, window, window, window, big solid space of siding?  I would plant a bush in front of that big solid space of siding, about the size of a lilac bush.

Thanks for writing in!




Prairie Style?  

I feel like I need to do something to the brick which looks so dated, the colors, etc... would love your thoughts. You have so many good ideas!

Thank you!!




Hi Melissa,


I love your home.  I would describe it as "Prairie Style" which was popular in the late 19th and ealy 20th century.  It was most common in the midwestern United States.   Your low pitched roof, with strong overall horizontal feel, with your horizontal bands of windows, to me, give it that look.  (Although it is maybe not a perfect Prairie Style home)  It has so much potential.  My first concern is not the brick; although you might decide to white wash it. 

The biggest change will be made in three ways.

1. Landscaping

2. Paint color 

3. Trim size



See the notes I put on your home above.  You have an amazing row of windows that are half covered by a hedge.  That is sad to me.  I would remove those first thing. 


Also your area under the overhang is not good looking, and should be covered by landscaping.  Those two changes will make a huge difference.  If your porch continues the length of the home, I would also remove the big bush covering it up. Most of your bushes are detracting rather than enhancing your architecture. 


Secondly- your one solid paint color is definitely drab.  I cannot even tell what size your trim is.  If it is small, I would increase the scale of the trim, then brighten the home with a higher contrasting field-to-trim look.  Check out the photo below: 


Now if you just painted your home the way it is now all dark gray- it woudl be just as drab, maybe worse, but check out the amount of white in the home above.  It is that wonderful contrast that makes it so pretty. 


It doesn't have to be white.  Look how pretty this wood stain contrast is: 

You could also have the trim darker than the field for a different look. 

To really update it, you could change the siding to a shake shingle, like the photo below: 


With your architecture, you could even put in a more contemporary railing, like this one: 


While I'm spending your money, you could also add some large sidelights like this home:  (also with cool wood stain windows)  I love your home, it's going to look great!





Linda's House

Hi Christine,

Your blog is a treasure. I love your aesthetic sense and your ability to visualize the promise that lies within each house.

I'm hoping you may have advice for me. I have tried so many samples for repainting and I can't seem to find  the right colors. The neighborhood homes are mostly muted earthtones, lots of tan/brown.

I am deeply grateful for any ideas (paint or otherwise) you may have.

Thank you!



Hi Linda,

If it were me, I would go darker on the field color, and not as dark on your eaves trim color.  I'm trying for more subtle, but richer. 



You can see my paint sample squares in the center of your stone picture.  (with a little bit of your roof in the corner).  I still suggest sample quarts.  ;-) 


SW7505 Manor House Trim color


SW7694 Dromedary Camel Field color






Jogging Path


Hi Christine,
On the advice of a designer friend we painted the entire interior of our home Sherwin Williams "jogging path".   We love the color but are struggling with what accent colors to use for bedding, etc. What colors would look good with that paint color?
Thank you,


Hi Nancy,

I know I have said this 100 times, but I will start by repeating myself by simply saying that I would never select a paint color prior to other colors in the home for this very reason.  Here is a recent post. Where I explain in more detail, so I won't dwell too much on it.  With that said, jogging path is a good neutral, and you can go a lot of different directions.  My advice is this:


Have your large furniture contrast with your neutral paint color.  For example:  A combination like this would be great:


The sofa is a creamy color and will contrast nicely.  Or you could go darker like this:

However, one way you could go wrong is by selecting neutral furniture that is close to your paint color.  Sometimes they could end up clashing, sometimes it could simply be too much of the same color. 


I am certainly not saying NOT to repeat the color, indeed you should, but not in your large pieces. 


Look at each room with your paint sample:



Can you see what I mean by going lighter looking good, darker looks good, another medium tone neutral looks yikky.  If you want to know if blue or green or red accents will look good, I'd say, yes, yes, yes.  It is your other neutral tones that will make it work or not work, not your accent colors. 


From the TV to your Home- Bold Wall Colors

Hi Christine,

We watch Netflix TV series episodes now that we are old folks. I've noticed the houses on TV always have brightly colored walls. In the real world, most walls I've seen in peoples' homes are light colored and neutral. Do you think it's because the rooms look better on camera if the walls are darker and more colorful? Maddie's house on Burn Notice comes to mind. Or some of the rooms on Lie to Me. So why don't people do that in real life? 

- Nancy


Hi Nancy,


I am not a professional set designer, so I not an expert on TV pshychology, but as an interior designer, I can tell you how to make bold colors work, and why they don't "work" sometimes. 


I think there is one big thing you need to make bright wall colors work.

1.  Breaks


What do I mean by "breaks"?  You need breaks in the bold color.  Imagine your typical bedroom, it is 12 x 12, one window, one closet, one door.  If you love Monica's paint and make the walls all purple, you have about 300 square feet of purple.  Compare that to Monica's apartment on Friends at the top of the post.  Her walls are purple, but how much purple do you actually see?  Probably 30 square feet,

Check out the set from "Good Luck Charlie" below:

- bright green stairs

- yellow walls

- intense sofa color





- turquoise kitchen cabinets

- purple and green bedroom walls


Anywhere in these bright colors do you see a 12 foot wall of one color?  No.  There are breaks everywhere.  Now let's translate that to your average home.  Let's say you want to paint your walls a slate blue.


The room above is OK- but the whimpy baseboard actually are making it harder to pull off the paint color.  Compare that room to this one below:

You actually have more breaks with - bigger window trim, larger baseboards, (wood floors also help) - the baseboards especially make such a difference in helping the paint color to look good.  Now, let's create even larger breaks.  Compare the room above to the room below with large windows, generous crown molding, beefy trim everywhere: 



Looks terrific, huh?  When you see a great looking room on TV or somewhere, take a look at the breaks in the color.  Sadly, we don't all have the architecture to successfully pull off the bold colors.


We dont' NEED that wall of windows to use slate blue- one more slate blue photo: 

In the room above, we have no special architecture, but a great use of the dark slate color.  How?  It's not on all four walls.  It has a lot of breaks in the color.


Now let me show you some bright green spaces. This photograph might not look horrible, but I bet this room is very instense and hard to relax in.  There is a large amount of square footage of the green. 

Now compare that to the room below:

This is a hundred percent better, huh?  Someone out there is saying, that's really not fair to compare a simple 8' ceiling bedroom to a 12' ceiling great room with four sets of French doors with transom windows.  BUT that's what people do all the time.  They see an awesome room on a TV show or in a magazine and think, I'm going to paint my room that color!  There should be a little warning posted on these rooms, "don't try this at your house".  When you don't have a lot of breaks in your color, it is much harder to do well.  Wall decor can help you to create breaks where you might not have them architectually.  Look at the photo above again. There is a lot of wall decor on the walls, creating a lower square footage of the green walls showing.  Compare that to the sad green bedroom above it.  More and larger wall decor will help you pull off bold colors.  One more bright green wall photo for you:

This paint is practically neon.  How does it work?  There is a very little amount of it.  If you said, I love this, and went home and painted your home with neon green...  Your kids would develop ADHD, your family would start fighting with each other, everyone would feel uneasy.  It simply wouldn't work in most settings.  Here there is less than 20 square feet of green wall space, lots of breaks, lots of white, it works just great. 


Keep in mind that on TV there is a large amount of professional lighting.  Dark colors can also be a light swallower. 

Now, I need to go watch TV- do a little more research.