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An Easy Fix

Hi Christine,


I’m not sure if the is the appropriate email address for help, but I was so happy to have stumbled across your site. My daughter just bought her first home in Austin, TX but (really) doesn't care for the blue trim - and we're not sure what style the house is - Craftsman? Mishmash of styles?  We have no clue what’s appropriate for that odd window-trim-not-quite-shutters thing they have going.  The tree will have to be cut back so even more of the house will show soon.  She's going to have to leave the base color of the home alone for now but is not sure what to do with the window trim, front door and garage door.  


Any guidance is appreciated! 





Hi Jacqueline, 
I don't think anyone anywhere cares for that blue trim.  That was simply a seriously poor selection that makes no sense.  Luckily it's an easy fix.
To answer your question- yes- it's a miss-mash home.  The shape of the column is Craftsman, but the shape of the home and roof in general are not.  But it doesn't matter, I'd give you the same advice either way.
Paint the window trim and the garage the same color of white that is on the columns.  Hopefully that's the same color as the trim around the garage.  I cannot even see what color the door is from the photos- but that is where you have more flexibility.  It could be charcoal, black, dark taupe, or natural wood.  I would seriously trim your bushes.  I don't feel like they should be in this area at all:
With light and neutral paint everywhere, I'd use much darker lights.
I would have fun with the porch, paint a pattern on the floor, put stained wood paneling on the ceiling and charming hanging lights and some comfortable chairs.  

Susan's Sloping Ceiling

Hi Christine,

I’m from England and you have already given me some great advice on my dining room and living room. Your blog is so helpful and inspiring.


I would really appreciate advice on how to brighten up a small bedroom with a sloping ceiling. It used to be a study, but since we moved our study downstairs, this room has just collected paperwork, sewing stuff and clutter. I attach a floor plan and three (embarrassing) photos. I am so ashamed by the mess in this room.  



I want to make the room with the sloping ceiling an extra guest room for when friends with children come to stay. But I am struggling to work out how to give the room a focal point or any kind of interesting feature. I have found a bed (the white IKEA Hemnes day bed) which will fit under the sloping ceiling. As a single bed it will leave space to walk to the shelves at the end of the room but it will also pull out into a double bed if we have lots of guests.


I plan to declutter, paint with a light-reflecting paint, hide the sewing stuff in a closet behind the door, put a desk or sewing table near the window and add better shelves to the alcoves. Other than that I would love some ideas on how to make the room attractive.  My room needs to appeal to older kids, teenagers and adults.


In terms of colours, I will keep the brown carpet, but I can add a rug to tie other colours in. In terms of style I will probably look for a closet and desk that go well with the white IKEA daybed. The house is over a hundred years old and has mostly traditional features (although I like modern furniture too and in this attic room only really the windows are traditional).


Thanks so much in advance.




Hi Susan, 

It looks like the IKEA bed would look great.  If we can pretend for a minute that money is no object, I would use a built-in bed, behind which, built-in shelves, with a false back.  Your room is very small.  (I'm sure I didn't need to tell you that.)  Don't over-furnish the space- it would be easy to do.  For a desk, I would use one like the wall mounted desk above.  (available on etsy).  

I would find a cute wallpaper or mural- like the one below from anthropologie.  Your wall is smaller than the mural- which is perfect, because it can be trimmed to fit perfectly.  


I would have paint matched to the background white shade for the rest of the room.  

I'd add a cute chair- like the Elowen chair from Anthropologie.  I especially like how cute it is from the back- looking at my floorplan (below)- you'll see that the back of the chair is what you see when you enter the space.  

Add a Roman shade, overmounted above your windows in a fun whimsical fabric.  The fun part about a guest room is that you can be less conservative than you might feel comfortable with in other spaces in your home.



Throw a fiddle leaf fig in the corner and your room is perfect.  


Finish off the space with white bedding and colorful patterned pillows.  You just might want to make this your bedroom when you are done.  






Rebecca's Exterior


I found your blog and immediately fell in love with your advice.  
I need help deciding how to finish up the brick and also paint colors for the house and trim. What to do?  Dark trim, white trim, the trendy gray house?  Or what do you think?
I attached some pictures of the current “mess” of a house right now!  I’m hoping you can save my sanity and help me fix it with a beautiful house color and trim.  
I’d also like your opinion on the brick.  If I need to expose more of it or leave it mostly white. I added a “German smear” to the brick to cover up the awful colors that if was… Anyway…  I am in desperate need of some color suggestions for the house.  I’d like to get it painted ASAP!  

Thank you thank you thank you!
Can’t wait to hear what you think, Rebecca



Hi Rebecca, 

I will answer this one very quickly for you. I'd paint the house white. I'd select a color that blends in with the brick, to minimize the contrast.  I'd keep your brick like you have it.  I'd add supports under your eves (like in the photo below) for added charm, and I'd add black details.



Black can come in house numbers, sconces, mail box, seating, and a hanging lantern in the outside entry.


Your house has that cute modern farmhouse look and with a few more details I think it would look fantastic.  For more ideas, simply Google the phrase "white modern farmhouse".



Karen's Exterior


I came upon your blog when I typed in “painted brick houses” and I’m so happy!  This is a picture of a house I just purchased as a newly divorced gal.  I’ve always dreamed of  living in a cute painted brick house and after 28 years of marriage ending, I may just have it!  Right now, this house is just sort of….sad.   It has potential to be eye-catching, I believe, with the right colors.  I plan to add shutters  and a flower box under the windows.  I’m also thinking of having posts on the front porch rather than the wrought iron because it looks dated to me.

I’ve looked at suggestions that you’ve given from the Sherwin Williams colors (Relaxed Khaki, Universal Khaki, Stone Lion, etc…), which has been helpful.  I also saw a comment that three colors are better than just two.  I guess I’m wondering if I should have the brick painted one color and the bottom stone part different?  If you could make suggestions of colors for this little charmer, I’d appreciate it greatly.  The neighborhood is pretty traditional…nobody has gone out on any limbs, so I guess anything “risky” is out (even though I would love it).  I’m also not a fan of grey/black combinations.  

Thanks for your time and no real hurry!

- karen

Hi Karen,

Let me start by telling you that you have a charming home.  Now let me tell you how to make it more charming.  

1.  Improve the roofline

2.  Strengthen the entry

3.  UPdate the dated

4.  Improve proportions visually

OK- starting with #1.  Your house it so cute, but the roofline leaves something to be desired.  it reminds me of a little triangular hat.  

Ok- maybe not exactly like that one- but what post isn't improved with a picture of Poldark?  Karen- if you haven't watched this show- I will just say- "You're welcome" for telling you about it.

I would do this by adding a triangular pediment to the front.  This improves your roofline without touching your roof- just adding the entrance.  I'd be generous with it as well
This also leads us to #2- strengthen the entry.  Look at your house straight on. Instead of the entry being charming and inviting, you can only see half of the door, the bottom is covered by a bush and dated metal railing.  Like the robot bartender in Passengers- it's missing something.  A charming front door does SO MUCH for an exterior.  This is supposed to be the focal point on a house like yours.  I know that storm doors are practical.  I used to live in freezing windy Iowa.  But the designer in me would want to ditch it.  ;-)  
#3- Update the dated.  You mentioned this already- and I agree with you- but would do it a little different.  What I consider dated is basically the door and the metal railing.  Don't get rid of the railing idea altogether. I'd switch the metal to wood; after you open up the door, there is still a little porch space.  A wooden porch railing will add to the charm of your little charmer.

#4- I'd improve proportions.  You were already on track with this in your letter. Where I see this to be an issue is mostly in two places.  The window on the right is small.  If your budget is generous- add a larger window.

I know this gets complicated on a brick home, which translates to expensive.  And so- of course- there are ways to increase the size visually without increasing it physically.  I'd do this with shutters and a window box.  All of the sudden it will look wider and lower, and more super cute.  The frieze board is also small. Increasing its size will ramp up the charm factor.

Oh yeah- you asked about paint colors huh?  Here's a little warning to all of you gray lovers out there.  Colors don't tend to be super popular for more than 7-10 years, and gray has already been enjoying popularity for about 5.  So- if you want to love this exterior paint job for more than 3-5 years- don't paint it a trendy color gray.  Closer to the beginning of the trend it might have been worth it- but painting brick is more complicated than painting siding.  It is very absorbent and sucks up a lot of paint.  It's an intense process.  You want it to last for a long time.  I would paint it a shade of white.  You can add lots of personality with your paint selection on the door and shutters.  You can have the field color be creamier, like simple white, 7021, and the railing, pediment, and other architectural trim in 7004 snowbound.  Your shutters and front door can be in black, a robin's egg blue, or a subtle Magnetic gray.  Is that a trendy color? Sure it is, but repainting a small area like that is not the expense and project that the entire home is.  

Thanks for writing in!

- Christine



Shawna's Exterior

Hi Christine,

I love your work and I saw that you offer help with design decisions so here goes.
We would like to update the exterior of our home. The roof lines of our home are lovely.  The aluminum windows are a little busy with the amount of muntin bars, although I do like muntin bars (but less). There seems to be a lot of textures on our home so I'm leaning towards tone on tone and painting the brick with a transparent paint (same color as the body) to minimize the busyness of the windows etc. However I'm not sure how white windows would work with that. No idea what colors to choose. FYI , our roof is black with a slight blue undertone. Maybe (although costly) would be to purchase new windows and take off the Tudor lines then re stucco to make thicker nubby stucco, new trim, paint, and an iron window box on the middle upper window. In that case should we choose black windows with cream trim and a light color body or a tone on tone paint scheme and windows custom painted in the trim color? I'm tired and confused and my husband is right, I can't make a decision! Help!

We have renovated the inside and have leaned towards sort of a restoration hardware monchromatic beachy look.

Could you be so kind as to provide us with two choices:
1. quick fix, ie., Paint colors.
2. And an ideal more costly choice, new window color and paint colors for body and trim.

This pictures shows the color of the brick and a close up of the windows.

Thank you so very much for you time and expertise.


Hi Shawna, 

For a more contemporary, less busy, updated look, let me share with you a few changes.

1.  A less busy look, with paint changes only, will come with more subtle paint colors.  I would start with lightening the brick.  Until you do that, it is prematuire to select actual paint colors.  There are different ways to limewash.  Keep in mind that, for now, you have white windows.  Go for a finish on the brick that will look good with the white windows.  (Of course if you choose to replace windows- you can have more flexiblity.) After the brick is done, then select the paint colors.  Here, again to create a less busy feel- go for low contrast.  Look at the photo above- a lighter field color, with a slightly darker trim color, and coordinating, but light and subtle brick color.   



2.  If you go with a more expensive route, yes, removing the boards is a great start.  I would go with a more smooth stucco- not a more rough one.  I prefer the more sophisticated look of a smoother finish with your type of architecture.  


3.  if you replace the windows, I would go with black.  They look 100 times better with a light stucco than white windows.  


4.  Updated garage doors will be another great step.