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Options for Stephanie

 Hi Christine,

Our family recently moved and were given the opportunity to choose a new exterior house color while we were away on vacation.  We mistakenly chose the color using only a photo of the house and the Sherwin Williams app.  We regret it terribly!  The color is SUPER BROWN! (body- Meadowlark and trim-Chopsticks by Sherwin Williams)  Our biggest concern when choosing a color was choosing a color that would go well with the rock front of the house, and that is still our biggest concern.  We have considered Sherwin Williams’ Loggia (body) and Natural Choice (trim), but we are so afraid of making another bad choice!  We want to go more to the gray end of the spectrum if possible while still complimenting the rock which seems to have a lot of reddish clay-like undertones. The interior of our house is light, bright, and airy which we love!  We love soft grays and whites, just to give you an idea of our taste.  Could you PLEASE give us some advice?!  It would be greatly appreciated!  I have included two photos.  Please let me know if it’s too shadowy.  I can take more photos and resend if needed.  Thank you so much!    -Stephanie+



 Hi Stephanie, 


With your stone, I would go one of two ways.  A light cream color, like China Doll, or a dark gray, like Cyberspace. 


Beware of the trendy lighter gray colors.  Your stone is simply all wrong for it.  A traditional light off white like the two photos below, would work very well.  If I went that way, I'd keep my shutters off white as well. 


On your front door, I'd go dark gray or black.   Off white might not sound exciting, but as you can see in these photos, it is a lovely combination with stone very similar to yours.  Check out the photo below, where the terra-cotta color of the stone is accented in the plants, and the paint is kept very simple. 


Can you go gray?  Yes, but, not light gray.  Your stone is asking for a dark gray compliment.  I couldn't find a photo showing your stone color with a dark gray home, so please forgive my cut and paste, but I cut the stone off the front of your home, and pasted it on a home painted in Cyberspace by Sherwin Williams.  Accent in off white and black.  What do you think?  Should Stephanie go off white or dark gray?



SW7076 Cyberspace


Emily in Rochester

Hello Christine,

We are really struggling with exterior color choices for our home.  The biggest challenge is our windows are tan.  So a traditional cape cod with dark gray siding, white trim, and black shutters just doesn’t work (as the previous owners I think tried…but now the home just looks confused).  We are leaning towards a gray with more beige undertones for the siding.  Also we plan to paint the trim and facing to match the window color (or maybe a shade lighter and more creamy white).  But we would love your advice.  I really liked your previous post to Megan from Nebraska (, but I don’t know if those same colors will work with our tan window color—and we don’t want to paint the windows or replace them for a while.  
If you have a moment to think about accent colors, we also need to decide about shutter colors (or just removing them since we only have a couple), and the front door.  We definitely don’t like the two-tone door and black that makes the door recede instead of being welcoming.
Emily from Rochester NY
Hi Emily,
Yes, the colors in the post you mentioned would work just great.  Let me mention a few things that will enhance the look.  The proportion of your field color to your trim color is a little weak.  Exaggerate your trim size a bit and you will be much better off. 
1.  The size of the frieze board.  See this board running parallel with your roof line?  It's a little small. 

Compare your home to this one:

Larger trim/frieze board makes your color pop. 


2.  I like the idea of the shutters, because it is giving the field color to trim color a much needed boost.  However, what I don't like is the view from the front of the home with just one shutter showing, and it being so bold, it stands out (not in a good way) without having repetition.  I would increase the size of the window, remove the shutters and also add an additional horizontal frieze board over the garage area. 

If that's more of a project than you want to take on, I would use a more subtle shutter color- like in the photo below:


On second thought- I would do both.  Increase that small window size, AND use a subtle shutter color.

3.  I would also increase the size of the trim throughout on all of the windows.


4.  Notice how in the photo below the bay area is entirely painted in the trim color.  It really should be all trim, with no horizontal siding in this area.  That is also how yours should be.  Yours might be like that- the picture is not clear enough forme to be able to tell. 

5.  I would also change the roof over the bay window to a copper roof. 


6.  I agree with you on the front door.  It does look like the black hole.  A bright red would be great. 


Only paint the door in red, the side lights and trim in the off white trim color.  While I was cutting and pasting, I went ahead and replaced your garage door.  ;-)  If the garage door is pretty- like the one below- have it be in the trim color- as long as you keep your current one- have it be in the field color.  Contrast draws attention.  If you don't want attention drawn to something, have low contrast.  If you have something lovely, increase the contrast.


Good luck with your painting!





Curb Appeal for Christine


Dear Christine, this is Christine from Royal Oak, MI. My husband and I are in the process of redoing our ranch-style home and purchasing new windows, new garage door, entry doors (side and front) and possibly a new roof. This is a big deal for us financially, but we are taking the plunge and going for it! We need your help! We cannot decide what we should do with the siding due to our small ranch-style home already having half brick and half siding. I am soooo unhappy with the blah look and the blah curb appeal that my home has to offer.


I'm ready for a CUTE COTTAGE look that catches the eye. Possibly cedar shake, cultured stone, some added wood trim??? I am open to ANYTHING! We have a detached garage that is fully sided (no brick), but the front of the house is the main challenge (half siding/half brick).


We thought possibly cultured stone or cedar shake in the main front, and siding for the side and garage, but I need it to all come together and flow. I want CUTE! We already have/and are again getting the crossbar windows that look cottage cute, but the color of the siding, the front "pop" idea and the flow is the issue. Please give me your honest opinion. Please know that I realize it looks awful right now, this is where I'm praying you will give me ideas and insight. I just found a way to send you pix :)
Please see the other 2 emails following this one which will include add'l views of my home. We will be forever thankful if you would be willing to take on our challenge.


Hi Christine,


How exciting to be making big changes to your home!  I would focus on three things to create a more charming cottage feel.

  1. Larger windows.
  2. Stronger entrance.
  3. Architectural detail.

  This window is all wrong: I know that sometimes I give advice when only seeing the exterior, and it might be completely impossible if I could see the inside.  For example, I would say this window is too small, too short, too awkward.  Maybe it is over an important kitchen counter and can't be any larger, but I would do my best to make it larger.


I know it gets expensive to add a covered porch, but your current roof line is so lacking in character- it's hard to make the house look truly cute and charming without changing it.  I would make your front steps about 5x wider than they are now, and add a little porch off to the left with a pediment over the entry, sidelights adding bulk to the door, and increase the window size on the far right.


I did a little cut and paste to make some changes for you. 


I hope my choppy cut and paste gives your the feel I'm hoping it does. 





Giao's Exterior

Hi Christine,
I'm really enjoy reading your Blog and hope you can give me some advice on paint colors to warm up my house. I have been looking for exterior colors for almost two months and bought over dozen paint samples, but nothing seem to work. Either the color is too beige, too dark, too light, too taupe, or too grey. I want the colors to compliment the brown roof and dark cherry red brick. I like to keep the trim white to match with vinyl windows. I also like to use Sherwin Williams paints.
Here is the picture of my house. Thank you so much for your help!

Best regards,


Hi Giao,


With your red brick, I'd go one of two ways.  Green or dark.


First- green.  Red and green are complimentary colors.  They make each other look better and truer.    

The second direction I'd consider is using a darker color.  Your brick is also dark, which is what might be making some colors look too light and disconnected.  You mentioned that some colors you considered were "too dark".  Perhaps that is just a matter of not being "used to" the darker look. 

With a house like yours, with the garage the focal point, I would consider getting fantastic garage doors. 


As your garage is now, I would not paint it two-tone, like it is currently, keep it all one color- the field color of the house. 


Rachel's Before and After

I have slowly been changing my home to follow your advice as money and time allows. I recently followed your advice in this post ( and painted my interior doors Benjamin Moore Dragon's Breath (left the wimpy moldings white). I've attached a new after photo of the doors from the same little corner of my living room you addressed in "The Offputting Offset" a few years ago so you could see the impact your advice has made. The moldings are new since the before picture, sadly wimpy was all I could afford--but better than the nonexistent moldings I started with!
The Christine-ifying the windows is on my summer project list--lining the curtains & adding a bamboo blind layer. Next year I plan to repaint the walls lighter & replace the recliner with a nice desk/chair/lamp.
Thank you for saving my home from my lack of design sense!


Thanks for writing in Rachel!  And thank you for setting those pictures staight!