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Allyson's Exterior

Dear Christine,


I am completely overwhelmed!  I have a red, orange brick that I am trying to complement with new exterior paint colors.  Thinking of BM briarwood for siding, Revere Pewter for trim, Britannia Blue for the door and Westcott Navy for the shutters.  I also have vinyl, white windows that tend to stand out a bit.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated!  Have a great day!


- Allyson


Well Allyson,


Is it just me or is everyone painting their house the color the Restoration Hardware showroom?  Sometimes it is a great selection.  There have been posts where I have suggested very similar colors- but those clients did not have a beautiful brick house like you do.  You might not like what I have to say- but you can totally ignore it if you'd like.  You have a classic brick home, and have selected a super- trendy color pallette.  I would not do that.  This might sound boring to you- but this is how I would paint your house: 


Anyone recognize it?  It's the "Home Alone" house.  (It's almost October- I'm getting into the Christmas spirit).  Rich black shutters and door with white trim. 


This is an idea of what brick looks like with blue shutters and door: 


Do you sometimes have to stare at a photo and wonder if you like the combination? A really great combination does not require that.  Personally, I don't like the blue.  I don't like brick with brighter blues or grayer blues, or anything.   If you like that- by all means do it- but if you want my opinion- I'd go black. 

 I like blue shutters with a white or gray home, just not a brick one. 

Now- here's brick with a neutral gray like you selected: 


Is it hideous?  No.  But to me- this is so much prettier: 


I like the sharp contrast.  White or cream?  Go off your window color- it looks more white to me.  Your door can go white or black or white door trim and black door.  I'd have my black be much deeper than your current color of shutters.  Make it a sharper, richer contrast. 


There are a lot of people that might disagree with me and think I am "boring"- and if you do- please comment- tell me all about how dull that sounds to you.  ;-) 


Sue's Exterior Dilema

Hi Christine,

I recently had my Tudor colonial stucco and wood trim colors repainted.

I do not like the results!

The house just has too much going on. So, I "washed' the brick with the stucco color (SW Bunglehouse Gray) and like that it helped to tone down the brick. I feel that the brick does not match the roof and am not opposed to painting it a solid color if you think that will help.

I do not want to spend the money to redo the whole thing, and am hoping you can help! (Can you help pick a new wood trim color to match the Bunglehouse Gray?) The wood trim color is SW Enduring Bronze.

I do not like the traditional brown and white look of a tudor home.  I would love to lighten the whole thing up and am not against going even lighter with the wood trim (SW Universal Khaki)? I would also like to downplay the tudor features by using low contrast colors or even one color for both.

I painted the door BM Blue Note and like how it matches colors in the roof, but am not sure how this coordinates with everything else going on.

I soooooo appreciate your advice! Let me know if you can salvage the mess I have going on or if you think I need to start all over!



Sue, Sue Sue Sue....  What condition is the roof in?  I really don't love the roof with the brick (or the trim color) but that's hard (expensive) to change.  When you are ready to change the roof, go with a cooler, more of a chocolate brown, not the warm red brown.   Or- you can go with a lighter shade- like this roof:


In the meantime...stay away from Universal Khaki- it has green in it, and red and green, as opposites, will make each look stronger.  Translation- it will make your roof look redder- even worse with the brick. 


You are on the right to track to have a more subtle contrast if you want to downplay the half timber construction.  To not make me crazy, you should also keep the trim color darker than the field color- you can just make it less dark than what you already have.  If you have read my blog, you know that I feel strongly about staying true to the historic idea of half timber construction- and have the stucco lighter than the trim. 


A few ideas- #1- go to your local Sherwin Williams and ask them to make the Bunglehouse gray darker- perhaps add some black to it.  This would keep the difference very subtle.  Let them know that you want it to be not too dark- about as dark as these:


6172 hardware

7053 adaptive shade

7032 warm stone

7039 virtual taupe


These colors above are also some trim colors you could try samples of. 


Check out this house: 


Look how subtle the trim color is compared to the stucco- yet still darker- that is what I am suggesting for you.  However, your stucco is a lot darker than this- so overall it will look different, but you can still have the same level of subtlety. 


Now for your blue door.  I'm sorry- I don't like it.  It is too disconnected with the house.  Blue doors don't belong next to brick- they belong next to white siding.  I'd go either black, natural wood, or a light neutral (white would be too stark).  I'd try a sample of techno gray SW 6170 for a lighter painted door.  The columns and balustrade are techno gray in this photo: 

Good luck Sue- I'm sure you'll do a great job. 


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.