Fran’s Color Conundrum

When we heard Fran’s cry for help with her brick rancher’s exterior color scheme, we pulled out our paint chips and got down to business. Here’s her letter:

Earlier this year I purchased a small rancher with some aesthetically challenged orange brick… and bright white trim to boot! I am ready to get started on my curb appeal, but am stumped when it comes to choosing colors to tone down this brick. The brick and the roof are about the same color. The roof has a little more brown in it. Those are the two things that are “fixed”, so the new palette has to revolve around them. I lean towards sophisticated colors; nothing that looks like it came from a crayon box.  My style is mostly traditional with a modern flair (to keep things from getting too stuffy).  Colors I like: neutrals, reds, greens.  Colors I wouldn’t consider: pastels, blue, purple, orange, or anything garish. Oh and I love the idea of a red door. I know you guys will come up with something fabulous so I’m going to hit “send” and leave this in your capable hands. Thanks!  – Fran

Everyone knows we have a soft spot when it comes to brick ranchers, so without further ado, three current and classic color schemes that will add instant curb appeal and inviting ambiance to Fran’s facade:

Here’s the paint palette breakdown.

In all of the schemes above you’ll notice the same two colors in the bottom of each pile- the brownish-red tone that represents the brick, and the paler brown color that represents the roof. But when it comes to the color of the shutters, the door, and even the trim and the area around the front door, we pulled about a million paint swatches to pin down the perfect complements to the brick and the roof to add classic style and curb appeal for miles.

1.The first scheme involves a creamy tan tone (Glidden’s Cream Tan) for the shutters and a warm golden tone with a hint of green for the door (Glidden’s Monogram Gold). We’d then suggest that Fran get her local Home Depot to mix half a gallon of Cream Tan and then add half a gallon of white paint (to create a much paler version of the Cream Tan) for the trim around the house, the pillars by the door, and the existing white area around the door. By adding these neutral yet warm golden accent colors, the warm undertones in both the brick and the roof will be complemented and Fran’s home will instantly look warmer and more inviting. And that great gray-green front door (with yellow undertones to complement the rest of our scheme) will definitely draw people in all the way from the curb.

2. Our second color scheme involves a fabulously classic neutral tan tone (Glidden’s Sand White) for the shutters (which again can be cut with 50% white paint to create the paler tan for the trim and the door surround) and a glossy red hue for the front door that shouts “come on in” (Valspar’s Fabulous Red). We love a red door on a brick rancher, and of all the reds (and trust us there are about a gazillion) nothing compares to Valspar’s Fabulous Red, which is so brilliant and crisp that it could never blend in with Fran’s brick facade (a definite front door no-no). And although swapping out all the white in the “before” above for a neutral tan seems like a subtle change, Fran will instantly realize just how much warmth and elegance it will add for a much more timeless feeling- and of course that red door is the cherry on the sundae.

3. This palette is full of subtle green undertones which will really work well with the orange and red undertones in the brick and the roof thanks to the ol’ rule of complementary colors (green is across the color wheel from red, so they both really balance each other out). For the shutters we’d suggest a gorgeous greeny tan tone with a hint of gold (Glidden’s Brocade Cream) which is absolutely gorgeous in person- Fran really has to grab each and every paint swatch to really appreciate them- our rendering above does them no justice! Then bringing a bolder golden-green over to the front door will create a definite focal point from the curb and add dimension and charm to spare (try Glidden’s Pennyroyal). Cutting the Brocade Cream with 50% more white paint will again create the perfect pale golden tan for the trim, the pillars by the door, and the front door surround for an overall feeling of warmth and elegance that will really counterbalance all the red-orange undertones in the roof and the brick.

So there you have it. Three fun and fresh ways for Fran to totally transform her exterior in a snap. We can’t wait to hear what you guys think- especially you Fran!


  1. Fran says

    Wow! I am so excited to get your suggestions, I can’t get to the paint store fast enough! Ofcourse I will pour over the palettes this weekend and let you know what I choose! Great idea with the half tint trim, by the way.

  2. Shannon says

    I like #3 the best! I think the green will really tone down the brick. Fran, send in “after” pictures of whatever you choose so we can see how great it turns out!

  3. says

    I really like number 3 as well – great colors. Love the blog – have added you to my blog list on my site – hope you don’t mind – you guys rock.

  4. YoungHouseLove says

    Hey guys,

    So glad you’re lovin’ our latest color conundrum- especially you Fran! We can’t wait to see what you end up going with- and of course are bursting with anticipation of those after pics.

    Oh and to answer your question Andrea, Fran requested that we work with her existing unpainted brick, so the client always gets what the client wants! We also love the look of painted brick although for our own home we stuck with the low maintenance (actually no maintenance) unpainted brick look since there are factors like mold and the expense of painting (and repainting) to consider among other things. Hope that helps to explain our suggestions!


  5. jessie barmore says

    OK FRANCISE!! You know I love red! I am going to go with # 2! My house is painted red and it is such a cheerful color that I never have gotten sick of! You need a little wow factor so I think the red will pop! I love you!

  6. Fran says

    Leave it to my girl Jess to buck the trend and go for #2 with the red door! After checking out all the suggested paint samples on the house, #2 has turned out to be my favorite. I don’t think it’s necessarily because of the red door though. Glidden’s color card with Sand White just happens to look oh-so-pretty next to the brick and really does the job of toning down the orange factor (my #1 goal). Remember Kim’s kitchen with the purple cabinets? (Oct. 16) She used colors from the same color card (sand white is on the same strip as stonington beige and le chateau). Not only did it cover the purple cabinets, it neutralized the terra cotta floor and countertop. I will say that on my monitor, #3 looks like the clear choice, but on my house #2 is the winner. Ofcourse I’ll send along some “afters” so you can see what I’m talking about.

    Andrea, I love painted brick as well. My first idea was to paint it until I decided the cost/ maintenance isn’t worth it to me right now.

  7. says

    I also like the #3 palette but one thing to keep in mind, the roof doesn’t have to always be light brown. Normally, roofs are changed every 12-15 years so, depending on the age of this roof, it might be possible to completely change the look of the house in the near future. That being said, about the only colors that will go with the bricks are shades of brown, black, or perhaps weathered wood–gray.

  8. Sue says

    I love that Valspar Fabulous Red, so much that I went ahead and chose that for the door before deciding on an overall color scheme. Brick, the color being much like the one in the masthead photo, goes partway up. I just painted my front door that color and am now looking for colors to paint my shutters and siding to match the door. That is how I came across this blog. The siding is currently pretty much identical to that green in pallete #3, and the shutters are black. That red door is very striking and cheerful, and red is apparently good luck (according to the Chinese)–perfect for the current times!

    For anyone else thinking to use that Fabulous Red, Valspar recommends using a tinted primer. I originally painted over a white door with Olympic Gumball Red (didn’t know about tinted primer), but after several coats (entire quart), it wasn’t even close to the chip color. Then someone recommended Valspar (less coats), which I painted directly over the Gumball Red, and the difference was incredible. Rich, beautiful color.

  9. Laura says

    I so excited to find someone dealing with the orange brick box issue! I have a farm and I have been very focused on rebuilding a barn, fencing, etc. When it comes to design I have no experience and my 1950/60 brick house is a real challenge.

    I have a house very similar to to Fran’s with a few exceptions – there are no shutters (windows are all odd sizes and aluminum) and my house comes with a metal roof in burnished bronze (

    I am leaning towards palette 1 or 2 or some combination of the two.

    I would appreciate any suggestions you might have given the bronze roof color.

    Appreciate all the project here – very inspiring!


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