Picking A New Siding Color By Painting Some Test Swatches

Duuude. We painted our house. Clarification: we painted a few tiny test swatches. The creamy color wasn’t exactly hurting our eyes, but there are a few gorgeous homes in our neighborhood with gray hardboard siding + brick and we love the look, so we decided to give a few swatches a try. Having such a light creamy color on the hardboard siding (it’s solid wood) and all of the trim isn’t doing the trim any favors (it’s not popping at all since it’s all the same color). And the pairing of the light cream with the darker richer brick is sort of jarring – like it’s two houses. So we thought by going with a more mid-toned color (but not reddy-brown since that would be too much of a good brick thing) it might feel more cohesive. Like one unified house instead of a brick house with a big cream box in the middle.

First we held up around 25 swatches and picked three that we thought looked the best next to the brick (which has some pretty great gray undertones – especially in the mortar). Then we got three two dolla (holla!) paint pots from Lowe’s and made three test squares (right above the brick part of the house so we can see how things look when they touch). Note: why yes I did wear my shirt inside out when painting them, thankyouverymuch.

The winner?

The guy on the right. You can see from the photo above that it’s a warm taupey gray. So it shares a lot of undertones with the brick. We feel especially confident about how compatible it’ll be since it’s nearly the same color as the mortar.

It’s Flagstone by Martha Stewart, which we’ll get color matched to some sort of high quality exterior paint – hopefully with some built-in primer (more deets on that when we actually pick up the paint and pin down what brand/type it’ll be). As for the one in the middle, that’s Mushroom by Martha (which we thought was too dark), and the one on the left is Bedford Gray also by Martha (which we thought was too icy and blue).

Of course the photos aren’t the same as the real life effect, but we love the guy on the right because it’s not too icy/cool/light and it’s not too dark. Don’t get us wrong – we love a dark house (with white trim that pops = amazing) but we thought a mid-tone would look best with our black roof, existing brick, yellow door, and the bright white trim that we’ll be adding (black roof + dark gray house = too dark for our little ranch). So we hope our pick is a nice balance of not-too-dark-and-not-too-light (the roof can be the dark element and the white trim can be the light one). Here’s a poorly photoshopped version of the last pic to give you an idea of where we’re hopefully headed:

Speaking of the to-be-white trim, it’s actually really out of order of us to test paint on the house because we still need to demo out the scallops on the porch and paint the trim (painting the hardboard and then demoing the scallops could lead to some paint damage that we’d then have to retouch). So although we’ve pinned down our paint winner, we hope to move on to scallop-demo and then we’ll get to painting the hardboard gray and the trim white (along with framing out the curvy columns to make them look chunky and square like our future scallop-less header).

Hope we can tackle that before it gets too cold for exterior painting (especially since we’re also juggling the kitchen redo). Oh man, but can’t you just picture our happy yellow door with white trim and gray hardboard with that gray-undertoned brick? Hope it’s as lovely in real life as it is in my mind. If not… guess I’ll be repainting (we have gallons of the current colored house paint in the basement).

In the meantime, have you guys painted the trim or the siding of your house? Did you do the whole paint-a-few-test-swatches thing beforehand? Were you nervous? It’s amazing how not nervous I am. Usually I’m indecisive and happy to wait a while while thinking things over, but this time I’m all over it. Seriously, can’t wait. So here’s hoping the colder weather + the kitchen don’t make this a spring project. Come on fall, hold out for a while longer!


    • says

      PS – yes, we tested about a bazillion grays, so I’m very impressed you found your’s so quickly! I wanted our’s to have a bit of a green undertone (to go with the roof), but every gray I picked just came out looking green! Took awhile to find the right shade, but it was worth it!

    • Amanda Thompson says

      Boy Rebecca, you and I are on the same page here and I currently find myself in this exact situation. I, too, have a home with a green roof (selected by the previous homeowners). We’ve been wanting to paint the house since we moved in four years ago and we’ve finally decided to pull the trigger. For the last several weeks, I’ve been searching for a gray that works with our green roof. Coincidentally, I had also planned to paint the front door a deep plum to accent our landscaping (mostly purple plants). As you indicate in your post, the trouble is that most of the grays with a green undertone turn out to be waaaay too green. Might I ask what colors you ended up settling on? I sure would love to know!

  1. says

    I knew it was going to the the paint swatch on the right! It’s the perfect color! I can’t wait to see how it turns out…I think the colors are going to look beautiful!

  2. Karen F says

    it will look great. I knew right away which color you’d choose – it was the clear winner in my eyes, too, for the same exact reasons you mentioned (if that’s any consolation). I don’t know how you guys manage to juggle so many big projects at once – more power to ya! Hope the weather holds out for you!

  3. Petra says

    Looks excellent! Do all exterior paints come with the same texture as flat or something else? What about weather conditions?

    • says

      Exterior paint is meant to hold up to all weather conditions assuming it’s applied at the right temperature (so if it gets too cold we can’t start since it won’t cure/adhere as well! As for texture, I think there are probably glossy and flat options but we’ll go with flat or eggshell since we don’t want it to be too shiny!


    • says

      We definitely know that all of the choices that we make for our house aren’t what everyone would do if this were their home! It’s just one of those personal preference things. We just love the richer gray color for all the reasons mentioned in this post!


  4. Jeanette says

    My new house has metal siding that was professionaly spray painted by the previous owner to be a not so lovely shade of baby-poo brown. I really want to repaint it gray someday! Is your siding wood or metal? Are you using a outdoor type paint?

  5. em says

    We painted our formerly-white house pretty much this exact gray. We don’t have brick, only siding. And we have a deep orange door. We love, love, love the gray. We think it looks so pretty with the orange door and fall leaves on our lawn this time of year. Good choice!

  6. says

    This so soooo pretty! I love it already!

    Can I ask a random question even though it’s not your blogiversary anymore? I know you said the previous owners of your home read your blog…do they have a favorite project that you’ve done thus far/are doing?

    • says

      Good question! They seem to like following along as we go- so they haven’t told us which project is a favorite but they always seem supportive and say things like “that patio is amazing!” and all that sweet stuff. Love them.


    • says

      Haha, I’m not sure. Maybe that’s why I’m so excited! I feel like it’ll be such a noticeable difference and it’s not too much to do (the equivalent of painting one interior wall instead of four).


  7. Christine says

    We just painted our 50s ranch. The previous owner painted over the brick with a really blah beige color. We had the brick sandblasted and discovered a lovely brick with some moss undertones, so we painted the body of the house a moss color with crisp white trim. We get comments all the time from those in the ‘hood. We love it.

    When we were testing colors, we had at a minimum 20 colors all over the house in different places. We looked like a patchwork house for a while, but so worth it. Can’t wait to see your finished product!

  8. Alison says

    I one million percent support this decision (not that I have a vote :)). I love the yellow door and have from the get go, but I always felt like the cream siding swallowed it up when you were looking at it from afar. It will really stand out against the grey! Yay!

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