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!


  1. says

    I think the gray would look great — we currently have a red brick house that has cream colored doors, which are still covered by black wrought iron ornate storm doors that are about to come down – but the cream doors are like a big white blob in the middle of the house. I want to paint them a dark gray but this is making me consider going lighter to stay more in line with the mortar. Picture here (albeit, not a great one). http://homeiswheretheholmansare.blogspot.com/2011/08/knock-knock-knock.html

  2. Erin says

    This is a very timely project for me, actually, because my husband and I have beeng toying with the idea of re-siding vs. painting. What kind of siding do you have? It looks similar to our siding. Do you have any online resources that you looked at to determine the kind of paint that would be best for the type of siding you have? We can use all the help we can get! :) Thanks for the post!

    • says

      It’s hardboard siding (solid wood) – so it’s easier to paint than aluminum or vinyl. Not even sure how to paint those (maybe ask at the home improvement center)?


  3. says

    When we moved into our house it drove me insane that the door trim had been painted the same color as the siding (yet there was white trim around all the windows?). I finally got sick of it and broke out the can of white paint we had been using on the interior trim and painted those puppies. Sure, it wasn’t the right kind of paint, but it’s held up well in all sorts of wacky Texas weather an it looks a lot better, so I’m good with it :) Oh, and I LOVE the grey you picked out!

  4. JennyB says

    We have mostly brick and some white siding & black shutters. The previous owners closed in a carport to make a family room and that’s where the siding is. I’ve been wanting to paint the blah white siding since we moved in a year ago but everything I read about painting siding makes me scared to death to do it! You said yours is hardboard siding so that may be different than what we have and better for painting.

  5. Kelly K. says

    Love the color you chose. And that house plan rendering is really cute. That might have to go on Pinterest for me! :)

  6. Thais Bessa says

    What a good timing. Painting our exterior is high in our to-do list. It is also brick with yellowish-creamy masonry that is just yikes. Plus the previous owners did a horrible lazy job with the satellite electricity cabling that runs rights in the middle of the façade. Grey might be a good idea, have to study it better though, as American and British houses are very very different in terms of sizes, look, style, closeness to neighbours, etc. But I will keep an eye on what you guys do, it will certainly give us inspiration!

  7. Debby says

    Our house is all brick except for the trim. Our brick is very similar to yours. We do have a metal black roof over the porch. When we repainted, we painted the trim white, but painted the gutters black. We love the look !!

  8. Lisa says

    I can’t believe you are seriously planning to paint the exterior while also in the middle of a major kitchen remodel! On second thought, yes, I can believe YOU would do that. You guys make me feel so inadequate with all that energy and drive! I recently went through your “house tour” photos and was just AMAZED by how much you’ve accomplished in less than one year. Wow. Thanks for being such an inspiration! (Oh, and I LOVE the plans for the exterior!)

    • says

      Aw thanks Lisa! John is totally rolling his eyes about the porch plans I have (he thinks they’ll end up being a spring project because the kitchen is keeping us so busy) but ya never know! Haha.


  9. says

    I think it will look great. The house next to us painted the vinyl from white to a grey and it completely transformed the house. I’m also amused at the Bedford Grey color. Your sample result is the color I was shooting for for out bathroom. Bought a sample of Bedford Grey but when I put it on the walls it turned out a horrible green color. Funny how paint does different things for different people.

  10. NIKKI says

    Is that wood or siding? I thought i remember you saying before that one part of your house is wood and the other is siding which is how our house is because of the addition. I can’t wait to see the finished product!!!! We have brick on the bottom of our house and we want to redo it all in a gray siding as we have a dark khaki color right now with a pale yellow door. Should be fun!

    • says

      It’s all hardboard siding (which is wood) or brick. Half of the house is brick (the whole front except for the rectangle over the porch) and the whole back addition is the hardboard siding. Hope it helps!


  11. meganleiann says

    Seriously? You’re repainting the house and renovating the kitchen at the same time? Y’all are crazy! (In a good way!)

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