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. Megan says

    When we bought our house it was a salmony pink with cranberry trim and pinkish roof. So incredibly ugly. It went to a calmer tan with cream trim, but after three years, I still haven’t finish the trim in the back of the house! Now we’re replacing the windows, so it doesn’t matter much anymore, thank goodness. The one good thing about the original color? People could easily find our house!

  2. Sarah says

    Hi there! Just wanted to say – looooving the grey!! We moved into our first house last year and just re-painted everything. We went from an old, chipping, pasty yellow to Benjamin Moore’s Kendall Charcoal with white trim and Benjamin Moore’s Olive Moss for the accent color. All positive comments from the neighbors. Grey is in! Can’t wait to see how it all comes together for you!

    Here’s the before: http://bit.ly/s6WWUb
    Here’s the after: http://bit.ly/vZXSs3

    • says

      Yeah, John thinks I’m kind of crazy (I think he believes it’ll end up being a spring project) but you can’t be too prepared! Who knows, we might just find the time!


  3. Meagan says

    I was so not expecting y’all to be painting the house now. I love when you throw something out that we aren’t expecting. I think the grey is going to look fabulous with your brick and yellow door! Can’t wait to see it all come together. Now get out there and knock down those scallops like you did at the last house haha! (although did you notice that your sample house color house has scallops along their porch…interesting)

  4. says

    I seriously love the combination of gray and yellow. Go for it!

    We have vinyl siding we replaced after we moved in (the old aluminum siding was in rough shape). We went for a warm tannish color. I like it but if I had to choose again, I might go in another direction.

  5. Lindsay says

    I am very excited to see where you guys go with this. I have AWFUL blue colored vinyl siding that has discolored where there used to be trees thisclosetothehouse and something NEEDS to be done. I am torn between new siding or painting, so I am looking forward to how this goes for you!

  6. says

    I love the color! We actually have a similar set-up with siding and brick, and I’ve been itching to paint the siding (and maybe the brick too) a nice gray. I would love to see how you guys get ‘er done (especially if you do it soon)!

  7. Susanne says

    Love the color choice. I would also think about maybe painting the brick white?? Or maybe a darker grey to contrast with the light grey panels? Can’t wait to see the outcome!

    • says

      Painting brick in our area is a bit of a pain because we get green mold (so white brick = tons of maintenance) but something dark or some sort of stain or color wash is something we debate. We happen to love the brick on this house a lot more than our last house (it’s less orange and has more gray undertones) so we’ll have to see if we end up leaving it au naturale!


    • meganleiann says

      You might want to consider a glossier paint then. We have a cabin in the woods- deep in the PacNW forrest and were advised to use a glossier paint because it cleans off with just a spray of the hose and is more resilient.

  8. Abby says

    What a fun project! It will be great to pull up the driveway to see a house that reflects your style and great taste. I have tried the martha exterior paint on my shutters and front door and was pretty impressed. Although the siding is a much bigger project and you want it to last, I just had to give martha a shout out!

  9. Katharine says

    We have a brick colonial. I am a bit tempted to paint the actual bricks. They change colors halfway up and it drives me batty. My husband hates the idea of painting the brick and I’m not totally convinced enough yet to push the point.

  10. LaMadre says

    Cra-aaaa-zy. Painting the house during a kitchen remodel? More power to ya! Love the gray. There’s not much on the front to be painted but is the entire addition part of this plan?

    • says

      That’s another phase (definitely not to be tackled til the spring) but luckily you can’t see much of the sides or back of our house from the street so no one will be the wiser!


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