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

    Cute! You’re right, the grey balances the red brick nicely :-)

    No outdoor painting going on here (or anything else for that matter – with less than three months to go it’s all systems wedding at the moment) but we have bought caulk to reseal our window frames.

    We just have plain aluminium frames, so I’m also planning to paint those and mock up faux window frames to go with the cottagey feel of our house. I can’t wait to see how your white trim comes out!

  2. says

    Hey guys,

    Definitely love your choice of colour based on the three you chose. Wondering if you should go a shade darker. You know Sarah Richardson always says to go darker for exterior paints because they get so washed out by sunlight etc.

    I think you’re crazy painting the exterior of your house in the middle of a kitchen reno, but I’m jealous that you’re weather will allow it. I want to change the exterior colours of our house too, but it’ll have to wait until spring up here in chilly Canada!

    • says

      Thanks for the tip! We figure since we’re starting with such a small area (just the rectangle over the porch) we can always go darker or change something if we don’t like how it looks when we’re done! It’s pretty dark in person so we hope it’ll be just right!


  3. says

    We -need- to paint our house’s exterior and your post is making it worse …aaaaah! *L* Absolutely agree on the grey you chose; it’s perfect with the brick and against the trim and yellow door!

  4. Mel says

    I love gray homes….I think the color choice is perfect. And don’t even get me started on how much I love gray and yellow together.

  5. jess says

    Love the color choice! That was my choice too, haha! We are planning on painting the brick on house next Spring, most likely. Winter is hard on a house and I want the paint to cure up good and it’s so exposed to the elements in winter. We’re thinking Dover Gray by Porter Paints but it’s time I start exploring darker grays, like I’ve been dying to do…

  6. says

    We live in a neighborhood with a lot of ranch style homes, and so many people have started to really fix them up. My favorite ones tend to be the grey ones, partially because I’m obsessed with that color I’m sure.
    Ours is a rental, so no painting the outside for us. Instead, I’ve painted just about every room inside. The neon salmon/peach walls in the kitchen just weren’t quite us. Weird, huh.

  7. Reenie says

    Holy Cow ~ I didn’t realize that you were even thinking about painting the exterior. Is there that much wood to paint. Love the color choice with your brick and yeller door =)

    • says

      The entire back of the house is hardboard siding, but that will have to wait. We figure we’ll do things in stages with the front of the house being the first stage (since you can’t see the sides or the back from the street very easily).


  8. Amanda says

    I’m a total grellow fan, so you had me at “gray!” Can’t wait to see the finished product – although I’m going to have to agree with everyone about tackling that AND the kitchen at once as being potentially challenging!

  9. Corie says

    I’m impressed! We moved into our house (also a rancher) four years ago and the FIRST thing I said we were going to do was paint the exterior. And we’ve “started” the process by power-washing (2x) and sanding, we bought primer and brushes and all…. and nothing. We don’t even know what color we’re really going to go with yet!! But we’ve painted all of the interior rooms 2-3 times each! It just seems like SUCH a HUGE project, I’m scared to start, scared it’ll rain halfway through and we’ll stall, scared we’ll mess it up and make it worse (even though “worse” might not be possible, it’s pretty ugly out there! :))

    So, good for you guys! Sherry, just go out and do it while John works on the kitchen, he won’t mind! ;)

    • says

      Haha, if only one of us didn’t have a 1.5 year old to watch! Haha. These days we can usually only work while the other person is Clara-watching. Except for at night when she’s in bed but it’s too dark for outside stuff then!


  10. says

    Wow! Great color choice! I agree– better than the bright cream. Our home currently sports a light creamy/mustardy yellow, and the trim/garage door/shutters are almost the same color. Hate it. We’re thinking blue/white trim/gray shutters. But here, the rains have already begun, so it’s a summer 2012 project for us. Whomp whomp. :( Price of living in the Pacific NW.

  11. says

    We started to paint our house then stopped half way because it started getting too hot in the south for paint and never finished it up. Our poor neighbors! Our bricks have a pinkish ton to them (UGLY) and the house was also painted pink it was like a pepto accident. So we choose a bold dark blue and went with Valspar outdoor paint w/weather resistance (it’s suppose to guarantee not having to paint as often using regular paint).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *