Picking A New Siding Color & Updating Our Exterior Trim

As if all the blue and mauve trim on the inside of the house isn’t enough, we had some outside trim that needed some attention. When we bought this house we knew we had four major things to deal with: the roof and the furnace, a few bad trees, and this last bear: some rotting areas of siding and trim that needed to be replaced along with a fresh paint job for the whole house. But at least we knew about all of them going into the house purchase (and the first two didn’t end up draining our wallets) – so maybe that softened the blow a little? Speaking of soft, I give you… our siding.

This hole was big enough for a bat or a mouse to crawl in. I’ll pause while you ewwww for a second.

Some of the wood trim and siding just couldn’t be salvaged and would need to be completely replaced. And the rest of it was in desperate need of a cleaning, scraping, priming, and two fresh coats of paint to protect it from rotting like the other stuff that was already too far gone. Given the extent of the rot, the sheer size of the project, and the fact that a lot of it was high off the ground, we knew it was a job for the pros. So we got four estimates and ultimately chose the crew that made us feel the most confident, who was a local chain called Certa Pro Painters. It didn’t hurt that they were recommended by a neighbor up the street along with a wish-she-was-our-neighbor friend of ours. They also were the most flexible (which enabled us to save an extra 1k by doing some things ourselves, but more on that later).

After picking who to go with, it was color picking time. We decided that we wanted the trim to be one color and the siding to be another color, just so the house had a little more dimension. We didn’t hate the existing cream on cream trim and siding, but we did love a few other possibilities more, especially after walking around the neighborhood and staring at other brick colonials to see what they had going on. So after a whole lotta house-gawking, we came home and stared at our paint deck.

We decided we liked the idea of a putty color (not too brown, and not too gray – sort of right in the middle) since that tone is kind of “related” to the brick, so it ties in. We waffled back and forth between the two colors with the red arrow in that top swatch for a while and finally settled on the lighter one because we worried the darker one might be gloomy for the siding. Then for the windowsills and trim we picked a nice not-too-yellow-and-not-too-blue white tone.

Spoiler alert: we picked the wrong color and should have gone with the darker one for the siding. But thankfully we caught it early enough (just as the first coat was starting to go up) that they were happy to apply the darker tone as the second coat, which had great coverage since it was only a shade darker. So this is the final choice. Pretty, right?

It’s such a rich look, and because the brick is such a visually “weighty” color, it’s a really nice balance. The lighter color was so washed out it almost still looked cream – or even like a soft white. So… disaster averted!

See how the triangle over the portico looks like it’s a soft whispy white-ish color? That was just one square lighter on that swatch (yet it looked about three shades lighter when the light hit it!). You can see Danny applying the final color right over it, which really helped the white trim pop more while holding its own with the strong brick and the dark shutters behind it. Whew.

The process was actually pretty fun to watch (we didn’t envy them for a second up on those crazy ladders for five days in 90+ degree temperatures). The first step was power-washing the entire house, then they scraped the trim and siding before priming anything that was raw wood, and painting everything (two coats for the siding and trim, and one coat around the windows since they were just going from cream to white). If the wood/siding was in bad shape, they cut it out and replaced it. In the end, they had cut out and repaired about 20 pieces of rotten siding and trim, so it broke down to one day of power washing, two days of rot repair and scraping, and two days of priming/painting.

As for the paint, they used Duration by Sherwin Williams, which they said was awesome for the exterior and had really nice thick coverage (so we’re glad our house won’t be all sad and rotten again anytime soon). The colors we ended up going with were Snowbound (for the white trim) and Anonymous (for the putty colored siding).

We’re so happy with it. And we’ll never doubt those house painting tipsters again when that say “go a shade darker than you think for the exterior of a house since the light that hits it will wash things out.” We really thought we could just look at the swatches outside, but it was crazy how light/white that very clearly gray-brown swatch looked once it was up on the house! Three cheers for second chances. Oh man, we’re so thankful.

Here’s what the house looked like when we got it:

And here it is (a little closer) now. More dimensional, right? So much less… brown.

The new roof was definitely a game changer, but the fresh paint is a pretty noticeable upgrade too. Even just the white trim around the windows and the porch railing feels nice and fresh from the curb. It’s one of those things when we drive down the street to come home we’re still doing that double take since our brains are taking a second to catch up with the current look.

Here’s the back before, which we thought made the siding part on the top right look a little too light and unbalanced (gah, choppy photo, sorry!):

Now it just feels more evenly weighted, so it sticks out less and looks more integrated.

And here’s a closer shot that shows how the sunroom looked when it was all cream before.

Now it has a crisper feeling, and the dark storm windows on the house tie into the dark tones in the brick as well as the putty color in the siding – so the sunroom feels more tied in and less like a little add-on-pop-out in the back.

When it comes to the cost of rot repair/house painting, that definitely varies depending on where you live, how much rot you have, what type of house it is (mostly brick or all siding), how large your house is, etc. The receipt’s in one of our moving chaos piles (aka: lost in the Bermuda Triangle) but I think it was around 1K for all of the wood rot repair and over 2K for the scraping and painting. Update: Just remembered we got 10% off because John’s a member of ACAC, so any locals getting an estimate should show their membership card if they have one!

Writing the check was another one of those bleeding money moments, but we were able to knock 1K off their original estimate by offering to DIY some easier-to-reach spots ourselves that we had faith we could do well. So here’s a tip for anyone who loves tackling what they can while leaving the stuff that’s out of their league to the experts: just break it all down in your head and see what you think you can bite off. We said “hey, we’ll gladly paint three areas ourselves!” which are: the garage doors (we think we’ll go a tone darker than the siding with those)…

… the interior walls, trim, and ceiling of the sunroom (everyone quoted that since it’s technically an outdoor room), and the front door and sidelights.

Not only did that save us a cool grand, it means we have more time to think about what colors we want in those areas. Predictably, I’m the most excited about a new front door color. Nothing’s off limits. Seriously, every swatch in the rainbow is in the running.

One roof-related casualty did occur when we accidentally ran over a screw that had landed in our driveway, but thankfully it was only a $29 fix (we could get it patched instead of replacing it) so all’s well that ends well.

Oh home improvement. You take our money and sometimes you even flatten our tires, but we keep crawling back.


  1. Emily says

    Looks great! I’m comforted that you picked a similar color scheme to my own house (which we didn’t re-face). I think once our roof gets redone from it’s current brown (to match the old vertical cedar siding) to something that will better work with the slate siding and red brick things will be better.

    • says

      Can’t. Stand. Up. Too. Dizzy. Lost. Too. Much. Blood.

      Thankfully this is the last big thing of the four that we knew we’d have to handle when we bought the house, so here’s hoping it’s just peeling wallpaper and painting trim and hanging art for a while while our savings account recovers!


  2. Liz says

    It looks awesome! The new roof and paint colour make a huge difference compared to the “before” photos.

  3. Jennifer says

    Looks great! It’s hard for me (a cheapo DIYer) to admit when something is beyond my ability to DIY, so I’m wondering if you have the same problem…. did you ever consider trying to do that project yourself? I probably would have started it and then realized I was in over my head (when I was hanging off a ladder 12 feet in the air!).

    Can’t wait to see what color those doors become.

    • says

      We debated a bunch of possibilities for about an hour, just chatting about pros and cons, but we realized that doing it ourselves would most likely necessitate a solid week of 8+ hour days spent outside on ladders with someone watching Clara while we completely ignored the blog for that entire time. That’s just not possible for us, so we decided to bite off what we could to save money (sunroom, garage, front door) and get the best price/team that we could for the rest. It really helped that we got that free furnace from our home warranty because although it sucked to write the check for the house painting, we bought this house thinking we’d have to pay for a furnace from our own account as well, so that made it sting a bit less I think :)


  4. says

    It looks great! I can’t wait to see what color you choose for the front door! It’s always so hard to narrow it down – especially when you have pretty neutral colors to begin with since it doesn’t knock any of the colors out automatically!

  5. Helen says

    Ohhhhhh posts like this make me wish so bad we weren’t renters. We currently live in a house where the inside was nicely up-kept and remodeled, but the outside needs help. BADLY. We’ve got warped siding, rotting wood, peeling paint, the trim has come off due to past termite damage in some areas, its just bad. And sadly our home is not the only one I see like that, we’re in the rental majority when it comes to repairs like that needing to be done. Makes me sad that the homeowners here don’t realize how much of an impression the outside of your home makes. Not to mention that having to constantly spray that warped siding with wasp nest killer gets pretty dang old.

    • says

      Oh yes, in the post we mention how I’ll be painting the front door and sidelights (we negotiated money off by doing some things ourselves). I think we like the black shutters for now but you never know…


    • says

      Oh Duh! I saw the garage doors and sunroom stuff but missed the front door. Looking forward to seeing the door being finished up.

      I’m excited to see your home process from the start since I began reading your blog only a year and a half ago, I didn’t get to see your last house when you moved in. (Well I did a bit from stalking the older posts :D )

  6. says

    I really like how the two tones on the side of the sunroom. Makes the architecture more architecture-y, you know?

    And I can’t get over how much I love your porch railings. Lovelove.

  7. Sarah says

    Truthfully I think you need a new front door. Something with more beveled glass, so the sun can reach the foyer. However, if that is not an option, I would just match the color to the color of the shutters. You don’t want it to stand out too much with say, a lavender door….

    • says

      I’d be surprised if they actually don’t want it to stand out, considering the bright yellow door at the last house. Personally I’m not a fan of the door matching the shutters at all, I think it looks dated and too matchy-matchy, especially with any kind of a neutral color. Bring on the lavender! My front door will be fire engine red or lavender one day, I think that’s the first thing I’m going to do when I buy my first house.

Leave a Reply

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