Our Current House
John likes to make strange declarations like that. For example, after talking about how both bacon and mustaches were trending, he once proclaimed that “the mustache is the bacon of the face, and bacon is the mustache of breakfast.” But back to the front door. Our first house had a red door. Our second house had a yellow door. And our new house has a….
Yup, it’s a happy little blue door. It’s sort of a peacock meets teal with enough gray to keep it from going neon when the sun hits it.
When it came to picking the shade, first we taped up a bunch of swatches in almost every color of the rainbow (we tried red again, some green tones, a bunch of blue options, and other colors like plum, orange, navy and charcoal). Then we stepped back about ten feet, took note of what we liked best, and stepped back a lot more – just to make sure we still felt the same way from further back. We did this a few times during the day and evening to make sure the colors we loved in direct sunlight didn’t look crazy or change a ton when the front door was in shade or lit up by the porch light at night.
Then I painted the cream sidelights white like the rest of the house’s trim. We really wanted the sidelights to be their permanent color before finalizing a front door hue, just in case the old creamy-yellow trim was throwing us off. So after rubbing them down with a magic eraser to get all of the bug guts off, I just used an angled brush to apply the same white exterior paint that the painters left behind (and later used a razor to scrape the excess off the glass panes).
That helped us to narrow it down to four contenders: Spirit In The Sky, Blue Lake, Peacock Blue, and Tranquil Blue (all by Benjamin Moore). We’re actually convinced any number of colors could have worked (nearly all of the swatches looked nice with the white trim and natural brick) so we just went with what we liked the best.
Then it was test swatch time. After the whole oops-we-picked-the-wrong-siding-color snafu, I didn’t trust swatches without putting a big ol’ rectangle of color right on the door. So here’s how things looked after I applied each of our four samples on four of the raised panels of the door, being sure to give them each nice thick coats so the true color was easy to see, but not goobery and drippy. Colors tend to darken as they dry, so we did that “live with them a hot minute and evaluate them throughout the day” thing. That’s Blue Lake in the top left, Spirit In The Sky in the top right, Tranquil Blue in the bottom left, and Peacock Blue in the bottom right.
And the winner is Blue Lake…
The others all looked either too dull or too neon in certain lighting situations throughout the day. Here she be, all glossy and gorge.
It only took about half a day to get it painted. As for the finish/type of paint, we used BM’s exterior paint that the guy at the desk recommended for doors called MooreGlo in Soft Gloss, which is their version of a semi-gloss finish (didn’t even need primer since it’s self-priming). We only needed to buy a quart, so this whole project was pretty darn cheap, which feels great after basically sweating money out of our pores for the last month or so on bigger inspection-item fixes that we needed to check off.
When it comes to painting doors, my favorite method is to start in the morning so the door can be open all day and has time to dry before you have to close and lock it at night. I like using an angled brush only – although John loves a foam roller, so it’s a different strokes for different folks thing. Literally.
I have a certain order that I swear by, so first I paint the frames of each raised rectangle, then I paint the insides of each of them as you see in the photo above. Then I paint the flat planks around them and between them, always going in the direction of that plank (I pull my brush from top to bottom to do the vertical plank down the middle, then I go from left to right to get all of the horizontal slats, and at the very end I drag from top to bottom to do those vertical parts on each side of the door).
I wait for that to dry about an hour (or two if it’s super humid) and then I do the whole thing again, in the same order. Then I just give it the rest of the day to dry and lock it up at night. Oh and we like to remove the hardware, so that’s why it’s off (we reattach that right before we lock the door in the evening).
We also updated both the door knocker and the doorbell, so we’ll be back with those details tomorrow (they involved a dremel and some paint as well as a bit of a manhunt).
Oh and I repainted the sides of the door but not the back, so that’s still a hazy dusty blue color like the rest of the trim in the foyer… but I’d love to paint the back of the door the same happy blue shade once we nix the blue trim and wallpaper going on in the foyer and get some nice white trim and sidelights in there as well.
So that’s how one quart of paint and one morning of work made our house smile. Not bad, right? It took me waaay longer to take pictures of the finished product than it did to actually do it (is it just me or has it been raining for 40 days and 40 nights?). Heck I think the little doorknocker and doorbell upgrades took longer than painting the door.
The lesson? If you’re putting off painting your door, jump on that pony. Then your house won’t be all “oh hi it’s you, whatevs” when you come home. It’ll be all “Hiiiiiiiiii! Welcome!!!! It’s so nice to see you!”
It’s so funny to compare it to the portico as it looked back when we bought the house. Complete with a really old wreath on the broken slatted screen door (we took that down asap). And remember how green those front steps were before we power washed them?
Oh but one more thing. Remember that time a deer photobombed my front door photoshoot? Wait you don’t because I didn’t tell you about it yet. Allow me to paint you a picture. I’m snapping a few photos, and here comes my deer friend, stage right.
He saunters across the yard right in front of me and stops to chew on a few weeds by the door. Directly in front of my shot. I’m telling you, I never laughed so hard. Dude must have thought our yard looked extra welcoming, what with the smiling door and all. It certainly wasn’t a lush lawn that was drawing him in…
UPDATE: I quickly snapped this instagram picture on the way back from our evening walk, and it one captures the green undertone in our teal door so it finally looks like real life. Leave it to the ol’ cell phone to take a more accurate picture than the fancy camera. #nofilter #instagrambeatsDSLR
As if all the blue and mauve stuff 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.