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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

HELP with exterior colors!!!

Jana B.January 1, 2013
Building our house, and I am at a loss for the exterior colors! Originally, we were going to paint the original brick, along with siding and shakes. After much consideration, we replaced the brick, and I absolutely love the natural color of the shakes, so we won't be painting either. Just need to paint the siding, shutters and trim. I was thinking to keep the cedar brackets natural like the shakes.

#1 idea: greyish-brown (not too dark) siding with stained cypress shutters (brown finish?), a creamy off-white trim, and wythe blue (or something similar for the front door.

#2 idea: same color siding as above, with stained or painted shutters (wythe blue or similar?), same trim and door color as above.

#3 idea: same color siding, shutters painted darker shade of siding, same trim, and blue or green door.

HELP!!! I like so many combinations, but my main concern is that the shutters will over-power the house. The architect calls for board-and-batten shutters on every window in the front. I want colors that are not something you see every day... but blend well together. I would like a modern cottage look and feel. Thanks for any help you can provide!
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Jana B.
    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 1:00PM
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Jana B.
    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 1:02PM
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Jana B.
    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 1:03PM
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Could you repost a front picture? Take it straight on?
1 Like    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 1:04PM
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Interiors International, Inc.
I love your house great building and very inviting. That said I like option 3
1 Like    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Jana B.
Thank you! I will post another front-facing picture soon... this is all I have. Appreciate the comments!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 1:13PM
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Love your house!

Have you picked the grayish brown? I tried a few and really could not find one I liked. The problem for me was the blue gray roof. If it were brown, I would like it. I played around with a few "grays." The one I like the best for the siding is
Templeton Gray 161 by Benjamin Moore · More Info
-. The color seems to harmonise with the roof and has a good contrast to the natural colored shingles.

I would use
Woodcliff Lake 980 by Benjamin Moore · More Info
- or a softer
Sparrow AF-720 by Benjamin Moore · More Info
-? for the shutters. On the front door a rich
Wenge AF-180 by Benjamin Moore · More Info
- in a high gloss.

Think about applying a clear stain to retain the colors of the shakes.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 4:11PM
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SW 7670 Gray Shingle looked good to me.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 4:16PM
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Jana B.
I like the colors suggested, though, I would like the siding to be a bit lighter. I really like the BM Sparrow, possibly paired with BM Wenge or something a few shades darker than Sparrow. I'm really wanting the front door to be a robin's egg blue shade. I'd actually love to have it on the shutters, but the exact color is really tricky, and if I'm not careful, could be really tacky. The shutters are cypress, and I even thought about staining them a shade of blue, or greenish-blue, but not sure how that would look with the siding. I know it would look great with the brick and cedar shakes.
    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 10:21AM
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Jana B.
Thank you for the suggestions!
    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 10:33AM
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Jana B.
Better front-facing pic
    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 1:37PM
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Are you going to widen the front door? It looks so small with all those gables on top of it. If not, I would go for strong color and something bold on the front stoop, like a big topiary.

I agree, shutter on every window is overkill. I would just do it on the three on the second floor. That little window in the gable is a bit strange--I would paint it to blend in with the shingles, whatever you pick.

As far as color goes, I think the taupe/greys you picked would work on the siding and trim (or a bit lighter version), and the blue grey or perhaps a bit brighter version, would work for the shutters and front door. The other way you described would be OK--then I would go with the darker brown.

Whatever you pick, I really think the the shakes would look better if they were stained to tone down the brown to more of a grey or taupe, to go with the brick and the other colors you picked. The shingles and cedar are very warm in color, and the roof and brick colors are quite cool. Even if you wanted to keep it brown, I would go for a cooler shade of brown (taupe/chocolate brown) to relate to the other tones in your house. And it looks like you have white or beige sashes and trim as well.

Although natural cedar is a nice color, it doesn't work that well with the colors of the brick and roof. Perhaps a completely different color scheme could bridge the gap, like green accents or darker siding, but it is a lot easier to get it to work if you keep the undertones consistent.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 2:01PM
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Jana B.
Thank you! Yes, door does look small... but with shutters on lower windows, and a sconce on the wall to the left, I'm hoping it will balance out... if not, my next move is a topiary! Trim and windows have not been painted yet, only primed. Wondering if you can see the pic clearly...or if the colors are distorted, because I think the cedar goes well with the brick. Can you enlarge or zoom image? There is a little brown in roof along with blue and grey, and a good bit of beige and dark brown in brick.
    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 2:11PM
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Well, the photos are low res and you have some light flare, so the color may not be accurate. I did look at it in a photo viewer so I could see it up close, and I do see some brown in the bricks--not much in the roof.

But not all browns are alike. From a distance, the cedar shingles are more yellow and the brick has a strong pinky overtones, and the roof is rather charcoal. To my eye, they just don't blend that well, especially the shingles. The colors you picked are on the cooler, taupe side, which can mediate between pinks and charcoals and certain browns, but I think they will make those shingles stand out like a sore thumb. That double gable is prominent enough already, and if anything, you need to de-emphasize it a bit.

Here is a link that explains undertones very well. i don't agree with all her color rules, but I think she is right when she says yellow and pink undertones don't go well together most of the time.


Brown is sort a darker version of beige. and I think brown works similarly.This is a link to her e-book, but it summarizes things well and explains the process of how to test and pick exterior colors..

I think those brackets should be stained very dark, or maybe painted the same color as the trim to make them stand out. I'm sure it is structurally fine, but visually they are not heavy enough to hold up that pent roof. And the upper stories feel very heavy too. I would side them in a lighter color to visually lighten them, and stain the shingles a lighter color too. I don't think shutters are going to do anything to make the ground floor appear stronger (it is already quite strong) or to balance the heaviness of the gable.

It is even more apparent up close and really makes me want to put some posts up there under it, or make the brackets bigger. That pent roof extends on both sides too, making the top appear even heavier.

What color do you plan for the trim?

I don't know if you have a graphics program, but I would try playing around with different color combinations (you can paste in you chosen colors to pick them and airbrush in layers to get an idea--use a fairly high res photo though). I would seriously consider consulting a color specialist about this because you are in a real dilemmna, and color can do a lot to change how it looks. What looks fine in elevation and in black and white, is not the same in person and in color. Even though the shingles in isolation are nice, I don't think they add to the total picture in that color.

The cost of a color consultation will be minor compared to the cost of the expansion. This may be an old link, but this guy does color consulting very reasonably, and he has a lot of knowledge. He is a purist and probably will tell you to mount your shutters on the casing with shutter dogs.

It looks like you are emulating a Tudor Revival. If so, take a look at some. Generally they used shutters as an accent for a picturesque window, not accross the board. I would try different shutter combinations as well.


Killiam also does online color consultation, although her strong suit is in interiors.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 6:43PM
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Jana B.
Thank you for the advice! I do see what you're saying about the color of the shake. I may end up staining it, though it is so beautiful it's natural color. I am meeting with a color consultant tomorrow and hoping they'll point me in the right direction. When we picked out the roof, we were planning on painting the existing brick, and it went great with my color selection. When we decided to change the brick, I had to start all over with the color process, and wound up here! I had been planning on staining the shakes the whole time, until they were installed, and I just loved how naturally beautiful they were. Yes, we do love the tudor style, along with craftsman and cottage... so this is a combination of all three I think. The high pitch on the roof wasn't just for aesthetics, but we wanted to have a walk-up attic with ample space for a bonus room. We achieved it with the pitch and dormers, and got the sq. footage we needed without adding to the footprint of the existing house. I agree, it does look top-heavy from the front view, but when you see it from the sides, it balances out. We increased the ceiling height on the first floor to 9' to help balance the floors, but I think the mistake was making the 2nd floor 9' as well. That would have looked better at 8'. I, too, wanted columns at the porch, but they will not fit. They took up too much space and crowded the window to the right.

I bought a Sherwin Williams fan deck today and held some colors up while standing in front of the house. Four colors that I really like together are:

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 7:37PM
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Jana B.
sorry... 1st post of colors is blank?
1 Like    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 7:48PM
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Jana B.
I know they appear much different on the computer than in person... but when I hold these swatches together, I love the combination. I also held them up at the house and liked them too. Hazel is categorized as green, though I see it more as blue. If I can get something in this palette, I'll be really happy, and I probably will end up staining the shakes to match. I think STONE LION may be a lot darker than what I need, so I may go a few shades lighter, but I do want there to be a nice contrast with the trim, so I don't want the siding too light.
    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 7:52PM
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I like both palettes, I just didn't think the shingle color as is would work. Color on a big area will be much more intense than on a swatch.

Hazel is an interesting color--I think it would look green or blue, depending on the light and time of day. Could be pretty cool. Might be an interesting color for the gable actually. So you are painting your siding, not getting prefinished?

If you can paint the sashes, consider going dark==that is period. White sashes can be hard to work with for this style of house. The casing could then be lighter, as long as it is good and chunky. If not, all the same or nearly so would work.
    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 9:16PM
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Jana B.
I really like anything looking like that shade of blue. I would paint everything that color if I could! Don't know why I'm drawn to it so much. Have you ever seen BM Wythe Blue? I love that color too, but have only seen it used on interior applications. I appreciate your advice and that you took so much time in your explanations... you've really helped me a lot! I'll post the verdict tomorrow! :)
    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 9:25PM
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Picking colors is really hard. It is hard to tell what they will actually look like on a big surface. As an artist, or even a cook, I can blend disparate things by mixing a little of one into the other, but no such luck with house paint! (Yes, I have mixed my own color, but still it is hard to be perfect)

Benjamin Moore has great colors, but out of my price range. Apparently the 30-50 year old paint in my house was BM, and still looks good. I think I have heard of it. It is sort of in the Tiffany Blue family, which I have in my bedroom (I inherited it) and used to have in my living room (accessories), but inherited a gold shag rug I hate and the boys love in the living room, so have completely differtent colors than I used to have in these rooms.

As they say, you can't always get what you want...
1 Like    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 9:53PM
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Jana B.
So this is what I've decided on.. except I'm not 100% on the door color. Will post pics soon! Thanks everyone for all the great advice!

Siding: SW7046 ANONYMOUS


Shutters: SW7020 BLACK FOX (I may also paint the sashes this color, but will have to try it on 1st)

Door: SW6228 REFUGE or SW6487 CLOUDBURST (I really like this one, but may be too bright)
    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 8:47PM
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Jana B.
The blue looks more like a greyish slate blue on the swatch... not like what's pictured above.

The one below is SW6487 CLOUDBURST

I bought samples and will try them out tomorrow!
    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 8:51PM
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