My Horrid Roof Is The Color Of ____ And The Exterior Paint Colors Don’t Work



Dear Laurel,

I am hoping and praying that you will do a post or ten posts about exterior paint colors. But, I’m afraid I’m going to need more than a post.

Maybe while we’re out, God will strike a lightening bolt which will damage the roof so badly, it’ll have to be replaced.

This is my sad tale. We bought this home last summer. We bought it for the location and schools. It’s a 1960s Cape Cod with an addition. Here’s the problem. The previous owners– actually THE nicest people with the worst taste in decorating ever replaced the roof the year before we bought the house.

You know what’s coming. The roof looks like a heard of Santa’s reindeer chose our home to do their business on.

That color. yeah And more yeah… the crap-brown roof is not going anywhere; not in the budget.

Well…it’s Easter. I’m praying for a miracle.

Lightening? A small but searing meteor? A fire-breathing pterodactyl descending on the roof? I guess I should be careful what I wish for.

Ineida Ruffer




Well… Ineida Ruffer. (good, huh?)

Perhaps the definition of miracle is knowledge? Well, in this case, it is.

And that’s because there is such a thing as roof paint. Home Depot makes it under their Behr brand.

And it comes in lots of spiffy colors too!

Oh please, do not kiss my feet. That’s gross!

And just so you know. I have no experience with this roof paint. The major complaint is that it takes more paint than they claim. That, in my book, is not a problem. A problem is if it flakes off in one week or there are traumatized raccoons in the attic clawing at the ceiling.

A client of mine had that a few years ago. Horrible!


Now that we have the roof issue out-of-the-way– on to the best house colors.


Okay. This is tough.


It’s tough because if it weren’t tough, you would be cleaning the oven instead of reading this.


So, let’s go over those variables first.


  • Where is your home located?

This is huge because the colors for a home in Nantucket are apt to be quite different from a home in Phoenix.

  • What style is your home?

What is it made of? Brick, siding, shingle, stucco, stone or a combo of two or more of those elements?

  • What are the other homes like that are nearby?
  • What’s going on inside your home? You already know this, but you wouldn’t have a red door if the interior is mostly orange. They need to work together.
  • And finally, what size is your home?


I read not too long ago that a large house should never be white.


Okay, I’ll send the painters down to DC ASAP.


the best exterior paint colors

I think it’s the opposite, if anything. Large homes look better in lighter colors. But again, if there’s a lot of architectural interest and white trim, a dark house can also be fine.

As a matter of fact, there’s a game I’ve played with myself for years– especially when I travel. And it’s seeing a building, residence or not that’s really ugly and then imagining it painted white. Every time, in my mind’s eye, I see it looking ever so much better.


Before we get into some of my favorite exterior paint colors and combinations, a few important things to know if you already don’t.


Paint colors on your exterior behave differently from interior paint colors. Like, when you thought you had it all down, (or sort of down), the rules suddenly change.

How so?


Well, one of those is that the colors almost always appear much lighter outside than inside. And if the house is in bright sunlight– very much so.

So, a lovely soft off-white inside might look too bright for what you have in mind. Therefore, I would go a shade or two down from what you are thinking of.


But ALWAYS test your colors! And the same way we test on the inside.


Not like this. Sorry, if this is your house. But it’s best to look at the colors one at a time.


And here’s where I’m feeling just a tad overwhelmed. I can’t possibly address everything in one post. But hopefully, when finished, you’ll have some ideas that will help you no matter where your home is or what style it is. And if you have a favorite paint or idea please do share it.


First, I want to address is the “new” and ubiquitous farm-style home.


Country living - photo Max Kim Bee farmhouse -exterior paint colors-porch-house-front-exterior-paint-colors

Country Living – photo Max Kim Bee


Is this a fad?


Is it a bad fad?

It depends.

Sorry for the vague answer.

Greek Revival Farmouse. These windows are ideal for any kind of window treament including window shades.

It doesn’t feel terribly different from this genuine Federal period farmhouse.

The modern farmhouse-style is an amalgam of that with a little craftsmen thrown in and the de rigueur metal roof. That’s the part that’s the most faddish.

I like the style and I like the metal roofs, but I will caution you folks out there to tread gently. Like a lot of things it can be over-done or not done right, or something.

I guess I need to bring this up because like the interior of the home, the exterior paint colors are tied into the architecture of the home– the style, the surroundings and what the neighbors are doing. (unless they’re painting their homes purple.) At least, I think it should be.

It seems that every town I’ve ever seen has that “one house”  something weird. Right?

The other thing is that the combinations that the paint companies have put together are not always, but very often gag-awful. I don’t know why, but that’s my impression.


Did I say that this is a difficult post? haha. One reason is… I adore looking at houses. And it’s a lot more fun to look than to get it all down in a way that will make sense.


In addition, there are 100s of great house colors! HUNDREDS.


Some of these I know the color or at least am going by the color they say it is. Other times, I’m guessing.

But here’s the thing. I’ve looked at a lot of houses over the years– and the colors in photos can be completely misleading– even with the same house and the same view!


Life On The Shady Grove

This is a lovely and accessible farmhouse style home. I selected it because they used ONE color for the trim and the body of the home. Only the front door is a wood stain. I prefer garage doors with windows and maybe they do too, but were just working within their budget.

The color is Sherwin Williams ROMAN COLUMN. A good Benjamin Moore substitute is ACADIA WHITE ac-43 or its identical twin IVORY WHITE 925.

Not sure, but it looks like they might’ve put a little paint on the stone. Whatever, it’s really pretty and the flower box look great!


This one’s funny because first I found a sub par image of this lovely home and wanted to use it. When I found a great image, discovered that this is a Studio McGee home.  Quite stunning it is. Here is one color for the body and columns and then everything else is a soft black.

This is a complete reno, not a new build. You must click on the link to see the amazing transformation! And you can see an amazing coincidence if you click here.

I haven’t the foggiest idea what white this is… but here are some great ones to try.


WHITE DOVE  – oc-17

Tim Barber Architects


I love it when people paint their home to match the dog. :]

Tim Barber Traditional colonial revival - Swiss Coffee - Best exterior paint colors

Swiss Coffee looks like Glacier White (or verrry close) – which is either oc-37 or ac-40. Yes, confusing. That is why I always write down both the name and the number of the color.



CHINA WHITE  – is not my favorite interior color because it can go rogue and look like a pale muddy pale gold or go gray and cool. But outside, it’s a mellow cream.

ballet white and revere pewter home with beautiful porch best exterior paint colors

source unknown

BALLET WHITE  oc-9 – is a little deeper than Swiss Coffee. It will most likely look like a warm, pretty off-white on the exterior.

The shutters could be STONINGTON GRAY hc-170. This is a classic gray with a slight blue undertone

Tim Adams – Architect – Photo by Emily Jenkins Followill

Handsome home in Florida- via Traditional Home. I love the colonial Florida style.  Is that a term?

The trim and shutters could be REVERE PEWTER hc-172

Yes, this is the same house. I know… Sick. And talk about the inside and outside connecting together! Please check out the rest, here.

Oh what a beauty! Can I have this one please? Love the Chinese Chippendale railing.

***Note on 12.12.18 – A kind reader just informed me that this stunning home belongs to interior designer Bruce Wilkin and is located in Oak Bay, VANCOUVER island, BC***


LANCASTER WHITEWASH hc-174 is a classic cream. Another nice one is MONTEREY WHITE hc-27. I don’t know if those are the colors, but something like that. Don’t stress too much about the white trim. White Dove goes with most of the light to medium historical colors– or any of the other white shades too. But please test first.


New England Home – photo Tria Giovan

Stunning architectural gem. N’est ce pas? And a fabulous cedar shake roof, it looks to be.


Another farm-house type. But I think the yellow looks fresh with all of the white trim.

HAWTHORNE YELLOW hc-5  – looks very fresh and unexpected in this charming one a half story  craftsman bungalow. The image was taken from a real estate listing and the home is no longer for sale.


Addison’s Wonderland

This is a fabulous reno! Please check out the rest of the home in the link.

This is their recipe for the body of the house color:

Siding Color: 1/2 SOOT & 1/2 WITCHING HOUR by Benjamin Moore

Trim: DOVE WING by Benjamin Moore

The siding colors are both dark blue-blacks. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. But this is one of those homes that looks different in every photo. I do love the white trim. Dove Wing has a lot of gray in it, but with the dark color looks like a fairly crisp white.

But please know that there are dozens of whites that would be absolutely fine with this dark, rich navy.


Another fabulous off-black is the color Nancy Keyes used on her charming garage. And blimey. She sent me the interior and I cannot find the photos.


McIlveen Lumber

HALE NAVY hc-154 – is a classic and popular navy. I love how fabulous it looks on this home. I’m not sure about the door color though.

And yes, we are barely touching that on this post!


This color was not on my radar, but I absolutely adore how it looks on this fabulous four-square by Donald Lococo.


And now, my very favorite exterior paint color


If I was a house and I needed to be painted I would want to be one of Martha Stewart’s houses in her compound in Katonah, NY. This is one thing I actually know quite a lot about because I lived only 3 miles a day and drove past it dozens of times as it was on my way to clients and a choir I sang in for several years.

One can say a lot of things about Martha, but one marvelous thing she did was develop this large piece of property which is in the Hamlet of Katonah in the town of Bedford.


There are several buildings of various sizes and each of them is painted this ONE COLOR. This is actually an accurate 17th-18th century way of painting country homes–particularly in New England and Salt Box styles. They didn’t have the luxury of selecting a contrast color. OR, maybe they just preferred it that way. Me too!

The color is most likely Martha’s Bedford Gray. (and please check out the rest of her stunning property)

I spent several days hours obsessing over which Benjamin Moore color comes the closest. And the one I ended up with is…

drum roll ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Benjamin Moore Rockport Gray - great exterior paint color like Martha Stewart

And yes, another one of the historical grays. Perhaps you’ve noticed by now that most of these are from the Benjamin Moore historical colors.

Rockport Gray is a nano touch darker than Martha’s Bedford Gray, but over-all the same tonality. It’s warm putty color, with a touch of green and brown and a lot of gray. There is a lot of stone on the property and the color looks amazing with it and with all of the lush greenery that abounds.

I actually found a closeup!


It’s 150 acres of heaven!


15+ paint exterior paint colors

please pin for reference


Some of the porches with fans reminded me of the recent fan post. Did you see it?


27 chic, stylish ceiling fans
Please check out the post here


Phew! I did it! By the way, most of these colors are in the Laurel Home Paint Color Collection.

Do you have any exterior colors that you love? Are there any that you’ve tried that were duds?

That’s good to know too!

Please have a blessed and joyous holiday!



5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Annette E - April 30, 2017 - 9:55 AM

    I am still giggling about your blacked out version of the White House. You crack me up!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 30, 2017 - 10:47 AM

      Thanks so much Annette! It was fun to make the “black house.” Of course, if it was a few years ago, it wouldn’t have been so funny. It would’ve sounded like a racial slur which it definitely would not have been. But lets not go there. lolReplyCancel

  • Louise Richardson - April 26, 2017 - 6:20 PM

    Laurel, I’m pretty sure the style you humorously called “colonial Florida” would correctly be called “plantation”. But I could be wrong.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 26, 2017 - 9:43 PM

      Hi Louise,

      I need to check on that. You’re probably right. Or maybe both terms are correct. It’s kind of a West Indies style I’m thinking of.ReplyCancel

  • Katherine - April 21, 2017 - 12:28 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    I am so pleased to have found your blog! How I have never come across it baffles me. We have just bought a traditional brick ranch that has had one owner since 1956. You can imagine the work it needs but we are thrilled and so excited to make it our home.

    While I love brick, I am drawn to one type of brick, mainly what I call Williamsburg colonial brick and a type that is, unfortunately, not in our budget.

    We are currently debating whether we want a white(ish) brick ranch (White Dove, Glacier White, Swiss Coffee) ranch or a Gray(ish) house. Black shutters and white trim.

    THANK YOU for this post! I have now pinned just about everything you have mentioned above!

    All of the best, KatherineReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 21, 2017 - 1:25 PM

      Hi Katherine,

      Well, it was only 3 years ago that nobody was reading my blog. Seriously. Then I started using pinterest as the cornerstone of my strategy and that lead to more page authority with google and more pinterest action– In other words, as I always say… “I’m in bed with pinterest and google.” lol

      And here we are! I’m so glad that this post is helpful for you and thank you, thank you for your pinning! I very much appreciate that too!ReplyCancel

  • Libby - April 20, 2017 - 10:14 PM

    I need a new roof. The contractor told me that nowadays black isn’t used – because of the heat factor. Makes sense – but I certainly didn’t know and I didn’t recognize that my neighbors who both had their roofs replaced within the last two years how do use charcoal. It reads like black. Anyway that’s a piece of info I learned. Something to keep in mind for people who are replacing a roof or picking colors.
    Two summers ago the house was repainted white and shutters repainted black – Sherwin Williams paint. Excellent , great ratings. For the detached 2 story garage in the back of the property in chose SW Dove Gray. I didn’t want a blue gray and this is perfect. It looks great with slate and brick walkways, too. I tested very dark charcoal (SW Peppercorn, for ex.) and very very dark navy. Glad I tested because I was very intrigued by the dark dark colors. Just wasn’t right for the building. I could see immediately that Dove Gray was wonderful and I surprise myself by never having a second thought! It’s wonderful throughout the day and throughout the seasons. I live in the Northeast. Masses of snow and only Zone 5 nearly Zone 4 growing season. There are no flowering bushes in March and only a very few bulbs. As Laurel said, consider weather factors when choosing and the property. A narrow lot dictates all my exterior choices, too, with foundation plantings and trees and shrubs. It will never be as lush as I would like.
    Also, I’m sad reading some of the comments. It seems the neighbors may weigh in with negative remarks about color. That’s very disheartening. painting is very expensive and everybody tries to do their best. It shouldn’t be a proving ground! Perhaps a neighbor has mixed motives. Critical, jealous, thinks you should have siding or pour your entire bank account into your home.ReplyCancel

    • Libby - April 21, 2017 - 2:27 AM

      Re-read my comment.paint color should be Sherwin Williams
      SW 7018
      Sorry about my mistake. “Dovetail” is really a beautiful brown gray that looks great year round.ReplyCancel

      • Joe - April 21, 2017 - 1:47 PM

        Libby, I’m not sure if this comment was directed towards my original comment about choosing a SW paint color that is equivalent to MS’s Bedford Gray or not, but I appreciate it nonetheless!
        Laurel, you must be proud of the community you are leading here. All of these helpful comments inspired by your vision.ReplyCancel

        • Libby - April 22, 2017 - 7:23 PM

          Well at first, I didn’t think Dovetail was close enough to Bedford Gray to reply directly to you, Joe. But, after reconsidering,I do think it is a color you should test. I’m very happy with it. Good luck.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - April 21, 2017 - 2:28 PM

          Thank you Joe. I am proud and very grateful for y’all too! ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - April 21, 2017 - 1:20 PM

        No problem. Thanks Libby!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 20, 2017 - 10:35 PM

      Thanks so much Libby! Great comment!ReplyCancel

  • Joe - April 19, 2017 - 3:25 PM

    Hi –
    This post came at a perfect time for us – we are in the midst of painting our house and have settled on a monochromatic palette.

    We love the MS’s Bedford Gray. You listed the Benjamin Moore equivalent, but would you share what color you think is the equivalent with Sherwin Williams (the brand our painter will use).

    I am thinking Pewter Tankard? Fawn Brindle?

    Thanks for any assistance you can provide.

    PS – Love your posts!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 19, 2017 - 9:46 PM

      Hi Joe,

      I’ll have to leave that one to you and your crew. Sorry, I am inundated with individual requests and that one constitutes work. Thank you for your understanding.ReplyCancel

      • Joe - April 19, 2017 - 11:03 PM

        Of course I understand. Thanks for your reply and for writing this blog.ReplyCancel

  • Tricia - April 19, 2017 - 10:41 AM

    Love the Bedford Gray house by Martha, I was so bummed when HD ditched her beautiful paint line! I’m painting my whole house cream (Manchester Tan), yes by hand, with a brush, good thing my house is no bigger than a shed 😉 But I’ve never imagined doing the monochrome thing in a deeper green gray like that! It really looks amazing with the landscaping!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 19, 2017 - 11:22 AM

      Hi Tricia,

      I’ve always loved Martha’s aesthetic and think that rooms and colors she did 20 years ago still look fresh and current. That’s the definition of timeless!

      Good luck with your house painting!ReplyCancel

  • Ishtar - April 18, 2017 - 5:14 PM

    What do you do when you’re in an impossible situation when it comes to your hard finishes?

    We bought a 1970s bungalow that has a black roof on it, and has black textured brick 3/4 high on the sides of the house, with the rest being wood siding.

    It’s currently painted in a cream/yellow white, which looks terrible with the black, a more neutral or a grayer white would be much better.

    The problem is that my husband is super opposed to going with another white, both because of how terrible the house currently looks in white (which convinces him any other white would look terrible) as well as because both of the next door neighbors are white, as well as two across the street.

    It looks weird having this ‘white spot’ on the street.

    I’ve thought about going gray, but I can’t really find any gray I’m convinced would look good against the windows (natural aluminum) and the black brick both. And it doesn’t seem like it would give enough of a color contrast against the neighbors either, away from all the white.

    But at the same time, I’ve got no idea how to introduce some color into the house with all the hard finishes and the neighbors being so monochromatic.
    It doesn’t seem like there’s any colors besides white that even COULD be right.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 18, 2017 - 5:18 PM

      Hi Ishtar,

      I can’t say for sure because I’m not there. I feel your pain. This does not count as advice because I don’t know if this is doable. But most of the time, I like to paint the brick the same as the siding for unification. Then the black elements will be an accent. There are some good ideas for colors in the post here. And then I would google for more information. ReplyCancel

  • KK German - April 17, 2017 - 5:56 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    Do you see me pinning, lol?
    I, too, like to look at houses (it’s my job :).

    Do you have any advice or thoughts on painting vinyl siding?

    Anyway, my vinyl siding looks dingy and I am thinking to paint it for a short term fix. In fact I’m thinking to paint the gutters, soffit and fascia. Currently I’m painting the shutters which, of course, makes everything else look bad. The vinyl is yuk baby blue, but the house was a short sale and fixed up enough for me to live in and hold till I’m ready to sell (it’s my retirement plan).

    I love the Studio McGee house and I am contemplating painting the inner metal wrap on my windows black. Also you did not point out, but I LOVE the copper color (is it copper??)on the gutters and downspouts. Matches the swing color perfectly.

    Thank you again, loved this post!
    KK GermanReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 17, 2017 - 11:59 PM

      Hi KK,

      Well… I always say that you can paint anything. Anything if it’s not getting rained/snowed/dirt thrown on it.

      What I would do is google: ‘Can you paint vinyl siding?’ I’m sure that somewhere someone has talked about it. Because if you want to do it, others do too.

      Please let us know what happens!ReplyCancel

      • KK German - April 18, 2017 - 11:53 AM

        You are sooo right, Laurel.
        Yes, apparently paints are getting better and better and it is possible to paint vinyl. (I always knew it was possible to paint aluminum siding.)
        I know you like Ben Moore, but the top google was info on Sherwin Williams VinylSafe paints.
        And if you DIY, could be as low as $250 compared to a couple thousand for a pro painter. Not to mention savings over re-siding.
        thank you! KKReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - April 18, 2017 - 2:37 PM

          Hi again,

          If you know what you’re doing, you can do it yourself, but please research the best way to apply the paint. It might be to spray it on, but you will need to protect windows and roof, bushes, etc. I dunno. I’d have a pro do it. If it gets messed up, it could cost you in other ways.ReplyCancel

  • AmyC - April 17, 2017 - 4:40 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    I just love your website and blog! You have such a great way with words and an amazing eye. For me, HGTV could just go away and we would all be better off! I’m sorry about Property Bros. in your neck of the woods, hoping that it doesn’t get too bad! As a rather new Interior Designer for Residential Clients(worked in commercial for several years), your advice and talent are such a great inspiration! Hoping to get to your level some day!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 17, 2017 - 11:56 PM

      Hi Amy,

      Oh, you will! Believe me, you will. I struggle just like the next one. You’ll see… But thank you so much for your kind words!ReplyCancel

  • Ann - April 17, 2017 - 9:01 AM

    I wish I had this problem! I live in an HOA and they control everything, even the door color!!! I don’t mind some control because I’ve seen some awful choices but the front door colors give some personality and fun. I’m itching to paint my front door but I feel uninspired by the current choices. I sent a letter in to ask for more…I’m keeping my fingers crossed.ReplyCancel

  • MJ - April 16, 2017 - 11:03 PM

    Someone might have mentioned this already…so many posts here…but from experience i can tell you why people put on new roof before selling. So the buyers can get a mortgage. As to the color, I wonder sometimes where colors come from……out of the blue, it seems.
    As always, I love this post. Period houses are my “thing.” Thanks for the tour.ReplyCancel

  • Gail - April 16, 2017 - 8:48 PM

    So happy to read this post! I chose Swiss Coffee for our house two years or so ago based on the image you posted. It has not disappointed. I found a little piece of our shingle on the ground, which guided me away from bm mayonnaise, which the woman at the paint store was pushing. Been happy with it ever since, and so have the neighbors, although one shade darker might have been better–wish I’d had your excellent advice then. The door is actually the hospital green you wrote about, but it looks divine with all the white and all the mossy stone in the property!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 10:10 PM

      Hi Gail– “hospital green” is divine – as long as it’s not in an ugly hospital.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - April 16, 2017 - 7:11 PM

    This was another great post! I just wish it had been written a year earlier as it would have saved me a summer of pure agony in picking an exterior paint color. You could not be more correct in that colors look very different outside. I also think part of the challenge for me was visualizing the change from a very dark olive/muddy green to a lighter, more inviting off white. Your post affirmed that I made the right decision. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 8:08 PM

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks so much! I used to live in a neighborhood where every home was either a cape or colonial clapboard style. Some got the colors right and some did not. Very interesting.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Perez - April 16, 2017 - 3:55 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    We painted our 1926 old Spanish 2-story in Coral Gables, FL Ben Moore’s Simply White in an effort to sell. We were in the middle of rehabbing the entire home when we suddenly had to move. The home had an almost primary yellow that was so faded it was impossible to match depending on which side of the house you were on. Where it was flaking off, you had to laugh at the paint colors throughout the years (before the City required approval for painting). There was a baby blue and salmon pink, but I think the original color was white.

    I chose the color in a hurry because I’d be giving it to someone else. If it were for me, I might still be obsessing. The home faced north, so I chose Simply White straight from the fan deck on the front porch. Horrible advice, I know. I liked Simply White because it turned into a creamy vanilla ice cream color when compared to the others. And it looked great with the green front door.

    Well, Simply White turned out to be a lot brighter than I thought it would, especially on the east side of the house, but not in a stark way. It was still really warm, just more brilliant than I expected.

    The house suddenly looked completely finished! This was without bringing back the original loggia and upstairs sleeping porch we had planned to recreate from the original plans. Someone had closed it all in with WIDE RANCH WINDOWS in the ’70s (I know how you feel about that decade). I’m convinced that if we hadn’t painted the exterior, we wouldn’t have sold at asking in the month of December in just 2 weeks. Finally the outside matched the guts (new plumbing and electric) and AMAZING kitchen, master bath, casement windows, etc. I was so sad to leave. Before the makeover no one would have expected the beauty inside. After the paint, you wouldn’t have expected anything less!

    Thank you, Laurel, for your posts. I don’t believe there’s any design blogger that can touch you as far as content, communication style, responsiveness or talent. Don’t be modest!


    • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 6:36 PM

      Hi Rebecca,

      Actually Simply White is a great choice. It is very close to Cotton Balls. The differences are so slight that most would not notice.

      As for your last statement– I’m deeply touched and very appreciative. It seems that after so many years, I’ve finally found my place. ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - April 16, 2017 - 2:44 PM

    Laurel, what a wonderful post! So tired of reading common advises “This should be painted that”, “This goes with that”, etc,etc. Where are the crucial questions:”WHERE is the house?”
    “What style the house is?” “How does the neighborhood look?”

    You can’t just say “It’s a house” stands somewhere, it relates to this somewhere’s geography, history, reflects certain style.
    I’m so grateful you point all these things out-which should be obvious to come first when you decide on your direction, but somehow it’s rarely that they’re given their space, and it’s refreshing to read it, especially written with such clarity, and in such an engaging way.

    In our previous neighborhood some folks bought an empty lot and built a huge very expensive place (I know since that was a multi million dollars neighborhood..we were across the street though, lol). The house next to it was smallish, and this monstrosity somehow wrapped itself about it, with all the pools and grounds. So they put this red roof. OK. And I wait for the wall color..and they go and paint this huge house of theirs some very wrong yellow. Bland, gloom-ish, and reminds me of erm..never mind. Wrong with their red, wrong with the neighboring tasteful houses, wrong with the street that it overwhelms by now..just wrong. I felt sorry for the neighbors, really. Oh well. What can you do.

    Some gorgeous houses in this post. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 3:25 PM

      Hi Jenny,

      Glad that you enjoyed the post!

      This reminds me. Oh boy! Get ready.

      The property Bros have invaded our area. And I believe the first show is this coming Thursday evening. I have read already that they needed to put up a steel beam because they *needed* to remove a load bearing wall in a

      TUDOR HOME!!!

      Please, Lord… Give me strength! ReplyCancel

  • nancy keyes - April 16, 2017 - 2:39 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    Loved seeing my garage pop up again. This is one of my favorite posts! I wish I had begged you to do this post last fall. I tortured myself trying to decide whether to repaint our Four-Square white or the Raccoon Fur like the garage. I made the decision because unlike the garage it doesn’t have a lot of beautiful trim. So we went with white. So happy to read your comment about dark houses needing lots of trim, so now I KNOW I was right! I added brackets under the flatish roof line to try to make it “Italianate”. Very inspired by “A House in the Country” (TY) with the rail, which we are considering. Thank you and XOXOReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 3:20 PM

      Nancy, you’re a fabulous designer with magnificent taste! But decorating for oneself is very difficult. At least it is for me!

      The white four-square sounds divine and I also think that it makes sense to have the garage in this case be its own thing. ReplyCancel

      • nancy keyes - April 16, 2017 - 3:43 PM

        Thank you so much! You can’t imagine how many people asked us when we were painting the house to match the garage. I like that it is it’s own thing as though the property evolved over time. Which it did!ReplyCancel

  • Christine - April 16, 2017 - 1:40 PM

    Copper screens are wonderful. Out previous home, 1914 Georgian Colonial, had a sunroom with sleeping porch above. The sunroom casement windows original to the house had matching copper screen. Each screen frame in copper was engraved with a number so you knew which window it fit. There were 14 in all. They were interior mounts, casement also with little handles that you turned to open each screen. The windows apparently had beenn made on site and so were the screens. The nice thing as the copper ages over time it gets a very dark brown almost black. The result is when looking through the screen it becomes invisible. The windows in the sleeping porch hinged at the top swung in and hooked onto the ceiling, then the screen went in. Again copper turns almost black so it became invisible. It was like being in the trees and garden with open windows and no bugs.ReplyCancel

  • Lynn - April 16, 2017 - 1:14 PM

    Hi All, I believe Martha Stewart uses bronze screening on her doors. She has mentioned it several times in videos and on her tv program. When looking for it one day….ouch, is it expensive!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 3:13 PM

      Hi Lynn,

      It is pretty expensive, but also it comes in large sheets so it might be enough for 30 doors! There’s copper and bronze. But the copper turns a bronze-y color.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Spanos - April 16, 2017 - 12:57 PM

    A few years ago we used Benjamin Moore’s Mont Ste. Anne for the siding on a cute, English style house. i chose it because it was listed by Maria Killam as a good exterior gray with a greenish tone. When I painted a 3’x3′ swatch it did indeed look like a pretty, greenish gray. I wasn’t at the house when the painters were working, I know, I know, huge mistake. And my sweet husband trusts me enough to think I would never make a bad choice so he didn’t question what he was seeing. I did hear a hint of hesitation when I called and asked him how the paint looked.
    Well, I got home and found that I’d had the house painted in a color midway between mint green and aqua! Yikes. Luckily, the house is in Portland, OR which is a city that embraces funky houses. We made it work with some strategically placed, wood accents, but it was a huge lesson.
    Currently I’m searching for the perfect, pale, greenish blue for our ugly duckling, craftsman cottage (different house…). Anyone got any suggestions?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 3:11 PM

      Hi Jessica,

      This is an example of how a color can appear quite different outside– depending on the light. One thing I want to say is that it is easy for colors with the slightest amount of green undertones to go green when outside.

      So, the color will most likely look quite gray on the chip. I’m not recommending any colors, but check out Stonington Gray. It’s the craziest thing. You don’t see it on the chip, but when it goes up, even inside, the blue-green comes out. I wouldn’t ever call it blue, but it’s not a pure gray either. Pure gray is almost impossible to achieve, but quite frankly, I’m not sure why anyone would want to.ReplyCancel

      • Jessica - April 17, 2017 - 12:33 PM

        Thanks so much for the recommendation! Stonington Gray sounds exactly like what I’m looking for, I’ll check it out.

        You’re are my design guru. Your taste just seems to coalesce so nicely with mine. I’m in the midst of doing my own unkitchen that’s very much inspired by you.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - April 16, 2017 - 11:31 AM

    And actually I just noticed you can see them in your closeup shot of her porch. That orange haze on the window is actually copper, folks. It’s quite pretty as you drive by, especially on a late summer afternoon when leaves have started to turn.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 12:16 PM

      Hi Rachel,

      You much be an ex-neighbor of mine? I used to live in Goldens Bridge– same school district as MS. She gets a big tax break because her property has farm status. lol Otherwise, it’d be prohibitive– even for her!ReplyCancel

      • Rachel - April 16, 2017 - 12:21 PM

        Yes, I lived in Katonah for several years. 🙂 I used to drive by her house a lot. Not surprised about the farm status, that’s a nice perk. We looked into where we are now but I’m not into cleaning chicken poop. It’s a lovely area, very fun to drive around and you might see Ralph Lauren zooming by in his silver Porsche (saw him twice, hehe.)ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 12:44 PM

          Yes! Ralph Lifshitz (his real name– can’t imagine why he changed it! haha) lives up that way too.

          I used to make the drive down Rte 22 from Goldens Bridge the decorating shop I worked in for four years, in Bedford. Every time, I would sigh… This is where God lives– so incredibly beautiful!ReplyCancel

          • Rachel - April 16, 2017 - 5:34 PM

            LOL! You are so funny. I had forgot that little detail about him. Branding is everything, these days, huh? There’s a lot of celebrity elbow rubbing (poking?) to be done in that area. Saw quite a few people when we lived there. I don’t miss it though, I have to say. We’re in CT now, I find the people a little more down to earth and that is a welcome change for us. Happy Easter!

          • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 6:40 PM

            Same to you Rachel!

  • Judith Graham - April 16, 2017 - 9:53 AM

    Our house is white with black windows, 2 over 1 and a full view front door 2 over 2.

    I used B.M Super White for the exterior clapboards and it is a crisp, perfect white color with the black.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 11:14 AM

      Hi Judith,

      If you see this… I’m curious what part of the country you live in. Super White is one of my 20 great whites. It’s all about the lighting–especially with whites. ReplyCancel

      • Judith Graham - April 16, 2017 - 11:37 AM

        Laurel, I live in Orleans, MA…Cape Cod.

        Super White is also my interior trim in semi-gloss; my ceilings in flat finish.

        I love white on exteriors. It is bright, cheery, and so flexible when choosing an accent color.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 12:19 PM

          Oh, how beautiful! Is that like being on permanent vacay?

          And I know that super white is Vicente Wolf’s personal favorite white. I haven’t actually used it, but from what I can see, it’s a very clean but warm white. The differences between some of them are very slight.

          It’s a little like husbands. Once you fall in love with one… you don’t need another one. Usually. lolReplyCancel

          • Judith Graham - April 16, 2017 - 1:25 PM

            Permanent retirement, is what it is. My father grew up on the Cape and I spent every summer here. My grandparents were alive until I was well into high school. Different times then. My grandparents ate what they caught and what they grew. I don’t know if you have ever tasted beach plum jelly, but it is from heaven.

            My grandfather was a Chase (Chase and Sanborn Coffee). He had no money, but left some very special antiques.

            One of our first retirement homes ( we have had 5)…can’t make up our minds…was an 1840 half Cape. Not sure if you have ever heard of Cape and Islands Home magazine, our house was featured in it. We were very proud.

          • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 3:14 PM

            Oh wow! How cool is that!!!

  • Lynn - April 16, 2017 - 9:05 AM

    Good Morning Laurel, Great article! We have been contemplating painting our house a dark color for several years, to the point of buying several gallons of the intended color (and painting several areas)….Down Pipe by Farrow and Ball. Our house is a Cape Cod with a very thoughtful architectural designed addition, it looks like a small country estate home with its pained windows. We sit on two acres with lots of green grass and many, many trees surrounded by a three rail white horse type fence. It has beautiful reddish and black running brick pattern sidewalk with a dark gray roof. However, the exterior color is an awful gray with no white trim! The back of the house is really pretty too. It’s jus begging to get dressed up, I think we are going to take the plunge this summer. The previous owner awful taste which was not confined to the outside. The array of interior colors were from a baby blue in the living room to a colonial dark red & dark green in bed rooms and animal print on the den walls. My quest to get out of this mess lead me to your blog! What a treasure you are! It took awhile but I think I worked some of the inside colors out. When we looked at the house (it is very nice inside except for the decor) I was taken by the beautiful Woodwork and moldings and the built in bookcases. They were painted SW Natural Choice in an oil base paint. What a great color! After reading and rereading your blog I decided to paint the walls and ceiling the same color, it makes for a lovely canvas. I have a lot of Persian rugs, two mohair (little sofas), another soft goldish couch and some blue and white chinoiserie stuff. Thanks for all of your great advice! Love your style!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 11:12 AM

      Hi Lynn,

      I do love F & B Down Pipe and it’s exceedingly popular in England! Your home sounds gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia Lambert - April 16, 2017 - 8:34 AM

    When you come to Hudson, you can do another blog on what NOT to paint your house. There are several people in town who are clueless when it comes to paint colour, and we have such wonderful housing stock here. It’s a pity.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 11:10 AM

      Hi Cynthia,

      That is sad and unfortunately, I see it around here too and other parts of the country. The only hope is if there’s some sort of historic designation and even then… iffy.ReplyCancel

  • Jana - April 16, 2017 - 8:02 AM

    Oh what a wonderful post, Laurel. When we built our (final) home -and having always had predominantly bricked exteriors- I so wanted an exterior of a white-painted combination of clapboard, shakes, etc. Alas, my husband’s practicality won out, and we again have brick. Algae growth is a problem in my area, so brick did make sense. So thanks for the carefully selected painted eye candy. I hope everyone appreciates the work you put into your posts. They’re always gorgeous, and one is compelled to read every.single.word.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 11:07 AM

      Hi Jana,

      Oh, those husbands! I wonder if there’s a paint or product one could apply that discourages the growth of Algae on a painted home. ReplyCancel

  • Sue - April 16, 2017 - 7:32 AM

    Dear Laurel,
    I think the SW color you were looking for up above was Roman Column not Candle. We are getting ready to paint our yellow and white southern home in two weeks and we’ve spent weeks looking at house samples. I love the dark homes and gray homes with white trim, but my DH does not and in the south those darker ones just absorb way too much heat in the summer. Did I mention we’ll hit 90 by the end of next week? It’s April for heaven’s sake! So right now my house is a patchwork of white on a few of the sides. I know the painter is going to love me when he has to make sure we don’t have patches showing through the final coats. But anyway, a really wonderful house builder/remodeler that lives up the street suggested Roman Column and had us run by a home in the area that used that color all over with a deep blue shutter. No trim, just the Roman Column all over. Simply lovely color. I went to the paint store to get a sample and had a thirty minute lesson on exterior paint bases. Apparently (maybe this was not always the case) that color is mixed with a high luminous base for interiors. On the exterior they would need to switch the base to a more solid white base (more white pigments to begin with) and add less color pigment and they got warnings up on the program about it fading badly with the conversion and not being the same color, exactly. So if someone did choose to convert and use it on the exterior it might vary store to store based on how well the folks at the store can eyeball the conversion and make subtle changes. At least that was my take on the conversation. But all of these you picked are beautiful and I can’t imagine someone could not find something lovely for their home. I think we have every one of them on our house except the Acadia and it was in our final pick but our painter like SW paint. I personally like the way the BM flows so that’s what I use inside when I do the painting! Thank you so much for the post. It was such a help to show my husband what a designer thought after spending months selecting pictures in Houzz and Pinterest for him to view and driving him all over the neighborhoods close by our home. Thanks for the wonderful and timely post. Have a great spring!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 11:03 AM

      Hi Sue,

      Oops! Thanks so much! I made the change. Roman Candle is a firecracker! haha. Interesting about the formulas not being consistent.

      I talk about Benjamin Moore and promote them because around here it’s the most popular paint and by a lot! And also, it’s the one I have the most personal experience with and by a very wide margin. Pratt and Lambert is in second place. I used to specify it a lot before BM changed their fan deck circa 2004. What they didn’t tell us designers is that they never took the old one away! And then they brought it back at least ten years ago.

      And yes, good point that I forgot to mention but dark colors absorb heat, so no dark colors in the south.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - April 16, 2017 - 1:04 AM

    I have a small Cape Cod style home that is painted Wyndham Cream, BM HC-6 I think. It’s very pretty – sometimes looks a creamy ivory, sometimes soft yellow. I don’t know the white trim but this color looks great with a black door, urns/flower containers, brick sidewalk, and lots of greenery. We also have a lot of white picket fence. Charming and kind of Williamsburg, but not so much now that it’s time for painting again. Now my last house was contemporary and set in the Virginia woods and hills, and I hemmed and hawed and finally painted it the color I always wanted to – red. A good one, sort of a barn red, took forever to find the right shade. It was gorgeous, and someone asked to buy it within a year. They loved the color and it stood out from all the beige and wood tones in the hood.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 1:10 AM

      Hi Mary,

      Sounds charming on both counts. I’ve used Wyndham Cream before. Yes, very pretty. I think that home exteriors like their interiors often tell us what color they want to be. ReplyCancel

      • Mary - April 16, 2017 - 1:46 AM

        That’s so true. Very different styles, but both told me clearly what they needed. Thank you for another wonderful post! They make my days much brighter. Design and paint (and gardening) are my comforts. One can’t underestimate the peace brought from being surrounded by beauty!ReplyCancel

        • Denise - April 16, 2017 - 1:48 PM

          My new-to-me home is currently telling me that it truly doesn’t know what it wants to be! I clearly need a “House Whisperer” to unpick its messages!

          Thus far, I have spent £264 on paint samples: Benjamin Moore (newly available in England – it’s lovely paint), Farrow and Ball, Little Greene Paint Company, The Paint & Paper Library, Dulux (biggest paint brand in Britain), and others.

          So if you can hear my house telling you what it needs, do let me know before I go bankrupt!ReplyCancel

          • Laurel Bern - April 16, 2017 - 3:16 PM

            Oh, a problem child!!! Sometimes it helps to go in a completely different direction. Not saying you haven’t tried that. But sometimes people have an idea in mind and the house doesn’t like it.

            It’s like trying to force your daughter to take ballet because you think it’s a good idea. lol

  • Rachel - April 16, 2017 - 12:44 AM

    Since you mention Miss Martha… ever noticed the screens on the building closest to the street corner her property sits on? I drove by one summer afternoon. They were glinting. I slowed down and I swear they were copper screens. Does such a thing exist? I’ve wondered about them ever since. Great post as always and such lovely colors.ReplyCancel