Have you ever had to choose exterior paint colors? If so you probably know the pain I’m about to describe…and we should probably have had a glass (or bottle) of wine together during all of this!
The time came to choose the new exterior paint colors for our rental property and I had no idea just how hard it was going to be. This came as a complete shock to me because my sense of security in choosing interior colors made me falsly believe that exterior color choices would be just as simple. Ignorance is bliss…until it’s not!
Design elements such as roof color, landscaping, paver colors, and neighborhood colors all come into play making the choice that much harder. Also, the normal way I would choose interior colors, based on the direction of natural light & ability to mix palettes and accent colors, doesn’t apply outdoors.
Since the house is an older style ranch home I knew that it was best to stick with muted colors which have more brown in them. I feel that modern colors can often appear too bright on a home of this style due to the low slung roof and simple structural elements (plus it would feel completely out of place and no one wants to be that neighbor, am I right?).
At one point early in the process, the Mr. brought home colors from a house he was working and I loved them. However, when the time came to paint he couldn’t find the color names in his files so I set out to find them…and about lost my mind in the process.
Note to friends & family: I’m so very sorry for the endless hours and tormenting back-and-forth questions and doubting I put you through. I love you all for your endless patience!
Here are the design elements that had to be considered:
- Roof color: Terra-Cotta Brown
- Neighborhood Houses: Earth Tones
- Pavers: Shades of red, yellow creme, and a blue gray
- House Style: Ranch with a very heavy roof line
- Landscaping: Simple southern California style succulents & fruit trees
- Architectural Details: Pergolas on the front & back of the house
- Sun Exposure: Any color that I choose was going to lighten up over time due to the southern California sun beating down on it all day everyday.
Terra-Cotta Red Roof (Heaviest outdoor element of the house)
- None of the modern shades of gray worked with the color of the roof.
- Then I tried the green family which is a common house color in the neighborhood most of them caused flashes of Christmas time when placed next to the red roof–which was a BIG NO for me!
- On to the cream/beige color family! I came home with samples that so closely resembled the current house color you almost couldn’t tell a difference. The whole point of painting the exterior was to give it a more modern feel so those were out.
- White family wasn’t going to work for a couple of reasons; The Anderson doors/windows have an off-white outdoor frame which look murky next to the wrong shade of white. This older ranch style also doesn’t have any of those awesome spanish architectureal details found throughout San Diego which allows the white to be broken up with accent colors.
So I was determined to find the perfect gray/green that wasn’t too brown, or green (remember NO Christmas tree). Have you looked through color decks at all the different shades of green lately? There are hundreds of options!
At one point the entire house had paint swatches on it which was fine with me but our neighbors may have felt differently.
This property is on a very steep grade so most of what you see from the street is the roof, which made it a easier for me to take the time finding the right color. If your homes front isn’t hidden– try and find a spot on the back or side of the house that won’t stick out to a passerby but still gets full sun at some point in the day so that you can look at throughout the day to see how the color changes.
Here is an example of how different lighting can change the look of a color:
This photo is after the house was completely painted taken in the middle of the afternoon, both sides of the fireplace are the same exact color but look very different.
Same Color–Different lighting
Color swatches prior to painting:
Creams, Grays, and Greens Swatches everywhere!
Swatches on Back Side
I know your just dying to see more…here is a closer look at just a few of the swatches I had going on
After about 30 paint samples, there were 2 colors that stood out amongst the rest but they didn’t feel quite right:
- Color 1: Came off too cold & threatened to turn out with the dreaded Christmas vibe.
- Color 2: Was much too warm and deep for my liking (it looked brown).
(1) Bottom Left: To Deep/Dark (2)Right of Window: Too Cool
So, in true crazy girl fashion I decided to have them mixed together at a 70/30 ratio. At this point your probably all thinking “You had ALL those samples and you couldn’t pick a pre-made color?”– Nope, I can be a bit crazy like that sometimes. The amazing thing is that it worked!
The warmer shade was meant to be the main focus of the color while the cooler shade lightened it up a bit and kept the house from looking too deep and dark. The final result seemed to be just right so we had our painters order up the new recipe and I crossed my fingers that the fatigue hadn’t just worn me down.
Here are some shots taken during the painting process:
Sorry for the bad photos…The exterior was all completed while I was home visiting family (in the land of no cell service) so my anxiety about the final result was building so the Mr. sent me these photos.
During the Painting Process- Looks super green here, but I promise it looks much better!
For the trim color, I wanted to make the Door & windows sash color look brighter so a light gray with very slight green undertones worked out perfectly! You can see the contrast in the before & after photos below.
After I saw the photos my panic only intensified & I became convinced it was going to be too brown or green once the whole house was complete…that they weren’t going to remember to paint the right trim pieces…and the whole project was going to have to be redone. Once back home I went straight over and fell in love, the color turned out to be just what I wanted, something more modern but earthy.
Before & After Photos:
Front Driveway/Street View:
Megan Mitchell says
I’ve been struggling to find an appropriate color combination for my ranch with a flare of mid century modern, and I absolutely adore the combo you stirred up! Would you mind sharing the two paint colors that you mixed? It would be a lifesaver.
I’m so glad to hear you love it too!! It’s been a few years but I probably have the combo in one of my moleskins from the remodel- I’ll pull them out this week and see if I can find it for you 🙂
Just a note: if your located in southern california it may look the same but if you’re in another part of the country its possible the color will look different since the suns coloring changes depending on where your located. Hopefully I can find it & it’ll work for ya! I still remember how stressful that experience was & would be thrilled to save anyone that stress haha!