The Paint Picking Process: Exterior Edition


Well, we’ve finally hired a painter after a long, arduous process of finding painters who 1) show up and 2) give us a quote.  Really, it doesn’t take much to make a good impression in this industry.  Bonus that they can get the work done before my son’s graduation party. 🙂  Now that we have a painter scheduled, the real work begins – choosing a paint color.  I feel comfortable in my ability to choose interior paint colors (and went through a similar paint picking process for my family room), but I’ve found that exterior colors are a different animal altogether.  I shared some of my thoughts on exterior paint colors here, but when it comes to choosing them for my own home, there was a lot more to it than I expected.  

Suffice to say, I have enough paint samples to last me quite awhile.

I decided to throw some colors on the house to see how they looked, and I started with some samples from Sherwin Williams.  I was thinking white-ish trim, with a darker color for contrast.  So this is where I began:
Exterior Gray Paint Colors

Exterior Paint Colors

Right away, the trim color (Creamy) is not working for me.  Too white, and it’s not even a “white” white.  The other colors, while I love them, aren’t working with the stone.  The warm colors in the stone are going to be more of a challenge for me than I anticipated, based upon the look that I want.  

So, what do I do?  I call my friend Cyndy, from The Creativity Exchange.  She is a Paint Authority, and knows her stuff.  While we were talking, she was quickly able to solve the puzzle that this paint job has created for me.  She threw out color ideas in short order, but in a direction that I hadn’t considered.  Light grays, paint the body of the house all the same color, she said.  What?  I had been thinking of rich, dark tones for my home.  I was looking for contrast.  But then she explained it to me in a way that made sense.

It’s all about texture, she said.  You have a lot of texture going on with your exterior – the stone, the brick, the shake siding.  Then there is the roofline and architecture to consider as well.  With the color the house is painted now, you lose sight of the stone – it blends right in with the exterior.  If you paint the house a dark color, you’ll notice the color, if you paint it a lighter color, the texture and architectural elements will pop.

“The name of the game is to contrast without choosing a house color that will be a focal element itself, like a dark gray or a darker color.”

Craftsman Exterior

She threw a couple of colors at me – Eider White, Repose Gray (and I threw in Mindful Gray for good measure).  She said I wanted a color that was still cool, but had a hint of warmth to it to pull out the stone.  I also got a couple of colors to the left of these on the Sherwin Williams color deck – Worldly Gray and Amazing Gray.

Sherwin Williams Gray Colors

And Eider White?  She said a very, very light gray would provide a great contrast against the stone in our house.  Regular white would be too white with the warm colors in the stone.  

Sherwin Williams Eider White

Let me tell you, that I was feeling nervous about this color turn, but I completely trust Cyndy’s opinion when it comes to color palettes.  She’s the master.  Again, I’m good with interior colors, but exteriors are hard for me (especially my own home).  Not to mention that it’s not like I can just repaint it if I don’t like it.  This is an investment.

Then I saw this house in our neighborhood, and I had a bit of an “a-ha” moment.  Now, this house is a different style than ours, but it’s one I’ve always admired  The roofline, the cedar shake siding, the stonework, the roofline – it’s just gorgeous.  But notice the color on the main body of the house – the white allows all of the other architectural elements to pop.  If it were a darker color, those elements would be lost.


Cedar Shake Exterior

Cyndy also recommended painting all of the trim and the siding the same color.  Again, I’m thinking, really?  But look at the photo of the house above.  You don’t need contrast in the trim because it will distract from the other architectural elements.

So, on the left, I was experimenting with two colors – one for the trim and one for the body of the house.  Then she said that the Eider White was too white, so to try the Repose Gray with 25% White, on both the trim and the body of the house.

Jackpot.  I don’t think this photo does it justice – it’s just the right mix.  I think we have a winner!  I never would have thought to do a 25% White mix with the Repose Gray.  A great way to get to just the right hue, especially when you need to get it right the first time!

Choosing Exterior Paint Colors

I will keep you all posted as we get this painting party started.  And a HUGE thank you to Cyndy at The Creativity Exchange.  Your painting picking prowess is second to none!

Are you painting your home this year?  Check out Cyndy’s post on choosing exterior paint colors here.  She always shares great ideas and expertise, along with beautiful photos to illustrate the power of paint.


Have a great week!





  • Reply
    Mara Smith
    April 17, 2017 at 10:27 am

    I feel the white brings out the tan/brown in your house even more. You’re not painting the stone right? I really like the gauntlet gray with the white trim!

  • Reply
    April 17, 2017 at 10:31 am

    How exciting Jenny. Can’t wait to see the afters, I’m sure it will be beautiful!!

    • Reply
      April 17, 2017 at 5:28 pm

      Thanks Lisa! This has been an overwhelming process!

  • Reply
    April 17, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Oh girl…I feel your pain! I remember trying to choose exterior colors a few years ago. I knew exactly what I wanted for our trim (color matched to new windows), doors and porch ceilings, but choosing the “right” gray for the siding was daunting. I do love how it turned out in the end. Let’s just say, the back of our house looked like a patchwork quilt just prior to painting. LOL

  • Reply
    April 9, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    Did you ever post a before and after for your exterior paint? 🙂 I can’t wait to see!!

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