Picking Paint

WAHOO!  Eat caulk trim!  Suck paint siding!

That’s a recap of what I was yelling at my house with pointed finger and devilish laughter this past week.  That’s right.  The house is officially painted.  It’s not done-done…almost…but the ladders are still here and there are still touchups to be made…so I think that after today (as long as it doesn’t rain), it will be officially complete and I can share the before/after photos.  For now, let’s take a step outside (not literally, please stay with your computer), and take a gander at what our exterior looked like before our painting adventure began.

That photo above is one of the very first pictures we ever took of our exterior.  Our house has brick and stone and a dark gray roof and then there is the brown and brown….and more brown.  I painted the front doors red but the house still looked like dried mud.  So we talked to some folks early on about painting and it all came back with the same reply…it would probably cost between 8 and 10 grand.

That’s where we slammed the brakes and decided that dishing out that much cash at a single time would be not in the near future.  I mean, we needed things like a water heater and a furnace and garage door openers.

Why so much for a paint job?  Well, there was a lot of rotting wood.  See that on the front peak?  Above the columns you can see the paint has complete chipped off and the raw wood is exposed and rotting.  It’s very sad.

The back doors suffered a similar fate….rotting wood all around….

It’s like American Idol…you take away one little thing like Simon Cowell…err…paint…and the entire thing rots away.

The other reason this would cost so much was the fact that the entire back of the house is siding.  It’s very big and with weirdly spaced windows.  And would require a ton of paint.  The front of the house has a lot of different trim work too…so it’s definitely a ‘big crew’ type of thing.

We saved and saved and saved.  We tucked a little away here and there and it seemed at times that other big expenses would pop up (that’s normal life though, right?!) so we finally got to the point financially where dishing out 10K wasn’t gonna mean selling off a kid.

Jer did all the research. He looked at local reviews and TrustDale.com, and we decided on getting three different quotes from folks listed with high reviews.  The first one was a local handyman who quoted us just under $6K for all the painting (not including the wood and only 1 coat of paint).  The second was a local painting company that came in around $8.5K for all the painting (two coats but no wood repair).  The third and final quote was from a company that franchises called CertaPro Painters.  Our local guy was Scott Pierce and I have nothing but good things to say.  They quoted us as $7K with an additional $ for wood repairs.  Jeremy negotiated with him and said if they could do the whole list of repairs for under $500, we would sign right then and there.

Scott agreed and handed over three huge paint decks for me to choose from.  I knew that I would be buying a huge number of samplers.  Since they recommend Sherwin-Williams, we decided to pick a Sherwin Williams color and avoid any issues with color matching.

The first five…

and then five more on doors out front.

When it came down to it, I learned some really important things about choosing exterior paint.  Here are my best tips:

  • always test paint…it’s way cheaper to test a color than repaint the whole house
  • test the colors on all four sides of the house and against different areas like next to stone, brick, porches, and ceilings
  • exterior colors appear much lighter than they do on paint swatches
  • try photoshopping your exterior before painting to see if you can figure out what looks best
  • look at test paint in morning, afternoon and evening light…as well as with any exterior lighting on.
  • remember that if you like a certain color paint, you can always have it darkened up to 200% or lightened


We took the photoshopping thing seriously after the first five test pots…here’s how it looked with all the brown…

We tried the trim in the front with a darker color and felt like it was too dark… like a tudor style gone wrong.

Cream or white was just way too bright and really took away from the stone and brick.

So we decided to try a light to medium gray…something that we could pull from the stone color.  We liked it slightly lighter on the columns…but liked the ‘disappearing act’ it pulled on the upper windows when it was slightly darker (you can kinda see what we mean below).


In the end, we knew that we wanted a gray that was slightly muddy (to match the color of the stone…not necessarily the brick because it wasn’t as prevalent on the front of the house and the front is priority one) and light enough to give a tiny bit of contrast to the roof line but not too light to steal our stone’s thunder.

So that’s how we chose our house color.  I can’t wait to show you the end result…just as soon as this rain clears up and they finish touching up!  Cross your fingers that it will happen today.  I guess one more day isn’t a big deal after you wait two years, right?!




  1. says

    It’s awesome that you’re able to get such a large house painted for that price. We are closing on a house on Thursday with an exterior paint job that makes my teeth grit. It’s a newer paint job (which is part of what’s so maddening) but they chose an orangey brown with dark brown trim. WHHHYYYYY???? Our realtor said that 10 grand is probably what we’d need to shell out to get it repainted (obviously something for the future once we’ve saved), but your post gives me hope that it won’t be that high. We live in a low COL area and our house isn’t quite as large as yours.

    Now, if you HAAAAADDD to sell a kid…

  2. Kayla says

    I love the photo with Will sitting at the dining room table, like he is the one doing the negotiating. Hilarious.

  3. says

    Thanks Katie. I have some friends who are debating exterior paint colors right this minute. Sending them a link to this post. xo

  4. says

    Can’t wait to see how it turned out! All of the photoshopped pics are better than the brown. I bet you’ll be happy to see it go.

    I second the need for samples. I actually know someone who had their entire house painted…and then quickly repainted when the “gray-blue” they thought they chose turned out to be way more “bright blue” than expected.

  5. says

    I’ve been reading since January or so thanks to YHL and have since made my way through all of your archives. You are just amazing!

    I think this paint will completely transform the house! My favorites were definitely the muddy gray and the white. It would be difficult to mess up such a gorgeous home, though. You could probably even go chartreuse. ;)

  6. says

    You guys picked the perfect color in my opinion. I loved that one and the white the best. Are you changing your front door color too?

  7. says

    What a massive undertaking – you guys have such a large house! I was loving what I saw with the teaser pic you posted, so I can’t wait to see this guy totally painted. Huge investment – but it’s going to be such a transformation for your house! Excited to see it!

  8. says

    I love how you talk about the reality of saving money for big projects. I think so often blog posts can come across as being fueled by an endless supply of money and it’s refreshing to see a real life account of how waiting off can pay out in the end.

    I’m still way too impatient for my own good but I’m sloooooooowly learning that taking my time with feathering my nest is what works our best in the end.

    Thanks for keeping it real, kb!

  9. Morgyn says

    I actually love the white! But I like white everything, if everything in my house was white excluding artwork, pillows and rugs; I would be a happy girl! Haha I’m so excited to see the after pictures!

  10. Emily D. says

    You can paint siding?! Say what? How did I not know this? I cannot wait to see the finished product, so excited for you guys.

  11. says

    SAVE MY WEEKEND!! I would love to use this sprayer on my retro outdoor chairs, paint my kitchen cabinets, thrift store finds, etc. This possibility is endless and exciting.

  12. says

    SAVE MY WEEKEND!! I would love to use this sprayer on my retro outdoor chairs, paint my kitchen cabinets, thrift store finds, etc. I have been visiting this sprayer in the store. The possibility is endless and exciting.

  13. Jess says

    Wow! Can’t wait to see the final product! I never knew that painting like that was possible. And when you shared the photoshopped pictures – a new color of paint can make a dramatic difference! How exciting!

  14. Lauren says

    Oh man, maybe it’s just me, but I LOVE the dark paint…… probably just me. However, you made the right decision going medium. It’s better for re-sale value. Dark houses don’t show as well :)… not that you’re planning to sell.

  15. says

    We had our white brick house (which was chipping and peeling everywhere!) repainted this past November to a vanilla cream and lurve it! It so needed it and we definitely chose the right color but I was pee in my pants nervous the whole time picking a color. I mean, it’s not like painting a room with a gallon, hating it and just being able to spend $30 bucks on another gallon of paint, repaint and then love it. I so get what you mean. I can’t wait to see your finished project!!

  16. Stacey says

    Hah, Certa Pro Scott is my neighbor. Too funny! Super nice guy and if his company’s work around my neighborhood is any indication of the quality, you’ll be very happy! I still feel like if I ever run into you at Home Depot or something, I’ll feel like I’m seeing a celebrity. haha, the famous Katie Bower. :)

    • says

      Small world! I joked with Jeremy that when he pulled up with the bike rack on the back of his car, we were gonna sign no matter the price #notreallybutalmost
      xo – kb

  17. says

    It looks great! I can’t wait to see the finished product.

    We had this project last summer and it’s quite an undertaking, huh? We waited a few years because it was going to be such a pain. My husband is a teacher and instead of getting a part time job or being a SAHD he replaced all of our rotting wood boards, painted and re-caulked all of the joints. It seemed to take forever and he hates painting now. We were thankful to be able to do it ourselves but I’m not sure we’d do it that way again!

  18. Kathryn Woodfin says

    Katie, could you tell me the brand and color of the paint on your front doors? We planned several weeks ago to repaint our front door red. We have looked at SO many reds and still not found one we both like. I really like the one you chose! Would appreciate any help you can provide
    Many thanks – Kathryn

  19. says

    I’ve also found that samples are the way to go, if only because once you paint a few sample swatches, you HAVE to paint. Or else live with multicolored walls :)

    I can’t wait for the big unveiling!

  20. says

    Great choice of color! Also, thanks Katie B for replying to my post on IG in regards to the paint company. You always seem to have timely posts…I’ll soon be scouting paint contractors for the exterior of our home. Thanks for sharing the price of your estimate. I really have no idea what a job like this would cost. Our home isn’t quite as large as yours (ours is 2400 sq) but it’s ALL siding :( Also we have a little wood damage too. I’ll be giving my local Certapro a call. Thanks again for all you do! You rock!

  21. says

    Our siding is a very sexy shade of salmon pink – I thought (*hoped*) it would be the first thing to go when we bought our house! Especially since the salmon clashes juuust a little with our orangey-red brick. But, four years later, it turns out that we don’t see our exterior nearly as much as our interior…so that’s where our time (and moolah) has been going. Please update us on whether it’s worth shelling out the money!

  22. D'Net says

    Oh, such a tease! I wanna see the new paint, even if it has a few ladders here and there. Can’t wait to see the finished product – I’m sure it’s lovely!

  23. rob says

    i think you made a wise choice in color, excited to see the results. i’m impressed you were able to get such a low price and kind of jealous. we bought a house built in the 70’s, 4,700 sq ft and entirely cedar siding. still wearing the original paint and it’s ugly! i now know why no one has repainted it all these years….$30-$60K were our bids (we’re in Id)! eeek!

  24. says

    I look forward to the reveal! I do love the idea of photoshopping all the colours. It really made a difference because I initially thought the white but it does not look right at all. Great colour choices though….

  25. Lori says

    We hired CertaPro to paint the entire inside of our house, 4 years after we built it and I was sick of “builder beige”.

    Loved the CertaPro salesman. Didn’t love the 2 guys who came to paint. They left such a mess of splatters that I am still finding little paint spots on things….

  26. Shari says

    Your house is beautiful. I love the stone and the red door. It is very deceiving from looking at the front and then looking at the rear at the height of it. I am kind of weird about heights, it would take me awhile to feel comfortable with looking out the windows on the upper floor.

  27. Donna says

    Your house is so gorgeous! Do you ever pinch yourself that you really live there? I think I would, all the time.

  28. Kathy Shade says

    How exciting! I ALWAYS purchase about 4-5 test colors and put on different walls, my husband thinks I am CRAZY to ask him which shade of blue is best- he says “they’re ALL blue, what do you mean pick one?” I’ve gotten used to the fact and accept that he will never care about paint colors like I do. I am beginning to trust my 16 year old daughter’s judgement- we have fun! So, just curious- what do You do with all of the paint samples? I probably have 15-20 and it seems like such a waste not to do some kind of project with them- I figure you have some ideas!

    • says

      I do crafts with them! They are great for mixing and making custom colors and if you don’t like a particular color, it’s always nice to donate them to a friend or someone in need :)
      xo – kb

  29. says

    You kow, I never really thought the current color was that bad.. but I think all of those samples are a big improvement. Very cool.

    And our bedroom was painting a similar robin’s egg blue… bluuueeee.. bllleeewwwwwww… ew.

  30. says

    When buying rollers, brushes and other supplies, don’t forget to grab your smart phone and computer mouse too. Our digital color tools help you upgrade your project to the next level.

  31. Erica says


    Can you tell me what photoshop software you use? We are trying to decide on a color for our front door but would love to have an idea what it will look like before we pay for the paint!

    Thank you!

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