color matters: emergency house call

The brother of a good friend of mine called me up a couple weeks ago with an emergency request for help.  Painters were coming to do the exterior the next day and he hadn't picked out his colors.

Pretty much anything would have been an improvement over this salmon and dark red combo:

BEFORE: the front of the house.
One of the only determinations he had already made was to match the rest of the trim color to his new 3-panel sliding door on the back of house. 

BEFORE: the rear of the house as seen from the back yard.
The neighborhood is filled with similar late 1970s houses characterized by lots of angles, dramatically sloped roof lines and diagonally-laid siding.  Most of the neighbor's houses are painted dark brown or other lackluster colors.  Perhaps the previous owner of this house was going for a Southwestern theme with the dusty rose and red shades, but whatever they were trying for was not helping to improve upon the house's style. 

BEFORE: the front of the house.
The front door of the house is tucked away.

BEFORE: the front door (painting begun).
The homeowner here is a professional musician.  His goals for the new colors were to make the house look more contemporary and up-to-date and generally to have the exterior of the style better reflect his sophisticated style and personality. 

He had tried a couple shades of green and blue for the new color but once up, they were coming out dull or camouflaged with the green landscape.  My first though once I saw the house was to go dark, especially since the trim color was going to be relatively light.  I also wanted the doors to be a punchy color.  I felt that the combo of the dark stain and happy bright colors would instantly modernize the exterior of this 30 year old house.

At my suggestion and after I sent him this rough photo-shopped mock-up, he tried swatches of several darker stains.

Mock-up with dark stain and bright yellow doors.
Initially he was hesitant to go so dark, but once he saw the mock-up, he loved the darker look, but wasn't so much a fan of the bright door colors.

So remember what the house looked like from the backyard before:


It now looks like this:

AFTER: Sherwin Williams Caribou SW3025 on the siding, Naval SW6244 on the doors.
 What a change, right?

The winner for the siding stain was Sherwin Williams Caribou SW3025 from their WoodScapes Exterior Acrylic Solid Color House Stain line.  And the trim was successfully color-matched to the sliding door.  And instead of a bright yellow-gold or spring green accent for the doors like I had first suggested, we found a color that still pops but was more agreeable to the owner in the striking Sherwin Williams Naval SW6244 for the doors.

AFTER: the blooming pink azalea in front softens the angles and adds fun color.
The house looks so much more modern and up-to-date. 

Unfortunately, the old pink scheme was carried out a little too thoroughly in the front with pink stained concrete and pink gravel.  It'd be nice if one day that were changed, too.   But at least now the front steps are painted to match the house and the front door got a coat of navy, too.

AFTER: the new front door color says you've arrived at the home of a modern man.
In the back, the deck was stained Sherwin Williams Spice Chest SW3513 from the DeckScapes Exterior Waterborne Semi-Transparent Deck Stain line.  The orange tone compliments the gray and navy wonderfully.

AFTER: the back deck.
The flagstone patio also compliments the siding stain and tie in with the new deck color.

AFTER: I love the Naval on the doors.

All in all, a total transformation.

AFTER: the rear of the house with plants in bloom!
Really, the best part of the change for me is now seeing the landscaping and greenery all around the house show even better against this house.  What a stylish and welcoming place to spend spring days!


  1. Hello Annie, What a wonderful picture story of Matthews house. You were a wonderful consultant and together you made his houes look so much better. Thanks, Cely

  2. Love what you've done with this house! Our home is very similar in style and we had already selected SW Caribou when I found this online. Do you happen to know the trim color? Would love to follow your lead!

    Thanks - Nancy

  3. Hello,

    Very nice colors. The house now is transformed. Very fitting for the setting. Do you offer help for others? We are in the similar situation this home owner was in!

  4. What an amazing job. your house now is beautiful.



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