May 5, 2020

House to Home - Exterior Makeover

Sooooo, we did a thing. 

We went from bland to bold, ordinary to extraordinary, expected to unexpected...and I love it.

Keep reading to hear all the details on our exterior makeover.

Before I start explaining this whole process, let me just preface this by saying that painting our exterior wasn't even in the top 5 things on our "House To-Do List"...maybe not even in the top 10.

Because we are at home a lot we have been going on a lot of walks around our neighborhood.  We take pretty much the same route and always go down the road behind our house.  One night as we were walking I looked up and saw one of the houses on that street and literally just thought, "That's it!".  I said to Mike, "We need to paint our house like that."

This is the original inspiration house that is on the street behind our house.  I knew I loved the contrast, but also knew I wanted something even darker.

He kind of laughed, like he does at a lot of my ideas, and thought, "Really?".  The bold contrast caught my eye and I really couldn't stop thinking about it.  The inspiration house is actually more of a dark gray, but I loved the dark siding with the crisp white trim.

So of course, the next plausible step in my mind was to start researching, pinning and dreaming on Pinterest, you know, just in case.  I immediately set up a board entitled "Exterior" and got to work.  After searching the term "dark exteriors" for a few days I felt like I had a good jumping off point.

A lot of the same navy paint colors kept popping up on my feed, Benjamin Moore Hale Navy as probably the number one, but every time I saw it I just kept thinking it was too blue.  I didn't want to be known as "the blue house", I wanted a dark, dark navy...but that is harder said than done.

Then I found THE inspiration picture.  Again, I saw it and said, "THAT IS THE COLOR".  I just knew.  

Thank goodness the house has been featured in many magazine publications and the article I read mentioned the actual paint color (many pictures on Pinterest don't have all the information you need).  I had a jumping off point and started diving into more research on that color right away.

The paint color is called Railings (No. 31) by Farrow and Ball.  Up to this point I had never even heard of Farrow and Ball and quickly figured out why.  Their paints are super expensive, but very lush and luxurious. Based on the article I read about the house color, the owner had the color matched at Home Depot to make the cost more affordable.  Bingo.

I ordered a sample of the color from the F&B website and although it was a tiny sample for $8, it was Fed-exed overnight and I had it in my possession by 10:30 am the next day.  

Now, during all of this time, we still hadn't decided to pull the trigger, but Mike was slowly coming around to the fact that we may do this. Then one day on a walk he said, "Well, since you're home, go ahead and get some quotes."  OH MY GOODNESS, I was so excited.  

We briefly thought about doing it ourselves, but with the height of our house we knew it wouldn't be the safest idea in the world, not to mention that a professional would do it quicker and pay way more attention to detail.

Picking the Right Painters:

Once I got the go ahead, I started researching paint companies around our area, reading reviews and even reached out to our neighborhood Facebook page for recommendations.  I ended up booking three different estimates and got three different quotes within 3 days.  It was happening fast and I was so excited.

Quote 1 - the lowest price point, did not include paint, about 4 weeks out, pretty good reviews on FB page, no website, small company.

Quote 2 - the highest price point, included paint, 2 year warranty, good reviews, informative website, a little pushy, quick to respond, part of a bigger company, 3-4 weeks out.

Quote 3 - a little lower price point than quote 2, included paint, 5 year warranty, informative website, quick to respond, small company, owner came to do the estimate and was very thorough, estimate included wood rot fixing and attention to detail, one week out.

We opted to go with quote 3 and have been very happy with the whole process.

From the time we got the estimate done until the time they started was a week and a half.  The whole job took the team 3 days.  So the whole process took from start to finish two weeks.  I was and still am amazed!

Picking the Right Paint Color:

Once we had agreed to the contract, now came the hard part...picking the right paint color.  After ordering the sample of the color I loved I painted a strip of siding outside of our kitchen door and Mike was like, "Ummmm, NO.  That is black!".  My heart sank a little.  

Picking a paint color for your whole house is almost as big of a decision as picking a name for your child.  The pressure was definitely on, especially since our painters were starting sooner than we expected.

In full transparency, the color IS actually considered black.  Based on the F&B website, the name Railings comes from the color of ironwork.  But if you notice the first 4 words of the description it describes the color as "more blue than black".  

I will agree that a small swatch is very dark and looks black, but once you put it on a large canvas the blue undertones come out and it is the most gorgeous dark navy/charcoal/black I have ever seen.

Just to make sure of our (my) choice, I went to Lowe's and got 5 different samples of other deep navy blues and put them on our wall as well.  

HINT: Be sure to put the paints in different areas.  We had a spot in the sun and a spot in the shade...which made the paints look totally different.  

I didn't tell Mike which one was which and once they were all up, he picked his top two...and guess which one was one of his picks.  Yep, Railings.  

Once I put up all of the different shades, they were all too blue.  All of them except Railings.  In the end we agreed to that color and went ahead with the whole process.  

I had the color matched at Sherwin Williams (they already had it in their computer and I did a curbside pickup)  I wanted to make sure the matched color was perfect before our painters ordered gallons and gallons of it.

The Painting Process:

Day 1 - Cleaning.  The first day was dedicated to pressure washing and cleaning the outside of the house.

Day 2 - Painting the siding and repairing the wood.  The second day was when the actual painting crew came out.   They began repairing any wood rot and started painting the dark exterior color.  I had zoom calls all morning and really wasn't expecting the dark paint to go on yet...then Everett ran inside and said, "Mom!  Come look at our house!"   The second day the painters painted from 8:30 am - 7:30 pm and had finished two coats of the dark exterior, and the transformation was amazing.

Day 3 - Trim.  On the third day they touched up any missed spots with the dark color and then painted all of the trim.  They worked from 8:00-3:30 and the house was finished.

Just look at that trim detail!!!!

I had a snack basket for our team every morning and they were so appreciative.  The crew we had was so nice and were very clean workers.  There wasn't trash left anywhere, they were very efficient and you could tell they took pride in their work.  

The owner came every morning to touch base and walk the property and make sure everyone was on the same page.  He also came for a final walk through and did touch ups himself.

Was it expensive?  Yes.
Was it worth it?  Absolutely, yes.

The transformation is more than I expected.  Our house feels even more like us now and I get so excited every time I look at it.  We ended up taking down the shutters  and leaving them off and our windows and trim are highlighted even more.  

It's like a breath of fresh air has been breathed into our house and it has taken on a whole new personality.  It's classy, vibrant and bold and looks like it has been taken right out of a Southern Living magazine spread.

Does everyone in our neighborhood love it?  Some, but not everyone, and that's okay.  It pushes the envelope and its not for everyone, again, that's okay.  It is right up my ally and I am thrilled with the outcome.

The final decision we had to make?  What color for the door.  

Well, that was a whole other conversation.  Originally we were just going to paint the sidelights and door white to match the trim, but I kept thinking it was going to be too much white.  I kept thinking of our house as a face and the white sidelights and doors would just look like really big teeth.  Again, we needed some contrast.

For a hot minute I thought of painting the door red, but I thought that would be too predictable, almost too Americana.  

Then, one of my friends who flips houses said, "Why don't you stain it?".  I hadn't thought of that and my interest peaked.  After looking on Pinterest and finding even more inspo. pictures we decided to go for it.

I photo shopped the look I wanted into a finished house picture and we had made a decision (if you can't tell I always need a visual).  White sidelights and stained door.  Bingo.
---We opted to paint the sidelights white because of the arch above.  We wanted all the trim around the door to look like it was all one piece and not all chopped up, also it was a lot less stripping of wood.

My "photo shopped" version.  I'm definitely not a professional, but I am a person who always needs a visual, and this definitely helped solidify our decision!

The original plan was to sand the door down to its original glory, but we quickly realized that there were 3-4 coats of paint we would have to sand through.  The door had previously been black, red, white and stained.

Instead of spending the rest of our lives sanding, we opted for a paint stripper that worked very quickly and very well.  After about two coats of paint stripper (Day 1) and then sanding and scraping (Day 2) we are getting a lot closer to the finished product.  Hopefully staining will happen in the next day or two!

We are also adding new door hardware and a new address plaque to our front stoop and possibly even some wooden planters and DIY up-lighting in the future.

Of course, you know I will keep you posted! ;)


  1. This looks so good!! Can you tell me what type of paint you used or post a pic of the can? I want to paint our shutters and garage doors this color but have no idea what type of exterior paint to order. Thanks, Lane!

  2. That’s so neat! Such contrast!!

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