Skip to main content
Exterior Colour

Should I Paint my House Charcoal?

By 05/15/2014February 2nd, 201772 Comments


I almost NEVER specify dark greys or charcoals for exteriors. Trim, shutters or front doors, YES.

The main field colour, NO.


Because as soon as the grey trend is over, your house will look trendy, and possibly dated.

It’s the same reason why no one and I mean no one is asking me for a brown exterior anymore.


Because dark brown is sooooo five years ago.

If you drive by a brown house, you can pretty much guess when it was painted. In Vancouver anyway.

Does this mean you shouldn’t have anything brown anywhere? Not at all. But you should avoid decorating your entire house–from inside and out–in the same dark, trendy neutral.

I’m specifying lots of grey for exteriors, don’t misunderstand. I simply do my best to steer my clients away from dark charcoal grays.

Here are some more examples of what I mean by dark and trendy:

charcoal house

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest
Gray Exterior
Via Pinterest
Charcoal Exterior
Via Pinterest
White House
So I’m a little late launching my exterior webinar this year because I was waiting for the trees to turn green so I could add some more photos.
And, it’s completely revised from last year so that it includes the pieces from my newly created Colour Confidence Method™. I’ll also send it to you as a worksheet to fill out so you can analyze your own exterior. You can get my webinar, on demand here.
By the way, did you know that cream exteriors (above) are super trendy right now? A creamy/white exterior done right is classic, I’ll also tell you which beige gives you the perfect cream (without being yellow).
Here’s what you’ll learn:
  • Which beige equals the perfect creamy exterior
  • The difference between a Fresh vs. Earthy Colour Scheme
  • Which Whites will Make or Break your Colour Scheme.
  • How to choose the Right Colour for your permanently vinyl windows. Get this one colour wrong and your house could look bad FOREVER.
  • If you have an all brick home, this trim colour will work 75% of the time.
  • The biggest difference between painting the interior vs. the exterior of your house.
  • The Three Biggest Mistakes Homeowners and Professionals make when choosing exterior colour.
  • A step-by-step process using my proprietary Colour Confidence Method™ to choosing your own paint colours.

In the training, I will walk you through the process that a professional goes through to arrive at the right colour, including how to diagnose the real boss of your house.

This process will instantly take the world of thousands of paint colours and reduce them down to a manageable number to select from.

And when I show you a house with a colour you need to know, I’ll list it in Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams whenever possible so you can follow along with your fan deck.

BONUS: You’ll get my list of go-to exterior colours divided by undertones just like the list in my eBook.

296 pins


  • mrsben says:

    Perfect timing, Maria! Have signed up as our home could use a new coat of paint; however will not be available to attend (live) so hopefully I will be able to view it ‘on demand’. Looking forward to it even though participating vie Webinar is new to this old gal. ☺ -Brenda-

    • mrsben says:

      Neglected to add; do hope Maria that the subject of contending with four distinct seasons for choosing colours will also be on topic. Reason: I am leaning towards painting my home ‘gray’ as it has always been a favourite of mine but to elaborate; I have observed once the landscape changes to ‘snow’ a gray palette can often metamorphose into a blue or purple home which is all very well if you are a Smurf or Barney The Dinosaur and you don’t mind surprises or the transformation in its colour. ☺ -Brenda-
      P.S: No insult intended for those who may have a blue or purple home.

  • Well, I’m getting my house painted next week and was leaning towards Chelsea Gray. You’re causing me problems Maria. 😉

  • Colleen says:

    Hmmm. I tend to not agree with you, I’m afraid. Most of us don’t go by the trends. For our clothes, maybe, but not our houses. I live in the South and it tends to be pretty self-conscious about tradition, etc. I’ve been seeing dark grey houses here and there for 20 years. I think a dark grey house is beautiful, distinct, and always in style. Sorry, but I do!

    • Eva says:

      I agree. I have thought my whole life that one of the most classic, beautiful house colors is dark grey with white trim. Could the people of Nantucket be wrong? I don’t think so–classic.

      • The Force says:

        I agree. She may know color, however she is clearly wrong about grey/gray houses. They are a classic and will continue to pass the test of time. Grey homes can represent Sophistication/Class and some of the best Modern designs have utilized and celebrated Grey. Grey allows other accent colors of the home to be spotlighted with appreciation. If applied appropriately Grey with other neutral colors can compliment one another with synergy. Grey is a great tool coming out of the color shed.

        • Maria Killam says:

          There is ALWAYS a place for grey no matter what the trends are. However, when you drive into a new subdivision built in 2015 and EVERYTHING is charcoal grey. THAT is trendy, and will scream ‘These were built in the grey trend’ period. The End.

          Thanks for your comment so I could clarify that. Maria

  • Kathy says:

    Any dark color will fade a lot faster too and be more difficult to prime and repaint later. Lights and mid-tones are best for the body color, with the exception of natural cedar shingles, which can darken with repeated applications of transparent stain.

    I do like charcoal grey on the mid-century modern example though, in part because it isn’t all charcoal grey. And I think it is great on trim–so much softer than a harsh black, especially when paired with white.

    Opaque stain is worth considering for new cedar siding and trim. Comes in all kinds of colors and doesn’t flake as bad as paint, and no priming needed. A quality paint job should last 10-15 years with some periodic maintenance, and then require a complete strip to repaint well. Stain can put off that step for quite some time.

    Maanufacturers may say that the new dark vinyl windows and siding can take the heat, but I would be careful. Vinyl has a high expansion and contraction ratio that makes it break seals, ripple if not installed properly, and it chalks and become brittle and will crack with time. Dark colors, even with special additives, just speeds up that process, and show wear. The lifespan of a vinyl window is about 15-25 years, and then the whole works needs to be replaced.

    If you like the look of a darker sash, go with wood, metal, or maybe fiberglass, which has a similar expansion/contraction ratio as wood. Dark sash was common between about 1850-1950, so white sash totally changes an exterior of an older house. It is best to keep original for an old house if at all possible.

    Modern windows just can’t last as long as the old wood ones will with care, and old windows with a storm are nearly as efficient. John Leeke and Bob Yapp are both great sources of info on how to fix old windows, paint old houses properly, and repair damaged wood.

  • Jessica says:

    Way back when, probably 2006-2008, a shelter mag (I think Domino) featured a Victorian house that was painted black with an aqua door. I didn’t like it; you couldn’t see any of the great gingerbread detail on the house anymore. A few years later, 2009-2010, a house in a historic neighborhood here was painted the same way–flat black, aqua front door. Every time I drive by that house I think “Domino 2008.” I think they even reroofed to change their shingles to as close to black as possible. It’s completely dated to me and it looks a lot more run down than when it was light gray. Black shutters will always be classic, but I’m in complete agreement that a dark gray or black house is a trend.

  • Connie says:

    Charcoal grey may be trendy right now and yes, it’ll probably look dated in a reasonably short period of time. However, if most of the homes in your neighborhood are that color (or something similar to it) and you choose something drastically different, you run the risk of looking like a sore thumb or duck out of water! Plus if you’re in a covenant area that has color limitations, you may have to use what everyone else is using whether or not you like it. Too many “what ifs” to make blanket statements about color, IMHO. Personally I love white houses with black trim, but that’s not going to be a reality in the house we live in, so sometimes ya work with what ya got 😉

  • keira says:

    While I think (dark) gray is especially hot these days, I can’t wrap my head around it not also being a neutral/classic, understanding that neutrals come and go in style. In other words, painting your house dark gray is never going to be the same as painting it, say, chartreuse.

    Here in Northern California we have a lot of “brown shingle” houses which are often obviously brown. It’s a classic look and I don’t seem them looking dated.

    Some of the points raised by Maria and others are valid but not the same as a color being (too) trendy: will it hold up to the elements, does it show off the house’s details and ornament, and so forth.

    My own pet peeve: houses painted green that are surrounded by lots of greenery, usually in a green that clashes. If the house was, say, a…er…dark gray, it would set the greenery off so nicely. ; )

    What I wish we could have is not everyone copying everyone else (granite counters, beige interior walls, stainless appliances, etc.)…that’s when you can’t enjoy something anymore ’cause all you’re thinking about is how it’s *all* you see everywhere.

    • ka says:

      Since you are in Northern California, there was a mid-tone gray Victorian across from the original Peet’s Coffee on Vine and Walnut that was JUST BREATHTAKING when the magnolia in the front bloomed with pink and white flowers. I remember how gorgeous that was till this day.

  • holly says:

    oh man. I know someone who has trendy dark grey interior walls, and had their house exterior painted charcoal grey last summer. I do love grey, but their home looks so sombre & a little foreboding. I definitely think they went a little overboard with it.

  • Jillian says:

    My favorite exterior color combination will always be white with black shutters and a red door. That being said, I think that the dark painted look might not end up being all that trendy. I remember living in San Francisco in the early 2000s…there were several Victorians painted all dark gray or even black. I grew up in a French Mansard Victorian that was painted charcoal gray with white trim (until my dad had it repainted cream and beige). It’s sister house several blocks away was painted in the same combination and still is 30 years later. I think the dark colors can look very striking but it has to be on the right house.

  • Elizabeth Young says:

    But what if I just like gray and always have? It has always been my neutral, inside and out—trendy or not! You have to paint walls, etc, SOME colour! It may be trendy at the moment, but trends will continue to come and go. Basically, I think you should choose the colour you like and never mind it is or will become a trend if you like it!

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    Well I must take a differing view here….only because we live in an extremely rustic vacation get away town.
    It may be trendy in most other places, but dark, forest-blendy colors go perfectly natural here. Almost all houses have lots of native rock work, bark shingles, shake shingles and heavy iron work door and window hardware. The deep colors are manly here, where waterfalls, fishing, golfing and hiking are the norm.
    I do agree that in every other case, this will not work and appear dated and overly drastic very soon. Most of the photos here, also, use a high contrast trim (whites, beiges). That’s the death- nell for dark body colors. Too much contrast is tiring on a daily basis. All this to say—Listen to Maria….she’s right about this trend going into the suburbs…. NOT a good idea….and exterior painting is NOT cheap to change!

    • Jenn says:

      I agree that where you live can dictate the best color scheme for your home. I live in the Sonoran desert and homebuilders are still using brown tones, because it works in harmony with the landscape out here. But, the inside of my brown home is painted Behr’s Classic Silver, because I just love grey so darn much! 🙂

  • Great advice Maria! I do so many exterior consultations, and even though I own a paint store, and could sell more paint as these trends change, I rarely specify dark trim. It is so 5 years ago, and now we are lightening all exterior trim. I caution home owners on this subject daily. Get a color consultant to give you a workable plan that will “stand the test of time.”

  • Beth says:

    My take on Maria’s or other experts’ recommendations? They’re guidelines, considerations, not hard and fast rules.

    I consider LRV percentages in a certain balance when selecting wall/floor/ceiling color, based on my IACC education, but it’s my starting point, a reference point I may veer away from.

    So it can be for Maria’s charcoal gray exteriors. Consider it, and if it doesn’t apply, don’t apply it, no harm, no foul.

    Think of it as another tool for your toolbox?

  • franki says:

    Guess you’re a gray or you’re not…I am. We’ve had a gray house for over thirty years and I absolutely love that weather silver gray. We’re easterners so that may make the difference. franki

    • Denise Conley says:

      I agree! It’s all about context and personal taste. We live just outside of Boston in a very pretty, classic suburban town where most of the housing was built in the 1920’s. There are lots of gorgeous central entrance Colonials — a mix of wood-clad, half brick or all brick. Gray wood-clad Colonials with white trim and black shutters are a pretty classic–not trendy–look around here. And they’ve been like that for decades! I have to say I love the contrast of white trim and architectural detail with a gray body color, and the way gray works as the perfect neutral backdrop for all types and color of landscaping. Everything pops against that gray!

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    I remember seeing a small older home about 20 years ago that was a very dark charcoal grey, (almost black) with white trim. I thought it was so the most stunning home I had ever seen. And I still love that combination. I told myself that one day I wanted a home like that. Oh well…since I’m never moving from my townhouse, it will never be.
    Insert sad face.

  • Simone says:

    Going to disagree with you this time. We painted our house BM’s Kendall Charcoal 8 years ago and we still love it! Sometimes it’s worth taking a risk and picking a colour you love, regardless of whether it’s in or not. Even if it’s dated in a few years, I’m still going to love it. One of the reasons I love it is because my landscaping and flowers pop gorgeously against the dark neutral background. The bright greens of shrubs and the bright tones of my hydrangeas and other flowers look fantastic against the dark grey. Everyone who comes over says it’s their favourite paint colour.

    • Beth says:

      I would marry Kendall Charcoal if I wan’t already married. : ) I just used it in a building’s foyer with 50-foot ceilings, though not everywhere. People want to hug it.

      • Karen says:

        I painted my house (Edwardian) in Kendall Charcoal with white trim and black window frames five years ago and it looks fabulous. I keep some photocopies of our paint colours by the front door for my husband to give to all the people who knock on our door asking for the colours! I’ve seen quite a few pop up in our heritage neighbourhood in the last 3 years. I love grey, it suits our house and I’ll never get tired of it.

    • Maureen says:

      I agree. I just don’t see a colour as rich and classic as Kendall Charcoal ever being dated. I’m in the midst of choosing an exterior cottage colour, and it’s high on the list along with Amherst Grey. Warm greys have always been my go-to for exteriors because they blend seamlessly into the environment, especially in a wooded area. Picture tree bark, natural stone…
      That almost black roof/siding/stone? Trendy. But a grey that uses nature as it’s inspiration? Timeless.

  • Sue says:

    I also disagree about midcentury modern houses painted in dark greys or blacks. For them, this is a classic look, completely appropriate to the period of the house. They would look wrong with white paint black shutters, and a red door, for instance.

  • Vanessa says:

    Thank you for your posts and always informative suggestions, Maria. I have taken many of your courses and appreciate your experience and advice.

    I have to admit that I have just suggested a darker green/gray siding plus warm white (Manchester Tan) vinyl windows and trim. It will also have stone accents anchoring columns. It is a small victorian home that is being rebuilt. I have always loved gray…from well over 20 years. I also note that you rarely specify charcoal for interiors as well. I wonder if this is more of a preference….as some replies have suggested. I also agree that it would depend on the house and location. As well as the mix of materials (stone, wood). I firmly believe this colour can be timeless if done in the right way. Maybe seen as more trendy in newer suburbs with all vinyl siding and limited natural and architectural features. Thanks again for your ideas, Maria!

  • megeranski says:

    Can’t wait for the webinar!

    Have attended (or watched recording of) several. They are all top-notch!

    Thank you for recording this — I am a working stiff and not able to attend. Will rush home to watch the re-run though!

    p.s. my house is a real honest-to-goodness orange brick, with ochre and sage bricks randomly scattered. It is terrifying to think what color (and shutters) to use. hope this is covered, or at least points to the right colors. 🙂 Have scoured the internet for ideas, and am at a standstill.

  • Yvonne says:

    “Colour” me confused…I think the house in the first picture is absolutely stunning. Why is it so wrong? Maybe its ‘trendy’ for now because the grays in all their variations are coming back into popularity, but if homeowners and builders are daring this is the kind of colour that inspires. Personally I am so sick and tired of the endless beige exteriors on most homes – ‘safe’ colours that seem to be ‘no’ colour at

  • Maria Killam says:

    So here’s the thing. Is there an exception to the ‘dark trendy neutral’ guideline or rule that I’ve talked about here?

    Absolutely. For the right house, in the right area, considering the architectural style of the house.

    Choosing brown or charcoal for a home should be as carefully considered as any other colour. It should NEVER be chosen because it’s trendy but because it’s appropriate for the home.

    There are MANY neighbourhoods, one in particular that I’m thinking of on a mountain. You drive up and it’s one bleak brown house after another, then as they keep developing and the houses are newer, you get higher up the hill, they’re now charcoal and look just as bleak.

    That’s the point of my point 🙂

    • Kiki says:

      Ironically, I happen to know the owners of the house in the 3rd photo – the one with the orange door. It’s a beautiful architecturally designed mid-century home in Portland OR and was even the location for a major movie from the 60’s.
      The owners painted it this colour about 15 years ago. It looked fabulous then. So does that make it trendy now? Did they regret it? Absolutely not. It worked with the style of the home and has not changed. I don’t expect it will change and look ‘trendy’ because it’s authentic to the era.

  • Lesli DeVito says:

    I remember when Gray started kicking up a few years back thinking “Interesting…they are bringing an Exterior color…INSIDE.” I kind of think Gray has been an exterior color long before the “trend” and will probably outlast the trend….now, if you want to talk about Turquoise doors, that is another subject (BTW Mine is Turquoise) – but I happen to think that doors are an easily changed and fun way to surf a trend…

  • bfish says:

    Wow, this post inspired a lot of comments quickly which is great!

    Count me with many of the other posters who believe that dark gray has a place as a “classic” rather than “trendy” neutral. Our late 1920s wood clapboard house (sort of a saltbox/bungalow/Colonial Revival hybrid) was painted dark greenish gray when we bought it in 1987 (with white trim, black shutters, and black shingle roof).

    It looked pretty great; however, when the need to repaint became inescapable several years later we changed to a sunny yellow body (with white trim, dark green shutters, and rusty red front door; later added dark green metal roof) and never looked back. The point is, this house could still be gray if we’d chosen to go that route and it would still look classy, just having a different “feel” than it does now. There is a slightly older Colonial Revival wood house in our town which is charcoal gray/white trim/black shutters/red door and it’s still striking looking to me after seeing it for 30 years.

    When we painted the 1950 brick Cape Cod next door (remodeled it and sold) in 2004, I don’t think gray was on-trend, but it was speaking to me for that house. I chose a medium-light gray with a lot of lavendar in it, white trim, purplish dark gray shutters, and dark gray roof. (I loved the front door painted raspberry but found out that didn’t have universal appeal 🙁 .) It still looks like a million bucks. A neighbor from several blocks away commented, post makeover, that she had driven daily by the once-drab and sad brick house for years and never noticed it until now (she was complimenting us, not saying it stuck out like a sore thumb).

    For most of the example houses shown, I see instant classic more than trendy. I’m not a lover of gray interiors however . . . .

    • maria says:

      Medium gray, yes. I specify it by the boatload.

      • bfish says:

        Wonderful, thanks for adding that Maria as we all like confirmation of our decorating ideas/impulses! And I do agree that a darker gray doesn’t work on as many house styles as medium gray does. It occured to me later that I had my first home (1870 simple Victorian farmhouse) painted that color with white trim, black shutters and dark red door. The house had ugly asbestos (I think) shingle siding and we couldn’t afford to change that, but going gray to cover up the old white made the house so much more distinctive and inviting.

  • Kim says:

    Since I am a lover of high contrast I have to say that I really love that first photo of the dark grey/white trim home. The greenery just pops in contrast. My MIL lives on the SC coast and her home is a medium grey with dark grey trim. It looks great to me! So much so that we’re thinking of painting our (now blue, yuck!) home the same color. We live in the woods, not on the coast, yet I still think it will look good here. Now I’m wondering about the trim – dark grey or white??? Advice welcome!

  • Christina says:

    The exterior of a house is usually painted every 5-7 years (depending on location/climate). I think picking a trendy neutral exterior palette is the best way to go. Why not? You will have the opportunity to change it soon enough. Choosing landscape and hardscape colors require much more careful thought. Those are much harder and more expensive to change.

  • Cherie says:

    I am very traditional in most things, and that goes for styles, decorating, furniture, etc. It’s what I love, what makes me happy. However, being traditional also means having an attitude about longevity and solidness. So for me, regardless of the style, the most beautiful homes are the ones that are built and decorated to last, to stand the test of time, to be there for future generations. That’s what we should strive for, so that we are not forever changing, rebuilding, refinancing, and using up our resources. If we constantly try to change our homes to match the trends, we fail to reach that enriching, solid place in life, where we know our homes please us and are there for us. Once we reach that place, we are living life to the fullest. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t refresh and modernize over the years, and add spaces if necessary, that sort of thing. A fresh coat of interior paint can be uplifting and one must change fabrics now and then. Of course we must do those things. But there comes a point when the home must serve us, that point when it is finished and pleases us as it is. Then we focus on enjoying our home, coming and going from it, and entertaining our family and friends in it. Once you find the color for your home that pleases you and goes with the environment and neighborhood, if you have chosen well, it can and should last you a long while, so that you don’t feel obligated to follow all the trends that come along.

    • judy says:

      How right you are-Our home couldn’t be more different from todays styles but the old leather chairs, cherry chests, figural lamps and book cases in almost every room are the epitome of “home” to me and my spouse. The comment about granite and stainless struck home too,One of my most regretted updates is stainless appliances. What a pain to keep “smearless”.

    • bfish says:

      I like your comments, Cherie. We do change some elements of our home and garden over time, but not in response to what is trendy.

      Sometimes certain styles become “in” and it is fortuitous as it calibrates with our personal preferences. For example, I’m old and lived through the hippie/boho aesthetic of the late sixties and accordingly am still drawn to elements of Middle Eastern and Indian decor. With it being somewhat trendy in recent years, it makes items that appeal to me more available and affordable. Other trends (e.g. Tuscan kitchens, multi-colored mosaic backsplashes) leave me so cold that I wouldn’t decorate with them if you held a gun to my head. I’m glad, however, that I’ve tried a few different things (like a more minimalistic look in the 1990s) that appealed at the time, only to learn that they didn’t have staying power with me.

      As you note, we’ve evolved our home to please us and if it happens to conform to some current style, that’s nice, but of no influence one way or the other.

    • Corinne Koftinoff says:

      Well said!

  • Dawn says:


    I am so glad you are having this webinar. It comes at the right time. I am going to try and hold off the painter until early June now so I can use your advice! I have read your post on exterior trim countless times (you probably have seen the ticker for this post go up substantially lately!).

    But in the meantime, I wouldn’t mind if some readers give their input.

    I have a white garage door that faces front and center on an orange brick house with a charcoal black roof. The garage door is new and I don’t want to paint it (void the warranty) and all the window sashes are white. I finally found out after a lot of digging that the company that makes the garage door says the color is SW Fleur de Sel. Since this door plays such a prominent fixed role, should my trim be this as well? I would really like to do black shutters and have decided on BM Caribbean Teal for the front door. My original choice for the trim color was going to be BM Pure White. To tone down the garage door and add some architectural interest I have thought about replacing the top panel with a window panel (not exactly cheap and I am saving up money to do so and it will not happen right away).

    Any input about working with fixed whites (especially when in such a large form) from fellow readers would be greatly appreciated.



  • Beth says:

    Love the different POVs. BTW, Maria didn’t say she *never* specified dark grays/charcoals. She said *almost* never. She left room in there!

    My favorite small, contemporary commercial building nearby is an alive dark gray with a chunk of rich, apple red. I never get tired of looking at it.

    I don’t like doing exteriors, mostly turn them down, and have an info sheet I give clients to try to get them to paint great big drywall sample boards (or hire me to do it) to see how changing light – and even tree leaves – changes the color throughout the day.

    But a longtime and very special client requested my help, and she has an amazing light-filled old house, so I said yes. I’m hoping Maria’s seminar will ratchet up my enthusiasm.

  • Ann says:

    Hi Maria! This is a hot topic in our area. A good portion of the city was built in the 2000-2012 boom. Nearly every house is some shade of brown or tan. It was the running joke with my husband and I that if we bought an existing house, we would be the 80th brown house on the right! LOL! Seriously. Our home was the first grey house built in our new subdivision. Its light grey with a red door. I think one of the colors is SW Mindful grey, but I’m not totally sure. I really like the color. We don’t live in a custom home area and our builder offered about 6 exterior color choices. Four were various choices of browns, one sage green, and the light grey. I really wanted white, but we loved the floor plan. I felt I picked the best of the choices ( still do! ). I would say 80 % of houses being built in our neighborhood are still brown with some shade of brown door and shutters. Other builders in our subdivision have different color choices. One is offering a dark charcoal grey. Every time I look at the one closest to me with a turquoise door, I can’t help but think it looks trendy. I have to say though, its at least different than all the brown! A big trend in building here right now is Craftsman style homes. Ours is a craftsman also. I really love it, but I know that it was built in the “Craftsman style” era. Before, in our city, Tuscan style houses ruled. As much as I think color can date your home, a big indicator is also style. In our area, almost everyone is copying front door and shutter colors. I just wish people would break out and be original! Being different for the sake of being different can be bad, but copying every detail from house to house drives me crazy!

    • Ann says:

      Another problem I see in my area is not paying attention to the exterior style of their home. One of my neighbors has a craftsman style exterior with a french country interior on hard finishes. The next door neighbor to them has a french country exterior with a craftsman interior. I just want to go and swap them! I love an eclectic style in furnishings, but please stay true to the style of home inside and out in hard finishes! Is anyone else bothered by this? I don’t know which bothers me more all brown inside and out, or not staying true to the style of the home!

      • Dawn says:


        I dislike this too. I really wanted a mid-century ranch (like the one in the pic above!) but ended up with a colonial-style traditional layout to my 1980 home. I feel the house style will dictate not only my exterior paint choices/landscaping but how I ultimately renovate and decorate the interior as well. I feel there should be a feeling of cohesiveness. Never thought of myself as the traditional type but I now find myself being pulled that way to keep the integrity and feel of the house. Maybe my thinking is wrong??

        • Ann says:


          This is my humble opinion since I am not a professional decorator ( although my friends, family, and neighbors ask me for advice ). I think you are on the right track. I would keep your permanent finishes more in line with the style of your home. I think you could use more simple style traditional finishes, that way your love of mid-century and traditional furnishings and accessories would be blend nicely. I have a cream colored upholstered carved mahogany wood couch with some antiques in one room.I paired it with a large modern art piece. I love how they contrast and keep each other interesting! Mixing styles in furnishings, artwork, and accent pieces gives the room your unique style and personality. Your reading Maria’s blog, so I’m sure that you’ll stay on the right track and trust your instincts!

  • Martha says:

    I agree the trend here is really dark grey with black trim esp in new houses! It is so grim for the westcoast. Our neighbours painted their house those colours and I call it the Addams family cottage. Unfortunately since it is in the new builds it is not over. There are lovely greys but here dark on dark grim in the rain. Also dark brown kitchens are still hot. this is New Westminster. Not for me!

  • Hmmm, not sure I agree but interesting advise nonetheless. I personally love how dark charcoal blue/gray blends with landscaping and off white trim. I think it is stunning and will be “trendy” for awhile, at least until you have to paint your house again. I just specified BM Cyperspace for my own cottage style house with black doors and can’t wait to see it up. I hope you are wrong 😉

  • Mary says:

    I love any shade of grey house, my 27 year old home is a nice light grey. 4 or 5 years ago, our neighborhood was hit by golfball size hail. Nearly every home has replaced their aluminum siding. While there was a nice disparity of colors, cream, tan, grey, white mostly, now nearly every home is brown! Brown, brown and more brown! I loved my pale grey, so kept it, but I think the neighborhood looks “off-balance” now.

  • Gerri says:

    My house has white vinyl siding and the new roof has multi shades of gray and some black. The shutters my husband made are painted black and the new door unit black with a knocker, peephole and stained glass 3/4 sidelights. The house has a colonial look and the front windows are tall. Curved sidewalk with small stones from it to the front of the house under the windows with planters filled with lots of plants. Great curb appeal.

  • Kathy says:

    A lovely little yellow cottage house in our beach town just changed to a trendy grey, and completely wiped out the character of the house. I love grey but it ruined the look of one of my favorite houses. A darker grey would have worked, but this just took away all the details.

  • Wendy says:

    I would love if you could address house styles from the Southwest, AZ in particular, in your upcoming class.

    I am having to select a color for our home. We have a flat roof home (you do not see the roof at all) that has a small six inch soffit detail along the roof line. Although, I want to keep that the same color, as it is a small detail in comparison with the rest of the house. The only other dimension to the house is that the garage bumps out. There are no other details to the house, so I will have to depend on a bit of landscaping for interest.

    White does not look good on these style houses. I don’t want the golden tans that everyone uses here, either. Suggestions?

    I am happy to email photos.

    I look forward to your class!

  • Kristen says:

    Oh Maria, I so want to take this class. If only it were a week earlier. We are scheduled to have our house
    painted on Tues. May 27th! I have spent hours looking as colors and think I have settled on a gray-green BM 2141-50 Horizon Gray. (Not to be confused with BM Horizon.) I have had great luck with my interior choices, but still feel apprehensive about the exterior. In this case it is hard to say, “It’s just paint!” Of course I’m curious to know if my choice made your go to list!


  • KJ says:

    Would anyone be willing to look at this picture and tell me what color the brick is? I guess it’s recycled old Chicago brick, but I cannot figure out the predominant color or undertone. Buff, pink, terracotta?? And do you think the brown tile roof, brick and lighter (grey?) stone accents work together? I can’t decide if it works even though it’s blah or it’s totally hopeless.

  • Betsy OShea says:

    Dawn, my comment is way late but pure white w any color brick just doesn’t work! I hv a craftsman red brick on lower half house and recently painted the top gables BM Thunder…a med lite greige w navy blue window sashes and trim in soft chamois….the trim and uppers had been white for many yrs and the improvement is amazing. Brick is earthy and as such doesn’t look right w plain white. I would forget about the warranty on white garage and paint it cream or a gray which matches the masonry/grout color

  • Trent says:

    All of these grey houses look depressing to me 🙁 I love the look of clay brick and natural wood. I would never dream of painting over brick. The level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that’s in an older home is unparalleled in today’s new construction. My heart sinks every time I drive down a street here and see another grey flip house with red or yellow shutters…. I know the inside is just as bad, with the built ins, cabinets, china cabinets and trim decked out in some shade of gun metal or watered down ash. In all likely hood the original oak floors will have either been tiled over or had some painted stencil sprawled across it, probaby in a shabby-chic aqua and white combo. Ages ago a house was more than than a building you lived in for a short period of time. It was more than a quick get in and get out investment. It had a soul and it’s materials connected you to the earth and inspired pride of place. I can’t help but feel like every time I see one of these grey, hollow eyed homes that someone has simply scooped out it’s heart and left it’s bones for the carrions.

  • Lyn says:

    Workers coming soon to do work – your opinion:

    I’ve opted for dark grey pavers with light yellow trim pavers for edges. House will be white window frames

    Question – Although I would like the house charcoal, I fear it will look too dark alongside the pavers; possibly. Do you think a pale yellow would like nice or a light green

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Lyn,
      You cannot have light yellow pavers that don’t relate to anything, that will look like a mistake. My assistant will send you a link to my eDesign in case you’d like some help! Hope that helps in the meantime! Maria

  • Jen says:

    Interesting. I live in Amish country in a tiny town, so almost all of the houses here are white. (Mine is an awful, faded shade of yellow, unfortunately.) There is one other house, two towns over, which is painted black. One in our town is navy. A handful of homes are brick. There really is very little variety. It makes me laugh that I can even name the homes from memory that aren’t white.

    I am about to sell my house and am looking for a way to update our 1960 ranch. I really love the charcoal color as there are not any other homes around that are painted as such. I see this post was written almost 5 years ago. I find it amusing that I was over here wondering if charcoal would be too edgy and new for this town and yet you were saying it was a trend to soon fade away so many years ago!

    • Maria Killam says:

      That’s right, it has 2 years left in the current trend cycle! Maria

    • Peter says:

      A 1960 ranch could look great in a dark charcoal. While I agree that trendiness for it’s own sake is pretty dumb, I don’t think that the universal response should be: Avoid the current trend at all costs. If you’re choosing a color (charcoal, say) because: 1) It really accents the style/period of the house, 2) It is well suited to the particular landscape/environment of the house, or 3) It ties together your design/vision in just the right way. then you’re NOT thoughtlessly jumping on the trend-wagon. Instead, you’re making an authentic, valid choice that just happens to align with whatever “trendy” thing is happening in the world. Thoughtful design almost never looks dated; it stands out as an exception to the rule. And I think (hope?) most people appreciate the difference.

  • krisd says:

    interesting read and comments…this article is from 2014 and dark colors and crisp white are still strong in 2020. taupe and muted colors seem safe and boring, although still beautiful and classic. I see dark as a new classic as just makes things pop. love how christmas and halloween come to life with dark tones. love how dark colors blend with nature.

Leave a Reply