Exterior siding and windows are finally DONE on our house and we’ve reached a terrifying point – it’s time to pick an exterior color. Why is this terrifying? Because it’s expensive to paint a house, y’all. It’s not like messing up in a bedroom where you can just repaint it a few weeks later when you decide that buttery yellow color isn’t quite the dose of sunshine you thought it was going to be (hint: yellow in a bedroom is always like waking up ON THE SURFACE OF THE SUN! Don’t do it.)
Here’s a recap of the progress on our house as about 17,000 tiny cedar squares went up on it. I actually have no idea how many squares it was but it was 3 guys working every day for almost 3 weeks and it felt like it would never end.
Look at that woven corner! That’s a thing of beauty and such a craft.
Can we talk about how hot my black windows are for a minute? I didn’t waver even a bit when ordering these. I knew from way back that I wanted black windows and the day they were installed I almost did a jig, I was so happy. They just look right and made the house look so stately. I love them. Two over one divided panes with the historic sill profile from Andersen Windows’s 400 series.
Ok so here’s where I AM wavering. When I first dreamed up the black windows it was with the larger, overall vision that we’d paint the exterior of the house white. White house, white trim, black windows, black roof, wood porch ceiling and floor. Like so (though admittedly not all of these are shingles but you get the idea).
Most people go “sure, a white house with black shutters…totally classic”. The added complication for us is that we don’t have shutters. Never did, never will. It’s just not something our style house. So as you see from the images above, the windows (and in our case the wrap around porch roof) are the big contrast moments to the front the house.
Are you with me so far? All was well with my world UNTIL the new shingles started going up in their primed, raw state. An important distinction here – they’re red cedar, not white cedar. White cedar is used in coastal applications and left natural where exposure to salt air gradually weathers the shingles into a soft, gray tone. It’s a quintessential Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard look and it’s absolutely beautiful and charming. But if you put white cedar on a house not at the coast (like mine), it doesn’t ever turn that pretty gray. My shingles – red cedar – are the traditional shingling material for older New England homes. They came out of the box with that beautiful iconic weathered gray tone but if I were to leave them as is this…
…would slowly turn into this. Beautiful in its own right for sure, but not the look I’m going for.
So really there are only two options that I’m debating:
1. Stay the course and use an opaque white stain* on the whole house.
*apparently you don’t paint shingles anymore…you stain them. Paint doesn’t let the wood breathe and results in chipping which I can definitely attest to because entire sections of our old painted cedar shingle siding was chipping off.
2.Stain the house an opaque gray – probably a smidge lighter than the way it looks now but it would lose the fantastic variation that you see now. To maintain that I’d need a semi-opaque stain and apparently that requires re-staining every 5-7 years. Um…no thank you.
I have pretty much lamented this decision on every social media platform that exists at this point. Some days I am so certain that it should be white and then other days someone will go “omg, I drove by your house and it looks so great! I love the gray you picked out” and I think damn…it does look good gray. Am I crazy? When I posted about this last week on my Instagram I got over 60 comments with everything from:
-“white is timeless and classic”
-“white and bright! your old house was gray. go with something different!”
-“white for sure!”
-“White will make it look bigger and regal when all is said and done.”
-“I think a White House with black Windows will be too “farmhouse” for this area.”
-“Gray!! White is overdone!”
-“Gray is so overdone. Go white, it’s classic.”
-“My house was white originally and it really doesn’t age well so we painted it…”
But one person made a comment that really struck a cord with me.
I don’t know why this made so much sense to me. I mean I of course realize it’s silly to paint a house according to how it’s going to look for 3 weeks out of the year. But I DO think it speaks to the aspirational “this is my home” feeling that we all want when we pull up to our house at the end of the day. So I “think” I know what I’m going to do but I swear every time I pull up to the house my mind changes. White or gray? White or gray? What would you do?