Thinking Outside the Brown Box

Do you have a lot of unfun projects to tackle in  your house?  You know, the ones that cost a lot of money but don’t have the visual pay off.  We have had a lot of those: foundation, roof, plumbing, electrical.  Well, another one we have needed to do for a long time is replace pretty much all of the shingles on the East and West sides of the house.  Here is a picture of our brown shingle from this past summer–we face North:

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Our house colors are pretty typical for this area–brown with white trim.  This might be my favorite color combo for a brown shingle craftsman–as long as the shingles are stained.  Ours however are painted.  I know this makes them more durable but they lose that natural warmth, age and weathering and tend to look so flat.  But to get them back to an unpainted state we really would just have to replace them all.  Not in the budget at this time.  But the thing that having painted shingles frees me up to do is to consider other paint colors besides brown.  Although our house is considered a craftsman, its on the cusp of the Victorian era and we have a lot of Victorian elements such as that turret–and Victorians are the opposite of brown:

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So lately I’ve been snapping photos of houses around our neighborhood for inspiration.  Forgive the image quality as they were all with my phone…

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Above has stained shingles with dark trim and a sagey green color on the sashes and mullions.

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Above is stained brown with white trim.  So pretty and natural looking!

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It’s hard to see in the image above but this house has a dark stain on the shingles and white trim but the mullions are a pretty blue.  I really like this combo too.

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The one above is interesting.  More Victorian elements and even a bit of tudor and craftsman and the shingles have been turned to siding.  Also, some (odd) updates to the details and scale have been made to make it more contemporary as well as the orange and gray color choice.

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This one is so bright and fresh.  Yellow with white trim and a beautiful green on the mullions.  And of course a red door!

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This one is pretty too–more of a taupey neutral with a creamy trim and blue on the mullions.

I’m sure I’ll find more as I explore but these are the ones I’ve noticed.  Honestly, I’ll probably stick with brown or maybe a dark gray, keep the white trim and maybe change the color of the sashes.  What do you think?  What’s your favorite?

11 thoughts on “Thinking Outside the Brown Box

  1. I’m kind of surprising myself by liking the second to last best! Though I do love a good ol’ Berkeley Brown Shingle — and I’ll have you know that I didn’t even know that term until meeting you!


    • That might be my favorite too but don’t think I have the courage for that much of a change. :) I think I love the green mullions in it and you showed me that inspiration pic of green sashes when you were thinking of paint for your house!

  2. I love the look of the stained shingles too. It would be fun to paint the mullions like that photo with the blue. Your windows are so pretty…it would really make them pop!

  3. I just signed a contract to replace my roof so I understand your pain.

    I guess your paint also calls in to question when you’re replacing your roof. It appears like your roof is kind of an orangey-brown which limits your color choices for the house. You could always paint your window sashes (and mullions) something in that range to tie everything together but I can’t imagine gray shingles working with that roof. Unless you’re going to replace the room soon enough that having that be “off” for a while won’t make you loose sleep.

    I have a few different projects that set off a whole chain of other projects so I totally understand the difficulty. It sometimes reduces the options.

    • Wow Steve! So impressed you noticed that! I wasn’t even tackling that consideration in the post because it just seemed like a whole other can of worms to get into, but yes, that orangey roof does limit my options for paint which is why I probably would stay with a warm brown. We replaced the roof when we moved in so hope we won’t have to again for about 15 years and between the orange shingles and green ones given to me as options I chose the orange to go with the tones in the paint. Of course, now I’m stuck…

      And honestly, we can’t really afford to reshingle in the immediate future–especially when I have other fun projects that money could go to. I’m afraid we may have to spring a leak or something before we’ll be forced into really dealing with that. But it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead as it’s something we’ll have to deal with eventually. When we got our roof done, the roof guy was so worried about the state of our shingles on the west side that I caught him out there replacing them for free without even telling us one day.

      Good luck on your new roof.

  4. We have a lot of unfun (love that word that you used) small projects to finish up – especially if we’re going to list our house at some point. Patching up holes, etc. We got a new roof last year as well as some point done too, so yes those are not fun at all – especially on the wallet. I always like exteriors with some taupe in them – like that second photo that I think of when I think of San Fran homes I like the colors toward the left that are sort of in that taupey family (from what I can see).

    • Whenever we tackle these projects without much visual pay off I just try to think of the increased equity to make me feel better. It sounds like you might be listing your house in the future?

  5. Whichever color you decide for the siding of your home the fence should be stained that color too.

    The trim color will be too lite in the small space, darker makes small garden spaces feel larger.

    And the stained fencing brings the architecture of your home into the garden.

    Adore your home.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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