Relentlessly Brown House needs makeover, Help!

andrewkillianJuly 21, 2012

My wife and I just bought this house but we feel like the exterior needs some contrast or more curb appeal. The house is on a mountain and we like natural tones and a more rustic style in general. We just want some suggestions on how to 'accent' the house, because every bit of it is the same color brown. Do we need to repaint the exterior a lighter color? Light trim on the brown? We would like to also spruce up the entry way/front porch. Thanks in advance for any and all thoughts or suggestions.

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Annie Deighnaugh

There are a number of color combos with brown from california paints that may give you some ideas. I think if you paint the trim a contrast color, and trim back the rhody your front entrance will stand out.

Here is a link that might be useful: CA paints

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 9:44AM
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Congratulations on your new home.

I like the house proper as is. I think the uniform color suits the house and setting. I very much like how the garage is the same color as the siding. I would not paint the trim around the garage door to be a contrasting color. I might paint the roofline facia boards a lighter natural color.

I suggest removing the bush between the garage and front porch. That would visually open up the front door. Fill in the space with a suitable low maintenance perennial for your climate zone.

Consider painting the front porch, deck, and railings a lighter, natural color to add emphasis to the front entry. Also consider a color on the front door side lights and upper trim area that is the an accent color. Maybe also the front door in that color. I am not a huge fan of the teal green there now. Mostly because it fights the shade of green in your vegetation.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 9:58AM
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Since I do not love that much brown, I would probably paint the house different colors completely, especially when it needs repainting. For now, I would find some complementary color for the brown, such as a lighter chocolate color, and paint the trim around the windows,the fascia boards, the trim around the garage and doors, and everything on the railings except the stanchions (pickets) with that lighter brown/tan. The pickets I would leave the dark brown.. I would go with a green a tiny bit lighter for the door, and would replace all the outdoor lighting (as well as add some) in a green painted enamel. The lattice I would replace either with a more substantial square lattice or actually I would fill that space with pale tan fieldstone. Then I would dig up the short concrete walkway to the steps and replace also with stone, and do some decorative larger stones (not the flat paving kind) along the driveway.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:26AM
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Agree with suggestion to remove shrub between garage and porch. A small Japanese maple would look great there--- something that would not obscure the connection between those two masses.

Below is a link to the type of outdoor lighting I referred to above. Congratulations on your new mountain home!

Here is a link that might be useful: Green outdoor lights

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:35AM
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Personally I like it the way it is; a sense of a log home in the woods. I would leave it and not add any contrasting trim. If you don't like the brown, then I would paint the whole house in another color entirely.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 1:05PM
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I think I'd like to see the front door a contrasting color. Perhaps a deep rusty red or even a dark golden color.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 1:48PM
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I like the brown on that style of house. The house is meant to be simple and monochromatic. it has very narrow trim designed to blend in with the overall look. It works very well in the wooded/mountain setting. I think if you start lightening it, or painting trim to contrast, that it will fight what it really is and look like you tried to go Victorian with a cabin. I don't think the end result will be a good one. So I don't think there is a way to get the change you want out of a paint can.

Future options (if you really don't like what you have now) would be changing that shed roofline over the entry to a traditional gable roofline. That would take it out of 1983 and get it into more of a possible farmhouse mode. Then you could lighten the whole house and it might work better. But I'm guessing you have a similar roofline on the back and lots of big windows, which aren't very farmhouse at all. And you still have very narrow trim, so not much to work with.

I think I'd focus on the entry. What you have now is essentially a deck on the front of your house. I would rethink it entirely and see what could be done by using some stone that would be/look native to your area (i.e., don't use smooth riverstones in the chert-rock South, etc.). Stone walkway, steps, pillars for the porch/deck. Maybe a few different levels leading to the door, or flatter, deeper steps, rather than one narrow set of stairs to the top. The pic isn't exactly what I would suggest, but gives you the idea.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 2:29PM
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Love it the way it is. I agree with changing the door color and taking out the azealea and possibly changing the front deck entry.

I wish I had a pic. there is a similar house I pass on the way to work. I loved it for years. They recently changed the trim to a green. :( Now I cringe everytime I drive by it.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 2:41PM
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I agree, I wouldn't change the brown. It's perfect in that setting.

Instead of removing the bush, I would trim it back until next Spring's growth and bloom.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 2:42PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

The very brown exterior reminds me of the house of seven gables....

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 8:54PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

sorry broken link...

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 8:56PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

huh...pic shows in preview but not in's the link instead...

Here is a link that might be useful: house of 7 gables

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 8:57PM
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Deep russet red would be a great trim color for the house.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 11:16PM
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If you go to and search for mountain house or mountain cabin you will find as many houses with contrasting trim as without. If contrasting trim made a house look Victorian, we are all pretenders :-)

Nor does farmhouse style seem like anything your house should aspire to. There are plenty of examples of your type of house--- which suits its function and location to a "T"---that have been improved with an updated entry, a nice palette of earth toned colors and the judicious use of rock.

Here is a link that might be useful: Houzz

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 11:21PM
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Another vote for the dark brown -- but perhaps just paint front door and the trim around it in a pale rich cream?

Then trim the bush near the front porch -- and add planters along the top railings -- plus some dark brown woven furniture with a brightly-colored umbrella and cushions.

Also -- consider switching all of the current lights to a much bigger Arts & Crafts-style lantern and then add a wood plaque with large A&C house numbers.

Finally add a newel post with lanterns at the bottom of the stairway.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 11:41PM
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I would leave most of the trim as is. I think it works with the simple lines of the house, the feel of the house sitting in the woods.

I would paint the trim around the door and the front door itself in a deep rusty red. Normally I like the sidelights in the trim color, but in this case, with so much brown, I think the whole door needs to feel bigger.

Then I would add shutters on all the windows (except over the door, of course) in the same rusty red, in a board and batten style. Your windows feel very small compared to the amount of wall space, and the shutters will give more substance.

Finally, I would take the top railing off the porch on the left side, and widen the stairs to be as wide as that whole side of the porch. I think it will make the front of the house feel more welcoming, and less like a deck.

I agree that I would cut back the bush on the right side of the stair, so that it is below the top half of the railing above it, to again make the entry area more open and welcoming.

Congrats on the new house!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 1:33AM
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Wow - love your new house! I live in rural Wisconsin, and I've seen many homes like yours in both Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. The brown is in keeping with the style of house, and I wouldn't add/change the color of the existing siding or trim. Your house is in a natural setting, and in nature, living things provide color and interest. So, consider limiting color change on the house itself to the front door. Paint the front door a brighter color - a bright, brownish red or deep, golden yellow would look great!

Your house would look fabulous with more color in the landscaping. Perennial plantings fitting for your hardiness zone and setting could be developed in stunning combinations. I can see some brightly colored fall mums, perhaps. I would definitely remove the current rhody, as it is too large for the space.

Finally, echoing what jakabedy said about the use of stone around the entryway, I think it would look awesome!

Seriously, the house is fine the brown color it is. I would only consider repainting in that color or something similar, if a recoat is needed. Focus on brightening up the front door, bringing in some colorful plantings, and possibly upgrading your entryway even more with some stone work.

Great house!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 1:57PM
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Thank you all for the wonderful ideas! Here is the back of the house to give a better idea. We both agree with the need to change the front door color to a have a bolder presence. I hadn't considered the deck changes, but love the idea of opening it up and adding stone. Board and Batten shutters were a thought of ours as well though couldn't put them on the window on the back near the corner. Not many of you mentioned shutters at all...We will likely start with the door and entry way first then reassess. Thinking of a metal roof in future when needs replacing (soon). Green? Red? We really appreciate everyone's opinions and are loving this website. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 3:14PM
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