Author | Morgan Paixao
When we first looked at our house, I knew it had so much potential. It was actually the only house we looked at before making an offer. It had been on the market for a little while because it still had renters occupying it and would for several months. I’ll spare you the stressful details, but long-story-short, we were able to negotiate with the renters and break the lease early so that we could purchase the house as a residential, not investment property. It was amazing of them to be flexible and work with us and I’m so thankful for their understanding! I caught up with one of the renters later on and they told me they had found a great property just outside of town that they loved.
What immediately struck me when we pulled up to our house was how remarkably similar it was to the house my grandfather had built, the one my dad grew up in and we visited all through my childhood. Maybe for some people this wouldn’t mean you would actually want to buy the house, but for me it felt like a true good omen. I’m quite sentimental when it comes to my grandparents (both sides) and the idea of family history. I come from a small immediate family and so the sense of family we have is very strong. I think for me and my sister, growing up without cousins, the memories of being with our grandparents at their homes are especially fond.
So after we took a short tour of our small 1200 sq ft home (about a year ago actually!), my mind was already buzzing with how we could make it our own, while preserving the mid-century ranch charm. Our house was built in 1968 and had been used as a rental property for quite some time, so no major updates had really been done in decades. Because it’s so easy to want to check everything off the list at once (and get into A LOT of debt doing so), we are taking the slower route for updating our house and so far have done all the work ourselves. The updates we’ve made have definitely been more cosmetic so far (although we do have plans up our sleeves for tearing down one of the interior non-load bearing walls soonish!) the bulk of which have involved painting. A little (or a lot) of paint can go a LOOOONG way. Seriously! If you are motivated and can pick up a couple gallons of paint, you can completely transform your space, inside AND out.
That said, this post is going to focus on the exterior, recently we finished the bulk of painting our house (just some trim detail to finish) and so I wanted to share a bit about the process and our experience.
A Love Letter to Black Houses
I have always LOVED black houses. To me they are effortlessly chic and timeless, add in black trim, black windows, a black metal roof and WHOA now we’re talking. Yup, that’s right, give me a black house head to toe and I could stare at it forever. “But your house isn’t black”, nope you’re right it’s technically ‘Almost Black’ by Benjamin Moore. I fully admit my reasoning here was that I was a bit nervous about going whole hog black on our house. I absolutely love it, but maybe our neighbors who’ve lived here for decades wouldn’t. So silly I know, but I wanted to ease them into what I think of as a bold aesthetic. The truth - they may have loved it too, and if they hadn’t who cares. While we were painting our house, we actually had a lot of passersby compliment on how much they liked the change to a dark color! So maybe 5-10 years or so down the road when it needs a fresh coat, we’ll go true black.
One of the first things I did for our house was sketch out some overlays on top of the listing photo to see how it would look with different colors. A much simpler way of doing this would be using a color visualizer which many of the big name paint brands provide online. For me, I also wanted to sketch out other renovation ideas, the front garden, etc… so it was fun to just sketch over the image in ProCreate.
Left: White mockup, black trim windows, no shutters, wooden porch, garden
Right: Charcoal mockup, black shutters, got lazy on the garden sketch on this one!
I don’t get too sucked into the weeds when it comes to choosing one shade over another. I think I just know what I want and can find it easily. I knew I wanted a true charcoal so I went as basic as I could with the tone, trying to steer away from anything too warm or too cool. I think picking a hue you love is obviously important, but I also think that people can stress out over this way too much. In the end, you aren’t going to keep the other paint swatches up on the wall after the wall’s been painted for endless agonizing comparisons. You will probably forget about the slight differences and see that your house is white, or your house is gray haha!
Time & Money
Okay yes, we saved a lot of money by painting the house ourselves, but did it take up a whole lot of time - um yes. Too much time? Not sure about that, but it took a long time. If our house was more than one story we probably would have had a professional crew come paint it since me and my husband both aren’t stoked about heights. But since our house is small and only one story it seemed like a no-brainer for us to just go ahead and do it ourselves.
Below is my approximate pricing breakdown, keep in mind we already had some other tools used like Vince's orbital sander (for prepping), scrappers, and a few other paintbrushes for edging/trim. But all in all, it's a pretty simply setup!
(6) Gallons Benjamin Moore ‘Almost Black’ (Flat) Exterior Paint + Primer / $35 eac.
(1) Gallon Benjamin Moore White (Semi-Gloss) Exterior Paint / $35
(2) Extra wide paint brushes / $10 ea.
Handy pail + liners / $17
Spackling compound / $8