Exterior White Paint: How I Picked a Color

Great news over here: we are having the exterior of our house painted. As in, HIRING THE WORK OUT! I was planning to spend the fall doing the job myself, but after such a stressful and overwhelming first month of school/homeschool for me, we were curious what it would cost. When the quote came back extremely reasonable, we decided to clamp down on our spending over the next few months and go for it. My very talented designer/DIYer friend, Karen at Destination Eichler, described watching her house get painted by someone else like a mini vacation. I hope that’s how I feel too… because yikes are we ever dipping into that travel budget, haha!

The change of plans really truncated our timeline and I needed to pick a paint color like immediately. Thankfully, I already knew I wanted to go all white. Our painter expressed a preference for Sherwin Williams, who happened to be having a sale the week we decided to say yes. Pro tip: turns out they are pretty much always having a sale to create false urgency in suckers like me. In an effort to save every penny we can, I spent hours choosing a paint color to buy everything at sale price. FYI, I did ask if I could buy 30 gallons of untinted at sale price and come back to have it tinted if I couldn’t decide before the sale ended and got a reluctant “I guess.”

There are like 100 white paint colors. What the heck, do we really need this many options? Talk about agonizing over a boring decision. After reminding myself how much money we were spending and how this is basically a 10 year commitment, I dedicated myself to doing my best, turning into the neighborhood freak who painted white squares all over her house and stared at them for days.

Here’s my process in case you are in the same boat on a sea of tedium:

  • Search for exteriors you like. I’ve been gathering exterior inspirations on Pinterest for the past year so I already had a good collection going. I picked a few favorites to investigate further and see if I could get any info on the paint color. I did come up with a few, but none were SW. (This was my favorite for sure, in Dunn Edwards Whisper, and also this!!)
  • Pull together a general idea of what you want. Me: bright, warm but NOT BEIGE. Crisp but not blue. Clean and fresh without feeling dead. Basically a glowy white. We have mostly stucco so it was super important that it didn’t look depressingly beige.
  • Pay major attention to the different light at different times of day in your neighborhood, and what hits the majority of your house the majority of the day. Here, we generally have gray overcast mornings that pull out every weird undertone of paint. Then a good chunk of the day offers bright, sunny, contrasty light that blasts the front of our house, making even the faintest pastels appear saturated. Late afternoon brings the warmest, orange light where every surface glows.
  • Get like 50 paint chips. I grabbed even the ones I thought I wouldn’t like, walking outside at the paint store to double check my direction in the natural light.
  • Bring them home and eliminate. I tried to do this outside but my current exterior tan color was distracting, so I moved the operation inside to a sunny pure white wall. For me, blue undertones, the only thing I was sure I didn’t want, were the first to go. I wavered on whether I wanted green undertones, but ultimately I eliminated those too because I lean warm and generally don’t love cool colors (though Makerista’s recent gorgeous paint job had me thinking maybe that greenish SW Moderne White was all I ever needed). I liked a lot of the pinkish/red undertones, but since we’ve lived with a pinkish hue for 5 years, I ended up eliminating those too for a more dramatic change. Next, I eliminated grays because, after some thinking, I remembered CRISP not murky. I kind of continued this process until I was left with 12 colors, all falling in the bright warm white/vanilla range.
  • Google exteriors in all of those colors. Painfully, I whittled it down to 7 colors. I really liked this exterior color in SW Alabaster and this one in SW Westhighland White.
  • Buy paint samples of the finalists and paint them directly on you house. I painted on several different sides, on both wood and stucco (after pressure washing the spots and drying ugh).

  • Observe the samples throughout the day. Oddly, the three I loved at first glance on the wood board and batten were the three I hated on my stucco, mostly because they were so similar to the current color which I think is gross beige. And the one I thought was way too bright on my wood was the one that made the stucco glow. Eventually I eliminated Shoji White and Ivory Lace for being too gray/murky. I cut Creamy after being scared of the possibility of going real beige real fast. Westhighland White and Greek Villa were the ones that I was drawn to the most but I kept Alabaster in there because, although it didn’t wow like the other two, it was a good sturdy white. Eventually, Greek Villa went too because, compared to WHW and Alabaster, it was missing that hint of warmth.

  • Paint large papers with your narrowed down colors. Carry them around to every nook and cranny of the house for another day. WHW was a hands down winner in most locations and times of day…it radiated and glowed while Alabaster looked flat and gray. But in full sun, they were so similar and a few times I even liked Alabaster more.
  • This is so stupid just pick a color because they are all the same. OK, Westhighland White it is.

  • THIS ONE IS KEY: Go to buy the paint and then find out it’s only available in exterior satin when you are set on using flat. WTF even, I hate you SW.
  • Complain on IG. And get a color suggestion from one of your favorite Palm Springs designers that happens to be the same paint as your favorite inspiration exterior to begin with: Dunn Edwards Whisper. FOR REALS. Check with your painter if he’s cool with Dunn Edwards. When he gives an enthusiastic yes, swatch it, see that it is almost identical to the other one you wanted, love their customer service, and be done.

And that’s how you pick a white paint color haha. Such a joke. In the end, though, I chose one I’m really excited about. The one I should have just gone with from the beginning I guess!

Painting is almost done and wow what a transformation. I‘ll share more soon but lets just say 1. don’t forget your sunglasses and 2. we are SO Halloween ready with this color scheme. xoxo Jenny


Painted Mosaic Cinderblock Wall!

mid century yard landscape exterior painted mosaic cinderblock cinder block brick retaining wall mural breeze blocksHighlight of my summer right here everybody! One super simple paint job and the backyard is now my kind of crazy. You can get a good idea of how blah this retaining wall used to look like in this post. And now, excusing the millions of fence spider webs, get a load of it!

*Update: See the whole backyard here and our patio here :)
mid century yard landscape exterior painted mosaic cinderblock cinder block brick retaining wall butterfly chairs firepit colorful backyardmid century yard landscape exterior painted mosaic cinderblock cinder block brick retaining wall motel chair orange colorful backyard yuccamid century yard landscape exterior painted mosaic cinderblock cinder block brick retaining wall butterfly chairs firepit colorful backyardmid century yard landscape exterior painted mosaic cinderblock cinder block brick retaining wall butterfly chairs firepit colorful backyardThe mish-mash fence situation back here leaves a lot to be desired. The tall fence belongs to our neighbors and sits a foot back on their property. The style isn’t what I would choose, but it beats having nothing by a long shot, as a driveway sits at eye level on the other side. Conveniently, it’s the same color as our fences and house so, in that sense, it fits right in. The actual property line is the retaining wall and wood lip. I would love to build our own fence one day on that line to match the other original fences on our property (or somehow extend the cinderblock up another 8 feet), but that day is not today. This is me trying to make the best of these unorthodox layers until then, in a kooky desert kind of way.
If you are wondering about painting raw cinderblock: I pressure washed first, then used a exterior primer, then one coat of exterior paint (as seen in the last post). Most exterior paints and primers are suitable for masonry these days, so no need to find anything special. For the colors, I used sample sizes of exterior paint and went to crazy town.

I know a cinderblock aesthetic isn’t for everybody, but let my wall be living proof that it could be a major missed opportunity to ignore it. Being the kind of girl who feels she deserves to be surrounded by vintage breezeblocks in insane patterns, this suits me so fine. If the unlikely day comes when I tire of this loudness, it’s a quick fix to tame it back down. You’ll hear ZERO regrets from me! -xoxo Jenny


Spray Painting Ceiling Fans, Again

mid century modern ceiling fan brass diy spray paint harbor breeze avianWe finally got around to putting up the ceiling fan in my son’s room, just in time for that heat wave thing. I spray painted this one just like I did its twin. (And then I painted this black fan too…) I’ve gotten a few questions about that process so here’s a few answers:mid century modern ceiling fan brass diy spray paint harbor breeze avianWould I recommend doing this? If you are gutsy and don’t care if you ruin your cheap fan, YES! If you are a perfectionist who will stalk me if things go bad, NO! For the most amazingly precious fan ever made that I planned to keep forever but wanted in a different but high quality finish…I’d look into metal plating instead. But for dressing up a basic fan for your kid’s room, there’s not a lot to lose in my opinion.mid century modern ceiling fan brass diy spray paint harbor breeze avianPaint? I used Rustoleum Specialty Metallic spray paint in gold. I’m not sure if it’s the best brassy tone out there, but it’s decent. It needs a few days to cure before install to avoid fingerprints, and even then it’s impossible to avoid all marks if installation gets hairy, which always seems to happen. Multiple coats are good! For this second fan I tried to get away with one but I regret my lazy choices.rustoleum specialty metallic gold spray paint Disassemble the fan parts before painting? Yes. A couple of screws are usually all that is holding the thing together so a little disassembly is worth it.
diy ceiling fan spray paint
Prep much? Probably. I did basically none for this second fan and it shows. I cleaned everything well but that’s it. Turns out, it was a bad day to be a half-asser. The installation turned sour and my paint job got scratched up during the process. Some sanding and priming (and more coats of paint) probably would have helped. Fan #1 was lightly sanded and held up better, but it also had an easier install (and more coats). The lesson here is that same as it always is: just do it right.mid century modern ceiling fan brass diy spray paint harbor breeze avianIf this is ending too abruptly and you need more ceiling fan talk, you can check out this post for some of the better ceiling fans I’ve found out there. Looks like I have some fan light straightening out to get to, so I’ll catch you next time!