What Color Should We Paint Our House?

We need to paint our house and detached garage this fall.

Yes, the garage we finished a year and a half ago. I’m sure the neighbors will appreciate this.

I really like the look of yellow houses with white trim. There’s something kinda farmhouse-y about it, especially with a long front porch like ours has now after we remodeled our garage into living space. To the yellow and white I want to add sage as a third color, mainly on the doors.

I’ve already got a sage color that I’ve used inside that will translate to the exterior, and white is just plain white for this project.

This big question is what shade of yellow? Too light and it’s just a cream color that kinda cries out to me “just commit to a color, already!” Too dark and it could resemble something I remember from my kids diaper days (I’m sorry, but you know it’s true). Too bright and…

Well, we’ve all seen yellows that are too bright. Or tried to see them as we peeked around the hand in front of our eyes that to tried, unsuccessfully, to shield us from the glare.

This is a tight rope, people. We don’t want to make a mistake with 30 gallons of paint.

So this is where you, beautiful readers, come in- you can help us to make sure those 30 gallons of paint end up being just the right shade of yellow. Tell us what you think of these two options we’re starting with (more samples may be needed- I’m not shutting any doors this early in the game):

This is the first color, “lively yellow” (I’ve tried to paint the samples next to both the white and some of the green to get a perspective).

I don’t know about you, but it looks more like “lively mustard” to me.

The second option is “daybreak sun.” I like the luminescence of it, but is it too light? Does it look more like cream?

You can see the differences clearly when they are next to each other. I thought I was getting just a shade more yellow than the lighter color, but they are really different here.

Please chime in- do you like either of these colors? Should I try a different shade? Should I just ditch the color scheme and go for an all white house?

Wait. I don’t want an all white house, so please don’t answer that last question.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you about this earth-shattering question.

In fact, I probably won’t be able to sleep tonight, so make sure to leave a comment.


Disclosure: In all honesty, there are a lot of nights I don’t sleep all night through which have nothing to do with whether you leave a comment or not, so it’s probably not going to affect my sleep directly. I’m just sayin’…

This is linked to:
Power of Paint Wednesday
Show and Tell Wednesday
Make it Yours Day
Remodelaholics Anonymous





  1. says

    I LOVE butter yellow farmhouses so I vote for the lighter yellow choice. My hubby never was a yellow house fan so our is white with black trim…still has that great old farmhouse look but given my way, butter yellow it would be :)


  2. says

    My house is very close to the lighter yellow shade ( vintage cream vinyl siding and I love it!). I still have photos posted of it on my blog, so you can check out the color if you like ( July 23, 2009 shows the before and after). It’s a 60’s bungalow, but I think the colors work!

  3. says

    I think you should try for something in the middle. I would mix the 2 you have until you get a color you really love. as you do it, put some on maybe cardstock. Once you have made your choice, have your paint store match it!
    Good luck!

  4. Anonymous says

    I think the lively yellow with white trim and the green door would look terrific. The yellow will fade some and the color will look good on the dreary winter days that we can get here in Oregon! The lighter yellow is too drab.

  5. says

    I don’t like either of them. Does that help? 😛 Seriously, though, I agree that an intensity somewhere between the two might work better. I also heard the “two shades lighter” rule, although I think the lighter shade in the picture does look more cream than yellow. Keep us posted!

  6. says

    Yellows and greens are both very tricky. I went through major stress choosing the right green. First option – find a house with the color you like. Go to the house and ask what color they used. Take a paint color swatch book and see if you can match it. If you can’t find a house you like, pick out several colors and instead of painting it right on the house, paint it on big pieces of cardboard. Then take them to every side of the house and look at the colors in shade, light, east, west… everywhere. You’ll swear they change. Some colors look good in the shade, but take on a horrible hue in the sun. One of my friends picked out a seemingly nice shade of green for her house a few years back. She looked at it in a nice shady spot. Once her house was painted and she saw it in the sun, she was horrified. Baby diaper green. Both of your yellows look nice, but before you make up your mind, look at them in lots of light variations. Good luck. I can’t wait to see it.

  7. says

    I say go lighter so daybreak sun. My in-laws had the cutest little gray cottage style house with white shutters but he had grown up in a yellow house with a white roof and they put on yellow siding (which I thought was way too bright) and I never cared for their house after that. Another idea is to drive around and see if you can find a yellow house you like and knock on the door and ask them what color they used! 😀

  8. Connie Buckley says

    I like both of them, but I think you’re right, neither of them are what you are going for… maybe you can try mixing the two colors 75% dark and 25% light yellow? or 50/50?

    Good luck, it’s so hard to commit to a color!

  9. Sherri B. says

    I had heard some designers say that you should go lighter on the yellow that you like as it will be way over the top when it all goes on. I think the suggestion was 2 shades lighter. The first color I was drawn to when I saw this post was the daybreak sun and I would do a lighter green for the trim with that…Saying that, I must tell you that I play things a bit safe. Good luck with this.

  10. Kim says

    Our house is a “lively” yellow~Here’s the thing with the brighter yellow, any side that is in full sunlight for more than a few hours a day will fade. The south end of our house looks more like your second choice while the rest is still “lively”! Just something to think about~but I agree…there’s something farmy about a yellow house!

  11. Jeralee says

    New reader! I like both, but would go with a much lighter shade of the green or a creamy, darker yellow. When we get around to painting our pink house, we will probably go with either a yellow or green with white trim. That’s the great thing about Oregon, people paint their houses all sorts of color.

    The paint will fade with the sun, so you do want to keep that in mind. I also suggest just driving around and looking at the paint colors of houses that you admire and try and color match them. You can always go up to the door and knock and ask them if they know their paint color. People are usually flattered for the most part. LOL

    BTW -still waiting for ANY of my tomatoes to start ripening! Glad to hear that yours are!

  12. Heather says

    Lively yellow with white trim and black insides of the windows… do you know what I’m talking about? There is a house up the street from us done that way and it looks fantastic! Very fresh and farmhousey!

  13. Mary W says

    I live the brighter of the two colors. I think the lighter one will just look like cream.

    I like the idea above of finding a house you like the looks of and matching it.

  14. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Oh, man- great suggestions, all!

    I hadn’t thought about the fading issue- that puts a whole new spin on it.

    I am leaning towards a shade between the two, though there is a house I love near us with a great yellow.

    Gosh- the question is, do I have the nerve to knock and ask? :-)

  15. Hilary says

    I like the lively yellow much better. It is a very happy color. Also, as the paint ages, it will fade a bit, so you dont want to start off too pale….

  16. Team Barber-Hallquist says

    Lively yellow definitely! What a nice color pallette. The trick is to look at one yellow and then the other, not side by side. Happy painting!

  17. Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

    Oh, Ratty Hugs, that is too funny- the house IS gray and I’ve wanted it painted since we moved in 6 years ago! I so agree that gray in Oregon just doesn’t work. Having a primed garage in need of paint was just the excuse I needed to paint it all. :-)

  18. Ratty Hugs says

    Have you tried a 50/50 mix as a test? I love the yellow farm house look but the one color is too bright & the other too pale. I’m not too fond of that shade of green only because it reminds me of the 60’s/70’s avacado green. Just remember that our Oregon skies are gray for 9 months of the year & that will make a difference in how it looks. Try taking those swatches inside to mimic the gray sky. You may find that the colors will not do well in the grayed lighting.
    Oh, thank you for not painting your home gray. I really beleive that it a state law that you must own something gray here. A house, car, clothing, pets, something must be gray. look around, how much gray do you see?

  19. says

    Yellow is a VERY hard exterior color in the PNW. It looks totally different on a sunny, blue sky day, vs. a gloomy gray day. Personally, I think the very best way to pick an exterior color here is to find a yellow house you like and go knock on their door and ask them for the name.

    Good luck! Can’t wait to see the finished project!

  20. says

    Just read through some of the comments…… :) We recently built a house and I’ve already had a couple of people ask for the exterior color, and I’ve also asked people. You can totally do it!!! I think it’s flattering, as long as you’re not next door or something :)

  21. Laura (So California) says

    This was a great thread. Jami, what was your final decision and how does it look?

    I’m in the decision metrics mode on my yellow w/ ultra white trim “cottage”. Having moved down in housing w/ no HOA, I finally get my happy yellow home. I’m leaning towards a lively yellow myself to contrast my exterior white shutters and ultra white trim.

    I started off wanting black shutters, but I’m getting older, I think white is a happier color. I have enough drama in my life. LOL

    So, Jami, fill me in. I’m excited to hear the update.

    I also had to chose between white wicker loveseat and white wood lattice back bench, and
    the bench isn’t so foo, foo, so I bought it. Wicker needs room for a grouping imho. I can add rockers later ($$) and some fabulous throw pillow for a more “cozy” and color pop.

  22. Laura (So Ca) says

    Wow, your yellow farmhouse is so pretty, and the transformation from lite battleship grey to a happy yellow was a much needed rite of passage, per se. Wow, what a difference. You guys did a fabulous job in color and execution.
    The ultra white trim really sets off the yellow. Love your long covered porch.

    I am going a lively yellow, and I am living with my color choice painted on my stucco, evaluating different light images, as in sun, shade, and night. Tomorrow is another tweaking at the paint store to get to perfection. (I’m married to an EE – he’s more picky than I am).

    Thank you for such a great link, for your reply. I learned a lot, and your hubby is a hoot.

    As Phyllis Diller, is a mentor of mine “My Religion Is Kindness”. (her reply when asked). You evidently belong as well. Thanks again.

    • says

      How fun, Laura! It’s such a huge change that I’m all for taking time to make sure you like the color choice when painting an entire house – I’m sure you’ll be happy then. :)

  23. Laura (So Ca) says

    The paint contractor wanted us to use a greyish/brnish off white, and I thought the contrast looked awful with the lively yellow. I really like ultra white trim with yellow. Is your white an ultra white?

    Also, I figure the yellow will fade within 3 years, and my Costa Rica facelift is more important than repainting in 6-8 years. Eventually, my home will be light yellow. So Ca sun is brutal. Any feedback?

  24. Laura (So Ca) says

    Jamie and also a warning on paint color
    We picked lively yellow, by painting a 12X12 area on our stucco and living with it. We came home during the first coat of the front (painting contractor) and it was way too “loud”. We had to tune it down by adding white. The painter then tells us painting a wall is more an indication of the macro effect. We wound up with a warm medium farm-y yellow, just a tad darker than your cottage and love it. Remember to paint a sizable area ladies. We almost crashed our car. LOL

    Someone said, you don’t want to be a “directional house” …make right at that almost neon yellow house. Lively yellow is just over the top bright.

  25. Laura (So Ca) says

    My last post. Our fantastic and knowledgeable paint contractor said yellows and blues were the biggest “fooled ya” colors in exterior house paint colors. Day 2 and I’m so in love with our cottage transformation. Yellow homes are cheerful and if the right yellow, classic and timeless.

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