Dream House Achieved: Painting Our Brick Farmhouse Cream

We’ve got some excitement going on at our farmhouse: we decided to paint the exterior red brick a cream color, tear down the two story porch, and put up a new one story porch like the old porch original to the house. Basically, we gave our farmhouse a total exterior makeover.

Little did I know painting our house a creamy off-white (“Greek Villa” by Sherwin-Williams) would make me feel like we lived in a totally different place and I didn’t even have to pack up!

 

Why paint our brick house cream?

When we first bought the house, we were kind of obsessed with the idea of keeping as much original as possible. I remember being told once that the fewer owners an old house has, the better for the house because major changes happen with each new owner transforming the house into their own home. We’ve been talking about painting the brick ever since we connected with the great-great-granddaughter of the couple who built the house (if you’re reading this, hi Peggy!). She shared old photos and stories with us. We found out that it used to be a white siding farmhouse with a regular single-story front porch.

photo of painting of white farmhouse with green shutters
vintage painting of the farmhouse as it was built in 1892 and rebuilt in 1893: ORIGINAL

In the 1970s, the owners at the time did a major renovation. They removed the simple white siding and bricked in the whole house with a thin brick. Additionally, they took down the one story porch and added tall, two-story columns for a resplendent, stately porch feeling. (These are also are likely the owners who did a lot of renovations to the inside such as removing the original fireplace mantlepieces and replacing the wood floors downstairs, sniff sniff. Preservation was obviously not their chief goal.)

 

The brick never looked like it matched the historic 1850 farmhouse. Once we realized the brick was added in the 1970s, we immediately decided it would not be heresy to paint over it.

What kind of paint to choose for a brick house?

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I didn’t know what kind of paint to get but the painter we used highly, highly recommended RomaBio brand. It’s imported from Italy and expensive but you dilute it with water so it’s actually. not as expensive as it would first appear. (I guess they ship it extra-concentrated to cut down on costs, which makes sense.)

For the shutters we just used Benjamin Moore exterior gloss paint.

 

(We did have to prime the shutters first.)

 

Is painting brick houses white, off-white or cream a fad?

Before I go into this too much, I want to talk about the idea that it’s trendy to paint brick houses white. I believe yes– it’s absolutely a trend! But it’s a trend I respect. I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon. In 1936, my grandparents painted their 1792 brick farmhouse white. Should they have done it if their goal were to preserve the Flemish bond brick in its original state? Eh. Probably not. But did they love their brick farmhouse house dearly after they painted it white? Yes… and I think that’s worth a lot.

Like my grandparents, we’re not planning on painting this house white just for a quick flip to sell it. We’re planning on staying in this house forever. I believe that if owners decide to permanently change the exterior of a historic house by doing something so drastic as painting the whole thing, they ought to intend to spend a good long time in that house.

front of white brick house without shutters
before the shutters went back on

 

How much does it cost to paint a brick house?

We hired someone to paint our house and shutters for us. Altogether it ended up costing us around $8,500. Our house is approximately 3,500 square feet. We got a few quotes from different painters and this was the cheapest. I will also mention the painting project started in June and they didn’t finish painting until September. For the right price we were okay putting up with a long wait time.

 

painted house with no front porch (temporarily)

 

What paint colors to choose for a historic farmhouse?

Paint Color: Greek Villa by Sherwin-Williams

Shutter Color: Levingston Green by Benjamin Moore (Williamsburg Collection)

Porch Ceiling Color: Greenhow Blue by Benjamin Moore (Williamsburg Collection) BUT lightened 50% at the paint shop

 

 

I have been scouring the right color of paint for YEARS.  Greek Villa finally won because I love the warm yellow undertones that make it feel so welcoming to me. I know the trend right now is a more gray tinged white so this is against the trend. I am just not a gray person. It will be a joyous occasion to me when gray is no longer in style.

But I digress. In about 2018 I decided on Greek Villa and then began the quest for the perfect shutter color to go with Greek Villa. For this I turned to the Williamsburg Collection by Benjamin Moore, which I’ve blogged about before as inspiration for our farmhouse. I knew our farmhouse used to have green shutters so I wanted to respect the house’s history. I didn’t want a dark green to contrast so much with the cream. My goal was a subtler, softer approach.

My vision for the facade of our house was to just feel at ease when you see it, not feel intimidated or uncomfortable. A lot of times brick houses can feel a bit imposing to me and almost like they’re trying to show off, and I wanted the exact opposite feeling.

I settled on Levingston Green. It also has soft warm undertones. (Originally I chose another green and when I held it up next to the Greek Villa it looked gray to me… not going to happen.)

I’ll get to the porch ceiling in a future blog post. We’re literally in the middle of installing the chandelier and ceiling fans right now, so stay tuned for information about that. For now I’ll just say I chose the paint color Greenhow Blue (by Benjamin Moore, also the Williamsburg Collection) and had them lighten it 50% at the shop.

Am I in love with the finished product?

Yes. I am so thrilled with the finished look and feeling of this house. I get that inviting feeling when I drive up to it. It is just what I was hoping it would be: a welcome place for our family (and friends) to gather and relax. I adore the cream color and the way the shutters look against it.

 

Soon I’ll happily share more about the front porch once we finish up all the details. still a work in progress. I just couldn’t wait to share how it’s all looking so far.

Dream house status: check. 🙂

 

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