Should I Paint my House Charcoal?


I almost NEVER specify dark greys or charcoals for exteriors. Trim, shutters or front doors, YES.

The main field colour, NO.


Because as soon as the grey trend is over, your house will look trendy, and possibly dated.

It’s the same reason why no one and I mean no one is asking me for a brown exterior anymore.


Because dark brown is sooooo five years ago.

If you drive by a brown house, you can pretty much guess when it was painted. In Vancouver anyway.

Does this mean you shouldn’t have anything brown anywhere? Not at all. But you should avoid decorating your entire house–from inside and out–in the same dark, trendy neutral.

I’m specifying lots of grey for exteriors, don’t misunderstand. I simply do my best to steer my clients away from dark charcoal grays.

Here are some more examples of what I mean by dark and trendy:

charcoal house

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest
Gray Exterior
Via Pinterest
Charcoal Exterior
Via Pinterest
White House
So I’m a little late launching my exterior webinar this year because I was waiting for the trees to turn green so I could add some more photos.
And, it’s completely revised from last year so that it includes the pieces from my newly created Colour Confidence Method™. I’ll also send it to you as a worksheet to fill out so you can analyze your own exterior. You can get my webinar, on demand here.
By the way, did you know that cream exteriors (above) are super trendy right now? A creamy/white exterior done right is classic, I’ll also tell you which beige gives you the perfect cream (without being yellow).
Here’s what you’ll learn:
  • Which beige equals the perfect creamy exterior
  • The difference between a Fresh vs. Earthy Colour Scheme
  • Which Whites will Make or Break your Colour Scheme.
  • How to choose the Right Colour for your permanently vinyl windows. Get this one colour wrong and your house could look bad FOREVER.
  • If you have an all brick home, this trim colour will work 75% of the time.
  • The biggest difference between painting the interior vs. the exterior of your house.
  • The Three Biggest Mistakes Homeowners and Professionals make when choosing exterior colour.
  • A step-by-step process using my proprietary Colour Confidence Method™ to choosing your own paint colours.

In the training, I will walk you through the process that a professional goes through to arrive at the right colour, including how to diagnose the real boss of your house.

This process will instantly take the world of thousands of paint colours and reduce them down to a manageable number to select from.

And when I show you a house with a colour you need to know, I’ll list it in Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams whenever possible so you can follow along with your fan deck.

BONUS: You’ll get my list of go-to exterior colours divided by undertones just like the list in my eBook.

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  1. Hmmm, not sure I agree but interesting advise nonetheless. I personally love how dark charcoal blue/gray blends with landscaping and off white trim. I think it is stunning and will be “trendy” for awhile, at least until you have to paint your house again. I just specified BM Cyperspace for my own cottage style house with black doors and can’t wait to see it up. I hope you are wrong 😉

  2. I love any shade of grey house, my 27 year old home is a nice light grey. 4 or 5 years ago, our neighborhood was hit by golfball size hail. Nearly every home has replaced their aluminum siding. While there was a nice disparity of colors, cream, tan, grey, white mostly, now nearly every home is brown! Brown, brown and more brown! I loved my pale grey, so kept it, but I think the neighborhood looks “off-balance” now.

  3. My house has white vinyl siding and the new roof has multi shades of gray and some black. The shutters my husband made are painted black and the new door unit black with a knocker, peephole and stained glass 3/4 sidelights. The house has a colonial look and the front windows are tall. Curved sidewalk with small stones from it to the front of the house under the windows with planters filled with lots of plants. Great curb appeal.

  4. A lovely little yellow cottage house in our beach town just changed to a trendy grey, and completely wiped out the character of the house. I love grey but it ruined the look of one of my favorite houses. A darker grey would have worked, but this just took away all the details.

  5. I would love if you could address house styles from the Southwest, AZ in particular, in your upcoming class.

    I am having to select a color for our home. We have a flat roof home (you do not see the roof at all) that has a small six inch soffit detail along the roof line. Although, I want to keep that the same color, as it is a small detail in comparison with the rest of the house. The only other dimension to the house is that the garage bumps out. There are no other details to the house, so I will have to depend on a bit of landscaping for interest.

    White does not look good on these style houses. I don’t want the golden tans that everyone uses here, either. Suggestions?

    I am happy to email photos.

    I look forward to your class!

  6. Oh Maria, I so want to take this class. If only it were a week earlier. We are scheduled to have our house
    painted on Tues. May 27th! I have spent hours looking as colors and think I have settled on a gray-green BM 2141-50 Horizon Gray. (Not to be confused with BM Horizon.) I have had great luck with my interior choices, but still feel apprehensive about the exterior. In this case it is hard to say, “It’s just paint!” Of course I’m curious to know if my choice made your go to list!


  7. Would anyone be willing to look at this picture and tell me what color the brick is? I guess it’s recycled old Chicago brick, but I cannot figure out the predominant color or undertone. Buff, pink, terracotta?? And do you think the brown tile roof, brick and lighter (grey?) stone accents work together? I can’t decide if it works even though it’s blah or it’s totally hopeless.

  8. Dawn, my comment is way late but pure white w any color brick just doesn’t work! I hv a craftsman red brick on lower half house and recently painted the top gables BM Thunder…a med lite greige w navy blue window sashes and trim in soft chamois….the trim and uppers had been white for many yrs and the improvement is amazing. Brick is earthy and as such doesn’t look right w plain white. I would forget about the warranty on white garage and paint it cream or a gray which matches the masonry/grout color

  9. All of these grey houses look depressing to me 🙁 I love the look of clay brick and natural wood. I would never dream of painting over brick. The level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that’s in an older home is unparalleled in today’s new construction. My heart sinks every time I drive down a street here and see another grey flip house with red or yellow shutters…. I know the inside is just as bad, with the built ins, cabinets, china cabinets and trim decked out in some shade of gun metal or watered down ash. In all likely hood the original oak floors will have either been tiled over or had some painted stencil sprawled across it, probaby in a shabby-chic aqua and white combo. Ages ago a house was more than than a building you lived in for a short period of time. It was more than a quick get in and get out investment. It had a soul and it’s materials connected you to the earth and inspired pride of place. I can’t help but feel like every time I see one of these grey, hollow eyed homes that someone has simply scooped out it’s heart and left it’s bones for the carrions.

  10. Workers coming soon to do work – your opinion:

    I’ve opted for dark grey pavers with light yellow trim pavers for edges. House will be white window frames

    Question – Although I would like the house charcoal, I fear it will look too dark alongside the pavers; possibly. Do you think a pale yellow would like nice or a light green

    • Hi Lyn,
      You cannot have light yellow pavers that don’t relate to anything, that will look like a mistake. My assistant will send you a link to my eDesign in case you’d like some help! Hope that helps in the meantime! Maria

  11. Interesting. I live in Amish country in a tiny town, so almost all of the houses here are white. (Mine is an awful, faded shade of yellow, unfortunately.) There is one other house, two towns over, which is painted black. One in our town is navy. A handful of homes are brick. There really is very little variety. It makes me laugh that I can even name the homes from memory that aren’t white.

    I am about to sell my house and am looking for a way to update our 1960 ranch. I really love the charcoal color as there are not any other homes around that are painted as such. I see this post was written almost 5 years ago. I find it amusing that I was over here wondering if charcoal would be too edgy and new for this town and yet you were saying it was a trend to soon fade away so many years ago!