Thoughts On Painting a Victorian House: When You Change Your Mind (and admit you made a mistake)


When I started picking out paint colors for our house, I was so intimidated.  I poured over hundreds of paint samples, drove and walked through a dozen neighborhoods had a professional decorator visit and finally setttled on this palate:


This is SW Red Cent is shown, but I actually went with “Sierra Redwood”, High Reflective White, White Heron, and Silverpoint (All Sherwin Williams).  Pittsburg Paints: Gunmetal Grey.

I picked these colors using what the designer had recommended and tweaking them a bit.  (Hind sight- probably shouldn’t have done that.) I wanted the house to look bright, feminine and cheerful.  I’ve always liked white Victorian houses, and so that’s what I thought I wanted for “my” Victorian.  I was so worn out from all of the debating, and also cash-poor from home repairs that I didn’t want to waste time or money on sample cans of paint.  Can you say IDIOT????

I cannot even believe myself.  Seriously?  Instead I just bought $450 worth of paint and brought it home.

Sierra Redwood- loved it

High Reflective White- loved it

White Heron- loved it

Gunmetal Grey- loved it

Silverpoint-  hmmmm….. wellllll… maybe?  yes.  no.  maybe???  Nope.  Hated it.

This is how it went with me and silverpoint for the last 18 months.  I WANTED so much to like it, but I didn’t.  It was way too light.  It washed my beauty out.  Also, in the meantime, I had learned so much through books and blogs about Victorian homes and came to the conclusion that I had made a mistake.  In hind sight, I would have had the paint analyzed and painted it the original colors, maybe adding in a few accent colors of my choosing.  From what I can tell, originally the bottom clapboards were a medium grey and the shakes were a sagey green.  By the time I realized my mistake, I believed we were too far gone.

Original Paint Colors

And here you are… the original paint colors- photo taken in the mid 50’s. The folks who bought this house in the 50’s purchased it from the original owners (yes… that is crazy awesome). And from what I can tell from the paint on the house, the grey bottom and sage top were the original colors. It also looks to me that the trim around the windows was painted a green as well.

It really makes me sad to think that I made the decision so quickly- before I had immersed myself in the house and the history of it a little longer.  But… in the grand scheme of things, I think it’s ok.  I mean, we have done really good things for this house.  And we love it more every day. And at least I know what the original colors are.

Anyway, continuing on…


The house in May. The Silverpoint color is on the first tier of shakes. It had a blue tone to it that didn’t jive with the green tones of the Gunmetal Grey (tops of dormers)



Side View. Do you agree? It was just too washed out and color-less

So you want to know what is THE WORST?  Working SO. HARD. on something and not liking the results.  I have poured a lot of myself into the painting of this house.  I have been way higher off the ground than I was comfortable with.  I painted in 40 degree March weather.  I sacrificed time with my family.  I litterly bled, sweated and cried over this paint job.  And I needed to love it. And I did not.  Every day, many times a day, I looked at the house and wished I had made a better choice.


When we were able to snag some free scaffolding from friends to complete the trim on the North and South sides, I saw this as my only opportunity to somewhat right my wrong.  Having the scaffolding up would be the perfect opportunity to repaint the first tier of the shakes.  They were brand new- with only one coat of the Silverpoint on them, and frankly could use another coat of paint anyways- they had been banged up when they were installed.

So, I rifled through my giant folder of paint samples and came across a color by Sherwin Williams called “Oyster Bay.”

It was a nice medium grey-green that seemed to coordinate with the four other colors already up on the house.  First, I BOUGHT A SAMPLE CAN, Second, I confirmed that it was a great improvement over the Silverpoint, Third, I GOT THE BLESSING FROM MY HUSBAND and Fourth, I went to town, baby!


Here you can see the Oyster Bay on the bottom of the windows. Silverpoint is on the right. Do you agree that it is better???


Here’s the last shot we took on the North side before taking the scaffolding down. The entire mid section is painted with Oyster Bay


And here’s the street view. You can see the turret is mostly painted. Unfortunately, we will have to get back up on the roof (sans lift or toe holds) to cover up the last of the Silverpoint. But it will be ok, right?? It’s worth it, right?? I’m not crazy… right???

One more thing- after this picture was taken, we painted the shakes on the front of the porch Oyster Bay, which made a HUGE difference.  Can’t wait to post pictures of the finished product.  Seriously, I can’t believe I painted a whole house.  And I can’t believe I changed my mind and painted it again.


A New Light for the Hall

Without meaning to, I found a new light for the hall.  I belong to a Facebook swap group, and lo and behold, someone was selling this chandelier for $25.


It turns out, it was from an apartment just two addresses down from our house!  The apartments look like they were built in the 60’s or 70’s, but I’m not sure that this would be from that era.  It looks older than that to me, but then, what do I know?


Here’s the sticker we found on the bottom, but still weren’t able to find out a good date on this. Lance thinks it might be from the 40’s judging on the smaller size of the light bulb bases it uses. If it is truly from the 60’s or 70’s, I admit I will be sad. But not too sad because we only paid $25 for it.

Truthfully, it isn’t what I am dreaming of for the space.  I’d like to find something a little more of the era of our home.  But for now, for that price, I really do like it.  And some day if I find just what I’m looking for, I think it would look pretty sweet up in the turret of the upstairs bedroom.


Holland helped me take all of the crystals off, wash them, dry them and hang them back in all of the 35 tiny holes. She has remarkable dexterity for a 5 year old, I must say.

I realize that I have now found 7 light fixtures for this house, all within 1/2 mile from our house and all for super low prices.  The list includes 3 chandeliers and 4 sconces.  The total for all 7 lights is right around $200.  Incredible.  I am learning that patience is key to furnishing this home.  Treasures are out there, often for amazingly little money.  I would actually hate to furnish and decorate a house all at once- what is the fun in that?!?!  One of the sweetest rewards of living in this house is watching our dream for it unfold, little by little, week by week.  There is always something to do to make our home a little better- a little safer, a little more water-tight, a little sturdier, a little prettier, a little greener, a little homier… Today, we made it a little brighter.