Full Disclosure: I painted an old brick house white, Sherwin-Williams Alabaster (SW 7008) to be precise. The existing brick exterior was dated and lacking in real character, and the impact of a fresh coat of white paint was immediate and transformative. There is a reason why so many of us subscribe to the practice, after all. “White is a classic and safe color,” admits Charleston-based designer Jill Howard. “It makes perfect sense that people gravitate towards this idea. People have been painting outdated brick houses white for years.” Recently, however, it seems that the number of brick homes getting all-white paint jobs has reached dizzying new heights, and while this is an effective way to freshen up tired brick, it’s not the only way to update a house that shows its age. For five more ways to lighten your brick without going white by default, read on.

Exterior of red brick house in Richmond, VA

Laurey W. Glenn

Give it a good scrub.

Before making any permanent changes, take out the pressure washer and give your brick a bath. Brick is porous, and over time and constant exposure to the elements, even a beautiful brick can take on a dull, drab color that looks both dirty and dull. Once it’s thoroughly cleaned, you might decide you like the look of the original brick.

Cape Cod Cottage: After

Cape Cod Cottage: After

Laurey W. Glenn

Be brave. Go for the color.

The color doesn’t have to be intimidating. Remember to consider your surroundings and look around your neighborhood and the surrounding landscape and regional architecture for context. “I live in Charleston and we can get away with some pretty fun and bright colors,” Howard says. “These colors may not work as well in DC, for example. That said, I also like dark colors like Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue (# 30) or Smoky Green (# 47). ” If you don’t have the guts for dark colors, or if they just don’t appeal to you, Howard recommends a soft sage green. “It’s unexpected, but still classic,” she says.

Entrance door deep plum

Entrance door deep plum

Laurey W. Glenn

Remember sometimes less is more.

Painting your entire house can be a project that explodes your budget. In addition, the interview is often brutal. So if your brick is in good condition, why not consider a smaller job and give the exterior brick a boost by painting your shutters or trim or adding a pop of color to your front door? “For the shutters or your door, I would look for a complementary color that will help freshen up the look of your home,” Howard says. “It would mean something in the blue family or even blue / green.” She suggests brightening up your trim and painting it pure white as another low-maintenance solution.

Two-level brick house with lime treatment

Two-level brick house with lime treatment

Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Shannon Gini

Try a new technique.

On the right house, applying a German smear (a technique similar to whitewashing but using a mortar wash instead of diluted paint) to your current brick can instantly add a yesteryear character and hide all manner of imperfections. . But beware: because you are using mortar, it cannot be refinished as easily as paint. Howard, on the other hand, prefers a classic lime wash. “It’s especially good for southern homes because it’s naturally mold resistant,” she says. “And that creates a finish with a nice, subtle variation in color from the flatter look of the paint.” Bonus points, the technique is also eco-responsible.

Put your green thumb to work.

Always keep in mind that there is nothing like a cool, well-planned little landscaping to give the whole vibe of your home (brick or not) – a few hydrangeas, a bank of azaleas, a cheerful pink dogwood or white myrtle. This is the curb appeal 101.


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