Our exterior painters (we used Student Works) finished up about two months ago and we have been enjoying our new colour scheme ever since. Best of all are all the comments from neighbours and total strangers passing by, who can’t help complimenting the house. A couple went by on their bikes the other day and through the open window I could hear the woman exclaim, “Oh! That’s a cute house! Mint green old house, I love it.”

When it was just the test colours on the house, lots of people stopped to offer me their opinion (the universal choice was SW Reclining Green, which is what we went with) and, as the paint was going on, we regularly had people out walking their dogs just stop and stare openly. Oh Oak House, how you’ve turned into a beautiful swan!

But let’s back up. When we bought Oak House in early 2017, it was an estate sale — that means we also bought most of the previous owners’ possessions. These included exactly two things of value to me: a massive 1910 map of Vancouver Island found stuffed in the ceiling rafters (and now hanging in our den) and alll the receipts and details for all the renovations done at the house from the early 1960s right through until 2006. The 2006 project was, as far as I can tell, the last bit of active maintenance that this house saw until we moved in in 2017 and, incidentally, it was an exterior paint job.


The paint colours were pretty inoffensive — it’s hard to hate a neutral blue-grey with white trim — but I was amazed that the job had been completed in 2006, just 12 years ago, because the paint was in bad shape — peeling and chipping everywhere and just fading in general. Of course, I don’t know how well the job was done in 2006 — did they spend nearly two weeks just prepping the house for paint like our team did? — or what primer/paint products were used, but I’m hoping our fresh paint job holds up better over the same amount of time.


We hired Student Works at the end of last year because I wanted one of the first slots for painting in April. A friend of mine who had her own historic home painted last year (at the height of summer) said it was a nightmare because all the windows had to be taped off, preventing them from getting any kind of breeze in the house (I don’t know anyone with air conditioning!). So I definitely wanted our job on the painters’ schedule for spring. That meant we spent all winter with test swatches on the house, giving our neighbours a preview of what was to come.

We had one hiccough with the colour scheme because, at some point, the wood siding that would have originally sided the attic was replaced with vinyl. You can’t paint vinyl any colour that is darker than the vinyl already is because a darker colour will absorb more heat from the sun and warp the siding. We had no choice but to go with white for the attic, which meant Pierre didn’t want to do white trim (my first choice) because the attic would’ve been white-on-white.

We ultimately decided on SW Reclining Green for the main “body” of the house, SW Restful for the trim and SW Extra White for the attic, porch and inset trim (window details). I then painted the front door SW Solaria so that we could incorporate the yellow without having a freak house. The colours were chosen from our Oak House colour palette, inspired by our stained glass windows. Solaria doesn’t appear anywhere inside our house (yet!), but Reclining Green is the colour of our living room, Restful is the colour of our built-in, and Extra White covers all the trim, ceilings, closets, and doors in the house.


Student Works started with a full power wash of the house and then let the house dry for a week before returning to prep the house.


Prep meant sanding the entire house (it’s entirely wood except for the vinyl siding on the attic) and then priming wherever bare wood was exposed. As you can see, they got down to the bare wood in a lot of places!


After two weeks of prep, they were finally ready to mask off the windows and doors and paint!


They started with two coats of the main colour, using a combination of a sprayer and a roller.


I spray painted our house numbers black and we replaced the two exterior light fixtures with affordable matte black ones from Home Depot.


Everything else was done by hand! The entire house got two coats of paint and the job took three guys working full-out (10 hour days) about a month to complete. I’m definitely glad we hired it out, but it was one of our more expensive projects, so I’m certainly hoping the paint job holds up longer than the previous one did!


We have started landscaping the front of the house, adding lupins, peonies, foxgloves, delphiniums, snapdragons and flox to that front bed made of stone. My baskets are thriving and the planters on the ground look so much nicer than that giant Cypress tree, which we had removed last fall. Of course, we have more plans for future years — we’d like to add a Magnolia tree and create some separation from the sidewalk with plants.   But, in the short term, the final items on our “curb appeal” to-do list are to replace the screen door and the tops of the front steps, which are currently covered in asphalt shingles (they are no-slip…) and, as such, were not paintable. We hope to do the screen door later this summer and the steps next summer, at the same time that we plan to rebuild our back deck.