One Man’s Opinion: White Houses

by Jul 29, 2018

Several months ago I approached a local publication and offered to write editorials with my tongue-in-cheek take on interior design. After dozens of years in the design field, I felt that I not only had the experience to draw from, but might also provide a humorous take on common things. The editors liked the idea and I submitted my first two articles. However, even though their initial reaction was positive, when it came time to print, they voiced their concerns. They were afraid that my take on Jack & Jill bathrooms as well as, houses painted white, might offend their readers. They offered to rewrite my articles and give them a more generic and positive spin. I declined and responded that the editorials clearly state that it is just my opinion and no, they did not have my permission to alter my articles. And, in what I viewed as very non-professional, they did not respond.

I hope that you’ll enjoy (and will not be offended by) the second of my two articles.


I clearly did not receive the memo – the one that recommends nine out of ten new homes need to be painted a shade of white. Seriously, with an unlimited rainbow of available paint colors, when did white become the number one choice?

Now, I like a painted house as much as the next guy and in the past I’ve been known to even paint a house white. However, my go-to color is usually in the taupe family but now I find that I’m having second thoughts about that and leaning towards natural brick. Let’s face it, not all brick is attractive in color. Or I should say, I’m not a fan of all brick colors. But I realize that it can sometimes be the trim or roof color that fights with the tone of the brick making it seem less unattractive.

When I’ve painted the exterior brick on a house it’s usually because 1) the brick was already painted or 2) we were unable to match the brick on an addition and needed to paint everything in order to make it uniform. And I’ve been around long enough to have seen a current homeowner remove paint and exposed the original brick – or remove just enough of the paint to create a weathered and washed brick look. Many of you might have noticed some of the new construction out there using a myriad of brick colors on a house knowing that ultimately they will paint the brick once the construction is done. But until that happens, the house is a speckled mess of ugliness. Can you imagine the surprise years from now when someone purchases a painted brick home and decides that they would like to remove the paint and exposed the natural brick? What a shock it will be when they uncover the half-dozen assorted brick colors underneath?

So let’s say you want a painted house. Does it have to be white? If there are not other painted white homes on your street then sure, why not? Your home will stand out. But if the houses on each side of you are white as well as, the one across the street, then why blend in? You could always try my old standby taupe, or cream, pale yellow or the fifty shades (or more) of gray. A striking new look is painting the house dark charcoal, or even black although I’m fearful that trend will be the next “white” and become overdone as well.

If your natural brick color is appealing and there are numerous painted brick homes around you, fight the urge to join in. Seek professional help in choosing trim and possible shutter colors so that they compliment your brick. You can also update your look with a striking accent color on the front door. Remember every door does have to be stained wood.

All I’m asking of you is to consider breaking from the herd mentality and be unique, even if that means leaving your brick as it was intended. There is a street on the edge of Belle Meade in Nashville where the norm is to tear down the 1950s and 1960s homes and build bigger and better. Four new builds, all in a row, are painted a shade of white. Why? It makes me tempted to purchase one (if it came on the market) just for the opportunity to repaint the exterior something that would stand out and be noticed.

J. Ronald M. York, author of Kept in the Dark, is also an accomplished musician and founder of York & Friends Fine Art Gallery.

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