a-frame cabin renovation // paint debate This weekend we are heading to our A-frame cabin to work on things (my parents are in town, always two cheers for free labor) and I’m excited to finalize paint plans. We decided to go white! (we used benjamin moore “vapor”). I loved it in a dark color but after painting the Michigan cabin charcoal and our current LA house charcoal, I was ready to switch things up. I also love the contrast of the white on the dark windows, and white in the desert makes a lot more sense for heat sake.

However, we started small with the white, and now I am wondering what else, if anything should go white.


a-frame cabin renovation // paint debateThe eaves were always going to go white, the painters just missed that part, but I can’t help but wonder what it would look like for all the stone to go white too! I have been trying my hardest not to paint the stone, BUT the cabin is such an interesting shape, I can only think that going all monochromatic would highlight the awesome structure an make it a bit more modern. Am I crazy? Do I need to be talked off the paint-everything-white ledge?

Also, to do outside is to get rid of the board below the windows with the zig zag line. It kind of drives me crazy and takes away from the amazing windows. We will be replacing it with just a smooth board.

a-frame cabin renovation // paint debateHere’s a look at the new pergola, as you can see everything is still in progress but, even if we don’t paint the exterior stone white, that stone with the white dot to the right of the door will go white. It is a different type of stone and the mortar/cement lines fills in all the gaps unlike all the rest of the stone. Plus it will be nice to have the entrance be one solid piece of white coming off from the roof.

And now for the interior… since it has been a while, if you want to catch up on how it looked before check this post. a-frame cabin renovation // paint debate We are finally on the home stretch of the major renovations. A flood which led to a new roof, as well as having to install an entire new sceptic system definitely set us back a bit, so it took a while for our bank accounts to recover from those two MAJOR expenses that we hadn’t planned for. But we are back and ready to get this baby in working order. And FINALLY it is cleaned up a bit so I’m ready to do more of the fun stuff, like finish the kitchen, install lights, and furnish the place!

Now, on the inside we used Behr paint in “polar bear” and I am back to the same idea as outside. Should we or shouldn’t we paint the stone? It is so hard because once you paint, you can’t go back. I love that we saved the only exposed real wood that was in the place and that we definitely won’t be painting but I can’t help but think of how clean it would be with all white aside from the wood.

a-frame cabin renovation // paint debatea-frame cabin renovation // paint debatePlease excuse the photo quality of this post, btw, they are just iphone snaps but I had to get answers! If you remember, this nook off to the side of the fireplace was reddish brown painted wood. It is finally white and I can breath again. I have really tried my hardest to keep the rock, honestly, but I just can’t help thinking of how open and modern it would feel all white. Sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants but I am curious to hear what you guys think. Is it blasphemy? Or is it just stone?

For all the progress on the a-frame so far check here.

  • Anina

    I would white wash the stone to keep the integrity of the stone and allow the natural color variation to show through.

  • Jourdan

    Love the white, but please don’t paint the exterior stone or the fireplace. On the outside, the natural stone does a great job of connecting the weird, modern lines of the cabin to its natural environment. And the fireplace stone adds such cool texture and warmth inside. It’s a nice balance!

    • Kristin

      I agree with Jourdan!

    • Kat

      So agree!! Don’t paint!

    • I totally agree. Please don’t paint any of the stone!! Except for maybe that one area in the back you mentioned. I think once you get the modern design aesthetic in there that you showed us a while back, you’ll feel that the entire space is as modern as you’d love it to be. Like you said, once you paint, there’s no turning back.

    • I completely agree with you! The outside stone is such a grounding feature (pun sorta intended) to the surrounding environment. The fireplace I don’t feel as strongly about, the only negative is if you plan on selling in the future buyers might not like a permanent change to such a central feature. I know we passed on homes where people had painted the wood trim and/or stone.

      But then we bought our house and I painted our brick fireplace navy blue sooooo. . . 🙂 (they were ugly red brick veneers, NO REGRETS!!!)

  • Amber

    That’s a difficult decision! The exterior would of course look great in all white, but I don’t know…something about the natural stone really works here, especially with the white trim…tough call but I think I personally lean toward leaving it. I think the part of me that’s tempted to say “paint it” sees how the stone kind of blends into the ground…perhaps it’s the same for you? A little landscaping, eventually, could mitigate that. But since you’re painting part of it anyway, maybe you can use that as an opportunity to see what you really think. As for the interior, definitely paint it!

  • Constance

    I think you will be happiest painting it white. Trust your gut and don’t look back!

  • Rebecca

    If modern is what you are going for then painting everything white would probably suit you best. I love the stone and think it adds a lot of charm to your cabin, while still having a very clean look with all the white trim. I think painting the one outside wall (with different stone) that is part of the entrance makes sense, as well as the two half stone columns inside. I also love the fireplace and all its stonework left as is – again – charm. 🙂 You have so much white (and light colors) in there already – the stone really helps to ground the space inside and out and really connects it back to nature while keeping your modern vibe. My opinion and preference obviously. 🙂
    In the end – I think that you should follow your gut. I had a contractor tell me once that he sees people so many times who know what they want, then look at every other option possible and eventually come right back around to their initial gut instinct.
    Whatever you do will be beautiful!
    Love seeing your progress btw, I look forward to every post – especially about the cabin. 😀

  • Ugh, this IS a tough call for sure! The good news is, you are an amazing designer and could totally make both ways work so you’ve got 2 good options. Since you’re asking for opinions, I gave this some serious thought and here is my opinion (but again, I don’t think you would go wrong either way)…

    I think you should leave the stone on the exterior. Once you landscape and paint the eaves white it will bug you less, and I think there’s something to be said for the house transitioning into the landscape with the natural stone. That modern roofline makes a strong enough statement without the need to add all the white stone too, and I feel like the contrast will be a cool talking point and is in itself a really bold move because it preserves something original.

    I think you should paint part of the interior stone walls though- all the stone except the face of the fireplace (including the bench/hearth of it, but not the main vertical wall the actual fireplace is on). That would clean it up visually but leave you with one cool statement wall of it that’s more natural. I’m more torn about the interior stone though, I think it’s one of the most unique details in the house and while I definitely think it will look cool both ways, I think you can rise to the challenge of the natural stone being left as-is.

    What if you leave it for now, and paint it in a year if you totally still wish it was painted white? One of the cool things about this being a vacation house is you get to leave it for enough time to distance yourself from the project, so you can re-experience your favorite/not-so-favorite aspects of the design over time and adjust accordingly.

    SO HARD! GOOD LUCK! Cannot wait to see what you decide, either way!

    • I agree with what you have said. It was exactly what I was thinking!

    • Oh and also if you leave the stone on face of fireplace maybe hang a large textured white piece of art. Then it would be framed by the stone and serve to lessen the weight of the mass and color of the stone.

    • Kate

      I agree with Chaz about the exterior, I think once you landscape in front of the exterior stone it will all blend a lot more naturally and your eye won’t be as drawn to the stone.

      For the interior, would it be possible like one commenter suggested to just the half wall bits in drywall? I personally do think that the texture of the white painted stone would draw your eye potentially just as much as having the stone unpainted – so maybe ripping the stone off the fireplace and covering in something else you would prefer?

    • sarah

      You are totally right on the eaves part. It drives me crazy and I think it will make a huge difference. And I like your idea on the interior. We have already painted in three phases so bit by bit adding more and more white. Ha we will see how far I go! X

  • Bev

    We’re having the same debate with our cabin! Even with huge aframe windows our place is still pretty dark and I’d love to go all white. True that you can’t go back, but it’ll look incredible painted white. And there’s always white washing if you want something a bit more subtle.

  • Lisa

    Paint the stone! But leave that gorgeous concrete (looking?) panel business that is happening….

  • Stephanie

    My gut reaction is no, don’t paint all the stone, it’s not my favorite as far as stones go but I think the exterior really needs to stay natural. It adds to uniqueness of the place and makes it a part of the landscape in a cool way. I feel like the interior stone ties it to the exterior and brings that really earthy vibe. But I think it could also go white and it would work. I’d leave it for now and style the whole place, then decide.

    • sarah

      Right?! I wish the stone was a better color. And that there weren’t two different kinds used on one half of the house.

  • KP

    Leave the stone natural! I think once you tidy up the exterior (landscape the flower beds with some cacti and white crushed stone) the stone won’t bother you as much. To me the stone is what makes the whole place!

  • I would wait until you have completely finished the house to make this decision. Once you have furnished and styled the house, and spent some time living in the space, you will know. It’s not abig job to paint it at a later date. My gut instinct is to keep the stone natural. If you are feeling the need for more white on the exterior you can add it with pots and white outdoor furniture. That will contrast beautifully with the stone.

  • Jaclyn

    paint that stone! if the stones were more monochromatic I’d maybe be into them, but I feel like they add a kind of rustic element that doesn’t really go with the crisp, modern palm springs vibe. plus if you’re going to paint a lot of the other stone elements, might be kind of weird to paint some of it. I feel like it might even be kind of cool to paint them black? but I might be crazy on that one. I’m a sucker for a tuxedo look. 🙂

  • Amanda

    Paint it! I’d definitely finish out the interior with polar bear. I could see leaving the outside the natural stone but it’d be such a modern gem painted all white.

  • LivewithHope

    Leave the outside and the fireplace alone! Something needs to ground the white to the natural surroundings. And some hearty plants in front and you’re set. As for the strange knee-wall bits inside, I’d consider covering them (e.g. Drywall) and trimming them out. That way you get the clean white look (and no longer compete with the fireplace, which I love!) but if you regret it in 3 years, the original stone is relatively intact underneath.

  • I say, absolutely all white! It would highlight the shape of the structure and give it a contemporary feeling!

  • nicole

    Just keep the fireplace stone as is. otherwise your whole interior will be a big white box with no natural warmth.

  • i would go for it all white on the outside. don’t make yourself keep something just because you feel guilty or think you should. do what your gut says & it seems like your gut is telling you that you’d like it better if it were all white!

  • Erin

    I think you should definitely leave the exterior stone as-is. If you get rid of that chunky stone landscape border and replace it with something cleaner (or nothing at all) and then add some nice landscaping, the stone will look fab.

    As for the interior, I like the idea of whitewashing the stone, which feels like a nice midpoint between natural and painted and lightens things up while still having a natural, texture. I’m looking at examples of whitewashed stone and it’s beautiful. Would something like this be possible, where the color of the stone still shows through, but the mortar is white?

    PS- I’m from Grand Haven, too! Man, I really miss Lake Michigan and its gorgeous beaches (I now live in Nashville).

  • Lynn

    Like many of the other commenters said, I would leave the exterior stone until you finish with the landscaping. I think part of the reason it looks overwhelming is that there is a lot of other stone around the base of the cabin. (In the second picture in this post there is extra stone in the background, foreground, along the path, and at the base of the plants!) I would clear that all out and add some nice sculptural plantings around the base of the cabin. After that it’s going to look much more appropriate to have the exposed stone on the cabin exterior.

  • Devon-Leigh Hudson

    Please can you tell me where you got the wood and black leather seated barrel chairs from your Instagram story at the a-frame?? In love with those chairs!

  • ALL WHITE EVERYTHING. Unless you’re doing black and then ALL BLACK EVERYTHING. 😉

    The stone looks dated. White is fresh, clean and modern, the stone detracts from all of that. I don’t agree with waiting until landscape-the ugly stone will still be there.

    It sounds like you’re really leaning towards white anyways–go with your gut 🙂

  • Adriana

    Oh my, please don’t paint out the stones. Keep the stones but lose the stone edging. we spend a lot of time in PS and the houses with the natural stone exteriors are so eye catching. Yes you should be able to do whatever you want with your house but remember you are part of an ersatz preservation community there. Once done you can’t undo. We are working on a 60s house in Santa Cruz and we promised ourselves to wait on major decisions for a year because so much changes about how you use and feel in a space. We had a cold and wet winter and decided that our concrete floors were too cold and are going to cork.Our white walls we started with are now covered in grasscloth. Our overhang made the white feel cold instead of bright. I say do the landscaping and the furnishings and then give it a year and if you still want to paint it all out well then do what you need to do for you!.

  • Steph

    OMG lady, yes, paint it all white!!!!!!
    cant wait to see the progress 🙂

  • I agree with the others that the stone gives warmth/contrast to the white. I remember when the owner of Mjolk painted her stone fireplace and had a bit of regret. She likened it to the “marshmallow village” haha! They documented their cabin overhaul here http://kitka.ca/?p=14319

  • I know I’m going against the common theme here, but I would paint it all white except for the fireplace facade. I think the exterior would look amazing with just the contrast from the roof and all those beautiful modern lines. Plus, once you get some landscaping in and some lush greens and brighter colors if you plan on doing flowers, they will pop so much better against a white backdrop! The fireplace facade, on the other hand, appears to be a much cooler, greyer stone (at least the interior lighting paints it that way) and adds a nice natural element without it feeling like too much of a departure from what will inevitably be the overall feel of the home. I know most people have said to leave the exterior alone, but I love the idea of this stark white arrow shooting out of the dessert, but that’s just me 😉

  • Ro

    I would paint the stone inside white. Especially because when you’re looking at the fireplace head on you can see the painted stone in the bathroom. Maybe weird to have some painted and some not? Plus like you said I think it will look so nice painted. You still have that natural wooden wall. Nice to have a blog to ask these questions. I live in a log cabin and the wood walls kinda look like they were stained with paint maybe. I debate daily if I should paint them white. I would love to send in a picture to you and get everyone’s comments haha. I’m sure whatever you decide will be awesome!

  • Hmm. Looking at the exterior photos, I would have said paint the stone white, or whitewash it. But then I read others’ comments. Maybe just try powerwashing it first. It might brighten it up a little and make it feel cleaner. However, don’t paint the interior stone! At least not yet. Live with it for a little while, get your furnishings in and then decide. It may be just the right amount of rustic when you get all your mod, clean furniture in.

  • yasmara

    I understand the impulse, but I’m falling on the side of not painting any of the stone white except *maybe* the stuff that doesn’t match on the outside. I love painting things white, so this is a bit of a departure for me, but I really think you would lose the vintage charm if it was painted out. Plus, I agree that it helps ground it in the landscape and in it’s era.

  • Mafalda

    I like the stone outside, it will be softer
    with landscaping. Inside you could
    whitewash the stone walls , except the fireplace,
    It would be like a ‘cocoon’.
    Whatever you do, it will be great.
    Best regards
    Lisboa, Portugal

  • I’d totally go ALL white.

  • All white, everywhere. Outside and in.

  • Kate

    I vote all white! Yes! And I’m wondering, Sarah, if painting your other houses dark made them warmer inside? I’m thinking of doing the same but nervous about that. Our house is a mod guy in N Cal from 1953 and I don’t think the whole thing is insulated.

  • Looking good. Sorry to hear about your setbacks! But you are on a roll now. What if you mortared in a lighter color. Like the second house in this link? http://www.lushome.com/modern-redesign-old-country-home-antique-stone-walls-exposed-ceiling-beams/126238
    Less deep texture and it freshens it up a bit. Plus that house is incredible with it’s modern elements.
    Good luck!

  • Anna

    I’m late to this party, but the first thing I thought when I saw the pictures in the post and before I read anything was, “Gosh, that would look so great if the stones were painted white!” This is *never* my instinct—I’m usually like many of the other posters. But I think this is a moment to be bold!

  • Anna

    PS, I like the natural stone inside 🙂

  • Hi Sarah! I think you should paint it all white or white wash it. Inside on the fireplace, I think refacing it would look really cool too! 🙂 Something white and modern.

    I love watching all your reno progress!


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