It was brought to my attention that I never shared the before and after of our LA house exterior on the blog, and since I aim to please… (and because you better believe we will be painting the new house some shade of black as well), here she is!



It’s amazing what black paint can do! Right? Well, and a new door, and new shutters, and a lot of cement work, and landscaping and a new fence. ha See that tiny cactus to the left of the “before” photo? It is the same one in the “after” photo and that is just about the only thing we saved and look… he is so happy!

We did the landscaping plan ourselves and worked with a local landscaping team to bring it to life. Keep in mind I know almost NOTHING about plants and in hindsight I would not have chosen the “stick on fire” plant (that is the one next to the cactus partly blocking the left window). For one they are poisonous to dogs and babies (only if they eat them so it hasn’t been a problem, but still) and then secondly it grows SO fast. Like way to fast and too big. The agave and the other plants have grown in so well we didn’t even need them. The main lesson I learned is to start your plants small and it won’t take long for your garden to grow in. I wanted it to look good instantly, which it did, but then a year later it was already looking almost too full! Aside from that, I love how it turned out.

We painted the walls just a slightly darker shade of the same color. Previously, I had mentioned it being Iron Mountain from Benjamin Moore but when I went to go retouch the paint before we rented it out to tenants I realized that wasn’t the case and remembered I had mixed Iron Mountain with Cracked Pepper by Behr to make a custom color and then I brought it to the paint store to get color matched.

The other big change was extending out the stairs to the front door to create a small patio. It instantly made the entry feel more grand. Then we had the landscaping team pour custom large sized pavers for the side walk, which brought in one more detail that helped to modernize the exterior. All the seemingly small details on their own make one big impact.

To see all of our Los Angeles house renovations, check here.

And now… what to do on our new family fixer!? It may be super boring for blog reading purposes, but on modern houses, I basically will go one or two ways with the exterior and that is white or black. Find me a charming victorian and I might go the softest shade of pink… but still, a black victorian would be pretty great too for the juxtaposition alone. But anywho… from the second we saw the realtor photos of the house we knew we would 100% be painting it black if we got it (plus we just painted our last project white, so clearly we are due to go back to black. ha). A modern black house in a wooded setting has always been a dream of mine that I can’t believe is actually coming true and so close to the city. There is just something magic about being surrounded by all that green and how a black house feels right at home amongst the trees.

sarah sherman samuel // house exterior // choosing the right paintWhile we are waiting on finalizing designs on the inside, I am itching to get rid of the red so I already made a couple trips to our local Sherwin Williams to get samples and we are getting right to it. Above you can see where I painted some swatches next to the window and my options are almost black, black, blacker, and blackest. (ok the real colors are Sherwin Williams: (from the top down) Urban Bronze, Tricorn Black, Caviar, and Iron Ore). When choosing exterior paints, always paint the swatches… the bigger the better, and also in multiple places. Colors change in every light, so it is good to live with them for a couple days and see how you like what paints at different times of day in the different locations. From there if you are lucky, one will be the clear winner. If you are unlucky and you like one on one side and a different on the other, I would choose the one you will see or care about the most.

We are still in the ‘living with them stage’ so stay tuned for which shade we choose! And which would you choose?! Or if you still think black is crazy, what color would you do?

In the meantime I will leave you with some pretty black houses surrounded by trees, in case I didn’t make a big enough case for it myself.

Inspiration Sources: A- Frame // Mid- Century Modern // Concrete Bungalow

To see all of the posts and to get the full back story on where and why we moved, check here.

  • Kali

    From the picture I think the caviar color looks the best! It would blend so well with the shadows of the trunks of the trees.

  • MelissaB

    I love the idea of this one going black! My pick is Tricorn black (Also the color I want to paint my house) I’m only hesitating because I live in the PNW where it is gloomy a lot of the time and I worry that it would be too dark since it’s also wooded and can feel dark on cloudy days. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

  • Iron Ore Iron Ore! I think I sent you a DM on Instagram but, we just took our cedar siding MCM ranch from gross brown to Iron Ore and it looks incredible. Our house has some brown brick work out front we were trying to work with and the back is surrounded by a ravine so I wanted something with brown undertones and Iron Ore is perfect. Not too blue, not too black, not too brown. I think it would work great for your house! Can’t wait to see the result!

  • Keely

    I love them all, but I think I like the last house the best? It’s black with a brown undertone? Looks modern but mid century at the same time!

  • Jen

    Could you share where the “after” front door is from? Thank you!

  • Maureen

    Middle one

  • Alison

    I love the look of black exteriors but am wondering if they make the house get extra hot, like black cars? I live in the Bay Area so it doesn’t get too hot but we also don’t have AC… did you notice a difference in the inside temp of your house after painting it black?

    • sarah

      There was only wall that got direct sunlight most of the day and we did notice that right next to it was warmer on the inside than the rest of the house but the roof color is more important than the wall color heat wise. living by the ocean we rarely got uncomfortable high temps so it was a blessing more than anything.

  • Marita

    Moi! Yes to a black house in a wooded setting. I’m excited to see what you decide. We’re in a similar position having recently purchased a midcentury home with quite a number of trees and a creek. I can’t wait to take the house from green to charcoal and have a crisp,modern contrast with the vegetation. We’ve opted to go more grey than black since we’re in the rainy PNW and need to keep the color from being too heavy. Painting preparations have started and it’s time to commit to a color. BM Ambler Slate is in the lead. What color will you paint your window sashes?

  • Brittany

    Not like you don’t have enough to do but I was excited for some photoshop dummies 😉 I prefer the darker warmer swatches in the middle than the gray ones. The gray tone looked good on the last house but I don’t know maybe it’s the cladding or the surrounding that feels like it should go darker. Looking forward to it!

    Also how close are you to the city?

    • sarah

      Haha yea not in the cards for my current schedule this time around 🤷🏼‍♀️.
      We are super close! Just right outside. We went to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants last night in the city and it took us 9 minutes door to door.

  • Mandy

    I knew I saw a kindred spirit in you:) My House is Urbane Bronze… I love it every time I turn down my street. Good brown undertone that never goes purple and looks great with black or white trim. Love your style, love your voice, thanks for sharing your story!

  • Leslie W Leibbrandt

    Can you be specific with the plants used in your landscape design? I love the results!

  • Amy

    Where did you get the front door for your LA house? You did SUCH an amazing job.

  • Lauren

    I like Iron Ore! Maybe Tricorn or Caviar on the window trim if you want a little bit of contrast!

  • Cassie

    I would photoshop each swatch to take up the whole house

  • Courtney

    Digging the Caviar color! I live in a midcentury split level and it’s the same color red — the problem is the bottom half of it is brick. I’ve wanted to paint the house dark but I’d have to do something about the brick because it would definitely stand out. Any suggestions? 🙂

    Love your style and am excited to follow along this house!

  • Kristen

    I think if you’re going to go black, go all the way black. We used tricorn black on our garage and carriage house and on the north section of our house and we love it!

  • Kate

    Our 60’s house is Iron Ore and surrounded by huge old growth trees. Feels so organic like the house rose from the ground. Love!

  • Rachael

    I’m excited to see what color you choose! I have a White House and used urban bronze for my exterior trim and doors and love it. From the pic you posted—I’d say caviar!

  • Shannon

    What’s your plan for the soffits? We have a very similar situation right now and are looking at a dark color for the siding and gutters, but our soffits also need to be replaced and we are debating matching vs contrasting!

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