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Paint - Brick - Landscape oh my!

Rachel Meltzer
March 2, 2019

We need help with designing our exterior! We live in Southern California and need help with design elements. Usually there's not rain like there's been these past couple months so I'm still thinking of doing a drought tolerant landscape. Please help!

  • Do we remove or paint the brick?
  • What colors should we paint the house?
  • Do we do drought tolerant plants or turf?
  • Should we remove the palm trees?

Also, the interior has mostly a mid-century modern vibe...

Comments (39)

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting

    The brick is what is keeping the house from looking like a plain old nothing. IMO a new door would be a big improvement, removing the palms that hide 1/2 the house and doing a really nice bit of lanscaping with all drought tolerant plants would be a huge improvemeny over thirsty turf.

  • PRO
    Build Beautiful

    Hi Rachel,

    If you decide to paint the brick - you'll be painting that brick every 2 years until you give up. With that said, I wouldn't remove it (if you hate it and have the $ - remove it) as it has easy to work with tones. If anything, it's that big white box around the window that looks out of place.

    As for siding - I'd consider horizontal wood planking (or that recycled wood if you're worried about droughts?) A lighter shade above the brick would elongate your houses natural proportion. If that square has to stay, paint it dark gray or black so at least it pops out like it was intentional.

    The shade of your roof in that scheme can stay. With a warmer, subtle palette you could do one of those brightly colored doors to give it an eye catcher from the street.

    I'm partial to palm trees, but I'm from the Northeast so... I'm sure they'll be plenty of suggestions.

    Have fun,


  • groveraxle

    Those palms are way too close to the house. I wonder if they can be transplanted.

  • PRO
    JudyG Designs

    I am just about as far away from you as I could be and stay in the 48 states, so I shouldn’t be commenting on your landscape. But, okay, I will.

    What is that big gorgeous tree?

    Palm trees, hmmm, get rid of them. I find them distracting and taking away from your adorable house.

    I would leave the white; leave the brick and paint the front door, one of my fav B.M. door colors,paired with brick: B.M. Somerville Red.

    All of the HC colors are named after historic areas. Somerville is outside of Boston, and by coincidence, where my husband grew up and our daughter now lives. I am not sure why B.M. thought Somerville deserved its own paint color…? I don’t think Paul Revere detoured his ride.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    If you decide to paint the brick - you'll be painting that brick every 2 years until you give up.

    build beautiful, why would you make this remark? that's false. You are aware that they make paint especially for masonry? or how about Romabio? Lime wash? Brick Stain? all of these are quite durable and do not require anything after 2 years.

    Rombaio Classico

    Rachel, those palms are worth some money. if you decide to remove them, call a nursery or landscaping company.

    i'm also in so cal and did a xeriscape on our rental about 4 years ago. It has since grown in quite a bit, but here's how it looked after it was done. (the majority of these plants were from my yard and the neighbors yard.)

    you could also do something like this (even these require constant maintenance, so if you're not into yard work, the grass would be the easiest to maintain)

    if you want to do more of mcm type of vibe, darker colors, bring in some wood slats, new door, etc

    you could do white stucco, white brick, black trim, black pots/lights and succulents/cacti

    or, do a dark brick (which looks great w/the cedar or redwood horizontal slats. )

  • houssaon

    Don't touch the brick, please. It is so charming. Cute house.

    I would transplant some of the palms in a new drought tolerant plan. Or see if you can sell them.

    A bright color front door would be fun.

  • PRO
    Build Beautiful

    I'm only partial to what I've seen growing up in the concrete / brick jungle of Brooklyn, NY. I helped Gramps clean that stuff every summer as a young lad. As designers, we develop our aesthetics of our feels, ya know? But thanks, I'll keep your education in mind now that I'm doing projects in the more weather friendly PNW, a new arrow in the quiver.


  • PRO
  • cat_ky

    I like the brick, and dont mind the white box around the window. I llike the palm trees too, but, unfortunately, they are planted in a very poor location. The roots will be damaging your foundation before long, if they arent already. I do agree, to try to get a landscaper to remove them, and see if they can be replanted elsewhere. The door is mid century looking, so if its in good shape, I would save it, and paint it. If you really want to paint the brick, celerygirls photo with the brick painted gray similar to the roof, looks the nicest to me.

  • groveraxle

    Sorry it took so long, but transplanting those palms was a lot harder than I thought. And you should totally do this walkway because it comes with a really cute Cavalier King Charles.

  • PRO
    RL Relocation LLC

    Everything that grover did except Im not for the brick. Id rather see stucco or hardy board.

    Im also is so cal, and the brick is ho hum....

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    don't forget the cat. grover, I like it.

  • groveraxle

    Be careful, Beth. RL's Danes will eat that cat.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    then I'll get more back-up for Tom.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    Build Beautiful. thought you might like to read this about brick painting.

    (with Romabio)

    The main thing is that it’s a MINERAL paint that’s made specifically for brick, stone, stucco, etc – and not a traditional LATEX paint. Latex paints seal brick which can trap moisture and cause damage, but this mineral paint lets the brick breath like it needs to. It’s essentially more like a stain (hooray for durability and better performance!) but it has an opaque painted looking finish, which is the look we wanted.

    • The high pH in BioDomus makes it alkaline, which makes it naturally mold-resistant, meaning we should get LESS of that green haze have little to no mold and mildew issues that John has been pressure-washing off of the house each year.
    • It CAN be pressure-washed, although the painter advised us to use low pressure – just like you would on any other painted surface
    • It has a 20-year warranty, meaning we shouldn’t have to repaint for at least a couple of decades (!!) – word on the street is that it often lasts for 30+ years which amazes us to no end
    • The reason it has such an insanely long warranty (and is guaranteed to never chip or peel) is because it’s just as breathable as brick. Our painter said “it’s literally like painting brick with brick.” Isn’t that crazy and so cool?!
    • All of their products are sold concentrated & are completely non-toxic (by contrast, traditional acrylic paints have water already in them, but to increase their shelf life, they have to add more chemicals to stabilize them).
    • And – here’s my new favorite feature – it has a FLAT FINISH, which is SO RIDICULOUSLY LUXE LOOKING.
  • cat_ky

    LOL, Beth, the cat up in the tree looks very much like my cat. His teeth are always showing too. (He is a biter).

  • littlebug zone 5 Missouri

    The palm trees definitely need to go. Sell them if you can.

    I don’t care for the planting pockets trimmed in brick next to the sidewalk. I kind of like the brick, though, so I’d just fill those pockets with concrete. Presto! A wider, more attractive sidewalk!

  • PRO

    Though you definitely need improved planting, I'm going to focus here on a couple of changes that, for me, would be the starting point:

    • remove the planters from the walk and fill with paving to match existing, resulting in an overall wider walk
    • remove the horizontal lower limbs of the large tree. They are too low for the overall scene ... and a little freaky looking with the shape

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    "The roots will be damaging your foundation before long, if they arent already."

    I would assume very little familiarity with palms to make this sort of remark :-) Palms have a very small and concentrated root system for their size. There is NO chance that they could damage a foundation - they just do not develop the girth or the aggressive expansion necessary to cause a problem. But I do agree that these are planted too close to the structure for just aesthetic reasons.

    And issues with tree roots and foundations are typically grossly overstated anyway. Even trees with large and very aggressive root systems are seldom responsible for foundation damage. If the foundation is structurally sound - no existing cracks or fissures - tree roots will not bother it. Most foundation damage is due to settling or soil subsidence.........not plants!!

  • K Laurence

    Yes, palms have a very small root system. I had a very large multi-trunk Pygmy date palm removed a few years ago, I was shocked at how small the root ball was. Yes, they’re planted too close to your house ( for aesthetic reasons ). Leave the brick. I too live in SoCal. .... bricks on houses aren’t that common here. There are many xeriscape options to consider, & lots of companies & landscape designers who specialize in that. I’d consult with one.

  • chloebud

    We're also in SoCal and I agree about palm roots. I just personally don't find most palms appealing...too many here! I agree with the suggestion to contact a nursery or landscaper if you remove them. Not long ago we had some sago palms removed. They can be pricey, but we got a nice exchange deal for them from a nursery. I do like your brick. It looks a lot like ours, and I would never paint it.

  • PRO
    RL Relocation LLC

    We've go a wolf pack,

  • chloe00s
    Paint the brick the same color as the clapboard siding.. Whoever said you have to repaint the brick every two years is not correct, if properly primed!
  • PRO
    Purewal Contractors, Inc

    Keep the brick as is and do little brickpointing and powerwash, then do is remove the shrubs and then do landscaping grassing.

  • ptreckel
    Is the wrought iron gate yours? I would replace it with a modern wooden salt fence and gate. Then you can add natural wood accents to your home’s facade. If it isn’t your gate....then block it out with plantings in your yard, as a few of the above Houzzers have done!
  • calidesign

    Deal with the landscaping before you decide on the brick. I think it's fine as is. I would replace all the turf with plants. You can't sell those palms for anything, but you may be able to transfer one or two further into the yard where they won't be blocking your windows. I would change the driveway gate and porch light to something more modern.

  • RedRyder
    You’ve gotten a lot of great ideas and mock ups. What is your first instinct - keep the brick or try to camouflage it for a more consistent look? Clearly the landscaping is overwhelming and the huge trees need to go.
  • emmarene9

    I like the brick. I would remove every palm as I do not like where they are located.

  • Rachel Meltzer

    WOW! I did not expect SOO many amazing suggestions! You all really helped me a ton and opened my mind to realize we definitely don't have to restrict ourselves to the current layout.

    Large Tree: Yaardvark made me laugh and made me realize that we definitely need to cut the lower limbs and that the shape of the tree is scary! :D

    Palms: They've already caused damage to our sewer (clay pipe) and I think they block the windows so we will be ripping them out and seeing if we can make some cash.

    Wrought Iron Gate: That is ours and I love the idea ptrecktel said about the wooden salt fence to give it that more mid-century modern vibe.

    Brick: I'm not 100% sure yet, I really liked the ideas from Beth H. about painting it either dark or white.

    House Color: I like the idea of doing white stucco with a black trim and black pots and lights with succulents and bright decor

    Door: I love the idea of going with a more colorful door or a door with dark wood. Also, we will definitely be updating the porch light.

    Walkway: I LOVE the large cement walkway from groveraxle! The brick in that area is already crumbling so creating a whole new walkway might be the best idea.

    Thank you all soo soo much and I can't wait to post in about a year or two (HA!) what we end up with! :)

  • Rachel Meltzer

    Please don't judge....I only have powerpoint! haha!

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    I like it! I can see where you're going with it.

  • groveraxle

    Not bad, Rachel. And the best part: you kept the dog!

  • Rachel Meltzer thanked groveraxle
  • Rachel Meltzer

    Haha! We actually have a blue nose pitbull so of course we kept the doggie! :)

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    found another example for the 'steps' . the tall succulents are FireStick plant or Euphorbia.

  • cpartist

    I like Grover's last version. I think it's classic and beautiful.

  • PRO
    RL Relocation LLC

    OK Grover that last one is more where my head was at!

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