Back before we were sheltering-in-place, we hired a window tradesman. He met us at the house, looked at each window, and we discussed the project. We want to keep all the current windows, but they need some attention. Some open and close easily, but many do not. And all of them need to be painted inside and out (after the loose old paint is taken off).

There are 9 windows at the front of the house, and 7 windows at the back of the house, and we hired him to get all 16 in good working order. We especially love the windows at the front of the house — the wood at the top has a gentle arch to custom-fit the arched stonework, and they are quite lovely.

We also hired him to repair/restore the shutters. Shutters in France are pretty much universal. Every window in every building in every city and town has shutters. That might seem like a big exaggeration, but it’s really not. Opening and shutting the shutters each day is a part of the culture.

When we lived here before I totally embraced the shutters, and I would go from bedroom to bedroom in the morning, opening shutters and making beds. But this time around, I haven’t made a habit of it — I’m not sure why.

Anyway, at the front of the house, the shutters are metal and they fold into themselves and sort of disappear when they are open. They are white, but the paint is badly peeling and they look pretty sad. Luckily they still work well and just need to be freshened up. So the window tradesmen will take them down, have them sand-blasted, then painted or powder-coated, then re-installed. The back of the house has wooden shutters. They’ll be painted too.

The last we heard, the window and shutter work could begin as early as the next two weeks (I really hope this is true!), so I really need to settle on an exterior paint color that will be used on the shutters, windows, and the front door.

Here are some doors around town so you can get an idea of the range of colors we see:

Some of these are examples are more recently painted, but many of them haven’t been painted in ages and are seriously faded — so it’s a little tricky trying to figure out what the actual colors are.

As an example, our entrance doors are currently a dark, matte, teal green:

But there’s a strip on the door of the original paint, before it faded, and it’s actually a high-gloss true green. That is such a different feel than the current doors! Makes me so curious about the faded doors in the photos above. What were they originally?

The last thing to mention before we get into color picking, is that the house is in an official historic district, which means we are required to use approved historic colors. I don’t know where to find a list of those colors, and I’m figuring that out, but I’m not bothered about the restriction, because we want to use historic colors. (Also, we’ve heard the rule is not actually very strict? We can’t tell.) So while I’m figuring out what the official historic colors are, I’m just going to choose a color, and then figure out which approved color is closest to my pick.

In the U.S., Sherwin-Williams was my go-to paint supplier but I can’t get their paint or paint chips here, so I’m trying the brand Farrow & Ball for color picking — they’re a UK company but available in both the U.S. and France, so that works nicely for us. They have a limited color range but the colors are particularly special. Here are four I’m currently considering for the exterior — Stiffkey Blue is my favorite at the moment:

I’m planning to choose one color and use it on all the painted elements of the exterior — the windows, the doors, and the shutters — I want something that really complements the stone face, and will make a really handsome statement when finished. I know it’s really just an accent color, but when I picture the big doors, and the shutters closed, it will still be a lot of color, so I want to make sure we love it.

Do you have an opinion? Would you want to switch up the color options for each element — the door in one color, the shutters in another, the windows in a third? Have you ever chosen a really distinctive color for your front door? Like a bright yellow or a royal blue? In New York, we painted our front door a lime green and I loved it so much. Have you ever chosen Farrow & Ball colors? Can you believe how many pretty doors there are in our little town?