10 Rules to Follow When Choosing Sidelights for Your Door

Sidelights, the longer lights next to your exterior door, are always a thing.  What color do you paint them? We have come up with 10 rules to follow when choosing sidelights for your door. At brick&batten our designers are constantly asked questions… sometimes there’s an easy answer, other times it’s a matter of preference, but many times there is an explanation for the madness.  One question we encountered recently was about the color of sidelights.  

  • Do sidelights match the color of the door or the trim? 
  • Or, maybe the sidelights match the color of the house.


Unfortunately, this question doesn’t have an easy answer and depends on your personal preference, the color of the door and trim, whether the sidelights are all glass or part glass, if the trim is wide or thin, the size of your entryway, and the architecture of the home.  That said, let’s dive into the details.

10 Rules to Follow When Choosing Sidelights for Your Door

Rule #1. 

If your door is a crazy color like pink, yellow, or even in some cases red, the sidelights should be painted the color of the trim.  It’s one thing to have a splash of color on your door but a big splash of color that takes over the look of your house is unnecessary. Yellow and green doors below look spot on.  Pink… not so much. That said, I’ve seen this done correctly in small doses.  

yellow door with white trim sidelight

Rule #2.

If your house is a small ranch or has a low roofline, a big door with sidelights makes the entry look shorter and stubby if it’s all one color.  That said, if the door is wood or black, keeping your side lights lighter or the color of the trim is the best bet.  

door with trim sidelight


Rule #3.

If you are in a contemporary or mid-century modern house, your sidelights should have a thin frame and lots of open glass.  If the door is wood or a dark color, you can do a dark color sidelight too.  Some mid-centuries have colorful doors.  If that’s the case, on most houses, refer to Rule 1!

door with trim sidelight
dark paint wood gable
Contemporary garage door

Rule #4.

If you have a tall entryway or a higher roofline you can do sidelights the same color as your door.  A large door isn’t going to look out of place with a large entry and high roofline.  Your sidelights just become part of your door. The white modern below is smaller but has a high roofline.  It doesn’t have an awning or overhang over the door to make the entry appear smaller.

large door with one sidelight

Rule #5. 

An arched door that goes into arched sidelights are beautiful; however, they should all be the same color.  So, if your arched door is wooden, then your sidelights should extend the look and also be wooden.

arched doorway sidelight
arched doorway sidelight

Rule #6. 

If you’re in a Colonial, Cape Cod, or Nantucket style house, usually the trim and windows are white.  If your door is black or wooden, your sidelights can follow suit to match the door; however, white sidelights to match the trim is also common and  beautiful!

Rule #7.

Historic and Victorian-style homes usually have white sidelights with transom above the door.  If the sidelights are the color of the door, there may be white trim separating the door from the sidelight itself.

sidelights on historic home

Rule #8.

Sometimes sidelights have a trim piece separating the sidelight from the door. I live in a city bungalow, and my trim is about 4” on either side of the door before the sidelight. This is considered trim… so, it should be painted like the other trim on the house. 


Rule #9.

Many homes have a field color that goes on the house. A trim color that goes around the windows and doors.  And an accent color for shutters, doors, etc.  If that’s the case, your door may be painted the accent color and sidelights painted the trim color.  

Rule #10.

There is no hard and fast rule for sidelights and doors.  You have to do what feels best for you. In my experience, when in doubt, go white on the trim color.  It’s truly a matter or your style and personal opinion.


In my opinion, sidelights are like your body type.  If you’re wider, it’s not wise to wear horizontal stripes.  You want vertical to make you look taller.  Same with your door… If your roofline is low, to keep your door looking taller, your sidelights should be a different color than your door so it doesn’t look like one big area.  If your roofline and doorway is tall, it’s easier to expand out and go wide.

Overall, sidelights and doors are a hugely debated topic.  If your house and entryway are large, painting the door and sidelights the same color will work.  If your house is smaller and can’t handle a massive looking doorway, then keeping your door simple with the sidelights painted white or the trim color, is probably your best bet.  But, as soon as I say that you will find gorgeous houses that defy the rule.  Or, gorgeous sidelights that are almost all glass that really have no real trim.  That said, do what feels best for you.

AND, if you want to SEE your house with different door options and sidelight colors, our brick&batten designers will show you different options so you can see what looks best on your home before ordering or starting to paint!