Building a new house in Palo Alto

Building a new house in Palo Alto

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spray paint: A girl's best friend

Kay & big brother Jay. Matchy names but that's about all.
Growing up with Asian parents meant that most of my childhood was spent in hand-me-downs, mismatched outfits, and made-in-Taiwan clothing branded with nonsensical Chinglish expressions. If I had a therapist, she would tell you that this is why as an adult, I suffer from an obsessive compulsive case of matchy-matchy disease. There's nothing like being ridiculed on the playground for fashion faux pas to impress upon you the virtues of fitting in and being color coordinated. Even Mrs Meaders, my sixth grade teacher, tsk-tsked me for wearing clothing with bad grammar. Yes, the scars run deep.

In architecture, your house's clothing is called the "exterior elevation." For the most part, you only have a few main colors and textures, however there are dozens of tiny details that can either clash or tie the look together. The most prominent features of our house include the Weimaraner stucco, redwood highlights and our "truffle"colored window trim. Made by Kolbe windows, truffle is a rich deep dark bronze color that I fell in love with early in the design process and have based all subsequent exterior elevation decisions upon.
Hey, does this match my truffle windows?

Unfortunately, truffle is not exactly a standard color for porch lights, doorbells, chimney caps, outlet covers, vent pipes, dog doors and all the other accessories that we need to put on our house. Some of these items come in a brown or bronze color but the shades vary quite a bit and that doesn't cut it when you have a deep seated need for matchy-matchy perfection. Fortunately, I found a fix at our local hardware store. Enter my newfound love affair with spray paint...

Spray painting a porch light. From black to truffle in under 15 minutes!
Before & after shot.
This eight dollar makeover brought to you by Rust-Oleum.
I used Rust-Oleum Universal Metallic Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint for the porch lights. The color looks similar to the truffle window trim but has a nice metallic sheen that really pops. It costs about eight dollars a can at Home Depot and the best part is it's a primer and paint in one--perfect for those of us who are impatient and require immediate gratification. One layer of paint and I was done.

VoilĂ , my new "custom" porch light.

For the rest of the exterior items, I used Rustoleum's Bronze Metallic finish. It's a slightly lighter, more muted bronze that blends in instead of popping. It's pure magic in a bottle. Up close it's a deep bronze like the truffle but it has a reflective quality that lightens when you look at it from a distance and in the sun. I sprayed it on our chimney cap and roof pipes and there are times when it's an accent color and other times when it practically blends into the Weimaraner stucco. Trippy. I found it at our local Los Altos Hardware (love this store!) and no where else. Only problem is that it requires a primer, so takes a little bit longer, but is definitely worth it.

The recessed light trim for our porch ceilings.

Sure beats white trim, eh?
Now the dogs have their own mini matching door.
Even the outlet covers got the matchy matchy treatment.
Had fun climbing on the roof to paint the ugly aluminum chimney cap and vent pipes.
Perfection. Now I can sleep at night...
I-thought my work was done until our lovely (not!) on-demand water heaters popped up. Argh!

Next project: Camouflaging these hideous eyesores.


  1. Hi Kay! Congratulations to you and your husband on the new baby boy!! Beautiful house. I stumbled upon your blog, and see with this photo you are the Kay & Jay Luo my sister and I played with as kids. Two Chinese families going to Yellowstone in an RV from Boise...

    1. Hello again, Cathy! Glad you found my blog. I was just telling my husband about our epic Yellowstone RV trip the other week, so funny to reconnect this way. Hope you're doing well and let me know if you're doing any remodeling and need any help. The baby has been great, hopefully I'll be blogging again soon. I'm working on another house now.