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.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Birthday Open House


Happy birthday to me! This past weekend we celebrated the beginning of the next decade of my life. Thomas had the brilliant idea of hosting a food truck party at our construction site so that I could show off my little baby (the house, that is) to our friends and soon-to-be neighbors.


Chairman Bao served up "bite-sized" steamed buns filled with pure deliciousness, while the irresistible Karavan doled out fresh cupcakes to eager party-goers.

Even the dogs got to take part in the festivities. They were a big hit with the kids and visa versa. Cisco and Astro quickly figured out that little people are way better at sharing food.


Since we knew we wouldn't be able to give everyone a personal tour, we put up signs pointing out some of the special features:


...like my prized dog water fountain. And the window in the stairwell made from the ribbon glass that we saved from the original house.


We also enlisted everyone's help in finalizing a couple of remaining decisions...


Voters young and old preferred the room with the window seat for Baby-O.


And a landslide victory awarding the bigger, albeit cluttered closet to me. One voter advocated we share both closets but designate one for clothes and the other for shoes and purses. Such clever friends we have!


The feature of the house that garnered the most attention was our glorious Madre Perla island.


The young ones all loved the hidden attic space (aka the dog house).


And at least one person in the male demographic complimented the pebble shower floor in the guest bathroom. Woohoo!


All-in-all it was a great day with old friends and lots of new little ones.



I-was having so much fun, I forgot all about my camera. Thank you Elaine, Vicky, Fernando, and James for your blog-worthy photos! And a huge thanks to Jeff Frankenfield, the world's best general contractor who made sure our site was in tip top shape for the open house and no kids were harmed in the process. Remarkably enough we are actually ahead of schedule and have six to eight weeks before our home is completed. 


Last but not least, thank you to the mystery photographer who found my iPhone sitting out and decided leave some surprise photos on it. Below is a kid's eye view of what the party looked like. The last photo of the towering James Witt is so money!