It’s been awhile since I posted. Mostly I’ve been busy with work, but I have been able to squeeze in a couple creative projects, including fixing up the front of our house.
We’ve known since we bought this place that we wanted to replace the painted-gray shingles. Our street is awash in gray—the bulk of our neighbors having painted their homes various shades of it, although a few went a little crazy and painted their houses light beige. (Those people throw the wildest parties!) Mix that with gray sidewalks and a gray street and you’ve got a block that’s begging for some color.
So when it came time to replace the gutters, we decided to go ahead and tackle the shingles too. The job was moving along smoothly, the new cedar shingles looked great. Then one night I came home and discovered our painter had stained the shingles THE WRONG COLOR. Instead of a natural brown, the shingles were black. Here’s a picture when I left that morning:
And here's when I got home:
My husband was out of town and I debated telling him. Should I call him now? Or let him have a nice trip and tell him when he returns? I opted to tell him, rationalizing that it would be better if he had a heads-up before he arrived home and had trouble recognizing the house. But really, I just wanted to commiserate with him.
He was great. He said we should think of it as an opportunity to make the house look even better than we’d planned by coming up with a creative solution. He was super optimistic.
Then I sent him the above picture and there was a noticeable downtick in his optimism.
And there wasn’t much optimism from the public. Our street gets a ton of foot traffic and people had opinions poorly disguised as questions. A lot of them starting with: “Why did you…..?”
In an effort to gain perspective, I told myself that if I could go back in time and explain to my twenty-something self that the shingles on my house had been stained the wrong color, my twenty-something self would have said, “A HOUSE?! I’m going to own a house someday?!” And that made me feel better. That is, until I went outside and was accosted by a pedestrian with an opinion.
Meanwhile, we were trying to figure out a solution. We definitely needed to get rid of the white trim. We wanted a paint color that wouldn’t contrast as much with the black shingles, but would also work with the red windows. (The windows had to stay red since they were clad…we’d purchased them based on our original plan.) So for the next couple weeks we spent an enormous amount of time standing in front of the house with paint chips or painted boards. I can’t count how many times my husband jumped on his motorcycle to get another paint sample. Here’s what our kitchen countertop looked like during those few weeks:
After trying ten or more paint colors we still hadn’t found a solution. Some colors looked good with the dark shingles, but not the red windows. Or vice versa.
Then we tried putting an oil rubbed bronze metal sample from Rejuvenation against the shingles and the red windows (yes, we were getting that desperate) and realized it looked pretty good.
So my husband headed off to G&R Paint and had them whip up a custom batch of paint based on that piece of metal. We painted it on a board and realized we were close. The folks at G&R tweaked the paint for us a couple times and then we had our trim color. We’re calling it “Hail Mary Bronze.”
And now we love it! We think it turned out even better than our original plan. Plus, it gave us a dark background for our new sidewalk garden. (Post about that to come in the next week.)
Amy John Headley is a landscape designer based in San Francisco.