A passion for food + fashion

Shades of Gray

In Design on April 12, 2011 at 11:00 pm

We bought our house almost 3 years ago, and it was a fixer to say the least. Built in 1920, the house still had its original cloth-wrapped electrical wiring (which was singed in places) and a shake roof that was completely rotten—truly a miracle that the entire place hadn’t gone up in flames. Before moving in we replaced the roof, electrical and many of the ceilings (to say nothing of kitchen, floors, etc). It was another year before we were able—either emotionally or financially—to tackle the landscaping and put in stone steps and gravel paths.

Last spring kept me pretty busy with our big home office project. And now, finally, we bid adieu to the crumbling and grungy Navajo White stucco. Plus the granny awnings and oppressive security bars on all the windows—courtesy of the Watts riots I’m told—are history! Here’s a picture of the house when we bought it:

Here’s the new stucco and the new slate roof (sadly wood shake is no longer legal). For the stucco, we went with a warm gray tone and had the color mixed right into the stucco, which is then applied and smoothed in by hand with a trowel. The workmanship is kind of amazing.

And a close-up of the before and after:

I was so sure that we would be going with cream trim that I had the kitchen window and back door painted in cream when we replaced them a couple years ago. But once the new stucco went up last week, and I saw the sad old flaking dark brown trim against the gray, it hit me. The dark side was calling. My friend Mia (the only person I know with an obsession for paint that rivals and possibly exceeds my own) concurred and brought over multiple fan decks. And so I pondered.

“All these colors are the same!” said the guy behind the counter yesterday afternoon upon my third visit to Mann Brothers in as many hours. Not true!  The blue that Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe threw off against the warmer gray of the house, or the hint of purple that emerged in Benjamin Moore’s Deep Caviar, and the army green the afternoon sunlight picked up in Fine Paints of Europe’s steely #58 were all completely out of the question. Ralph Lauren’s Smoked Glass and Pratt & Lambert’s African Night were both delicious, but too similar in color to the roof and sort of disappeared next to it. Which is how I landed on Benjamin Moore’s totally gorgeous Ashwood Moss. I love the way it plays with the slate and it brings out all these really cool tones in the stone steps in the front garden. Ashwood Moss is second in from the left, below:

God, I love paint. And tomorrow we start…..

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