Building With the Boys: How Building a Home is, Honestly, Kind of Like (Really Great) Plastic Surgery

Here we go, part V or VI, I’ve had too much Pinot Noir to count. More on the new house saga over there on Azaela with Justin Kettler and Tim Loecker, who are still delightfully together even after and tell us why building is very much like plastic surgery:

Windows:  We are convinced windows can make the difference between a nice exterior and a fabulous exterior. And for modest upgrades in cost, you can have exponential aesthetic, and possibly efficiency, impacts.  We gravitated to casement-style windows (versus single or double-hung sash) for an upgraded look without the big cost impacts.  Also, we lean towards fewer grids/dividers on the windows to keep windows from being too busy.  And as far as grids/dividers go, we recommend exterior grids instead of ones sandwiched between two panes of glass.  We discovered wood casement windows with exterior clad aluminum provide a great combination of efficiency, durability, style, and value.  For an even better value, vinyl casement-style windows with exterior grids are the best value, but limited in color options.  Solid wood windows, while gorgeous, are often the most expensive choice, and require periodic upkeep specifically with paint fade and rotting.

Exterior impact:  Choosing the style of your house will set the tone for many decisions to come.  However, this point is not a bias towards traditional, modern, or transitional styling.  Often, good intent turns into a mix-match of styles, themes, materials, and designs.  Step on up folks, this beauty has:  Brick! Stucco! Stone! Iron! Slate! Turrets! France!  Italy! Tudor! Cedar! Copper! Scrolly pointy things galore!  Oh my!  It reminds me of turning the corner at Whole Foods, and coming face to face with the poster child for plastic surgery intervention.  Gasp!  Stop!  You were beautiful after your first two procedures.  If the goal is to make the Guinness Book of World records for most design elements, go for it!  Otherwise, less really is more.  Give your home an identity, not an identity crisis.

What’s that “one thing:” Well, it is hard to put your finger on it, but you know it is there.  It makes a difference, but can’t be immediately explained.  That “one thing” is a statement you make with a key design feature, whether inside or out.  It may be easier to define what that “one thing” isn’t.  One thing is NOT having 20 different really cool latest and greatest design trends in your house.  Look for ways to understate one design choice so another can shine and stand out.   For example, we wanted the fireplace to be the focal point in the living room.  Therefore, we chose muted and understated floor tiles, laid without pattern in a simple straight line.  Then, we chose a very unique marble with a walnut vein effect for the fireplace from floor to ceiling.  It pops!  The eye is drawn to it, and is not competing with a more opulent floor tile.  In the kitchen, some designers will do an elaborate backsplash, fancy countertops, and extravagant cabinetry.  In this case, materials are fighting each other to be the prettiest beauty queen.  Instead, a simple backsplash with minimal pattern yields to the other design elements.  Forgo the metallic basket weave glass and travertine backsplash with intermittent hand-painted vegetable tiles for a simple marble pattern.  In the end, your house will have several “one things” interspersed throughout, but they aren’t all competing for the blue ribbon.