The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.
– Joseph Campbell
And so, the once faded and uninspired living room, dining room, kitchen and family room of a 1960s Tiburon tract house now shimmered with color and light. But Jackie and Paul didn’t anticipate how bad the funky patio and overgrown yard would look through those dazzling new doors that so brilliantly connected indoors and out.
Plus, the exterior skin of the structure – lusterless weathered and failing plywood – now contradicted the renovated radiance of the boldly colorful interior rooms. An unattractive hot tub left by previous owners outside the family room added to the disparity of the home’s alluring interior and repelling exterior, which now stood blatantly side by side.
Connecting Indoors and Out
Faced with this discrepancy, the couple removed the unsightly hot tub and replaced the old plywood with new cedar clapboard siding, and painted it sage green set off by rich forest green trim. The interior and exterior were now connected in both color and style, and the feeling was seamless and flowing.
After the dirty and discolored exterior siding was replaced and painted, I helped the couple tackle the front entryway, whose top step featured small gray and brown tiles reminiscent of the 60s and 70s. A new concrete slab was poured and then covered with large pieces of dark green colored flagstone. New aggregate concrete steps replaced the old ones, and connected the entry to a new expansive driveway made of the same material.
Custom designed light fixtures more appropriate to the contemporary architecture of the house were hung on either side of the entrance, and the front door was replaced and painted crimson red. Gold terra cotta pots flanked the passageway, spilling over with drought-resistant plants whose shapes lent themselves to the refreshed look and feel of the home’s exterior.
Surrounding the neglected back garden, beat-up railroad ties formed a low wall and were stacked as steps to the upper lawn – a weed-ridden area that was only used by the dog – and an overgrown rosemary hedge prevented any visual connection between the lower and upper patios. A broken, sun-bleached fence bordered the back of the property and blocked the view.
Jackie and Paul decided to keep the wide expanse of existing patio aggregate that wrapped around two sides of the house, filling in spots here and there to create consistency and a place for an outdoor kitchen.
As pictured in the adjacent image, a fence with contemporary horizontal boards designed with an opening for the view was built at the edge of the property. A short stucco wall and colored concrete steps replaced the dilapidated railroad ties. Low growing drought resistant grasses and plants were placed around the edge of the patio. Pots filled with lime green succulents were scattered throughout the outdoor area. Bunches of rusty red and gold kangaroo paws added brilliant color and connection to the newly painted interior walls.
The Master Suite
There was only one remaining space where the incongruity of the old skin of the house still existed: the outdated master bedroom and bath now appeared sadly out of step.
In the bathroom, we painted the blue and white checkerboard tile backsplash a neutral color to blend with the cream counter. Then we layered sage green paint on the walls and vanity cabinet to continue the color scheme of the house. Orange accents were added in the form of glass knobs, artwork and towels.
Now, the outmoded blue, gold and orange bedroom had to go. We painted three walls of the room sage green and saturated the wall behind the bed with the persimmon hue we took from the painting above the bed. New black bedside tables with contemporary lamps were purchased to flank a modern black headboard and cream suede bed. Persimmon colored window shades were designed to harmonize with a textured orange coverlet and pillow shams, and topped with sage green pillows and an oversized accent pillow that pulled it all together. Now the vibrant new skin of the master suite was consistent with the feeling of the other rooms in the house.
Taking a Break
One of the most important things the homeowners learned from going through the remodeling process was the importance of taking a break. This transformation took 15 years from beginning to end, in which time Jackie and Paul continued to live in their home through the chaos, construction debris and ever-pervasive sheetrock dust.
During those years, they took multiple long breaks from the remodel to literally catch their breath, restore their bank account and summon the energy to start the process all over again. It was a huge undertaking, and each new project could lead to unanticipated surprises requiring additional time and money.
When it was finally time to move on, their time, money and efforts were amply rewarded. After 25 years of making it their own, the couple sold their home quickly, despite its non-compliance with the current color trend of neutral black, white and gray interiors in the Bay Area. The offers from multiple buyers far exceeded the expenses incurred through many years of renovation. Win-win!
During that time, Jackie and Paul totally enjoyed the process of creating and living in a home they came to love and appreciate as a stage on which to live their lives, fully expressing the essence of who they are. They now reside on several spectacular acres in the heart of the beautiful central coast of California, where they still treasure their memories of their transformed home by the Bay.
Yours in transformation,