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Building a home, week 14: Should dormers contrast or match the house?

On left, the dormers originally when painted tan. On right, the newly repainted dormers that now match the house.
On left, the dormers originally when painted tan. On right, the newly repainted dormers that now match the house.
Cheryl Dangel Bartolini

Anyone who visits your home gets their first impression from the exterior of the house, which is why curb appeal is so important. So when you are choosing all the colors for your home’s exterior, how do you decide? You need to pick the color for the main body of the house, trim, door, soffits, gutters, roof, chimney and so much more. That adds up to a lot of choices that have to complement one another.

A putting green is installed in the backyard and since there will be so little grassy area left, we decided to go with artificial turf throughout the backyard. No mud, no mess, no kidding.
Cheryl Dangel Bartolini

One choice that posed a big dilemma for us in the home building process, which we’ve explored week-by-week in this ongoing series, “Building a home,” came when we had to choose paint for the dormers. Early on in the process, we chose Sherwin-Williams’ Olive Grove 7734 for the body of the house. However, before that paint was even on the façade, we had to choose the color for the dormers, which were clad with Dryvit. At the time, the exterior of the house was pretty crude with unpainted brick and raw lumber, so looking at tiny swatches and trying to imagine what they would look like when painted on a dormer on the second story, wasn’t easy.

We were advised to go with a contrasting tan color while we were in favor of a green, thinking that the dormers should match the body of the house. We made the decision quickly and chose the tan. Much later, as more of the house came together, including the dark chocolate colored James Hardie trim, we couldn’t help be think that instead of receding into the background, the dormers stuck out in all their tan glory, distracting from, rather than adding to the focus on the front door and mahogany windows. The color nagged at us like a pebble in our shoe. Ultimately, we said it had to go, and finally, this week, it was repainted to match the rest of the house. Here's what else happened this week.

June 30: Work on puttying the woodwork prior to painting is nearly done. Now everything is being wrapped in plastic before they can spray paint all the trim. Even all the floors are covered in paper with all the seams taped tightly. Another big storm rolled through and we knew that the landscaping wouldn’t start tomorrow.

July 1: The storms knocked out electricity so our builder, Steve Lecas of Gander Builders, had to bring a generator over to the house. We have a Generac, whole house generator, sitting outside the house, but it hasn’t been hooked up yet.

July 2: Today, we received good news and bad news. The good news is that finally, after weeks and weeks of delays, Synthetic Turf of Illinois arrives to begin work on a putting green in the backyard. This is part of a larger plan to have a lawn-free yard that will also be mud-free for the dogs.

On the downside, the built-in bookcases that we dismantled from our current home for installation in the new house, won’t work. They were going to be installed today but Lecas has concerns about their ability to withstand heat near the fireplace and their overall strength after having been installed, dismantled and re-installed. As much as we didn’t want to, we gave the okay to create custom bookcases.

Upstairs, more of the house is wrapped in plastic while the interior window trim and stairway handrails were stained to match that exterior woodwork. We found that the half Dutch door we requested was installed in the mudroom. It will keep the dogs confined to the mudroom when they come in wet. Best of all, the dormers were repainted to match the rest of the house.

July 3: Synthetic Turf of Illinois continues to work on the putting green, laying fine gravel, just as you do when you install pavers. The turf is dog friendly and we plan on extending higher turf into the rest of the yard, not taken up by a vegetable garden, planting beds and a paver patio. The plan is to have a grass-free yard that requires no mowing, no fertilizing and hopefully, no bald spots caused by pet urine and disease. Inside, spray painting the trim continues.

July 4: Who would have thought it, but Synthetic Turf of Illinois is back to finish up the putting green on a holiday. They would rather work on a Friday holiday than on Saturday. The green looks great, but they deliver bad news. There’s a mulberry tree in the yard that is dropping its berries and their stains will ruin the green. Now we have to find someone to take down the tree.

We were surprised to get workers to the house on a holiday; we were sure that July 4 would be a lost day, but were thrilled to see more progress. Now, we are keeping our fingers crossed that the landscapers show up on Monday to begin the hardscape.

To read this saga from the beginning, click here. To read the next installment about choosing bold vs. neutral colors, click here.

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