Imagine if we were still wearing shoulder pads, acid-washed jeans, pegged pants and a mullets or big teased hair?
You don’t need radiocarbon dating to know you’re stuck in the ‘80s.
That’s a little how designer Tama Bell felt about her home. The 1989 ranch house off a rural lane in Sebastopol, had served her family well as she and her husband raised their two daughters. In the 18 years since they bought the place, they have replaced virtually every surface, she said. But there were a few exterior details that, to her eye, made the house look like it was dressed for another decade.
The tall arched windows, wide siding and utilitarian, motion-sensor lighting telegraphed the ‘80s as sure as big perms and Members Only jackets.
With both daughters now grown, Bell decided it was time to freshen up the exterior of her house, not just brining it into the millennium, but actually making it more age-neutral.
Some design elements are just so trendy they are forever tied to a certain period. When you see them, you know exactly when that house was built, or when that addition or remodel took place. That’s fine if you can afford frequent remodels. But most people can’t.
“A lot of what I do is get rid of those moments in time,” said Bell, who prefers more traditional looks. “I try to figure out ways to do fixes so something becomes a classic and works over time.”
She applied that design philosophy to her own home, giving it a facelift, while at the same time extending her outdoor living space with new landscaping in front and a new patio in back. And she did it for less than $100,000. While that is not chump change, it’s small compared to the cost of a major makeover or buying a newer home — with the higher property taxes that would come with it.
Bell did it without tearing down walls or new construction. Instead, she brought it up to date with new siding, windows, entry door, lighting and paint, as well as front landscaping. In back, she replaced pea gravel with a paved patio, vastly extending the comfortable living area into what now feels like a whole new outdoor room.
“The thing is not to get stuck in what you have and think that it has to be that way. Whether they like it or not, they think it’s going to be really big to change it. It can be really big. But you also can make some simple changes sometimes,” she said.
Bell particularly hated the arched windows. But she liked their height and light, so, working within the same dimensions, she replaced the arched topped windows with square windows, then added a rectangular transom above them. The windows are Marvin Wood-Ultrex in Ebony. She left the interior side of the windows natural, then had her painter do a dry brush finish with a warm cream paint and natural finish over that.
“I feel like windows are architecture,” she said.
Bell said she wanted them to look old and weathered from the inside while, popping out against the white painted trim on the outside.
The beveled siding also looked a little tired. She swapped that out for a new “traditional” 10 inch wide cedar plank with a channel cut, and painted the exterior white, lightening up the whole look of the house.
Sonoma Bike Path
Hiking distance: 3 miles round trip
Hiking time: 1.5 hours
Elevation gain: level
Exposure: mostly exposed
Maps: USGS Sonoma, Sonoma State Historic Park map