Paint, Counters, and Fire

Once the drywall was finished, it was time to see our paint colors in the home! We also needed to choose our counters and get onto the path of getting them installed. Finally, we needed to negotiate a bit with the local fire department to balance out our desire to keep the little grove of trees near my office with wildfire mitigation and protection.

Paint on the Walls

We felt pretty happy with our paint palette, but we were a little risky with it. We didn’t take the time to buy small paint pots to paint sections of walls before deciding. We purchased a few peel-and-stick samples of the brighter colors, but for the most part we chose our colors off of paint chips. That approach may not work for everybody, but we didn’t want to spend weeks and weeks obsessing over “do we want this light grey or that every-so-slightly-lighter grey?”

Fortunately, things looked good when we saw things in the flesh, so to speak. The house has a balance of my fairly austere aesthetic – greys, mostly – and some big pops of color for the bedrooms and the girls’ bathroom:

Overall, we were happy with all of the color picks. I was particularly happy with the “light upstairs, cozy downstairs” feel of the larger living spaces. And though I was nervous about all of the color in the bedrooms, it keeps the place from looking like an art museum. It also gives another layer of definition between the public and private spaces in the house (see A Pattern Language from our Resources page for more on this concept).

Choosing Counters

We also needed to get moving on finalizing selection for our kitchen counters. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted already – a butcher block counterop for the section along the wall, and a marble-look quartz center island. When we viewed more slabs in person, we came back to the same wheelhouse.

Unfortunately, the first place we went to was scheduling installations over a month out, which would push past our planned move-in date. So we gave Shaun a list of five or so options that we liked and let him take things from there. We wanted something busy enough to hide some crumbs without getting to the point of granite-busy – the Blanca Arabescato from MSI was near the top of our list.

Fire Mitigation and Decks

We had tweaked our exterior decks once already to allow for enough hot tub space. After spending more time onsite, Shaun recommended another tweak. Our north office deck enjoyed shade during hot summer days, but didn’t have much of a view. Extending it out as a peninsula, past the edge of the house, would allow for a combination of shade and views that we didn’t get from the front, south-facing deck:

The HOA’s architectural committee approved the minor change in pretty short order. So far so good. Then we bumped into another problem: the adjustment placed the end of the deck fairly close to a grove of trees that provided a nice bit of shade to the deck and to my office.


Not a big issue for us, but a bigger issue for the fire marshal. Our home site is near the site of the Buffalo Mountain Fire, which prompted major evacuations. And with the impacts of climate change, wildfire mitigation in the mountain west is a big deal. Our neighborhood is protected by a neighborhood-wide fire break (which is basically what kept everything from burning down during the Buffalo Mountain fire), but house-to-house mitigation is still important. Summit County adopted the 2018 International Fire Code with some modifications. It essentially requires no vegetation within 5′ of the house, and “firewise” trees and shrubs between 5′ and 30′ from the structure. Some more on what that means here.

Ultimately, after visiting the site, the marshal required us to drop one tree closest to the deck but allowed us to keep the rest of the grove, since the little grove was isolated from other standing timber and unlikely to pose much of a threat, standing alone.