When we decided to change house colors in the 1980s, there was an interlude of a few nanoseconds when a particular shade of teal blue was popular. We got seven or eight sample cans of paint and Dave set about slapping them on the house to see how they looked. I stood back. He dipped into the teal blue and laid a few stripes of it across the house and I barked almost at once. “Nope,” I said. “Put the lid on. It’s not working.” He kept painting. “No no no,” I said, a little louder, as he kept painting. “Abort! Abort! What the hell are you doing?”
He smirked. “This is just to scare the neighbors,” he said.
That was then. Now the neighbors don’t scare so easy.
Used to be there were only a few colors anyone bothered with. There was a medium cool green that was also used in mental institutions because it calmed people down. There were white, gray, yellow, and blue, with white trim, and then you were out of options and had to go back to nuthouse green. We were determined to try for a little jazz. Which meant three colors. Two of them were gray, but we poked in some red too. It was beautiful. Plus, the light gray, according to the paint chip, was called “Fandango.” I know!
Generally speaking, though, you were expected not to rock the retinas. There was a neighborhood standard. The house behind us was Pepto-Bismol Pink but that was an exception.
When we changed colors in the ’90s, we went for jewel tones. A rich dark green–call it malachite–with pearl and ruby red trim. Still pretty jazzy. People liked it. It was bold.
At least it used to be bold. That was before we became the Alberta Arts District and businesses with plywood windows swathed in razor wire gave way to murals. Folks paint the actual street intersections. Shops try to out-art each other. Even the humans are permanently scribbled-on. Our house looks like the home of the fuddy-duddies. I decided to paint our rental house, which is right next door, something a little brighter.
I knew we weren’t going to get any grief from our neighbors John and Hada. Inside and out, their house is painted in colors you could actually hear if the neighbor’s dog ever piped down. It’s grand. It’s a field of Screaming Yellow Coronary and Inexplicable White, trimmed in Inflamed Tissues and Hematoma Purple. They come by their color flair naturally. It’s their Latin blood. They even keep parrots. All we have is the basic black cat and a small, lint-filled dog in Naptime Beige. If I’m going to have a thrilling paint job, I have to dig deep.
So I started with a nice Eyestabber Green, the color of one of those glow-in-the-dark tennis balls. It’s called “Always Lime” and it would be fine if it was always lime, but when the sun hits it just right it becomes Atomic Holy Shit Lemon. The paint store lady said it might fade in sunlight, but that’s the only direction it could possibly go. Observers are either appalled or enthusiastic, with no middle ground. I got an early thumbs-up from a lavishly tattooed pedestrian. People strolled by shading their cell phones. A team of bicyclists in Spandex outfits briefly disappeared as they rolled past. A nearby spider quivered in her orb web with all eight eyes squoze shut.
The “Black Leather” trim settled the Lime down nicely, so I revived the scheme with a third trim in “Tomato Bisque.” Turquoise, purple, and dark green round out the palette. I’m still waiting for the shipment of sequins.
Your house colors say something about you. John and Hada’s say “our home is a salute to our Mexican and Cuban heritage.”
Our rental house says “HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!”
Your rental reminds me of the house across the street from where I grew up, owned by The Divorced Lady. I think she might've had an axe to grind. Meanwhile, my mom single-handedly started the mocha with elegant dark green, almost black, trim, trend that subsequently was spotted all through town. No wonder The Divorced Lady was pissed.
This comment reminded me of growing up across the street from the house painted School Bus Yellow. Our house was Coffee Ice Cream. Then I realized that my sister wrote this comment…
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!
What she said.
And? It wasn't school bus yellow. It was fluorescent F-you yellow.
I've always wondered why such colorful houses were only found at the beach. Why not for everyday? Although I like them in theory, my house, with it's grey asbestos siding (Yeah. Damned if we're going to mess with that.) and charcoal colored roof, plus the fact that it isalmost eclipsed by trees and plants, screams… "SHHHHH! Nothing to see here! Move along!"
Maybe a litte red?
Our eyes evolved to register colours.Well, some of us…
Mine over-register colors.
You actually think you are going to rent that…don't you?
People would trip over themselves for the opportunity to live next door to us, yes.
I'd rent it in a heartbeat.
See, Tabor? See?
That rental house looks GREAT! I love unusual colors on houses.
You'd love it on our block.
I nominate Murr to rename all the colors in the paint store.
That would be FUN. You know, if you look at the names they come up with, it's pretty clear that whoever got the job had to punt a few times.
I like all of them. Is there something wrong with me?
Back in the 1950s, Mom did our house in a deep, purplish navy-ish blue, with tractor yellow trim. Every other house on our street was white. Mom didn't care.
We kids were very proud of her.
Awesome. Where I grew up all the houses were brick. When I moved to New England and saw painted clapboard houses, it was a revelation.
My niece's house looks "normal" on the outside but every room is a different bright color. I love it!!
When those are done right, it's really sumpin'.
I love the Happy that you bring me.
Reminds me of when the Agnones painted their house purple, with a darker purple trim in the late 1960's or early 70's. The neighbors were outraged! Heck, they were just before their time… but then, I wasn't one of the neighbors 😉
There is a certain shade of purple that makes me feel horrible inside. Kind of toward the lavender. It's the only thing I don't like about lesbians…:) It's possible the Agnones's house would have done me in.
Lavender Lesbians?? Wasn't that a '50s pulp novel?
It should've been.
While I was reading the colours, I was cringing, but then I saw the photo and it's pretty damn nice!
I like John and Hada's place too.
These days many institutions are painting their walls pink because it calms the inmates better than the green.
Nuthouse pink is the new nuthouse green.
1st thing: Our houses are eerily similar in color. Bold, but not too weird. Definitely not beige, but not terribly awkward.
2nd thing: I once painted our living room in a pretty green based solely on it's name, which was zippidy-doo-da. I only got away with it because a)I blamed our 5 year old; and b) it was markedly similar to the color used on topo maps to designate forested areas. I also plastered the bathroom in a pretty purple color to complement it. I only got away with that one because I did the plastering myself and the color was called vineyard.
If you do your own plastering, you get to choose the color. Unless it's lavender.
When my kids were young I had our 2-story house painted a lovely medium heliotrope and the door was shiny dark green. I loved it but the kids, not so much. They were embarrassed to tell their friends they lived in the purple house with the green door. This was in the '60s and those were definitely NOT fashion-forward colors then. Times change.
Now I'm smelling heliotrope…mmm, heliotrope…
Too much colour is (sometimes) barely enough. Love, love, love those purple steps.
I painted them a whole other purple at first, and I couldn't live with it. I won't show you THAT picture.
Wait. That's Dave??
I thought our house said "I wish I was by the ocean" but now I think it just says "my owners are too conservative!" We shall see what it says next time!
But you just JUST painted it, right? Please tell me you'll get a good ten years out of it.
well… we 'freshened it' orignally from Petunia Pigs colors to 'I can go down to the corner hardware store and grab a can of paint and it will match… nothing designer or mixed paint about our paint job except maybe the trim….. that was the ocean part…
I have no idea why I had this idea, but I thought you lived up in the area south of OHSU/VA, somewhere up in those hills towards Lake Oswego.
So you and my son live somewhere in the general same area, he's on Bothwick….
Nope. Borthwick (?) is in N Portland, so definitely closer than the SW hills, but we're in NE just off Alberta Street.
We need to see more houses with bold colors. What good does bland beige or brick red do for the eyes?
Allows them to take a nice nap? Which isn't so bad.
I'm particular to that purple iron gate and those purple steps. Mmmm. Purple.
"Particular to"?? How about "partial to". Me likey, anyway.
Ooo, I love J&H's purple and gold gates.
If I ever get the chance to own my own house, I'm having Murr come over and paint it. I'll even provide lunch.
You'll have to provide more than lunch, sweetie.
I love color!! When I go to the medical clinic, I take a route that passes by a fantastic purple house — man, I'd go that route just for the eyeball thrill even if I didn't have to get somewhere. Love your dazzling choices and wish I could see them for myself!!
Yes, you do love color! (Folks, click and enjoy.)
In Curacao, one of the early governors was a martyr to migraines, and the tropical light, reflecting off the white, whit buildings, was acutely painful for him, so he told people to paint their shops and houses. It's a fabulous city, with vivid purple, blue, mustard yellow, and crimson buildings side by side by side. I had never seen a city like that, and I love it!
That's so much better than Barcelona, where everyone had to start talking with a lisp.
Huh. That's pretty close to John and Hada's colors. And of course the birds and flowers are more colorful the closer you get to the equator, too.
You be wonderfully silly, what fun!
Hi! Haven't seen you around these parts for a while.
This is the funniest thing I have read lately. I am glad you let your inner artist out even if it is only on your rental house.
Sadly, it is all over the place.
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