Neighborhood Blues – There’s No Accounting For Bad Taste…Especially When It’s Your Neighbor’s House

House with bad color

“Why does your neighbor hate everyone on your street?” asked my friend Mike, the first time he drove into my neighborhood.

“I don’t think he does,” I replied”

“Well then, is he color blind?”

“Oh, you’re referring to the color of his house. To tell you the truth, we’re kind of numb to it now. After a while, you just shut it out of your mind, like a bad childhood memory.”

I’m used to that reaction now, ever since my neighbor three houses up painted his house a color that can only be called day-glo electric blue.

Other neighborhoods have similar problems. There was the homeowner who recently got his neighbors up in arms by painting his house an off-color. And some time ago there was a similar situation in another neighborhood. However, both these areas had legal covenants that at least gave the neighborhood a basis for complaining.

My neighborhood has no covenants, so the only laws a hideously colored house breaks are the laws of nature. And the county doesn’t enforce those.

It must be something about my part of town. A few streets away, on a major thoroughfare, sits a house that until it recently sold was painted a dark, shiny turquoise. This was a color that even if only used as trim would stop a fire truck. Used in quantity it made the house appear to be screaming, which I’m sure it was if wood can scream.

Interestingly, after it sold the new owners wisely painted it a subtle beige with brown trim. It lasted exactly ten months until the house sold again, after which it was promptly painted a shocking – and I mean shocking – shade of pink. The only explanation is the original owner of the house must have repurchased it, probably to continue testing the screaming properties of wood.

Back to my neighbor’s house. The day he began painting it, I was standing in another neighbor’s yard, talking.

“Where do you suppose he got primer paint that color?” said my neighbor, John. “Doesn’t he realize how hard it will be to cover it with the finish coat color?”

“I just had a horrible thought,” I said, “what if it isn’t primer? What if that IS the finish coat?”

“Impossible. They don’t make paint that color. It has to be primer.”

“I don’t think so. Look! He’s starting to paint the trim on that one side and it’s the same color, only brighter!”

It was true. Not only did he use a color that looked like Vincent Van Gogh threw up into the paint can, but he actually found trim paint that was even worse.

Apparently, bad taste knows no limits. He liked the color so much that he painted his hanging flower pots the same color, spray painting them on the front lawn so that large portions of the grass were blue until it grew out again. He stopped short of painting the sidewalk, but I suspect this was because he ran out of paint and I’m SURE he wasn’t able to find more, the remaining stock doubtless having been sent to a nuclear landfill.

This may have been a misdirected effort to follow what seems to be a trend. A few miles away, in a relatively new track of homes, the first four houses on the street are painted, respectively, lavender blue, pink, yellow, and green, much like an illustrated page out of Alice in Wonderland.

I’m afraid to drive on this street, for fear someone will run out and pinch my cheeks. At least the colors are muted, whereas you could use my neighbor’s house as a landing beacon for alien spacecraft.

The good thing about all this is that it has made my other neighbors extremely sensitive to opinions when they choose a new color for their house.

For example, my neighbor John recently decided to paint his house green, with beige trim, and he had the good sense to paint a small section in the back first and call a few of us over for an opinion.

“Well, John, we have to be honest with you. It will make your house look like a giant pickle. But here’s an idea, why not reverse it and paint the house beige and use the green for trim?”

And so he did and it turned out rather nice. I’d suggest the same strategy to my other neighbor, but considering the color of the trim on that house, it’s the only thing in the world that would make it look worse.

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