Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Private versus community decisions on house color

My lovely residential neighborhood has a charming mix of architectural styles.  No two are exactly the same, but the homes all still work together nicely. Then, there is the lime green house. Not even kidding. If I could get organized enough to walk by with my camera sometime, I will snap a shot for you to see. I've never had the guts to actually approach the owner of the house to inquire about his or her "unique" color selection, but I would bet the other neighbors have voiced their displeasure.

So seems to be the case with a home in Atlanta, Georgia that is listed on the Historic Registry.

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Here's how the Henry B. Tompkins House looked in the historic registry. Designed by Atlanta architect Neel Reid, it's an excellent architectural example of Georgian Revival architecture.
Limestone stuccoed; 2 stories modified rectangle, hipped roof sections, interior chimneys, slightly projecting front center exposed limestone pedimented section featuring a single entrance with ornate transom flanked by stuccoed rusticated pilasters and surmounted by open segmental-arched pediment with cartouche, exposed limestone corner pilasters; rear formal garden with pool and garage.
 Well, until it's new owner opted for a updated color palette...
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It's been lovingly restored with a bright orange coat of paint across its exterior. T. Ruben Jones, the 80-year-old new owner, says the exterior color, Maple leaf by Behr, is meant to replicate the hue of an Italian villa. It will fade, he assured. (Is this true? I thought the whole point of paint was selecting a color that wouldn't yield to the pressures of mother nature and her elements. Any thoughts on this?)

This raises an interesting question that is postulated in an article I happened upon recently:

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“Where do you draw the lines between private property and the good of the neighborhood?
Do owners of historic homes “have a duty to the community to maintain them in a fashion that is not offensive to the community?”"(source)

Where do you stand on this issue?


21 comments:

Charlotte's Color Specialist said...

When I lived in the historic town of Port Jefferson Long Island, NY you had to submit your color scheme (or any changes you were making to the home) to the historic board for approval. This would ensure that a hideous orange or lime green would not disrupt the history of the home . . . or the neighbors. What a shame.

Dave said...

This reminded me of the story of Kilcoe Castle in Co. Cork, Ireland. The castle dates back to the 15 Century and was renovated by the English actor Jeremy Irons and his wife in 2001 nothing remarkable about that but Jeremy decided to paint the castle peach/pink.

http://www.jeremy-irons.com/news/archive/92.html.

Lazy Gardens said...

meant to replicate the hue of an Italian villa. It will fade, he assured. (Is this true? I thought the whole point of paint was selecting a color that wouldn't yield to the pressures of mother nature and her elements. Any thoughts on this?)

Most of those lovely rose-tinted and soft green old Italian houses started out as gaudy pink and green. They fade to complex shading controlled in part by how much sun hits them.

One homeowner in a Phoenix historic district had a color analysis done, and when they replicated the original colors they were hot pink and bright teal. The neighborhood shrieked it was too gaudy and went to the historic district board to try to make him paint over the original color scheme.

I responded by painting my garden walls in Luis Barragan tones of rich yellow and magenta with a primrose-blue garage.

Wholesale Flooring Pro said...

This is definitely an extreme case of home make-over! Communities could restrict the color palette of the homes, if they are enclosed, or ordered by an association...otherwise, it will be too difficult to keep order on that. Restricting homeowner's to a set of designs/colors really holds back their way to express themselves. I have seen many traditional neighborhoods where variety is cherished. It also depends on the culture, other countries might welcome the uniqueness of this man's "newly" Italian villa.

Jeannine 520 said...

I think the color is hideous and if he wanted an Italian villa he should have purchased one or at least a home in that style. I think it's very important to respect the established look of a neighborhood when selecting paints or any additions or landscaping. I'll never understand why people who like a a bright or eclectic look will move into a traditional neighborhood in the first place and disrupt it. A territorial pissing perhaps?

Little Red said...

Way to go old dude with orange house! I think most typical home color schemes are boring. Thank goodness for orange homes and pink and turquoise ones as well.

Elizabeth Brown said...

It's a little out there - that is for the Northen Hemisphere. Way too much chroma. I think the house would have looked way more better if he had painted the entire body of the house in one color, not broken it up. How come there are no CCandR's in that neighborhood? If there are indeed none, well then, he can do as he damn well pleases.

Between you, me and the Fencepost said...

This is Anita, Marias' sister. If was so lovely to meet you the other day. Hope all is well with your sweet new baby and you are getting some sleep!

I laughed when I read your post. Bright coloured houses and 'what will the neighbors think?' The house across the street from me is painted a bright turquoise. Bright. I live across the street from a huge Tiffanys' box but a little more on the green side. It's awful. When we first moved in I actually had a moment 'omg I have to look at this guys house every day!' In six years I have gotten used to it and the lovely homeowner. He is a sweet man, a retired postal worker. And it helps that I have tall shrubbery and a leafy tree in my yard to block the view somewhat. Next time I see him I have to ask him about the colour of his house.

(you can imagine Marias reaction she wanted to walk over and re paint his house ASAP!)

aneyefordetail said...

This is similar to a problem we have had in our neighborhood with Christmas decorations. One house (not on my street, thank goodness) goes WAY OVER the top with decorations. The entire roof, side of house, all the lawns (you get the idea) are chock full of Santa's in sleighs, reindeer, blinking lights etc.
There really isn't much you can do; only if you live in a private community. And, of course, you never know about these things until someone has bought and move in.

heather jenkinson said...

Oh dear, I think he just killed it. The colours mock the architecture - it's all wrong and the light is different in Italy, so the rules are not the same. I can honestly say that that would never have happened on my watch.

Marie Brady said...

Interesting dilemma! Many historic home areas have tight controls over this. Woodside near Palo Alto comes to mind where my friend tells me that all exterior decisions such as this are quite tightly controlled by the city. I don't think that paint is going to fade as quickly as he thinks it might but maybe it will end up looking like the Italian villa he wants some day. Rachel and I always laugh at a beautiful older large home here in Oakland on the border of a very expensive residential area of lovely historic pedigree homes. It's painted orange sherbet/raspberry sherbet colored with purple rocks thrown into the landscaping in case there was not enough purple. It's on a very prominent corner so I never fail to giggle when I drive by!

Maria Killam said...

Wow that is seriously orange. I think there should be rules for neighborhoods, my sister lives right across from an eyesore, a 70's painted in bright, screaming turquoise!

Kelle Dame said...

Interesting. Found your blog through House of Turquoise. I can see where people can be torn between pleasing their own aesthetic and being loyal to their community. I think I would rather express my bold personal tastes on the inside of my house than possibly offend my entire neighborhood. I think it is better when we all stick together and aim toward the greater good for our community. Imagine trying to sell your house next door. We must do onto our neighbor as we would have done onto us, right? At the same time I can't help but admire his moxie :)

"Yeah, that works..!" said...

Around here, if a home is listed on the Historic Registry, there are strict rules and guidelines as to what the homeowner can and can't do with/to it. I guess it differs in other regions. Anyway, I personally don't care for that color on that particular house. However, if the door and shutter colors were different colors, perhaps the orange wouldn't look so offensive. And yes, I firmly believe that part of the reason that guides us to purchase a house is it's location. If that location is a neighborhood, you are buying into that community. In my mind that is an unspoken commitment to be part of and honor the overall fabric of it.

camdesign said...

oh my and I thought our white fence (downtown condo) was bad... we painted it CC-530 Brandon beige... I smile each time I leave the building...
some people are colour blind, maybe that is the problem with this gentleman?

Anonymous said...

I put my respect for his private property above my personal feelings about the color. I could think of worse colors, and in fact many "tasteful", apprroved colors make me sick to my stomach for the small-minded conformity they represent.

A local historic district requires such approvals and I'm a bit tired of the copycat color schemes I see on every block.

Our wistful projections about "neighborhoods" may or may not be shared by our neighbors. This brave man has defined a new 'norm' and THAT's what the neighbors are upset about.

Paint on brave soul.


I would have signed in but Google wouldn't let me ...
(Joe VanDerBos)

Pangaea Interior Design, Portland said...

I've never been a big fan of the HOA approved color scheme neighborhoods. But those are a good choice for people who want all the homes to blend. I also think that if the homes are all very visible to each other, you are better off fitting in at least somewhat rather than having all your neighbors upset with you. but I don't think rules should be so rigid in neighborhoods that there are literally only 5 "approved" colors. Too boring for me :0) ... So -- I live out in the country where there is a lot of space (and BIG trees) between homes. People can do what they want.

DesignTies said...

Hmmmm.... I'm all for colour and expressing yourself, but I think the orange might be a bit too much. The colour could look fantastic on the right house, but this style of house just doesn't say "I want to look like a Creamsicle".

I think home owners do have a certain level of responsibility to make sure their little part of the neighbourhood meets the standards of the rest of the neighbourhood.

There's a house on our street that must be owned by a hoarder -- the garage is overflowing with stuff, and the lawn is always covered in stuff (I really mean crap, but I'm trying to be nice ;-) I feel so bad for the homeowners who live beside and across from him. They really shouldn't have to look at his crap -- errr, stuff scattered everywhere.

I hope our neihghbours aren't offended by our purple front door :-)

Kelly

TESSA LINDSEY said...

The difference between this house and an Italian villa are the materials and the location, and that makes all the difference.

Traditionally-and even nowadays-Italian facades are coated with lime stucco painted with lime-wash, colored with locally sourced earth pigments.The local stone would compliment it perfectly. These materials are organic and tactile, they age and mellow beautifully over time, blending seamlessly into the locale, an inspiration to faux painters everywhere.

For me, this house looks alien. If exterior paint was used, then the UV stabilizers will keep it from fading for at least ten years. I find that the orange makes the "stone" material look even more gray and hodge-podgey, compromising the architectural integrity.

However, the owner looks charmingly eccentric, and this is America.

Laura Ross said...

I live in North Atlanta, and in response to a rather controversial set of townhomes built across from the Brookhaven Marta a few years ago, a family who lived across the street painted their house rich shades of pink and purple, and for a while also had their car painted the same way, plus had signs on their house which stated rude things about developers.

I have to applaud these people though and have even stopped to buy lemonade from their kids.

Tristan said...

I love it. He not only expressed himself but showed his neighbors that it is HIS property and he can do what he wants. I'm so sick of seeing boring white and beige homes. Many historic color paints were bright. I believe he's right and it will mellow in time. Either way, it's artistic and not boring. Personally I think their should be a law against white houses. There are few things less welcoming than neighborhood full of drab houses.