Free to Paint My House Blue

 blue house2

Thirteen years ago. I was in the market for a new house. Or a condo. I couldn’t make up my mind.

The houses I saw—much like the house I was leaving—had lawns and extensive flowerbeds and overgrown trees, and I was tired of weeding and mowing the lawn. The condos, on the other hand, were small, expensive, and too far from the ground.

Then one day I stumbled upon this house. It belonged to a thirty-six house development in a quiet, friendly neighborhood, walking distance from town. And the price was right. Perfect!

Every choice has its trade-offs, though. I would have to abide by the rules of the homeowners’ association. No political yard signs, no dogs running free, and all the houses must remain the color the developer painted them: Seashell.

Fine. Freedom is never absolute. And what does the color of my house matter in the larger scheme of things?

Years passed in my Seashell colored house. And then last year, the homeowners voted to change the rules and allow more colors. The Architecture Committee got to work and came up with a pallet of six acceptable colors: Gateway Grey, Barcelona Beige, Camelback, Curio Grey, Cardboard, and Seashell.

I spent a few months staring at my choices. Nothing jumped out at me. Gateway Grey? Barcelona Beige? Ho-hum. Before I could make up my mind, the news came out. We could paint our houses any color we liked.


It seems someone had taken the time to read the rule book and found that there never had been a restriction on house colors. Go figure.

blue house

So … I visited the local paint store, poured over the colors in their extensive display, brought color cards home and held them up in sunshine and shade. The color I chose is called Blustery Sky, a shade of blue. It looks brighter on some days than others. I like the contrast with my Heavenly Bamboo.

blue house4

All those years I’d been fine with a monochromatic neighborhood. Now that we have a more colorful neighborhood, I’m really enjoying not only my new house color, but the combination of colors my neighbors and I have chosen.

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About Nicki Chen

About Nicki Chen Nicki Chen is a writer living in Edmonds, WA. Her first novel, Tiger Tail Soup, is set in China during the Japanese invasion and occupation, 1937-1945. She's working on a second novel set in Vanuatu, a South Pacific nation where she and her late husband lived in the early '90s.
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  1. I love the color. We have been looking at downsizing and all those over 55 neighborhoods have very restrictive rules. No tomato plants in a pot. No flowering trees. One recently banished bird feeders. I want less work but I want to be able to enjoy my home too. It’s funny that no one noticed there was no color restriction.

    • You’re a much bigger gardener than I’ve ever been, Kate. I’m more of a “looker” Fortunately I have lots of beautiful flowers and trees to see in the common grounds and on my walks. Thank you all you hard working gardeners.

      Most of the restrictions are fine with me, but there are a couple that might be worth looking into when my term as a board member begins in a couple of weeks.

      Until recently we used our dues to pay for painting and retouching the houses, so the Architecture Committee just hired a painter who kept everything the way it was originally. There was no need to think about colors. I think we assumed the colors stayed the same because of a rule not because of convenience.

  2. This is the same colour as ours. This was the previous owners’ which we have grown to like. It is a local landmark for driving directions

  3. Yay! I love the color you chose. I am with you, I prefer to see a variety of colors about the neighborhood. A neighbor of mine didn’t like red doors and the house residents across the street from her decided to paint their door red. It was really lovely. My neighbor tried to get the homeowner’s association to create a rule that prohibited red doors. She was unsuccessful. The red door remains.

    • I chose the red door because I thought it contrasted nicely with the blue. Of course, red also has various connotations. Red is a good luck color in Chinese culture. In early America, a red door meant welcome. And I’ve read that in Scotland a red door meant you’d paid off your mortgage. (See this article on the Landmark Group’s website.) I wonder why your neighbor wanted a rule prohibiting red doors. Maybe she mistakenly associated a red door with red lights.

  4. Traveller at heart

    What a restriction! There is nothing worst than being cloned.

    Love both shades of blue and your house. We have a colourful diet, colourful life (not me😳), colorful clothes etc. Hooray to the world of colours!

    • I love color. I have a Pinterest page devoted to photos of color and texture. At the moment here the sky is cloudy. It doesn’t matter, though, because it’s autumn, and everywhere I look I see color–all shades of green, yellow, orange, and red. My living room window is filled the view of a maple tree turning from green to yellow. Sitting here at my computer, I see colorful fallen leaves that have blown into my patio.

  5. How cool, that something lovely came out of reading the fine print.

    There’s an expensive little town in Palos Verdes that decided people could not be trusted to pick their own colors. All the houses are cream, and all the roofs are red tile in Malaga Cove. It’s pretty, very Spanish Hacienda, but I do like older neighborhoods with more variety.

    • Yes. Fine print is one of the scourges of the modern world, at least for those of us who can’t be bothered to read it. Fortunately we have a couple of retired lawyers in the neighborhood who have the patience to read boring documents.

      Years ago, when I took my daughters to look at universities, I was surprised at my reaction to the one school that looked like it had taken great pains to have buildings that closely followed a theme: Johns Hopkins. I didn’t like the look.

      My sister lives in a newly hot neighborhood of Seattle, Ballard. Besides complaining about the sky-high prices, some people complain about the too modern “boxes” going up next to the more historic houses. Ten or fifteen years ago new houses tried to fit in by building in the Craftsman style. Not anymore. They’re going for the sleek modern style. Yesterday, just for fun, we went to an open house for an ultra modern house. It was gorgeous. We had to admit that if we had $1,500,000 and a large enough family to use a 3600 sq. ft. house, we wouldn’t care about fitting in.

  6. Great color, Nicki! So glad the restriction was found to be untrue. 🙂

  7. How fun . . . and funny.
    Glad someone finally reviewed the rules so you could go Blustery Sky!

  8. Nice color! That should hold up well over time. Even if the color fades due to weathering, it will still look great.

    • Thank you. You mentioned weathering. I was originally thinking of doing it in a flat (or matte) finish, which I think I would have preferred. But the painter pointed out that semi gloss would last longer, so I went with that.

  9. This blustery blue sky colour looks fantastic. There is sort of a vibrant and cool vibe about the house at the same time. Hope it wasn’t too much of an issue doing the whole place (outside?) yourself. I’ve never painted a house before but I hear it actually isn’t too hard. I’m all for colour as colour can make a place uplifting.

    My favourite colour is blue, and if I were to paint my house blue in the future, it would be blue, probably a light shade of blue. I have a lot of blue indoors already like blue bedsheets, blue sofa, blue stuffed toys, you get the picture. Blue is just so calming to me 🙂

    • I’m glad you liked the color, Mabel. Actually, it would have been too much to paint the house myself, especially the second story. The professional painters are the experts. First they pressure wash, knocking off any loose paint. Then they fill any cracks they find. Next they tape around all the windows and door. Only then are they ready to paint. They spray painted most of the house and used paint brushes on special places.

      I agree, blue is a calming color. It’s one of my favorite colors, although I like a variety of colors. Today the sky is blue, and the leaves have turned all shades of yellow, orange and red. Such a lovely combination!

      • From what you describe, it sounds like a big job, painting a house. Also, there will be tall ladders needed, and a lot of bending down, up and down. Sounds like you can get some exercise out of painting a whole house.

        It sounds like the weather is still good over there, Nicki. Enjoy 🙂

  10. Ah, the joys of color 🙂

  11. Now that freedom arrived to the neighborhood, was any house painted in an objectively hideous color? Or everybody was reasonable? Anyway, I think different colors are better than uniformity!

    • Actually, we still have to present our color choice to the Architecture Committee, and they haven’t denied any colors yet. But then, it’s not a wild neighborhood. I wouldn’t expect anyone here to choose a hideous color.

  12. We painted the front door blue once, and it made the house seem cheerier!


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