My husband and I lived for more than 20 years in a nice Lakewood bungalow-style house. We moved there when our oldest was 1 year old. Our son was born while we lived in that house. It was home.
I thought of that house recently. After a disastrous “downsizing” move three years ago to a condominium, made successful only by the fact that I made two very good (lifetime!) new friends, the Love family is now happily ensconced in a “new” house in one of my favorite Cleveland neighborhoods — West Park. We couldn’t be happier. And our Lakewood home? Well, I just discovered it was back on the market, selling for $35,000 more than we sold it.
We don’t want the house back … we have moved into a brick colonial we adore. But looking through the online pictures, I was equally nostalgic and enraged. They PAINTED OVER the mural I had a friend’s mother paint in our kitchen. And THEY PAINTED THE ORIGINAL, MAPLE CROWN MOLDING … WHITE. How does one justify slapping white over the character-filled, rich maple hues of the original wood? For nearly 100 years, that crown molding survived in its richly dark original state. Now. It. Is. All. White.
Those gasps of horror were paired with “Oooohhh. That was where we put the crib, too!” and “I like that they switched out the kitchen light fixture.”
I also noticed that nearly every room retained the wall colors we had painted to “neutralize” and stage the house for a quick sale.
As my husband put it at the time: “Gray, gray, and a little bit more gray. With a smattering of white.”
Oh how deceptive was that palette. Over the course of the decades, we had painted each of those rooms a rainbow of different hues, depending on our moods. After all, nothing is easier for a totally new look than new paint. The living room alone went through white, clay (an orangey-brown), yellow, white, and back to clay, a warm and inviting color that played well off the dark wood molding found throughout the house.
The dining room also went through numerous decorative iterations, starting with circa 1990s floral wallpaper. That lasted a few years, actually, because we were horrified at the thought of removing it and the yellow floral wallpaper in the master bedroom. It turned out that the dining room paper came off in large sheets with just a tiny bit of tugging. The bedroom’s wallpaper? Well, I still have nightmares of removing that quarter-inch by quarter-inch.
Once stripped of their flowery garb, those rooms remained pretty neutral over the years, just painted in varying shades of white, beige and, ultimately, gray.
As I was looking at the pictures of our old house, I suddenly realized that I am falling in the grips of the painting obsession. When we moved into our current house, I actually made a promise to my husband. “I won’t ask you to repaint anything for a long time. I really like these wall colors.” I could tell he was relieved. After all, the colors were warm, earthy tones of brown and green. Really nice!
But now second thoughts are creeping in as I walk into rooms.
In the living room: “Hmmmm. The mantel would really play off of a gray wall. Hmmmmmm.”
In the dining room: “This is actually a very muddy blue. What’s up with that?”
In the kitchen: “Do I really like forest green walls? They seem so dark.”
In the master bedroom: “What would we actually call this shade of blue? Blue-gray? Blue-green? Light gray would be so much brighter.”
So now, I have to break it to my all-suffering spouse that perhaps, just perhaps, we could tackle just one room this summer? Pretty please?
Years ago, he accused me of being a “serial painter.” I’m afraid old habits die hard.
Should we go glossy or semi-gloss?
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