It’s been on my mind for a while, and clearly it needs to be done. Finding the right colors requires serious consideration and, at least for me, a great deal of time. This is a commitment, after all. 20-30 years. Perhaps as many thousands of dollars to accomplish the task.
But what colors should my house be?
Our house is described on the tax records as being white with black trim. If you get close enough however you’ll see that it’s actually green. The Days took occupancy ninety-nine years ago, and they really made the house theirs, stripping all the wallpaper and putting up Colonial Revival papers, adding the stained glass window and painting the house in typical Edwardian colors. But is that really what is right for the house?
I did a little research, and I managed to find some samples of wallpaper from the year the house was built—1897. I see lovely mossy greens, some browns, ochres and gold. Great colors! But how to apply them? My house has some interesting detail, too. Besides the bowed gable, the columns on the porch are highly detailed. In order to punch all these details out, I could be looking at anywhere from six to ten colors. My background is Interior Design, and my strength is in choosing colors and materials. I should be able to do this. But the very fact that it’s outside somehow makes me feel a little baffled by it all.
While the Old West End preservation guidelines do not presently require that I have my paint colors approved, I still want my house to contribute to the overall integrity of the neighborhood. I want it to fit in well beside my neighbors, while, at the same time, allowing for the inherent individuality of my house. As my house was one of the first built after the Sutherlin estate began to be divided up, I feel it needs, not only to be an acceptable example of the neighborhood’s architecture, but a remarkable one as well. Of the ten houses on my side of the street, I know that P.F. Conway built at least five of them. But he lived in mine! Certainly he thought it was special. Certainly he would have thought it deserved the utmost consideration when it came to painting it. If only I could know what colors he chose for it. If I had the money and the time I could send in a piece of the crumbling paint for a paint analysis and they might be able to tell me what the original color was. I don’t have either at the moment.
We’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to take out a loan on the property to do the necessary work. We paid cash for it as a foreclosure, but some of the money was privately borrowed, so in order to pay it back, we thought we’d borrow just enough to repay those private loans. We’re pretty much do-it-yourselfers anyway. I don’t like the idea of paying someone to do what I can do myself. But painting, that’s a big job. So we’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to do it now, whether to finance it, or just take a few years and do a bit at a time. Well…something happened to push us toward making a decision.
That got the ball rolling. Honestly, I don’t blame them for putting the pressure on. This poor, sorry, run down, magnificent old house deserves better, and I firmly believe in the efforts presently being exerted to “smarten up” the city’s historic treasures. Hopefully our funding will come through and we’ll soon be on our way.
In the meantime, I’ve got to decide on colors! This is where I am presently. I thought you might like to see my ideation process.
[WARNING: THESE COLORS SCANNED BLUER THAN THEY TRULY ARE. THE COLORS ARE GREENS, BEIGES AND BROWNS, NOT BLUE AND PINK AS IT MAY APPEAR ON SOME MONITORS]