About ten years ago I painted in a neighbor’s house where I pretty much touched every wall with my brush. I faux finished both bathrooms, painted the vestibule, color-washed the kitchen and hallways, painted a mural in the laundry room and striped the dining room. After each job, I would say to my friend “Are you sure that you want me to paint MORE?” She would give me a hug and tell me that after a long day there was nothing better than coming home to a house that made her smile. As a thank you gift she gave me a children’s paperback book that I graciously accepted but admittingly never read until my daughter was born. The book was called THE BIG ORANGE SPLOT by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. The story was about a simple man named Mr. Plumbean who lives on a very “neat” street where all the houses look exactly the same. One day, a bird flew over Mr. Plumbean’s house and spilled a gallon of orange paint making a huge mess. The neighbors freak out and demand that Plumbean paint his house back to look like all the others on the street. Instead, Mr. Plumbean transforms his house into a rainbow of colors and images. It was what all his dreams were made of at the expense of mortifying his neighbors.
Mr. Plumbean’s pimped out pad
At any given week I go on multiple color consultations where a majority of clients are timid of using color or worried about the dreaded R word. RESALE. It’s just paint and if you decided to move you can get a good deal on a five gallon bucket of antique white. That’s my answer. (I know my realtor mom and friends are cringing now). Just yesterday, I worked with a young couple that was building their “Dream House” and it wasn’t a small one by any means. After making the all the color choices she turned to me and asked “How will this look for resale?” I promptly replied with “The colors are perfect and why are you designing a house for the next owner? Who knows you might spend the rest of your life in your house. Why not enjoy it and have it the way YOU like it?” Im not talking about turquoise and red backsplash kitchen tiles with bright yellow cabinets. Something totally out there (which I know that I can make work) but keeping your home’s staples basic and don’t be afraid of using color on the walls. I think back to a friend who complained that she had no space for her three toddlers to play but had a huge unfurnished formal living room. I suggested that she turn that room into the kids playroom and she replied “What about Resale?” I stressed to her to enjoy her house and make it work for her family’s lifestyle. It would require a gallon of paint to transform the playroom back to that big empty room. Her children played countless hours in that room until they sold the house.
The handsome Mr. P
Now, I have a pretty “neat” house from the street but it wasn’t always like that. I remember my friend driving by and telling me “Well…., it’s in a great neighborhood.” Others would comment “You need a lot of vision for this one.” And “Why on earth is she leaving that great house for that piece of crap?” I heard it all. Now, once you step into my home there is no doubt about what kind of person(s) occupy my home. I have color everywhere. Collections of my favorite things, everything from matchbooks to silhouette portraits and in between. I mix new furniture with antiques from all eras. I surround myself in things that remind me of the special people and places that I love. No one has a house like me and I’m pretty sure no one would want it the way it is other than me. I change it constantly to rejuvenate, invigorate and inspire. “ My house is me, I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.”
So….If your wondering what happened to Mr Plumbean and his neighbors…. one by one, each night a neighbor would come to Plumbean’s house trying to convince him to change it. They would sit under the palm trees and drink lemonade and talk about their dreams. The very next day the owner would set about changing his own house to fit his dreams.
The “Neat” Street no more.
“Life is too short for white walls!” Make your space work for you. Let it tell a story about you and not worry right now about the next guy who’ll live there. Channel your inner Plumbean and feel good about the place you call HOME.
For the complete story of Mr. Plumbean and his neighbors you can purchase a copy THE BIG ORANGE SPLOT by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. Copyright 1977 Published by Scholastic Inc. at Amazon.com. It’s a keeper.
If you are or know of a Mr. Plumbean, feel free to email me a picture of the house. No names necessary.
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