If you’ve ever sold a house, you know that every real estate agent in this great nation is required by law to advise you to paint your house beige before you put it on the market.
That’s because this color is so unutterably dull, it’s not going to raise the hackles of even the most prickly buyer.
Even a woman whose teenage son just dented her new Mercedes is not going to be irritated by beige which is probably why every building in south Orange County is painted that color.
In a desperate attempt to make beige seem less, well, beige, paint manufacturers give it all sorts of fabulous names like “Cafe au Lait.”
Yes, indeed, if I paint my dining room beige, it will seem exactly like a sidewalk cafe on the Champs-Elysees.
Lord knows, I don’t want to start an ugly fight with legions of real estate agents, but sometimes you’ve just got to ignore what they say.
Before they let the air out of my tires, I hasten to add that you should generally take their advice about your home, because they know what sells and what’s going to sit on the market until the Rapture comes.
But there are rare occasions you have to say, “No, I’m not doing that.”
Many years ago, when I bought a ratty old house way out on dirt roads in the Joshua Tree desert, every inch of the interior was painted baby poop brown, even the ceilings. The owner, who despite all the evidence was not color blind, thought it was a pretty color.
I disagreed. And since Joshua Tree is an artsy community, I decided this would be my funky folk art house. In town, I might have to be tasteful, but out there I could be creative as it’s a community full of desert rats and people who live in geodesic domes.
I painted the kitchen walls and ceiling with blue sky and clouds. The living room ceiling was my very bad attempt at a desert sunset.
And when my friend and I tackled the poop brown bedroom, we intended to paint it mustard yellow.
However, I’d run out of primer (remodeling tip: It takes a lot of primer to cover baby poop brown) and trying to cover with yellow was problematic.
Also, it was 2 a.m. at this point, we’d been painting all day, and we were punch-drunk with fatigue.
I really have no idea what possessed me, but I took some yellow paint, poured it into an empty spray bottle, and just started spraying it on the brown walls. It ran down the walls in a very interesting pattern.
We started laughing and laughing, stoned on exhaustion and paint fumes, and filled up another bottle with some green paint we had left over.
Then we started spraying yellow and green paint on the walls. We took the leftover white primer and sprayed that. Now we had long, artistic looking drips of yellow, green and white paint on the brown walls.
It actually looked kind of good, at least in our altered state of consciousness. We became spraying maniacs and did the entire room, even the ceiling, in this drip pattern. It ended up looking like you had maybe stumbled into a rain forest, especially if you were on psychedelic drugs.
I named it the “Jackson Pollock room,” after one of the fathers of abstract expressionism, added a bamboo lamp, some tropical-themed bedding and accessories, and it became the most popular bedroom in the house.
Much later, when I decided to sell that house, I repainted the exterior in New Mexico adobe colors, but left the interior as is.
On her first visit, my Realtor walked around inside in stunned silence, mouth open, unable to fathom the horror of what she was seeing.
“You’ve got to repaint all this immediately,” she informed me.
“Nope,” I told her. “I’m not repainting anything. This is an artistic community full of oddballs and someone’s going to come and buy this house because of its artsy style, not in spite of it.”
She tried to convince me I was making a mistake, but I wouldn’t budge.
A short time later, a museum curator from San Francisco bought the house. And he told me how much he loved what I’d done to it.
Marla Jo Fisher was a workaholic before she adopted two foster kids several years ago. Now she juggles work and single parenting, while being exhorted from everywhere to be thinner, smarter, sexier, healthier, more frugal, a better mom, better dressed and a tidier housekeeper. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at http://themomblog.freedomblogging.com/category/frumpy-middleaged-mom-marla-jo-fisher/.
By MARLA JO FISHER