YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections
(Page 2 of 2)


Painting the town red, tangerine, cobalt

One homeowner's joie de vivre is another's eyesore. Let the squawking begin.

July 19, 2007|Joe Robinson | Special to The Times

There's been no static from neighbors yet, perhaps because she lives in Venice, where individuality is next to godliness. Palette paranoia is more likely to erupt in affluent areas where there's more consensus on an aesthetic -- think neutrals and subtlety -- and more pressure to conform.

"There is less cohesion, less of a dominant voice in lower-income areas," says Meredith Greif, a sociology professor at Cleveland State University who studies neighborhoods and race. "You don't feel there's someone looking over your shoulder. Where neighborhoods are more homogenous, there's more agreement about how you present yourself."

People can perceive an unconventional color as an attack on a neighborhood and their neighborhood "attachment," Greif says. Care deeply about your street and suddenly you're attached to the neighbors' houses as well as your own.

Part of those reactions come from the belief that bold colors will wreck home values. But is that the case?

"That's tough to say," says real estate agent Shaw. "It may just have impact on someone who's looking in an area that's marginal to begin with, like a yard with a car on blocks."

Homeowners' associations can be relentless, aggressively enforcing rules on colors. At the Tustin Ranch Shadowbrook Homeowners' Assn., the guidelines state: "Garage doors shall be painted a single color. This color may be white, almond or the field color of the house."

Disputes over paint shades are a common cause of lawsuits by and against homeowners' associations. That includes a $15-million suit over a bright pink house on Marco Island, Fla.; a purple home in Seattle whose owners were forced to repaint; and a dispute in which a Georgia couple were sued for having the wrong shade of brown on their home.

FOR those who have the freedom to let colors ring, going vibrant means bucking the human need to take behavioral cues from the majority. That requires guts -- and a feel for color, which many of us don't have.

"People have a lot of negative misconceptions about what color will do, like make an area dark," says Sarah Barnard, an interior designer in Venice. "They're afraid to commit to color because they've lived in white houses their whole lives."

Mahnke, who lectures at universities and is president of the International Assn. of Color Consultants Executive Committee, says even some architects fear color. He advises homeowners to go for "color, not colorfulness." "Make your house different," he says. "Follow your own feelings. Don't worry about Mr. Jones next door. Live your own life."

One Venice homeowner did just that. He looked at Dwell, Architectural Digest and other magazines, then went with his gut choice: an orange-banana sherbet.

"When I was putting down one patch, a woman stopped her car and said, ‘You're not going to paint it that color, are you?' So the reaction is mixed," says the homeowner, who declined to reveal his name. "But I really think it affects my psychology. It's more cheery now."

There are signs that a few more intrepid homeowners are starting to spread the cheer.

"We're seeing bolder colors on the Westside, Hollywood, Torrance, Pasadena and Long Beach," says Johnny Rhee of College Works Painting, the company livening up the McGuirks' home with Mediterranean blue. "They're going to more architecturally interesting colors."

A few buckets of paint are a pretty cheap prescription for a friendlier city, as gregarious edifices seem to make people feel good, and bright colors may be contagious. After the Venice homeowner went supernova orange, an apartment building across the intersection got a royal blue makeover.


Los Angeles Times Articles