Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rants: Bizarre color choices made by our home's previous owners

My husband & I are having a totally thrilling evening. He's typing away on his laptop & I'm doing prep-work so I can start painting over the nasty battle-ship gray trim & doors in our living room. Whatever made the previous owners of our house choose greyish white for the walls & battle-ship gray for the trim & doors?

I shouldn't complain. If the previous owners' sense of color had matched their flair for construction, re-modelling, & craftsmanship (they did a lot of the work themselves, did a good solid job mostly, & even pulled permits for some of the work), I'm convinced that they would have been able to sell their house more quickly for their original asking price, instead of letting it languish on the market & settling for the considerably lower amount they were willing to settle for by the time we stumbled upon this place. Homes were in demand & prices around here were shockingly high back in 2004.

The previous owners put a lot of work & remodeling into our current home & -- for the most part -- did an excellent job. In fact, we wound up buying this particular place three-and-a-half years ago -- despite the difficulties of our vertical lot -- in part because our part of Rio Nido is such a wonderful neighborhood, & primarily because our house is so well-laid out & strongly constructed with good insulation, in sharp contrast with other places we looked at in our price-range, which were total hunks of junk.

Yet ... the colors chosen by the previous owners are totally depressing. The walls are all painted in the sort of dingy, greyish white that interior decorators & color specialists (the folks who make a living designing colors for various products, like paint, tile, linoleum, appliances, etc.) refer to as "dirty" because there's a lot of dingy gray underlying the color mix, & these pigments become increasingly dingy over the years. These dark, gray-ish pigments were highly fashionable back in the eighties when designers were harking back to the art-deco craze of the 1920's & everything was high-tech smooth, sleek & angular with gray, black & chrome accented with heavy doses of burgundy.

What I find even more bizarre than the previous owners' depressing color choices, is the fact that these folks have obviously devoted considerable love & care towards the application of these suicide-inducing hues. Their diabolical craftsmanship is utterly flawless with nary a blobby drip mark or stray bit of paint on the door knobs, hinges, & fixtures to be found. If you look closely, you'll even find that the door & trim paint has been so delicately applied that you can still see the grain of the wood ... um ... if they really ARE made of wood.

I know little about the previous owners of my home, except that they have a daughter who is about my daughter's age (about three years old when they left & probably six years old now); are serious musicians; appear to have grown "California tomatoes"* in the clumsily constructed (yet fully insulated & wired with electricity) "charming, adorable play house" (to quote their astute realtor) to finance their artistic habits; & wound up moving to Petaluma so they could be closer to their music scene.

I imagine them as sleekly-styled, androgynous throw-backs to the 80's with spiky hair, wrap-around or Ray Ban sunglasses, & sporting black, angular blazers with tight, black & white hounds-tooth "cigarrette-leg" jeans & suede, fuschia "elf" boots which rise to just above the ankle, have inch-high heels, pointy toes, & three brass snaps up the sides. Apparently, their interior design sense derives from the art-deco resurgence which was so hip back in the 80's & which was heavily influenced by the late 1920'3/early 30's color palette displayed on the cover of Duran Duran's 1982 chart-busting "Rio" album. I assume that their furnishings were all maroon & gray with chrome trim.

I often wonder what they're doing now. Do they wake up groggy-eyed from last night's gig at some electronica/techno rave in San Francisco at 6:30am (perhaps they argue about whose turn it is to wake up & be functional), make coffee, feed their daughter an easy breakfast of cheerios with strawberries & milk & a sprinkling of white sugar (they're probably not yet hungry enough to feed themselves breakfast), drop her off at school, wearily return home for a couple hours of shut-eye, & then spend a couple of hours practicing & composing on their synthesizer & electronic drum kit in their burgundy-colored studio with gray carpet & chrome accents, pick their daughter up from school, help her pick up tunes on the electronic keyboard, do homework with her, give her dinner & a bath, put her to bed, hire a sitter, & head off to their next gig in San Francisco. And out in back, there's a little shed which would be utterly charming if it weren't painted grey-ish white & battle-ship gray, which their daughter has been been emphatically instructed to NEVER go in there. Either that, or she waters the plants every day.

* California Tomatoes? There's a certain plant/medicinal herb which is federally illegal to grow, sell, or have in one's possession, but which has proven medical benefits, & which many folks grow around here to supplement their sketchy finances & which are perfectly legal to grow & possibly even sell to others in the State of California, as long as you have a prescription for it from a doctor, have registered your prescription with the State of California, & only sell it to others who have prescriptions & are registered with the State of California, or to State-licensed dispensaries.

Because this conversational topic often comes up when my six-year-old daughter is present, & because heirloom tomatoes are a popular & profitable export here in rural Sonoma County, I often refer to this particular plant -- which is also highly popular & profitable -- as "California tomatoes." In many ways, these crops have a similar & highly beneficial effect upon our local economy, except for the fact that nobody ever pays $3000 per pound for heirloom tomatoes. Personally, I believe that "California tomatoes" should be legalized, & a huge part of me would love to get into this racket myself, because heaven knows, my family & I could sure use the cash. Alas, I'm too danged cowardly to even drive over the posted speed limit or tear off the annoying, flapping tags on my mattress & pillows which emphatically state "DO NOT REMOVE), let alone planting myself a nice, lucrative crop of California tomatoes.

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