I am so not a beige person.
Yet here I am watching – sorrowfully – as the inside of our home – is transformed from its former colorful self into a bland, freshly-painted beige – or perhaps more accurately – “greige” – (you do know that gray is the new beige) – to best attract potential house buyers.
Our realtor tells us that would-be buyers would be put off by my rather obvious fondness for color in every room. By my deep sea-blue dining room and my inside-of-a-peach family room with its chili-pepper red, built-in bookcase. Seeing our lively green front hall would cause potential buyers to flee in dismay.
Farewell to my formerly colorful home – and welcome to my greige abode.
What is it, I ask the realtor (who happens to be my close friend, Liz and in her personal capacity, she likes color, but as a realtor, she does not), that would-be house buyers find so attractive about bland and boring greige?
She tells me that today’s would-be buyers want to walk into a clean and neutral canvas, freshly-painted walls, without any family photographs or personal items that would give any clues to the personalities of the current inhabitants. Today’s home buyers apparently have trouble picturing themselves making your house their home if they are distracted by any signs that you happen to live there.
This has changed since 1983.
When my husband JP and I bought our house, a smallish, three bedroom brick colonial built soon after WWII, we purchased it from its’ original owners who made no efforts to hide their decorative preferences. As we entered for the first time, we were treated to a symphony of stuck-in-the-1960’s era color and texture – including thick, brown shag carpeting in the living room, a front hall covered in silvery foil/black/brown/fake tree wallpaper and a kitchen done up in matching harvest gold appliances.
We did not run out in horror, but instead headed to the basement, saw that its’ knotty-pine walls had been painted black to match the floor – and that the basement ceiling sported a large spinning silver disco ball. Did I mention the burnt orange built-in basement bar?
You can’t make this stuff up, truly.
Upstairs to the three bedrooms – where the master bedroom ceiling had a light fixture that resembled a giant wrought iron wagon wheel, ready to impale you the minute you lay down on the bed below it. Instead of closets, there hung long strands of dangling beads from two alcoves. The one-person-at-a-time master bathroom was tiled in a fetching pink and black combo.
And the piece de resistance? Following our noses we spotted a large mixing bowl of chopped raw onions sitting on the kitchen counter next to the stove. Surely nothing says “I can’t wait to sell my house” as much as the smell of freshly cut onions in the air. Was the older couple selling the house sending mixed signals?
Somehow JP and I saw beyond the house’s distasteful (to us) decor – and aromas – and snapped it up. We were not deterred by its’ extremely overly personalized appearance. In fact, we appreciated seeing evidence that another family had lived there, who perhaps once had teenagers who likely danced in the basement and a mom who put pencil marks in the linen closet door to show the height of her children as they grew. It was time for their family to move out – and for ours (I was newly pregnant when we first saw our house) to begin.
Fast forward, and later this spring our house will have been completed de-nuded of anything that would indicate that a family with real lives and personal preferences has lived here for 33 years. Family photos boxed up, my prized collection of blue ceramic bowls packed away and all bathroom items removed (Because if someone sees the kind of deodorant you use that would tell them too much about you and we can’t have that, now can we.)
From inviting warmth to the most grayish of greige – our home is now in the process of becoming a boringly bland canvas.
Watching it as it morphs from a warm, lived-in home to an it-could-belong-to-anyone kind of a house distresses me. When it stops looking like our well-loved home, I tell myself, it will make it that much easier to say goodbye.
Or else I can leave a bowl of freshly-chopped raw onions on the counter in our newly-greige-painted kitchen on the day of our first open house. Don’t tell Liz.
*To Be Continued