Five Zillion Shades of Gray

Have you heard some businesses are considering blocking real estate websites on company computers because apparently a LOT of employees while away far too many hours at work scrolling through homes they might buy if that inheritance finally comes through? 

It’s true. Real estate sites are the number one spot people visit during working hours.   

I don’t go to Zillow or too often when I’m supposed to be working, but I do visit those sites occasionally (on my lunch break, Scout’s honor!) when I’m thinking about the delightful prospect of where we should retire. The possibilities are endless, enabling one to browse listings from the sunny Caribbean to the frozen north while sitting in their cubicle and sipping an extra-large chai tea latte. 

I have a friend who is going to retire in Ecuador, a move too drastic for us since we have a hard time getting used to new restaurants, much less completely new continents. We’re thinking more along the lines of a neighboring county, or if we’re feeling really antsy, a neighboring state.  

When looking for that dream retirement home online, it’s next to impossible not to notice most of the houses featured have interiors that are all grey. Grey grey and more grey. Light grey, dark grey, pale grey, deep grey. Who knew—other than that lady who wrote those dirty books—there were so many shades of grey, each more depressing than the last?  

I understand the reasoning behind painting everything from the kitchen to the baby’s room grey. If you paint the background grey, you can feel free to use actual color in your furnishings and window treatments.  

I understand the reasoning, but that doesn’t mean I agree with it. My husband and I have always felt that as long as we are living somewhere, be it for one year or twenty, it’s going to look the way we want it to look, not the way a realtor might prefer.   

Which explains our current palette, or what I call the “Thanksgiving Theme.” Our family room has dark brown paneling (turkey) and red walls (cranberry sauce), our kitchen is cream with yellow accents (mashed potatoes with butter), and finally, the piece de resistance, our orange living room (candied yam casserole) that makes some people wince but makes me smile.  

“You know you’re going to have to paint over that orange when you decide to move,” I was told by more than one person when I joyfully announced our living room now had a 24/7 ambiance of a 1974 airport cocktail lounge.  

“I don’t care,” was my automatic response, because I really didn’t care since I like the color now and also because if the day to repaint ever comes, I know my husband won’t let me near the living room with anything resembling a paint brush. 

Why worry about how your house it is going to look to some vague person in the future whom you might never meet? I also don’t understand potential homebuyers who look at a house, recoil in horror and take a pass just because they don’t like the color of the downstairs bathroom. To me, redecorating is the best part of moving into a new house. You get to paint everything the colors you choose while simultaneously shaking your head over the last owner’s questionable taste. (“Eggplant walls and turquoise carpeting? Really?”) No one’s feelings get hurt and you have the thrill of feeling aesthetically superior for a few days. 

But back to grey. It’s a trend that has been sticking around much longer than expected. Having lived through the 1970’s where styles ran from white shag rugs to entire houses done in red, white, and blue as a salute to the Bicentennial, I have long assumed trends petered out sooner rather than later—especially the Bicentennial theme that had a predictably short shelf life. 

Grey seems to have dug in its heels and is here to stay. I hope I’m wrong about that because life is depressing enough these days without having to gaze at all that grey featured in online dream homes. To paraphrase another gem from the seventies, what the world needs now is color, sweet color and, in my opinion, the brighter the better. 


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