by Robin Munson


Art and I had decided it was time to repaint the front door. Our house faces east, so we get tons of morning sun, and in the five or so years since we had had the house painted, our dark chocolate brown door had become more the color of – well, let’s just say, it had faded considerably.

We live in one of those planned communities that is bound by certain CC&R’s (“Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions”). The CC&R’s are enforced by the HOA (“Homeowners’ Association) and the property management company hired by the HOA. The idea of this is to maintain the “character” of the neighborhood.

Over the years, the rules have been bent a little, you might say. For example, the CC&Rs tell us not to put any potted plants on our patios. Our patio is awash with potted plants, but nobody says anything. (Ten years ago, we would have gotten a series of threatening letters and possibly hefty fines if we didn’t comply!)

As for paint colors, well. The community was envisioned as an homage to the sunny coasts of Spain, Greece, and Italy.  (Not such a stretch because we are a mile from the ocean in sunny California.)

Accordingly, we have a mandated color palette for the outside of our homes. There have been minor variations over the years that have gone unchallenged – houses painted pure white instead of Swiss Coffee, for example. Nobody says “boo”!  At this point, anything goes if it is “tasteful” and within shouting distance of the designated colors. (Of course, you might get push-back if you painted your house, oh, let’s say. . . Purple!)

Now, I love the color purple. It is regal, of course, but also vibrant and bold. And there are so many shades, from the palest lavender to the deepest burgundy. So, let’s get that much straight from the outset.

So, Art and I called our friends and handymen, George and Paul*, a few weeks ago. George and Paul have been helping us out for quite a few years, and they are honest, kind, and hard working. Always professional.  We asked them if they would paint our front door, nothing fancy – just the same color as the shutters, a deep coastal grayish blue. George told us that he would come by and use his handy app to pinpoint the exact shade of the shutters before buying the paint. We were impressed! He didn’t even have to take a chip of paint from the shutters!  (Ah, modern technology!)

And bright and early yesterday they came by with all the required equipment and paint.  We had a nice chat while they worked. They even gave the shutters a fresh coat of paint so that everything would be perfect! They finished by mid-day, leaving everything spic and span.

I was so excited to see the new look, so before lunch I went outside to view everything from the street. I looked. Turned away and looked again. Rubbed my eyes and looked again. Something seemed a little – off.  I know my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, so maybe I was wrong. But it seemed that the door, the screen door, and the shutters were all painted a beautiful deep shade of – Purple!

Art came downstairs, and I said, “Have you looked at the door yet?” He hadn’t. I said, “Go check it out.” He did.  He came in with a befuddled look on his face.  “Does it look kind of purple to you?”, he queried. “Uh-huh”, I muttered, feigning a casual attitude.  We looked at each other. A long beat went by, and I said, “I thought it was my eyes.”  “Nope”.

Then we thought – Maybe we both have suddenly become color-blind. We ate lunch and chewed on that thought.

Our gardener, Dustin*, who is like part of the family, showed up mid-lunch. Art went out to see him about trimming some plants. Before Art could get a word out, Dustin said, “Hey! I like your purple door, man!”

Art told him the story. Dustin just said, “Oh, Wow, Man!”

Now, Art had to figure out how to approach George and Paul. We actually felt bad for them – They had worked so hard. The finish was smooth and flawless. And they had made the trim truly “pop”! (Grape pop, actually.) We hated to ask them to come back.

In fairness, we should have done the obvious; we should have looked at the paint color when they first started. But we flunked that test with flying colors! So, we couldn’t afford any righteous indignation!

Art sent George a simple text, explaining that we didn’t think the original color on the shutters had any purple in it (although, since the shutters were now fastidiously covered in the new shade, we had no way to show that was the case.) But we thought this blue tended toward the color of royalty.

A few minutes later, George replied: “Yes, I noticed that, too. I was hoping that when it dried it would look different. . .”

He thought that the hardware store had screwed it up, and promised to “make it right”, which we know he and Paul will do.

But just for the next week, we will be the only home in the neighborhood that boasts a purple front door and purple shutters. And to tell the truth, it’s kind of pretty.

If I were a more rebellious sort of person, I would be tempted to keep it. In fact, I would be tempted to have the whole house painted a delicate lavender and all the trim deep purple! I would make the front yard a riot of violets, lavender, and eggplant-colored roses.  It is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission. . .

*Names changed to Protect the Innocent.

© Robin Munson

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