I was living in the country, in a very pleasant house, in a very pleasant neighborhood, but the drive into town to work in the winter became tedious. So I decided to move into town nearer work. I contacted the Real Estate Agent who had sold me the house I was living in. She and her partners always interviewed prospective house buyers as to their likes and dislikes, hobbies, work, price range and other requirements before searching out a list of houses meeting those requirements. So I went to our meeting prepared with my list of house types by preference; split-level at the top with split-foyer and two storied houses at the bottom. I needed a large garden for the dogs as well.
We met as arranged and began our tour of the city. At the end of an exhausting day, she said she would like to show me one more house. She realized it was a two-story house but it was so unusual she wanted me to see it. She and her partners were currently doing some cosmetic work on it. I agreed.
We drove up to a two-story house with a large attached two-car garage. My first impression was shock. The house was painted totally in black except for the window trim and the garage door which were painted gold. Since the local school colors were black and gold I wondered if they were displaying the school colors.
We entered the house by the front door which was adjacent to the garage. It opened into a spacious entrance foyer with a stair case leading up to the second floor on the right and a large coat closet on the left. Also on the left was the door into the living room. The carpet was of royal purple and the wallpaper was shiny silver. Straight ahead was another door into the kitchen. The entrance to the kitchen was obscured by dangling green beads.
We walked into the large living room/dining room combination. The royal purple carpet continued. A very large fireplace was in one wall, painted over in black. Over the dining room table was a huge plastic chandelier. There was an open window between the dining area and the kitchen where food could be served. This gave a glimpse into the green kitchen with a green carpet, an avocado green refrigerator and a white stove. Passing by the kitchen area we moved toward the door to the garage. On the left was a small powder room with a green sink and a blue toilet. On the right was the door to the basement.
We decided to look at the upstairs bedrooms first. The master bedroom was of good size with heavy green velvet drapes and tassels. Another plastic chandelier hung over the bed. The second largest bed room was open and bright with windows on two sides and a large walk-in closet. The wallpaper was subdued but also had a large plastic chandelier. The other two bedrooms across the hall were smaller and had their own wallpapers. One was in huge yellow sunflowers; the other was in red and white stripes.
The master bath had a tub and shower combination with toilet and sink. Everything was in black and white.
Wondering what was next, we headed for the basement that had been completely papered in a red poppy print. Even the windows had been papered over. Other than the enormous family room, there were two other rooms including a three quarter bath all in black. The basement carpet was red.
Feeling a little overwhelmed with color we proceeded to the large back yard with several tall trees and many shrubs. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the placement of the trees and shrubs, however. They looked as if they had been planted where they had fallen from the wheelbarrow. It made mowing a bit tricky.
My agent and I talked about the house all the way back to where I had parked my car. We wondered about the woman who had decorated her house with such atrocious taste? Where did she come from? Despite the fact that the house was a large 4-bedroom house, near the city park and the university, they were having trouble selling it because of the décor. People simply did not want to put the money into a house so much in need of cosmetics.
We parted for the day, my agent to look for a new series of houses, and I to think about this badly treated house. It was a lovely house in terms of proportions and spaciousness. It had plenty of space. It certainly had a bathroom on every floor. Everything about the house screamed, “Look at what has been done to me! I could be beautiful if someone cared enough”
I simply could not get the house out of my head. So the following week I went to see my real estate agent and confessed I wanted that house. I wanted to fix it up.
I got it for a good price. When I met the owners during the sale, I offered to let them have all those awful plastic chandeliers, saying that I was sure they were meaningful to them. The wife was very grateful. They were, indeed, very meaningful to her. I was thrilled to get rid of them.
The following year I worked on the house. Bathrooms received matching fixtures, none of which were black. Silver wallpaper was removed as were the dangling beads to the kitchen. Avocado green in the kitchen was replaced with white. The black paint was removed from the fireplace revealing some lovely marble. And the list went on. One weekend, I painted the garage doors and all the window trim in a blue grey. It softened the harshness of the black which covered the rest of the house. Neighbors would come by and thank me. Slowly, the house began to emerge from its garish interior decoration into a more formal and softer look.
It was a lovely, comfortable house to live in. Unfortunately, I received a job offer I could not refuse and had to sell the house before I was quite finished with it. Fortunately, my real estate agent remembered a woman who had liked the house but had no desire to spend the amount of money it needed to fix it up. So when I was ready to sell, she saw what I had done and bought it.
I still remember that house with great fondness. It had been a house nobody wanted except me and I was just sorry for it. It was simply an eyesore. But the openness of the design, and the spaciousness of its rooms, made it a very comfortable house to live in – but only if you closed your eyes.