Seeing Red (When The Homeowners Association Wants to See White)

When it comes to abiding by Homeowner’s Association rules, one writer’s penchant for decor needs to be checked at the door.

My husband and I love to play on the brighter end of the color spectrum, or dash into any color at all. When we purchased our first home in 2010, we did just that. The kitchen, we painted yellow, the living room walls a dark sand and the office/guest room (originally our bedroom), a deep scarlet.

But we both wanted even more color. While our clothing colors of choice are most often black or gray, when it comes to our home we like to go polychromatic and wild – at times feral. Take for instance our sofa carved out of one piece of solid teak, a hanging produce “basket” that used to be a scale at a market in Peru. You get it, we like to be different.

When it comes to doors, I’m of the opinion that making a proper entrance matters as much as the colors you’re festooned in. The root of this is rooted in, well, a quest for rootlessness. When I left my hometown and began to travel literal miles instead of the literary ones I explored through travel memoirs, I went from being seen as a confident and outgoing explorer to a timid and shy outsider. It was an unfamiliar cloak and I’ve been trying to find something a bit more harmonious with the dichotomy I am from travel ever since.

Case in point? Our front door. In deciding what kind of entrance we wanted for our home, we set out to dictate the terms. We really wanted the first (and last) image of our home to leave everyone seeing red after having fallen in love with colorful doors while traveling.

Red – the color of passion, of life and death, of warmth, and in many cultures, of prosperity and joy. Red is creation and destruction. Red is not slinking into the background of life. Red means setting ourselves apart from a sea of bland doors and perhaps even bland lives behind those doors so neatly painted in our neighborhood.

Straddling the Wainscoting

As a first-generation American, my husband grew up navigating between Texas and Mexico, two very different worlds. His parents were once told by his school that they were doing an awful thing by raising their children bilingual. (When Kiko and his sisters tested better than their monolingual peers, the issue was finally dropped.)

As for me, the daughter of hippie parents who decided early on not to send their children to school, or even institute bedtimes, I was still, nevertheless, steered towards organized, suburban sports. I too, grew up caught between two worlds within the same culture.

The “Breastfeeding is Best” and “Home’s Cool; Homeschool” stickers that covered the bumper of my mom’s van made me and my siblings stand out amongst the rest of our friends. It’s funny, though, now that Kiko and I are older, how much we appreciate our unique childhoods. I guess what I’m saying is, the “weird” stuff, only serves to make us more interesting adults with a desire for broader color spectrums. To stand out is not a bad thing.

Board Rules

When we inquired about the red door, our homeowner’s association wouldn’t have it. All doors must be white, they said. Potted plants on the porch must not reach heights above the railings. Should we ever want a new screen door, it would have to be approved first.

So what do we do? Do we fight it? With so many battles in life, this one doesn’t seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Plus, fighting this one small battle might bring attention to the fact that some of our plants creep up towards the ceiling, well above the sanctioned porch railing height.

We could just rebel, paint it anyway and retract by whitewashing the red when someone notices. Perhaps we’ll just paint the inside of the door red so that when anyone exits the house, they get a warm, passionate send-off.

In the meantime, I put two more coats of stark-white paint on the door to brighten things up. As I looked around the complex afterwards, I realized that most other doors seem to be painted off-white. I smiled to myself, and gave thanks to the universe for small victories and minor insurrections.

Images: writer’s own