Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


So, What Do You Do When The Neighbors Paint Their House Purple?

A few years ago, I got a call from a colleague.  She lived in my neighborhood in a lovely Spanish style stucco home that she and her husband had lovingly restored.  It was a beautiful home on a corner lot, and I loved to drive past it on my way to work or appointments.

The morning of the call, this tough, aggressive real estate professional was reduced to tears. 

“It looks like Pepto Bismal!”  she kept saying between sobs.

When she calmed down a bit, I was able to figure out that her next door neighbors had a new paint job.  I walked the dog past a bit later, and it was pretty bad.  I turned out the neighbor was color blind, and she was totally offended when the people living on her block offered to chip in and pay for a more suitable re-paint job. 

The house stayed bright pink until last year. 

Throughout the country, there are houses that are not exactly Curb-Appeal-Central for whatever reason.  Sometimes the neighbors are too busy to focus on the impact their house has on the neighborhood appeal, and other times don’t have the funds for new paint or landscaping. 

Other times, they just have really bad taste.

A few years ago, my own next door neighbor (who I adore) painted his ornamental iron work a bright blue that looked like the house in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.  It took only a couple of gentle hints to see it fade to white. 

I think it was more his good nature that turned things around.  When he got comments, he looked at it and thought, “Hmmm, white would look better. 

But Pepto Bismal house stayed pink for almost a decade.  And when I listed the house across the street from it, the sellers and I had concerns about how it would impact the price of their lovely brick colonial.  By the time the pink changed to beige, there were new people living in many homes on the block, and they may have had a kinder, gentler way of persuading the sweet old pink lady to change colors. 

Or perhaps she’s thinking about selling.  I should drop her a personal note!

Comment balloon 32 commentsPatricia Kennedy • January 02 2008 08:48AM


That is an INTERESTING color!!  I bet it was a local landmark, and people on her street could just ask, "Do you know the pink house?" when giving directions.
Posted by Sarah Cooper (Real Estate Shows) over 12 years ago
Patricia, there are certain colors that should just stay in the Crayola box when looking to color your home.  Pepto-Bismal is one of them.  Neon or Puke Green is another.  You can never go wrong with neutral, inside or out.
Posted by Brian Block, Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President) over 12 years ago
I guess that's why we love America so much. Freedom of expression. I guess that there were no neighborhood covenants.
Posted by Al Maxwell, Real Estate Agent (Keller Williams) over 12 years ago

Makes it easy for visitors to find her home. She just tells them to look for the pink house.

Sean Allen

Posted by Sean Allen, International Financing Solutions (International Financing Solutions ) over 12 years ago
Some houses look good in pink and then others well....I was disappointed to see a very cute house in Del Ray go from a nice shade of lilac to beige. It just wiped out the curb appeal of the house.  But egads that is PINK!
Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 12 years ago


Well it may have been offensive to some, I for one in the single picture content was not.

That is why the PUD's and HOA's are more popular to so many.

Have a great 2008.

Posted by Daniel J. Brudnok, REALTOR, SRES, e-PRO,ABR,GREEN,CSP (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, REALTORS - Exton - PA License #RS-225179-L / Delaware License #RS-0025038) over 12 years ago
Patricia, you are so funny. I just saw a house on Saturday, that was the brightest blue there is. I told my husband "what were they thinking?". Every house around them were all great designer colors and this this giant blue thing jumps out. Not much we can do unless we are asked. The urge is hard to suppress! Cute post! Happy New Year and I'll see you here in the RAIN!
Posted by Jeanean Gendron, Specializing in Selling Unique Properties (The Address Realty) over 12 years ago

This is Good and Funny,

Paint is one thing what about unusual Architecture?

We have some

Posted by Val Rensink (HomeSource Lamoreaux Group) over 12 years ago

and they forgot to paint the stairs yellow? How dare they! :)


Posted by Clydd realvision ( over 12 years ago

I  have one of those a few blocks away from me. It's my favorite color: Cat Puke Green.

To my neighbor's delight, the first thing I did after moving into my peach and lime green home was paint it dove grey and white.

Posted by Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%, Put 40 years of experience to work for you (RE/MAX Gold) over 12 years ago
Pat - One of my favorite comments from a client while looking at a home filled with terrible colors (inside) was, "Wow, this looks like a bag of Skittles!"
Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) over 12 years ago
I had a neighbor who painted his house bright yellow every five years or so.  We learned, over time, that the sun faded it quickly within about a year.  It wasn't so bad, then, until he painted again.  I will never understand why some people want to stick out like a sore thumb!
Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) over 12 years ago
Well it provides a good way to give directions... Drive 1 block past the Glow-In-The-Dark Pink house and turn right!
Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) over 12 years ago
Hmmm, someone just asked me about this.  Our town has a property standard department.  I would check with your city and see what is allowed.  Let's hope HOT PINK isn't.
Posted by Carol Spengel, Wheaton IL (Prudential Rubloff ) over 12 years ago


Can't they be arrested for 'disturbing the peace'? BTW, Some outdoor colors should be banned!!! Thanks,   Fran

Posted by Fran Gaspari, "The Title Man" - Title Insurance - PA & NJ (Patriot Land Transfer, Inc.) over 12 years ago
Sometimes I think certain personality types (needy attention seekers) select paint colors just to give their neighbors something to talk about--there is a purple house in one of the neighborhoods I sell in--buyers never fail to comment on it. 
Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) over 12 years ago

Some HOAs make you submit your colors for
a review when you are going to paint your home...

THAT takes care of the Pepto Bismal look.....

BUT anyone should be able to pain the home they
live in any color they want....

Oh well...... live and learn.....


Posted by Alexander Harb, Dallas, Texas Real Estate Investing (Knights Investing) over 12 years ago
Patricia--At least it is all one color! We had a similar situation in our old neighborhood. The house was painted pink and purple with pale yellow trim. Arts and Crafts style...yet many neighbors asked if their was a mixup at the paint store. My favorite line is, "I'll bet it looked better on the paint chip"!
Posted by Teri Eckholm, REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro (Boardman Realty) over 12 years ago
Arson's illegal, right?  ;-p  Still it reminds me of the folks who get all jacked up when they live in a community association and get a letter telling them to take down their (insert whatever violation) here.  There's a place for everybody!
Posted by Gregory Maley, REALTOR, GRI, CBR, SHS, e-PRO, ABR (Sold Buy the Sea Realty & R.E.N.T.) over 12 years ago
Pat, this is the ONLY thing good about homeowner associations and actually in downtown area's they just don't have them. Wouldn't look too bad on a beach house. (maybe)
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 12 years ago
Nothing like having the brighest house on the street.  I was showing a buyer homes yesterday and one of the homes was electric blue with green trim.  It was quite a site.  What were they thinking????
Posted by Stacy Magid (Century 21 New Millennium) over 12 years ago
Patricia - What can I say?  Pink is my favorite color....but it DOES look strange. would be better than an all black house.....ha.
Posted by Kay Perry (Kay Perry, Broker) over 12 years ago
Pat - I know the feeling, we have a neighbor who painted their shutters a matching neon blue that matched their car instead of the original color of the shutters.
Posted by Aziz Abdur-Raoof, Howard Co. Real Estate Scoop (RE/MAX Rewards) over 12 years ago

You can add Water Tower Blue to your list of colors that should not appear on the exterior of a home. I had one of those listings. I asked my seller about the color and he said he didn't think it would turn out quite that way (he wasn't color blind). He ended up staying in the home...and yes, it is STILL that color.

I often wondered at what point does one STOP painting and tone down the color?

Posted by Cris Burlew, Broker ~ St Pete Beach FL Real Estate (Beach & Luxury Realty, Inc.) over 12 years ago


When I drive the streets of DC. I will remember your story.  It is very easy to spot!


Posted by Sharon Ivey (Exit Dynamic Realty LLC) over 12 years ago
Hi Patricia:  I am guessing that white is probably the safest exterior color, but when it comes to interior carpeting, I always suggest what I call... "relocation beige."  It is typically the color carpet relo companies install when they do a corporate buy-out of an employee's home.
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 12 years ago
With all of the shades of beige stucco in Las Vegas, I like it when I see a little color on a home. Of course if it was something like this that would defintely raise a few eyebrows!
Posted by John Novak, Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace) over 12 years ago
I had a light blue something in that tone near me last year.  Oh my god was it bad.  The owner got held up on a permit so he painted his house ugly blue the neighbors complained and he got his permit.  Amazing what some will do.
Posted by Jeffrey Dolfinger, NRBA Member (24/7 Realty Inc.) over 12 years ago
Patricia - I once painted my office that very color! Everyone thought I was totally nuts! But since it was my office and in the back of the place (nobody used it but my daughter and I back when I had a coffee shop) I did not worry about upsetting people- it was the left over red paint from the front of the coffee shop and left over white from the ceilings - maybe that is how she got her pepto pink too -
Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 12 years ago

Hey!  Thanks for your comments.  I just reread this - the purple house is now beige.  Perhaps they read this post.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (Redfin) about 6 years ago

I read this and had to laugh. Our society is so focused on becoming monotonous that neighborhoods are all looking like that scene in A Wrinkle in Time where all the buildings and people are being controlled by the giant brain. I personally like variations and character in neighborhoods. Go on a trip to San Francisco and see the Painted Ladies. They are brightly colored and beautiful! If you want bland similar houses all in the name of keeping your property value up, then I would recommend living in an HOA in Arizona where all of the houses are a bland tan and everyone's hobby is being that nosy neighbor who not only gives "hints" to make sure everyone is doing things how they want, but they also can call in and have that neighbor get a citation for having the wrong shade of purple flowers in their yard. Don't get me wrong there are things like hording that really make a place look gross, but honestly I have seen many houses that are pink, green, purple, etc. that look classy and beautiful. Individuality is fun and honestly its ok to have opinions and not like the same color house as everyone else, but it is also good to be open to other ideas and realize that your idea of a "perfect" neighborhood is actually quite bland without other people who may like something different.

Posted by Jesse over 2 years ago

Fist I know it's odd to write on so old of a blog, but I felt I needed too. I was the one who wrote the wrinkle in time post and as I have been changing into a better person I remembered I wrote that post and felt that I needed to fix what I did. Patricia I hope you will forgive me. That post was more about me than you. I was very dishonest (hiding behind a fake name which should have made me clue into that what I was doing was wrong. I will still not give my name though because it is the internet and I know that there may be random people who can read this that are unsafe), hypocritical, and hateful. I hope you can forgive me and I wish you success in your blog, as a real estate agent, and in life in general. I am sorry for being a troll on your feed and have resolved to never do this again. I still have more eclectic tastes when it comes to neighborhoods and housing but that doesn't mean I should put down those who do not share my interests. Again I am sorry.

Posted by J about 1 year ago