zird is the word (lizardek) wrote,
zird is the word

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Been musing about house-color trends and meanings lately. Our neighborhood is brand new, and the 40 houses in it are all nearing a sort of completion on the outside as their owners frantically use the remaining Swedish summer to paint, pave and landscape. What has been particularly striking, to my American eye, has been the choices of colors used for the exterior of the homes.

In the States, it seems that the overwhelming trend, starting maybe some 10 or more years ago, was that houses would look more stately and elegant if they were done in natural earth tones. So now, it seems that every single new house that goes up in the States utilizes stone or brick or stucco in varying shades of brown, grey and off-white and lots of gable roof bits with towers and columns and porches. Not that I have a problem with this, actually, as I too think it looks nice, but I suspect my eye is biased.

When we started looking at house catalogs trying to find a model that would suit us, I was horrified to discover that 1) all Swedish houses looked the same to me, and 2) the thing they all looked like was a BARN. It took ages and over a thousand models before we finally found one that was acceptable to both of us. It's fairly American, so I won. :)

In America, if you paint your house in a bright color, say bright blue or pink or even green, you're automatically labled as eccentric (if they're being nice) and trashy (if they're not). Unless you live in a crunchy-granola hippie sort of neighborhood, where it seems to be more acceptable.

In Japan, red is the absolute worst color to paint houses, according to Feng Shui, because it attracts fire, and danger. In Sweden, it's the #1 house color choice. And it makes sense even from the Japanese perspective, because in such a cold climate, you would WANT to attract warmth to your house.

Swedes even have a special color of red paint named after a region in Sweden where the copper that produces it is mined: Falu Red. According to Things Swedish, it was a status symbol in the 17th century to paint your house red because it would look like a red-brick mansion and thus like the European gentry. Bricks being rare in Sweden, they had to be content with painted wood. The copper ore that they use for the paint is left to mature for at least 100 years.

And, to make matters even more colorful, the most common roof tile color in Sweden is terra-cotta orange.

So, when I drive into my neighborhood, I really delight in the wild rainbow around me:

Red 7 (2 are brick, 1 has black trim)
Blue 3 (1 has red trim)
Grey 7 (1 is dark, 1 has green trim)
Green 2 (1 is light with dark green trim)
Yellow 12 (2 are mustard, 3 are brick)
Orange 2 (1 light with gray roof, 1 dark with blue trim)
Brown 2 (1 light, 1 dark)
Off-White (with olive trim)
Pale Peach (with red trim)
Undecided 5

Our house, in case you were wondering, is grey with a black roof and white trim.


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