The first thing I fell in love with in our house was the cedar-lined ceiling in the living room. That, and the striking red wall over the fireplace. I just loved those two things, so much that I felt like I didn’t even care what the rest of the house looked like.

Over the years, we’ve put a lot of work into this place. We tore it apart at both ends and added a living room, an office, expanded a master bedroom and added a master bath. We added the two-car garage which has become the Man Shop. We expanded and updated the tiny kitchen. We replaced the carpeting with hardwood floors.

Was it worth the expense? I’m not entirely sure. We thought it was a great investment at the time, and for a while our market value soared. Then, of course, it crashed, like everyone else’s.

The renovations have made this a wonderful home to live in, though, and for that reason I don’t regret the effort and money. I hope we can get a fair price when it comes time to sell. I’m worried that we won’t. I’m worried because there are plenty of houses nearby that aren’t selling, whose FOR SALE signs have gathered dust over the months they’ve been on the market.

We had some realtors—from an agency that touts their quick sales and aggressive marketing—come through and look at our house, and the first thing they told us to do was paint the ceiling. Paint the red wall, too. People want neutral tones, they said. Oh, and you’ll need to price your house 40K below what you were thinking.

It’s the weirdest thing, I don’t know why that bothered me so much. They’re just doing their job, right? Telling us what, statistically, helps sell a house. It’s advice we can take or leave. And yet I thought, fuck these guys. Fuck ’em right in the ear. The fuck if I’m going to cover up the very things I fell in love with, years ago. The fuck if we’re going to give up on our asking price without even trying.

Everything about this is hard, right now. Hard choices and scary possibilities and people telling us we’re making bad decisions. Money worries, god. I don’t know what the right answers are.

So what else is there to do, but go forward with hope? Hope that someone else falls in love.



119 Responses to “In color”

  1. Frema on July 26th, 2010 7:59 pm

    Oooh, I love them, too. And so will the right buyers for your beautiful home.

  2. kim on July 26th, 2010 8:11 pm

    I’ll comment before I read the 101 before me (I’ll get lost and forget my point). Don’t paint over the red or the ceiling – or lower your price. Sounds like shooting for failure, why start there? Easy commission for realtor, but sucks to be you and all that.

    I hate seeing neutral colors in houses – maybe not everyone wants red – but damn – why would so many want beige/cream or what the hell? (I love red, it’s my favorite color.) I think it shows personality and makes it easier to see it as a home and not just a generic house.

    I hate anything that begins with worrying about resale value. If the changes are what matter to you (and your family) that’s all that counts. Maybe it won’t appeal to everyone, but when people are house shopping I doubt many are saying, “jeez, I hope we find a generic house that anyone else would easily fit into” – no, they want the one that feels special – and the way this one made you feel when you found it.

    Stick to your guns.


  3. babelbabe on July 26th, 2010 8:16 pm

    do NOT, for the love of God and all that is holy, paint that amazingly gorgeous ceiling. please.

  4. Vicki on July 26th, 2010 9:27 pm

    I can’t believe I’m de-lurking because of a painting issue- but as a born and raised Pacific Northwestener and a former paint store retail sales diva- DO NOT PAINT THAT CEILING. That seems to be the consensus, (I didn’t read all the comments).

    I did read one about sending zombies your way, and I will do the same!!

  5. Nicole on July 27th, 2010 6:38 am

    Don’t paint the ceiling, I’ve seen a lot of houses that are not moving more due to the market take realtors advice and butcher perfectly lovely houses and they still don’t sell.

  6. Anonymous on July 27th, 2010 6:59 am

    Keep the house, it’s amazing. Just monetize your sites!

  7. Red on July 27th, 2010 8:37 am

    We are going through this same thing, our house is on the market as our new one is being built. We had a decorator come in and tell us the same thing, paint everything neutral and we did it. However, we did not have a GORGEOUS cedar ceiling, don’t paint that!

  8. Lana on July 27th, 2010 9:25 am

    We are living parallel lives right now Linda, so much so it is freaky ;) The children of the same age, back to school, looking to sell the house but with all the same worries, taking up running at the same time…and really just hoping it all “works out.”

    I love the ceiling and the red wall! Someone else will too.

  9. Anonymous on July 27th, 2010 9:49 am

    I don’t believe that buyers always want neutral tones… even though that is what realtors and “stagers” love to tell you. I think people want a house that looks like a HOME, and that is what your wood ceiling and red wall look like.

  10. Maria on July 27th, 2010 10:11 am

    The first time we had a realtor walk through our house, I cried. We also foolishly never called her back. Cause we were all insulted by the price range she had in mind.

    I dunno about the red wall though, I love stuff like that.

    Also when we BOUGHT our house it had NEON ORANGE AND PURPLE walls and we were still, I dunno, VISIONARY enough to figure out what it might look like without eyebleedy paint.

    What I’m saying is, your house is majorly love-worthy.

  11. Amy on July 27th, 2010 10:52 am

    Your house looks freaking awesome. I really hope it all works out like you want it to. We just went through something similar. Keeping the place in show condition with 2 small children in the house will almost certainly make you want to kill someone.

    The other hard part is getting feedback from showings that isn’t positive. It can really get to be disheartening. But, just remember that it doesn’t really matter if you have 5000 people look at the house and tell you that X, Y, or Z are all wrong (except for that wanting-to-kill-people bit, it’ll make that worse). You just need ONE person who loves it and has the financing. That’s all. Also, sometimes people leave negative feedback as a foundation for bargaining. Find a realtor you trust and listen to them, don’t put too much stock in the feedback from the showings.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed for y’all.

  12. victoria on July 27th, 2010 11:43 am

    Please don’t paint the ceiling. Or the wall. At least unless/until you find it’s not selling and you decide you have no hoice. I think that room is beautiful with the rich hues the way it is.

  13. JR on July 27th, 2010 1:07 pm

    Sharon Carlsen is fab if you want to talk to another reator.

    And, people do pay full price for homes, even in this market…keep that in mind.

  14. CC on July 27th, 2010 1:14 pm

    The realtor could tell people that look at the house that you, the seller will paint the ceiling if that’s a deal breaker. I think a lot of people would love the natural cedar look though.

    Paint the red wall. I am one of the few that wouldn’t like the red at all.

  15. Rachael on July 28th, 2010 10:04 am

    We have the same ceiling in part of our house, and it was also the first thing that I fell in love with. We also had the same cedar on a wall in the living room that someone had PAINTED over and I tried like hell to refinish it. Two years, lots of fumes and headaches later…we sheetrocked over it. I’m still mad at those people.

  16. Alias Mother on July 28th, 2010 12:16 pm

    Hide in a closet during showings and if someone complains about the ceiling, bust out and kick them in the balls. Seriously. What the hell is wrong with people?

  17. Liz on July 28th, 2010 3:26 pm

    Holy Hell. So Janet at Love Is Blonde told me that we sounded like we were living the same life and um, wow was she right. We’re in the same house-selling boat (on the market for only 5 days, but only ONE family has come to look at our house. ONE.) And those last two paragraphs? Exactly the same. Honestly, I’m getting all weepy over the similarities (I blame the stress).

    I really hope the best for you because we’re in this together, as cheesy as that sounds.

  18. thejunebug on July 30th, 2010 8:08 pm

    Linda, I fell in love with your house years ago, and you’ve only made it more beautiful and welcoming. If Jay and I were in Seattle and not Hotlanta, I would give you your asking price plus my firstborn child to own it.

    Someone else will fall in love, I promise.

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