Paint color not approved
Q: We live in a nice development with a homeowners association that lays out color rules and landscaping guidelines. Historically, the association has been very strict, with liens against owners who don't follow rules. But a neighbor down the street redid his yard a year ago with non-approved plants. Nothing is being done about it. Some people complained, but most neighbors like what they've done. Now we want to paint our house in a lovely yellow color that's not on the list. Should we just go for it, too?
A: It depends whether you're willing to face consequences or repaint.
The general idea of a homeowners association is to provide guidance for improvements and maintenance of common areas. In a perfect world, a strong HOA has rules that help people make decisions about color, maintenance, and landscaping, and provides an easy way of telling someone their taste is unacceptable to the group.
Some people love HOAs and the guidelines they provide. Other people don't like their creativity to be restricted and won't buy into a neighborhood with one. It depends on what you value and your taste. You can always get creative on the inside of your home.
In your case, a weak HOA seems like a great opportunity to do what you want, as long as you don't complain about others' choices. But if more people start bending the rules, eventually the HOA will notice and take action.
A better solution would be to volunteer for your HOA and start a committee to evaluate existing color rules and landscaping guidelines. Maybe the existing leaders lost interest, and a lot of people also think it's time for an update. Neighbors who care the most about the exterior appearances will also likely participate, and from there it should be a democratic process. As a committee, you'll research ideas, create a proposal for changes to the existing guidelines, and present it to the board or the general membership for a vote.
Painting your house a different color in a collaborative way is a lot more likely to succeed for you in the long run. Let me know how it goes.
Jennifer Adams is a designer, author, and TV personality. To contact her: