Changing of the Colors

4dbd3412-32d3-4d83-91d7-fdea1b9c6991.jpgI bought my house almost 11 years ago.  It was our “starter home”, and Megan and I were married a month after we moved in.  We did what most couples do.  We painted the major rooms before moving in, and left some of the rooms for me to repair and remodel after we were situated.


Megan had a style of her own, that I was, being the husband, largely beholden to.  I didn’t disagree with her tastes, which could best be described as “Americana”.  It wasn’t mine, but I also didn’t find it gaudy or overly feminine.  The walls were painted in a natural tan, with deep red as an accent wall in our living and dining rooms.  


Until a few weeks ago, I still hadn’t changed anything in the house as far as decoration, colors, or even the knick-knacks she had meticulously placed.  For one, I had no reason.  It was decorated...good enough.  Secondly, there was a small amount of resistance in me to any drastic changes.  This was our home, and any changes would make it feel less so.

Until I realized that this house had not felt like my home since the day she was admitted to the hospital.  

Shelby and I live in this house, but without Megan here, it simply feels, to me, that we’re living in “her” house, rather than our home.  When I expressed this sentiment to Sarah, she suggested that perhaps, one room at a time, I change some things.


Starting with the living room, I took a few pictures down.  We went to the hardware store, and picked out a few paint samples, and brought them back.  Not one to be subtle, I decided that the deep, sultry red wall in my living room was to be a light, olive green.  Gone would be the americana wall hangings and figures, and my style would be a more natural, primitive, “woodsy” look.  


In the kitchen, it was even more drastic.  From grey walls and black cabinets, I would be going to bright red cabinet faces with black frames, “peanut butter” tile, and a cream colored wall.  The Campbell’s soup figures, signs, tins, and other ephemera are going to be packed away or given to other friends and family.  


Changing these two rooms alone has started a snowball effect.  I am ready to move on to more and more rooms with each stroke of a paintbrush.  I am finding that I do not feel as if I am painting over Megan’s legacy, or trying to cover up her existence, but rather, I am making my house feel more like MY home.   It is a matter of being honest with myself.  This house, at one time, was Megan and I’s home.  It is no longer, nor will it ever be that again.  The memories are still there, and paint will never cover those, but new memories have to be created as well.


In and of itself, this initiative is a memory.  Shelby is helping with the painting and rearranging.  She’ll be 9 in a month, and she’s old enough to have an opinion and lend a hand in what is also her home.  Sarah is also an immense help with all of this, in fact, she’s done at least the same amount of work as I, if not more.  Doing all of this together is something that I will never forget.  


Rather than mothball the house for all eternity, as Megan left it, I am working towards making it my home.  Somewhat counterintuitively, each change that is made makes her feel less missing.  It was abundantly clear just a few weeks ago that her decorations, colors, and style were here, but she was not.  Making this house my own softens that sentiment.  Had she still been here, we would have surely been making changes anyway, and doing so myself is a way to honor her memory.  

Instead of it presenting itself as changing all of the things she did before she died, it can now be viewed as all of the growth I’ve done since the since the same.

Showing 7 reactions

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  • Sarah Silver
    commented 2018-01-06 16:56:13 -0800
    I think that inner-resistance against changing something new to you is a quality that should have it’s own noun to define it. It’s a quality not everyone has, perhaps one similar to “conservatism” but not so much—perhaps “respect” is closer? That feeling you felt when you went from room to room making changes, what would you call it? I definitely feel the same way every single time I do graffiti removal in areas where it’s for the most part appreciated by the community. But lawfully as a commercial painter I’m obliged to paint over old walls and characteristic surfaces everyday. Like the followers of generals in WWI, I’m not exercising this very special quality and letting society make yet another decision for me. Just thought I would say that as I’m perusing through the internet.

    Wholeheartedly, Sarah Silver
    Victoria BC
  • Anita Taylor
    commented 2016-01-20 11:37:43 -0800
    Bravo! What a neat idea to change things to make it more your home. I am on the verge of doing this…just haven’t begun too much. I rearrange out bedroom after my husband’s death and ripped the ugly old wallpaper off the bathroom walls but that is as far as I got. I plan to paint the bathroom in the spring when I can open windows. Next I may tear up the carpet and replace with tile. I am taking it slow so that I don’t bite off more than I can chew.
  • Bruce Bullock
    followed this page 2016-01-20 00:38:26 -0800
  • Wendy Klock-Johnson
    commented 2016-01-20 00:02:12 -0800
    I just cleaned out his closet. It took almost two years. Thank you for words, so very often I feel like you are inside my brain and writing my thoughts far more eloquently than I. I was formulating a post about cleaning the closet when I read Changing Colors. I shared some of your thoughts on my blog, I hope you don’t mind.
  • Lisa Richardson
    commented 2016-01-19 22:42:05 -0800
    “Home” was a place we shared. It’s the place we made memories as a family. I will always cherish it, but my home today is so much different. There are some of Tony’s things around me, some things we bought together. And there have been other things of ours I painfully let go. My home reflects my “now”, how I exist today. It’s not the same but it’s who I am I guess. Kind of like a childhood home – I just sometimes long for the old familiar place I can never go back to.
  • Carla Duff
    commented 2016-01-19 17:35:12 -0800
    I too have made changes to my home. I started with the floors and paint color and have added a fire pit outside. I think subconsciously I was trying to make the house “mine”. Thanks for helping me realize that.
  • Stephanie Vendrell
    commented 2016-01-19 14:41:42 -0800
    I am happy to read about your making the house more your home. And I get it’s a hard thing to do…I often look around at my house imagining how it used to look when Mike was alive, and how slowly over the almost three years how much has been changed…his room is now the guest room, and while I haven’t painted it and a few things of his remain it is mostly unrecognizable from the way it stood when he was the occupant. Sometimes me and the dogs go in there and sniff around, I think trying to find some remnant of him…but like you I could not just mothball things and at the end of the day it is a symbol of my work to continue on with the life I have. Mike would have approved I know.