We wanted everything to be mixed, so it was less about land use and more about character.
—Tom Gougeon, urban planner, author of the Stapleton Green Book and original project leader for the Stapleton Development Plan
When the Fisher family decided to repaint their house in Stapleton, they had no idea what was to unfold. The couple went on vacation, leaving their teenage daughter Allison with the decision to choose
a new exterior paint color. Upon returning, they were met with a surprise—what had previously been a faded yellow exterior was now a vivid shade of Bahama blue.
“While we were down in Cancun, I got a text from our housesitter in capital letters that read: I LOVE THE COLOR OF YOUR HOUSE, IT’S AWESOME!” says homeowner Trish Fisher. “Then I started getting some texts from neighbors that were more like ‘Hey, Trish, you there!?’ I ignored them and figured the neighbors were just checking in. When we got back and I looked at the house, I went, ‘Oh, wow, that’s way brighter than I thought it would be.’ It looked like it should be on the Italian Riviera or in the Bahamas. It was a really bright shade of blue. After giving it some thought, we decided to keep it. We really love the ocean and we’ve always marched to the beat of our own drum, so it’s a perfect color for us.”
The Fishers’ 2003 KB home certainly stands out among some of its more muted neighbors and lends a festive air of variety to its block and, by extension, the overall community.
“The painter offered to redo the house if we decided that we couldn’t live with the color, but we kept it and we’re glad we did,” she says. “A lot of the colors in Stapleton are the same. One person actually called my husband to ask him if he was sure it was the right color, but overall it was a positive experience. I’ve heard kids ride by on their bikes and say, ‘That color is sick,’ which, in teenage speak, means it’s great.”
A quick glance at Stapleton’s neatly manicured homes shows a mostly subdued palette of blue, grey, tan, yellow, red, white and beige exteriors, but closer examination of its neighborhoods reveals some more eye-catching choices of home colors that include purple, Kelly green, orange, lavender and festively painted doors, garages and off-palette trim work. The variety and difference that community planners originally envisioned is alive and well and poised to keep growing as original paint jobs weather, fade and are replaced.
“A big part of the idea for Stapleton was to try and attract people back from the suburbs. So we tried to provide some of the spaciousness of suburban homes but in more of an urban pattern,” says Mark Johnson, head of the Stapleton Design Review Committee and a principal at Civitas, an urban landscape and design firm in Denver. “We didn’t want to create something that was all garage doors and that looked like a plain vanilla subdivision. Our goal for Stapleton was that when it was all done it would blend in with the rest of the city.”
According to Diane Deeter, of the Stapleton Master Community organization, single-family homeowners can paint their homes any color they want. “It’s pretty fun to see the new colors people are coming up with,” she says. “There are no restrictions unless they live in a sub-association.”
Deeter points out that townhomes and condominiums typically are part of a sub-association because they share spaces, and that a few KB homes, although they are single-family residences, share communal spaces and are therefore part of a sub-association. “Each one has different bylaws that a resident agrees to when living there.”
Stapleton residents Martina Will and Andres Chapparo are on board with creating unique home colors. The couple, who have ties to Latin America, started with a white New Town (now Thrive) house with cream-colored shutters.
“It was as bland and as bland could be,” says Will. “My husband is from Colombia and I’ve spent a lot of time in the Caribbean, and we wanted something with a tropical feel. We bought a bunch of different paint colors but none of them felt right. We couldn’t decide. Then we got a recommendation for a woman named Jennifer Comfort who calls herself a color psychic. She came over, sat down, looked at our furnishings, our artwork and our overall style and then she just sort of meditated for a while. After that she came up with the colors.”
Will’s home in Stapleton’s Eastbridge neighborhood now has the feel of a cottage that could be in the tropics, with a bright medium green hue, yellow trim and red accents.
“I think a lot of people play it safe because they are concerned about their resale value,” Will says. “We were asked if we were really sure we wanted to repaint using our chosen colors. We did. And people really like it. A few neighbors I didn’t even know made a point of telling me they loved it and that we were so brave. We did a similar kind of paint job on our house in Texas before we moved to Colorado. The result was that it caused it to stand out in what was otherwise a cookie-cutter neighborhood. And the unique paint job helped the house sell.”
Wonderland homeowner Donna McMahon, who lives only a few blocks from Will and Chapparo in Stapleton, also shares an affinity for colors that stand out.
“We stuck with orange, which was actually a color that was offered by our builder,” she says. “We liked the color a lot, but after several years the original paint job was looking like a dead salmon, so we decided it was time refresh it. When we were having it painted, the neighbors were all very nervous. But once it was all done everyone seemed to enjoy it. It’s more like a pumpkin spice now and it’s pretty loud compared to other homes, but once we got the trim painted it accentuated the details of the house and looked really good. Someone took a picture of it once and posted it on Pinterest and we got a bunch of hits. We were like, ‘Wow, we picked a great color.’ It makes it easy to find. I say just look for the big pumpkin.”