Blend In Or Stand Out?


This is Keystone Crescent in King’s Cross, a picturesque urban street that occasionally turns up in films. We tend to think of such terraces as unaltered by time, but of course they’re completely transformed from their original look. Even so, the old gas lamps remain, and these streets are becoming rarer.

So would you do what this house has done? The argument can go either way – as the original structures are compromised (the gardens have become carports, for example) the homeowners might end up inspiring an entirely white street – although it has been like this for a while now, and no-one has shown that inclination.

Or they could be seen as breaking the street’s graceful symmetry with their repainting. The question only arises because the area is being fast transformed by middle class couples.

10 comments on “Blend In Or Stand Out?”

  1. Alan Morgan says:

    Difficult one, I wouldn’t want to dictate what colour someone could paint their house. There’s a small purple house in Salisbury that’s a bit of a landmark for directions because of it. The two photos do demonstrate how it jars, mind. Perhaps they should all be made to go Ballimory colourful, all different like young men ten years ago that dressed like wine gums to go out?

    Sort of related to the above, and a bit of a punt. I’m in the area tomorrow – train into Euston a little after 11 in the morning, meeting up with chums in the pub at King’s Cross at 1 before moving off. If you’re around between then any chance of a scribble on the flyleaf of Calabash and grab a cup of tea somewhere? Worry not, I’ll not be offended if you’re elsewhere. *I see no smiley symbol, assume disarming siley*

  2. Mike Carrington says:

    I would like to imagine that the owners of the house have decided to stand out and create a version of ‘The Scream’ in masonry paint as an impassioned, if ultimately futile, protest against the slow madness of suburbia. Realistically we all know that they did it because someone off the tellybox said it was ‘in’.

  3. Riding a coach to Edinburgh, I remember seeing somewhere along the way a terrace where a more attentive examination of each house showed them displaying their individuality through some significative detail: the windows did not have the same pattern of panes, there were different decorative patterns on top of the wall, the ironwork on fences ended with different heads, and so on.

    Sameness was just superficial.

  4. Anne Fernie says:

    This sort of statement is fine if your house is separated but in a terrace that presents a unified whole it is a totally selfish act and destroys the integrity of the street and interrupts the pleasing curve of the original. It’s like a missing tooth. I can’t believe nobody has objected – I would have been frothing. Don’t get me started on the great Northern fixation of banging in PVC window frames in place of beautiful sashes even on Georgian, Victorian and older houses……

  5. Joyce says:

    I expect they tell friends, ” We live in the White House – haha”. Twerps.

  6. BangBang!! says:

    I presume as they aren’t original that they are also not listed in which case the owner can do what they want. I’m pretty sure that London buildings have always been subject to the whims of their owners pushing what they can get away with eg the Oxo Tower.

    It looks out of place and not something I would personally choose to do but it’s their choice.

  7. Helen Martin says:

    Sorry, politeness not called for. It’s ghastly. A word to the owners: painting brick is a bad idea, apparently, and even worse when the next people try to restore it they’ll sand blast and destroy the surface of the bricks so that they’re exposed to the weather. Whatever possessed them?

  8. Gretta says:

    I think Joyce summed up my sentiments pretty accurately. In some places such individuality can work because it’s en masse. Co Cork springs to mind, and although it(Co Cork) may be garish to some(read: most) eyes, I like it.

    This, however, is spit-worthy.

    As an aside, I love all those chimney pots. As heat pumps slowly take over here in NZ, chimneys are disappearing from the urban landscape. I love my great old clunky 100 year old chimneys. Even if they will probably be the death of me in the next decent earthquake.

  9. Helen Martin says:

    I have difficulties visualizing sometimes but if the white facade we can see on the right hand is the White House” why is the curve reversed? If it’s not, are there two white houses in that crescent? Nice to see that people still do the union flag on the roof of their minis.

  10. wayne says:

    I haven’t read the other comments before posting so if i repeat others i apologize.

    I am a purist where street architecture is concerned. I think that in a street that has such unspoiled original charter then i believe that you should up hold the facade as it was intended.

    There may be reasons for the house being painted, the brick work may have been damaged and poor repairs may have made to facade and painting may have improved the overall appearance of the house.

    Its not a clear cut argument. I do however have many objections about poor quality plastic windows and the desire to make things look modern when they are not. I ripped out the 1990’s plastic and replaced with plastic but you wouldn’t know thats what’s in place because they look exactly like the original 1930’s timber windows.

    So for me, I would say in this case don’t stand out, Blend in. Even though i stand out in my road and have taken my house back to the past where most of the others have tried unsuccessfully to move to the future.

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