Thank You Eric Hodgin and David Selznick

 

I have always had a thing for paint samples.  I actually own two fan decks as pictured above, although I don’t really remember how I acquired two of them.  They have come in handy on several occasions as long as you remember the manufacturer and the proper color name, most of the mixing areas can make the recipe without having the color to match.

Paint, much like fingernail polish, has a myriad of finishes and textures.  The best part is the names…….. Bahama Sunset… Nantucket Grey… Lydenhurst Beige aka Tommy Taupe because our friend Tommy used it on everything.  I used it in a house and currently have Cornsilk and Greensilk in the dining room at the restaurant, although Cornsilk has been used in 3 of our personal homes.

How do I get paid to name the paint or polish colors!?

The paint was never like this back in the day.  How magical was it to go to the local hardware [that sold candy by the pound!] with the creaky wooden floors and magical containers of everything you would ever need and the paint mixing machine.  It was far less selection then and the Sherwin Williams logo always confused me because it resembled a turtle with a paint can over his head and when I was old enough to read the “we cover the world” then I understood the logo.  It still looks like a turtle.

One of the best explanations of paint colors of the silver screen is the entire exchange in David Selznick’s “Mr. Blanding Builds His Dream House”. 

Muriel Blandings: I want it to be a soft green, not as blue-green as a robin’s egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow, but don’t let whoever does it go to the other extreme and get it too blue. It should just be a sort of grayish-yellow-green. Now, the dining room. I’d like yellow. Not just yellow; a very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshine-y. I tell you, Mr. PeDelford, if you’ll send one of your men to the grocer for a pound of their best butter, and match that exactly, you can’t go wrong! Now, this is the paper we’re going to use in the hall. It’s flowered, but I don’t want the ceiling to match any of the colors of the flowers. There’s some little dots in the background, and it’s these dots I want you to match. Not the little greenish dot near the hollyhock leaf, but the little bluish dot between the rosebud and the Delphinium blossom. Is that clear? Now the kitchen is to be white. Not a cold, antiseptic hospital white. A little warmer, but still, not to suggest any other color but white. Now for the powder room – in here – I want you to match this thread, and don’t lose it. It’s the only spool I have and I had an awful time finding it! As you can see, it’s practically an apple red. Somewhere between a healthy winesap and an unripened Jonathan. Oh, excuse me…

Mr. PeDelford: You got that Charlie?

Charlie, Painter: Red, green, blue, yellow, white.

Mr. PeDelford: Check.

As with all things Hollywood, everything worked out for Cary Grant and Myrna Loy–including the terrors the house provided to the real Mr. Blandings.

Yes, dear readers, there really was a real Mr. Blandings and his name was Eric Hodgins and he was a VP at Time magazine that wanted a retreat from his crazy life in New York.  The house still stands in the foothills of the of the Berkshire Mountains in New Milford.  The one below is the one built as the movie model in Malibu Park, CA albeit modified.

Image result for mr blandings dream house location

When construction began in 1939, Mr. Hodgins the budget was set for $11,000 for his dream house [$189,000 in today’s standards]. But the completed project ultimately escalated to a total of $56,000 — which translates into $965,728 today — a sum so inflated by his his weasel contrators and his own misconceptions that it nearly drove him into bankruptcy. He was forced to sell the house two years later, and went on to write two popular books about his experiences: “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House,” and the story of his family’s brief residency, “Blandings Way.” The book sales restored his fortune, and when he received $200,000 [roughly $2.6 million] for the film rights to the original book — provided by his New Milford neighbor, the producer Dore Schary — Mr. Hodgins tried to buy back the house back, but to no avail. [Dore Schary was supposed to play himself in an episode of “I Love Lucy”, when Ricky’s Hollywood movie was shelved, but fell ill and had to be replaced. Another story.]

Some of the features includes the underside of the house being covered with copper to prevent termites, the basement has 11 rooms and is soundproof, the livingroom was the first home ever to have an indirect lighting system installed, not to mention the 54′ long swimming pool. The Kitchen Aid stainless steel dishwasher, the first of its kind, now lives intact at the Smithsonian.  As a film promotion, the producers raffled off 73 replica houses across the country–including this one in Ottawa Hills, Ohio.

Image result for ottawa hills mr blandings dream house replica

 

This story, of course, was the inspiration for “The Money Pit” that never held the same sort of charm as the original.

So, the next time you think a quit “new paint color” will be the end of it, just remember:  with houses it’s always one more thing, rarely do you come in under budget and everyone thinks “while we’re doing this, we might as well do _____________. It won’t be that big of a deal”.

I wonder if I can turn my old house adventures into a best seller with movie rights?????????

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