Most people assume that as soon as they buy their first home, they will finally have the freedom to paint their decks purple, to hang fluorescent window treatments and colorful sconces, or litter their lawns with political or yard sale signs.
But that much freedom is rare, if not obsolete, if you live in a condo, a co-op, a gated community or any other shared living space.
Most condo and homeowner associations have stringent guidelines regulating the aesthetics of their communities. These can be as loosely defined or as detailed as which type of siding and shutters homeowners may use, what paint colors are allowed, what types of plantings and other landscaping or ornamentation are permitted, and even what kind of mailbox owners can put out front.
It’s part of the territory of living in a community association, and the idea is that a tidy, uniform, nothing-too-crazy appearance raises property values—and that anything that steps outside those parameters will put prospective buyers off and may cause values in the area to plummet.
But these rules aren’t random, and breaking the rules isn’t an option if you want to live happily ever after in the home of your choosing. However, there are ways to preserve your aesthetics and your creativity without overstepping authority.