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Houses In Motion

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…., I grew up in a quaint village somewhere in the Dutch countryside called Nieuw Loosdrecht.

At the beginning of the 1960s, it was still a small place with lots of farmland surrounding it.

But then development started knocking at its gates and the village began to expand with new housing estates, rows of identical two-story townhouses with tiny gardens…

An official postcard of this sad street...

Note that life in those primitive days was all in black & white, we couldn't even see in color!

Even at such a young age (I must have been 5 or 6) it looked incredibly dull to me!

I have a faint memory of occasionally seeing locals there being struck by a flash of extreme boredom during the middle of the day and being shriveled into nothingness within 5 seconds…

Luckily we lived in a century-old house with a large garden behind it! (*)

As a result, I promised myself never to live in such kind of townhouses.

Foreigners often see Holland as a liberal, open-minded country, huge mistake, wait till you encounter Dutch bureaucracy…

If you want to change something on the outside of your (own!) house, you first must apply for permission, a cumbersome process that is not for the faint-hearted.

The outcome depends on the mood of the advisory board members, but usually is negative as your changes might affect the overall neighborhood appearance…

This can be anything like adding an extra window, repainting your house in vivid colors, changing your front garden into a garden gnome reservation, etc.

Life can be cruel, fast forward to the early 1990’s and here I am in Thailand, with my Thai family, finally having bought a …. townhouse, in many ways similar to what I saw years ago back in Loosdrecht!

However, there’s a BIG DIFFERENCE here, as a house owner you are relatively free to muck about with your house…

As a result, my ‘mooban’ (village) looks very different from the dreadfully dull Dutch 1960s townhouses areas!

What triggered this post...?

Last month I had my sister visiting and although she had been here three times before, Thailand looks still pretty exotic to her.

One of the things that astonished her was the colors of the houses…

Yes, by Dutch standards these can be pretty outrageous I guess.

Houses and apartment buildings here are usually painted colorfully, to say the least.

Whereas those Dutch counterparts from the 60’s had to be either just bricks or white, here they go for the full rainbow!

After 35 years here I consider those ‘normal’, but thanks to my sister I started looking at them again with ‘open’ eyes…

Besides wild colors, house owners happily add rooms, change their yards, put potted plants everywhere, etc., and the results might be garish and/or kitschy, but at least are not mind-numbingly boring!

Since then I’ve been paying more attention and when I saw another pinkish(!) building I suddenly had to think of John Cougar Mellencamp’s hit song…

As a music fan, I quickly came up with songs about houses, but that’s a different story which can be found here:


(*) My brother took over the house from our parents and it's great to be able to stay there again for a short time whenever I'm back in the Netherlands!


4 Comments


I lived in government controlled historic districts in New Orleans. Needed approval for everything. Was so tightly controlled that Sherwin Williams, an international paint manufacturer, made a color called French Quarter green, since it was one of the few colors approved for use on exterior shutters. We remodeled a house in 2015, and wanted to slightly enlarge the width of one side to make it uniform across (half of the side jutted out further by about 5'). Request was denied and when I asked for the rationale so that i could try to reapply, was told literally because we said so.

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art58koen
art58koen
Mar 13
Replying to

Amazing.... 2015 is not that long ago and still those ridiculous rules!

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This is an interesting collection, KK.

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art58koen
art58koen
Feb 29
Replying to

Thanks Ray, once I started looking for houses like these it was dead easy!

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