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AT HOME WITH: Claudia Brand

Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Richmond

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In Germany our house was completely white — not even off-white — but my taste really changed quite a bit [after moving here]. I like the colorful Virginia houses; the way people play with color and texture. We painted [this room] three times. First it was plain white, and then I tried a darker shade of green, and then I changed the trim color to go with that green.

I pay more attention to detail and probably do more with fabrics now. It looks cozy, but in Europe it would be considered tacky. In Germany, it's much more plain, much more clean and more sterile.

After we bought the house it took quite a while to settle in. We did some renovation and put in a new furnace, and when we were done, I started going to antique malls and shopping centers. My husband eventually wanted me off the street, so he sent me to law school. That did the trick because it was so much work — especially during the first year — but I really enjoyed it.

You can't imagine when you come from Europe that neighborhoods can look so differently and that you have to pay attention to where you are going to buy a house. In Europe society isn't as diverse, typically. There are not these big differences in income. Schools are all public, so you don't have to pay attention choosing a neighborhood based on schools. People don't pay so much attention to curb appeal. If you look at Europe from an airplane, it all looks like little nests built together. Here it's all spread out, and you have much more room to develop neighborhoods that are distinct in their style.

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