Instead of decorating their houses in the way that expressed their personalities and interests, some people have chosen to go with plain, off-white looks. That way, the houses would be easier to sell in a few years.

A long time ago — this is going to be hard for anyone younger than 40-something to even remember — a house was a thing you bought so you could live in it. You bought it, and you lived in it for a very long time, possibly until you died.

Then came the idea that a house was really just an investment. Houses became things you bought with the idea of letting them appreciate a few years before selling them, uprooting your family and buying a bigger and better house.

You might repeat that process several times, eventually ending up in a very nice, very large house –– usually just at the time your children were on the verge of leaving the nest.

The idea of house-as-investment was so common that I’ve known confirmed bachelors who have insisted on buying three-bedroom houses because they said the resale value would be too low on a one-bedroom.

Instead of decorating their houses in the way that expressed their personalities and interests, some people have chosen to go with plain, off-white looks. That way, the houses would be easier to sell in a few years.

If you read advice columns about real estate a few years ago, you heard some very kooky ideas. Experts advised homeowners not to do certain home improvements because they might scare away a future potential buyer. Instead, they advised homeowners to spend money on certain other improvements that would likely attract future potential buyers.

Apparently, your own lifestyle, needs and preferences did not matter. Or at least, not as much as the perceived preferences of some stranger who might want to buy your house eventually.

The height of idiocy was some advice to homeowners who were thinking of building onto their current house. They needed more space, but they didn’t want to move because the school district was wonderful and their family had many good friends in the neighborhood.

The expert called this thinking with your heart, not with your head, and advised the homeowner to, instead, sell the house and buy a bigger one elsewhere. Otherwise, the homeowners probably wouldn’t get back the money they’d put into a remodel. That the family might look at the education of their children and the friendships with their neighbors as more important than squeezing every nickel out of their house was not even a consideration.

But now, things may be changing. For one thing, according to a recent Associated Press story, we just finished the worst housing season in at least 50 years. For another, even if housing prices do rise in a few years, how many of us who scored 4-percent mortgages are going to be eager to trade them in for a possibly higher rate in a few years?

My husband and I bought our fixer-upper Victorian because we fell in love with it. It definitely wasn’t a sound business decision, and we didn’t care. Unemotional decisions are for your 401(k). But this old house is our home, and we’re making it the way we want it, with zero regard for the preferences of whoever comes along after us. In fact, many of the changes we’re making are specifically undoing the updates that had been done in recent years to make it sell better.

So, if you’ve always wanted to paint your bedroom red or purple, now’s the time. Nobody wants to buy your house, anyway, regardless of whether your color scheme is cream or fuchsia. So live it up.

Put in a pool if you want one. Put money into things that you know won’t pay off. Maybe every kitchen in your subdivision has a laminate countertop and you’ve been told you won’t make back the cost of a granite one, even though that’s what you want and you can afford it. I’ve got news for you — you’re probably not going to make back the cost of a new laminate one, either. So no worries. Get what you want.

Yes, someday somebody else is going to buy your house. But that’s likely a long way off. So, embrace the space you’re in. Make it your own in a way you might not have dared to just five years ago.

After all, you’re probably going to be living there for a long, long time. And if the place you come home to every night is a home and not just an investment, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Editor Michelle Teheux may be reached at