Watermelon House

Tom Healy and the giant watermelon in Northwest that he lives in.
Tom Healy and the giant watermelon in Northwest that he lives in. (By Stephanie Cavanaugh For The Washington Post)
Saturday, June 7, 2008

"We love color," said Tom Healy, flashing metallic blue toenails.

Healy lives in the house on Q Street NW with the gigantic slice of watermelon painted on the side, along with Wade Wilson and Robert Banaszak.

In the few years since it was painted, the mural has become a neighborhood landmark. "Everybody loves it," Healy said. "When kids see it, they scream, 'Watermelon house!' "

It's particularly fabulous at night, he adds, when the "slightly fluorescent streetlights make it pop."

The inspiration was accidental. Banaszak, the communications director for the American Academy of HIV Medicine, and Wilson, who owns W2, a computer consulting firm, painted it "when the painters did the front of the house fire-engine red and the side came out like Pepto-Bismol," Healy said. "So they grabbed black and pink and green and painted a watermelon."

Banaszak and Wilson actually own the house, said Healy, a law student at George Washington University. They bought it from the church at the corner, which used it for weddings and wakes. "They were hoping the weddings canceled out the bad juju."

The art continues inside, where Wilson hand-painted the fireplace mantel. "Wade's really creative," Healy said. A gnarled tree, another Wilson touch, covers a purple wall in the bright green master bedroom, branches snaking onto the ceiling.

"We don't consider ourselves artists," Healy said. "We just can't stand bland colors."

His own alpine mural on the shed behind the house is a work in progress. It's mainly at the waving-arms-around-in-description stage, but he's thinking mountains wrapping up into the side of the house . . . and kites.

But of all things, why a watermelon?

"We're all big fruits," he said with a hoot.

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