Monday, May 11, 2015

Home Is Where the Unreasonable Ideal Is

I'm pretty addicted to HGTV.

In fact, I should have had this post up hours ago, but,
you know...back to back episodes of "Love It or List It."
I learn a lot from watching home buying/selling/renovating shows. The most important thing, of course, is that other people have shit for taste.

You can't simply lay a salad bar sneeze guard on its side
and call it a sink.
Yes, yes, taste and style are highly subjective, and the fashions of the day cannot be totally disregarded.

Is that a chandelier, or did Hobby Lobby and Home Depot
have a torrid but ill-considered affair?
The thing is, when you watch hours and hours of HGTV each week, as I do (and as do some of you, don't you dare deny it), you become familiar with current design trends. Clearly, the American Dream consists of millions of people all wanting to express their individuality by investing in the same decor as everyone else. Just as we do with fashion, cars, hair, and music. God Bless America.

Better to be free to conform than a slave
to nonconformity. I think. 'Murica.
Anyway. I've noticed that a lot of people seem to be quite infatuated with design trends that I'm absolutely not interested in. In which I'm absolutely not interested. Whatever.

As I write this, I'm uncertain whether my next home will be a rental or a purchase. I know I'm selling my current house in a red-hot seller's market, but I also know that I have an uncanny knack for failing to capitalize on the zeitgeist, so I could end up taking a bath on the sale and moving into some mediocre apartment while saving up to buy a maybe-someday-home.

However, since I could also get lucky and wind up with a meaty profit from the sale of my house, it behooves me to have a good idea of what I should look for when purchasing another.

Basically, I'm HGTV's worst nightmare.

Here's a short list of things I DO NOT WANT in a future home.

Granite countertops/stainless steel appliances: I've said it before, I'll say it again: These are the Harvest Gold and Avocado Green of the 21st century. In the future (and not very far in the future, I'll wager), new homeowners will wonder why the previous generation was so obsessed with expensive, smudge-prone appliances and fragile, high-maintenance countertops. And they'll be as quick to tear them out of their "vintage" houses as folks are now to remove the Boomerang-patterned Formica of an earlier era.

Cathedral ceilings: I live in Texas, people. My electric bill in the summer months is outrageous, and that's with modest eight-foot ceilings. I don't give a damn about having a dramatic 20-foot-tall foyer. It just gives more hiding places to the spiders that will gather in the high reaches because there's no way I'm going to bother to clean that damn high. Having to pay to cool worthless air space and harboring armies of arachnids in my crown molding? Screw that.

A jetted bathtub: I don't take baths. The last bath I took was in 1991, which is the last time I lived in a home without a functioning shower. I'm not a fan of being immersed in water unless there's a beach nearby. I'm a six-hour drive from the nearest beach. Let me shower and get on with my day.

An open-concept floor plan: I know; everyone wants open concept. Me, I like the concept of rooms. I like cozy spaces and little nooks and hallways that take you away from the rest of the house. I definitely think a floor plan can be too closed-off and segmented. But I'm perfectly OK with not being in everyone else's sight line at all times. It's a house, not a commune, you know?

A big yard: The idea of privacy and separation from neighbors is appealing. My biggest nightmare is one of those zero-lot-line houses that charge you a premium for being three feet away from your nearest neighbor/busy street. On the other hand, I've been a homeowner long enough to know that I don't enjoy yard work. I dislike the pressure to maintain a manicured appearance for the sake of my neighbors. Gardening to me is enjoyable but frustrating because everything I plant tends to wither and die. If I had the resources to completely outsource my lawn care and/or xeriscape the shit out of my property, then I'd be all about acreage. Otherwise, give me something small and low-maintenance, please.

"Turnkey": Believe me, the thought of a house where I have to do nothing to make it up-to-date and functional is really nice. But I just don't believe a truly turnkey house exists. Am I going to find a home that's perfect for me? As-is, without a single tweak? Actually, that would be kind of depressing. If I find a "turnkey" house that expresses my exact aesthetic and attitude, what does that say about my aesthetic and attitude? I'd much rather find a flawed house whose potential speaks to me than one that appeases my shallowest desires. In house-hunting, as in love, what the heart wants isn't always the turnkey solution.

So I'll keep dreaming of a dream house, and maybe I'll find it, maybe I won't. Still...if you know of a house in the Dallas area with cozy little rooms and Formica countertops, maybe let me know, OK?


  1. I was with you until you got to big yards. Then again with three dogs a big yard is kind of a necessity for me, but I also like the privacy and the idea that I could pee on the trees without being charged with indecent exposure. Not that I would, but I like the idea. Admittedly my idea of landscaping is making sure the grass never gets above my ankles. I'm not like the neighbor across the street who comes running with a pair of tweezers every time an errant leaf falls on his lawn that could serve as part of a golf course.

    I understand the frustrations of lawn care, though, and, yeah, there should be a reasonable balance between an acre or a house where you pay a premium for the privilege of being able to reach out of your bathroom window and take something out of your neighbor's refrigerator. There should be such a thing as a cozy yard.

  2. Um...Chuck? The ideal home you just described is MY CURRENT HOUSE, complete with the original, circa 1959 Formica countertops (blue in the kitchen! pink in the bathroom!), non-stainless steel appliances, and non-turnkey status. My guess is that you truly want to live with us in the Berkshires. I'll send a key to you and PDaughter. Move in this weekend? :)


  3. :raises hand: I, too, am an HGTV addict. And? I'm currently in the market for a house. It's a living nightmare. While, we don't expect to find a house that is truly turnkey in our price range, we WOULD like to find something that doesn't have to be completely gutted. Based on your I Don't Want List, if I were you, I'd maybe look in older neighborhoods and possibly, townhouses.


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