Friday, March 19, 2010

Just another Brick in the Wall

I watch a lot of HGTV. However, there are several things about home remodeling, renovation, and buying that I just don’t understand.

Almost everyone on this channel wants a home office. Why? Considering technology today, a laptop, printer/fax combo, and your array of small electronics can all fit on one desk. Throw in a couple of filing cabinets and you’ve successfully filled a corner. Unless you are housing a Cray supercomputer or trying to invent the freeze ray, what will you do with the rest of the room? (And please don’t call it “space.” It has four walls, a ceiling, floor, door, window, and usually a closet. It is contained, useful, and already has a name – it’s a room.)

I find myself confused over the terms move-in ready vs. fixer-upper. On HGTV, those phrases seem limited to painting. Move-in ready means that every room is already painted. Fixer-upper means you have to paint. I believe they mean something entirely different. Fixer-upper is when the renovations are necessary for living. If every inch of your new home is covered in 30-yr old wallpaper (including pipes), and if you require a plumber, electrician, and/or general contractor, then you have a fixer upper. But if your home simply requires paint, new lighting fixtures, and maybe a good scrubbing? That’s move-in ready.

Also, what is up with the master suite? They are practically required on any show on that channel. How much time are you really spending relaxing in your chaise lounge before a warm fire as you prepare for your jetted, double-person Jacuzzi tub with flat-screen TV? Does the steam shower (for two) with the extra six jets, spigots, rain head, and soothing music get used all that often? Do you and your significant other get up at the exact same time and thus engage in synchronized tooth-brushing and blow-drying, making double sinks a requirement? Because if not, then you don’t need all that crap in your bathroom! If you don’t have kids, then why not just go to a hotel for those amenities? You’ll probably get laid more away from home than you will in the spa bathroom during your daily toilette. And if you have kids, then (a) God bless you for having more time than I do to bathe in such water-wasting luxury and (b) I am pretty sure the double everything would work better in the bathroom the kids share – since you know, they WILL be getting ready to go to the same place at the same time every day for oh, at least 12 YEARS.

I think I am too practical for the modern home. I like walls. An open floor plan just means I can see the dust and clutter in every room all at once, instead of simply shutting a door and pretending it has disappeared. I like cozy kitchens with tables and chairs. In my house, the oven is a homing beacon. Turn it on and suddenly, the kitchen floor is the best place ever to play cars and it is the perfect time to pull all the magnetic letters off the fridge. Cooking turns into a competitive sport as I dodge and weave around the two ping pong balls I call my children. Sure, part of their interest in the sheer novelty of me cooking a meal, but still. If everyone on the Food Network can cook using little more than one oven and the counter space of the average butcher block, then so can I. I don’t, but I could.

But like most television, HGTV is fantasy. People build homes for the lives they want, not necessarily the lives they have. In my dream house, there would be a library and a soaking tub. My husband would request a man cave and a garage. But in real life, we just stick the books in the dining room and he watches the game after the kids go to bed. Even the tub would probably have rubber ducks and the garage would have a Barbie bike instead of a Harley. Lucky for us, that is both the life we want and the life we already have.

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