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  • Writer's pictureTheresa Verboort


Updated: Nov 7, 2019

I have to admit that I used to be hooked on HGTV. Like a vulture drawn to a ripe corpse, I was pulled to it every day. I found it to be an endless source of amazement and amusement.

The ones that really got me were the “house-hunter” episodes. I just loved peering into other people’s houses. I liked picking out what I thought was atrocious and what I really liked. Hmmm, maybe I should create a spa in my bedroom? Purple and black walls? Really? A cascading fountain in the bathroom? I think not. I admit that after drooling over the bathrooms with the double sinks and gorgeous tiling, and the kitchens that were twice as big as mine and covered in granite (apparently it’s a law that all counters must be covered with granite), and the latest hardware and stainless steel appliances, with hardwood floors, I might look askance at my own simple, serviceable kitchen with the Formica counter tops and vinyl floors, and the carpeting in the rest of the house, and think, “Hmmm. Maybe we could…” But then I’d think, “Nah, I just don’t want to bother. I have too many other, more interesting things to do. And that would be a lot of work.” So, I happily, rationally, settled into my comfortable, simple surroundings again.

I continued to be aghast at the privileged millennials and middle-aged wealthy as they walked into a perfectly nice house, took one look at the kitchens and bathrooms, and pronounced emphatically that, “This is a “gut job.”

“We have to rip out all those nasty natural wood cabinets and replace them with white ones, and put in granite counter tops,” the young woman snaps.

“I want an island.” “I don’t want an island. “ “It’s too small.” “It’s too big.” “The wood floors are too dark.” “I have to have a farm sink.” “We’ll have to have subway tiles for sure. And an industrial gas stove.”

“We’ll have to rip out those walls, because I want an “open concept.” (Apparently inner walls are so passé.) “Ewww! Carpeting! That has to go. We have to have hardwood floors.”

“This bathroom will have to be completely redone. I want marble countertops, and glass tile shower walls with a “rain” shower. And tile floors, of course. New fixtures, a must. And where’s the swimming pool?” One young thing wanted an entire room dedicated to her collection of shoes.

I figure that in five years all that fancy stuff will be outdated and they’ll be putting in carpeting and white appliances and getting rid of that gigantic Jacuzzi tub, or replacing that quaint Japanese soaking tub with a honking big walk in shower with multiple shower heads.

Our first house was fifty years old, with many flaws and definitely NOT updated. It was funky in nearly every room. The added-on back end of the house was six inches longer on one side than the other. Not on purpose. No two walls were square or even level. The kitchen floor was ugly green vinyl tile squares. Every time I mopped it, I had to use a scrubber on my hands and knees to get off the black gunk that never stopped coming up between the tiles. It had no dishwasher. The bathrooms had the original 1935 fixtures, and one sink each. At least there were two of them. Whenever we tried to repair something we would uncover problems. The attic two-by-fours were inadequate by far, and had to be bolstered. When fixing the gutters, there was dry rot that had to be removed and replaced. My husband had to stand on scaffolding on the roof for hours to put new calking in the brick chimney. There was always something that needed repairing or replacing.

But it was big enough for eight people. We managed to raise six kids there, for twelve years, and gradually fix one thing after another over that time. And we enjoyed our old house, with its craftsman’s character. I guess we were lucky to be brought up to believe that we had to work our way up to what we wanted, and didn’t expect to have everything at once. We enjoyed the challenge of doing our own decorating and remodeling and raising our own kids. And we did it all without going over our heads in debt. When we could afford it, we moved up to a newer home.

Yes, those were different times and different circumstances. Houses were definitely much, much cheaper then, in the seventies, and affordable on an average wage earner’s budget. (I worry that some of my hard-working kids will never be able to own their own homes.) But Salaries were much lower then, too.

At any rate, just once I would like to have seen a couple go into what looked like a really nice house and say, “Oh, we could make this our dream home, with a little work. It would be fun. And it’s affordable. We can make do with natural wood cupboards, and a vinyl kitchen floor for a while. We’ve got more important things to worry about than having the latest status symbol.” That would have been a refreshing surprise. Probably not good television, though.

I have finally conquered my addiction to the channel. Good thing. Our house is showing its age and really needs some work done...

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