haus report: six months

We recently passed the half-year anniversary of buying a house. I celebrated by dressing the house in a “6 months” onesie and I’m just absolutely sick that I didn’t get a picture.

One of the most unsettling things about being a homeowner is also, I imagine, one of the most unsettling things about being a parent: the constant fear that you’re making the wrong decisions. Because just as parenting methods come and go, so do home design styles. Sure, it may be on-trend today to cover your home in a tasteful, balanced array of exposed brick, rough hewn wood, Edison pendant lights, and stainless steel, but you just know that years from now some future owner is gonna gaze up at your reclaimed timber beams and think, “Ugh, so dirty, what is this, A BARN? What we need here is one of them nice DROP CEILINGS with the polystyrene tiles.” And then they’re gonna put beige carpet in the bathroom, and go around replacing all the light fixtures and door handles with polished brass. 

Hang on, I think I’m confusing the future with my parents’ house.

It seems difficult to believe that what’s considered beautiful now could ever be considered ugly, but a summer spent stripping the house of past design trends really drove the point home for me. 118 consecutive years of people just making the worst decisions ever! For example, I cannot fathom that this house’s original hardwood floors could have ever been seen as less than beautiful and awe-inspiring; perfect to buff to a sheen and conduct some serious sock-sliding. But nope. Someone at some point said ugh, let’s cover over this downhome farmstead mess with some sheet vinyl. And someone at some later point decided, you know what, vinyl is gross and old, let’s gussy up this disgusting situation with some peachy Golden Girls tile. And someone at some later later point sneered at the tile and declared that carpet is where it’s at. IT’S ALL HAPPENING WITH CARPET.

And that’s just the floors. The vertical surfaces are, like (makes explosion noise with mouth). In the upstairs bathroom alone I have sanded through eight distinct colors, three of them being salmon, Pepto Bismol, and dusty rose. I get that at one point dusty rose was the height of bathroom fashion, but why anyone would have ever painted original wood trim any color is beyond comprehension. One of my biggest fantasies is to go back in time and smack the paintbrush out of that person’s hand. Just leap out of the wall into 1957 and lay a bitch out. What makes folks want to fuck with a good thing?

That’s it though, right? The definition of a good thing is so subjective. Not only does it change from trend to trend, it changes from person to person. Which is why the beau and I are pretty right well terrified about our remodel choices. Every single decision gets strapped into The Rack, screaming, and agonizingly pulled in four directions: 

  • Resale value
  • Future homeowners’ tastes
  • Our personal tastes
  • Money

The trick every time has been to make the right choices while keeping them generic enough not to cause future homeowners to curse us while liking the look for ourselves while not blowing our budget. So that’s been going, you know, pretty badly.

If I had been keeping a diary of this process it would be exactly seven pages long, and I would have written one word in capital letters on each page:

WE
DO
NOT
KNOW
WHAT
WE’RE
DOING

Because it’s true! If it’s not abundantly clear by now, we do not know what we’re doing. We are utter, total buffoons. I had thought that making remodeling design choices would come easy to me — I do, after all, have a litany of opinions — but it has been anything but.

I’d go on Pinterest or Houzz for tile or cabinet or color inspiration, but scrolling through photos felt like repeatedly getting hit in the face with a hammer. Millions of women are seemingly able to “brainstorm” “ideas” on a “visual pinboard” but it turns out I would rather set fire to my own pants while wearing them. The beau and I would go into a home supply store and I had to restrain myself from kicking over a display stand, collapsing on the floor, and weeping. It physically hurt. Thinking about how things were supposed to “go” together physically hurt me. I did not know this would be a problem before we started! 

Still, I like to think that at base level we are reasonably competent people and that this will shine through in the finished result. I haven’t set the bar high, by any means. All I’m aiming for is for visitors to walk into our house and think, “hey, this is only sort of terrible!” But I worry we have bad taste and we just don’t know it. I worry we are those people that future owners will look back on in disgust while undoing all our work.

I worry that all of our decisions have been wrong. I worry that our house will grow up and turn to a life of crime as a result. I can just see it now: phone pressed against my ear; the house in a bright orange prison jumpsuit; a thick plate of plastic glass between us. “Why did you do it?” I’ll quietly sob into the receiver. “It was the hardware you picked out for the kitchen cabinets,” the house will coldly reply, eyes empty and hard. “It was the hardware. You picked out. For the kitchen cabinets.”

But hey. I mean, what can you do?  As a houseparent you can only do your best. Even if that means ruining everything forever.

If'n you ruined it, a mimosa will fix it

If’n you ruined it, a mimosa will fix it

10 Responses to “haus report: six months”

  1. Who cares what anyone else thinks? It’s YOUR HOUSE and you have amazing taste, so even though you might make some fumbles along the way (and it sounds like they’re all paint related, which is totally fixable and not outrageously expensive) it will look amazing, I have no doubt.

    • Definitely not all paint related! I have countertop and cabinet and bathroom tile and floor tile fears. But I suppose you’re right that it won’t matter — I just have no bar to measure ourselves against.

  2. Your house is playing mind games with you! It is definitely harder if you don’t know how long your are staying in a house. Our first house was a 3 -4 year plan, fix it up, make it livable – we won’t be here long. We actually sold it in just under two years. We just had the “how long are we keeping this house” about our second house. It really clarifies if I have to remodel for myself or for future buyers. If we are staying more than 4 years I am decorating for me.

  3. Wow I can’t believe you’ve had your house for 6 months. When we moved into our apartment I had big dreams of fixing stuff up but that faded away as I became more and more overwhelmed with decisions. I can’t imagine the pressure and stress of completing a whole house. At some point you will make it through this Lyn and you can slip and slide all over your hardwood floors and maybe repaint a room when you get tired of it.

  4. Unless you plan on selling the house in less than 5 years, I wouldn’t worry to much about future homeowner’s tastes and resale value. Listen to the house and to yourself, and make yourself happy with the design/decor.

    But you are spot on when it comes to trends. When we are in the moment, it seems like all other choices are so terribly wrong. We can’t get any distance on the current trend to see how dated it will look.

    But regardless, kitchen cabinet hardware is like the easiest change you can make, so I say go all out if you like a particular hardware trend (within your means of course).

  5. Those floors are gorgeous! I want more photos.

    I, too, sometimes wonder about the life span of trends, but what are you going to do, right? I’m sure your home is going to be lovely.

  6. We blew a lot of extra money on an unnecessarily counter-depth refrigerator so that it would not need to be replaced during a future kitchen remodel which, since as it turns out there are so many invisible and unfun things in our house that require renovating, we may never actually even get to. So of course now I’m wondering how much longer before stainless steel appliances become the avocado or harvest gold of our generation (and why I didn’t just buy the full size refrigerator for less money and more room for blueberries to hide from me and rot undisturbed).
    Anyway, resale value is useful to think about (don’t take away square footage from your house, I guess), but I wouldn’t worry about future homeowners’ tastes. First time buyers who watch too much HGTV will be undeterred and think they can fix and change everything anyway.

  7. First: love those floors.

    Second: if your house becomes a criminal, blame the Golden Girls tile and/or the vinyl. Because that’s clearly what did it. That and all of those shades of salmon/pink, because ew.

  8. I have no experience in any of this, but my take is that it’s your home and to do it how you want it and not worry too much about future owners or your future selves. We never know what the future brings anyways, so my current life approach is to try to enjoy the present and not sacrifice things you want because of the future, whether that is postponing something for the future or tempering your choices for some future owner. Of course, within one’s means of course. But that’s my take since my life took its unplanned turn and some things I saved for later and postponed might not happen.

    Besides, even if you make a more “moderate” choice, that choice might be out of style anyways in 10 years, so why not go all out and do what you love and enjoy it as long as it lasts? And when the exposed beams and stainless go out of style, you can just look back and think, oh but I sure enjoyed the crap out of that back in the day… :)

  9. Love this…we’re so scared about home ownership. I think for us, though, we’re more financially terrified. Maybe we can swap mortgage/home improvement horror stories one day.

    Oh, and that “life of crime” part? Hilarious. I smell new instafiction! 😀

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