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
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:
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.