She has officially come undone

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As usual, I’m ahead of the curve in all the wrong ways.
Just once I’d like to be the first to buy the next hot stock, embrace the next fashion-forward look, or even have the season’s hottest salad dressing on my plate before anyone else (Lime Kool-Aid vinaigrette anyone?).
Alas, this is not to be.
Instead, I hold the dubious honor of being a veteran of the drywall wars.
Remodeling trend. Everyone I know is remodeling a house.
At parties, all my smart, politically aware friends have completely given up on Karl Rove and the revelation of Deep Throat’s identity and are suddenly talking of nothing but HGTV and Home Depot.
In addition to concern for home improvements adding value to their homes, these homeowners are increasingly interested in transforming their homes into comfortable and dynamically functional havens for living.
Me, I was just hoping to never have to actually set foot on blue shag carpet that appeared to have gone unswept since the Nixon administration.
Lies. My husband and I ended up doing major renovations on our home of eight years mainly because this old house is allowed to air, willy nilly, without some sort of warning or rating system.
So let me save you a lot of grief and open with two utterly true words that every American homeowner needs to absorb straight to the heart: TV lies.
Now you can venture forth into the builder’s supply or local hardware or wherever you go to ogle the lumber and run your hands lovingly over the faucets and doorjambs secure in the knowledge that you are never, ever going to achieve the results shown on television shows.
Repeat after me: never ever. Not in a neat half-hour segment. Not in one hour with a bevy of professional designers flitting about.
Not even in a lovely series of episodes over a six-week sweep.
Too stupid to know that, we were inspired by all those neat-o makeover and easy-breezy renovations we routinely saw on television.
Madness. Our descent into madness started the day we received the keys to our own old house and continued almost nonstop from there, with one job often inspiring, or requiring, the next.
One of the truly insidious aspects of renovating part of your home is the untouched areas suddenly look fundamentally worse in relation to any feat of improvement you may actually achieve elsewhere.
Theory. I call it the “divine dump theory,” i.e., the more divine one room (or, let’s be serious here, a small portion of a room) may look – the dumpier an adjacent area will appear.
Moreover, since we did the majority of the work ourselves on the pay-as-you-go plan, every room is roughly 85 percent done.
As a result, at least once every few months, we peruse the walls/ceiling/floor of whatever room we’re in (there are plenty in need of repair to choose from) and speculate how swell it would be if we could make that last 15-percent push.
It’s probably not going to happen – but at this point we have little else to offer by way of conversation, so we stick with what we know.
Undone. I think the problem with expectations versus reality is the notion of done has been way oversold to the average home renovator.
We all work, diligently like dogs toward the Holy Grail of the remodeling experience: done. Complete. Finished. In reality, there are no “wrap parties” for home remodeling.
One day, I think you just run out of drywall – or will. Those of us who have been in the trenches (or up the ladders) for years now know the ugly truth: done is a pipe dream.
Done doesn’t happen.
In fact, I’m so over “done” I’d settle for clean. I further understand why some homeowners are willing to sell themselves up the mortgage river as a two-income family living on ramen noodles forever simply to afford a new home.
I think, in the end, it all comes back to done. It can’t really be quality – I’ve seen too many new homes virtually crumbling around the baffled owners ears to believe it’s all about the scintillating scent of fresh granite and a great room.
No, I think it’s the done that does ’em in. At least once, on some fateful day, a brand new home is, theoretically finished.
For at least one brief, shining, moment, everything works – all at the same time. You really can’t put a price tag on that.
Well, actually you can, but you’ll get to pay it off over the next 30 years.
As for me, I like to think that my house was done once. Unfortunately, I just missed it – by a hundred years or so.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt dreams of working doorknobs and outlet covers. She welcomes comments c/o kfs@epohi.com; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460; or http://userweb.epohi.com/~kseabolt.)

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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