The Mister and I have spent a fair amount of time watching “House Hunters” (and “House Hunters International,” for that matter) on HGTV because we (me especially) are domicilian voyeurs, and because those two programs make up at least 80% of the programming on the channel. One of the things that often ruins the show, and tempts us to watch it with the sound muted so we can just see the houses, is the chuckleheads who are the prospective buyers who inevitably have a long laundry list of contradictory requirements for their home, and bad attitudes that go for days. It is the first time I’ve regularly wanted to reach into the TV and administer some significant (and obviously much-needed) slappage upside strangers’ various heads–and we watched some of the original seasons of “Real World” on MTV, so that’s saying something. (Lately, we’ve not been watching as much HGTV, but we HAVE been watching “Girls” on HBO since it premiered, and my desire to administer some serious percussive attitude adjustment to the kids on that show admirably takes over from the “House Hunters” I’m not watching; and yet, I can’t look away from the train wreck. But I digress.)
Our favorites among all the obnoxious house hunters are the young, inevitably clueless people with too much money (often not their own) and too little sense. They have no idea what a house actually costs, eschewing starter homes as beneath them, and then whining when they can’t find anything “acceptable” in their price range. And they are forever in search of the chimera known as “the house we don’t have to do anything to.”
And in uttering something along those lines, they prove themselves absolutely unready for the joys of home ownership, because there is no such a thing as a house that doesn’t need any work. When you buy a house, you’re also buying a lifestyle that includes regular and frequent trips to Home Depot, Lowe’s and your neighborhood Ace Hardware, because there is always something that either needs doing, or is functional, but cries out for an upgrade. You may choose not to heed that call, but nonetheless, it is there.
We bought our current home 8 years ago. It was move-in ready. “Move-in ready” is great, and is a situation you can find in many homes; it is not the same thing (oh no, not the same thing at all) as “a house we don’t have to do anything to.” That is to say, we could’ve moved our crap into this house and immediately begun living in it without incident. Nothing NEEDED to be done. We could’ve totally ignored the 5′ mirrors across the length of the dining room (because there’s nothing that adds to the enjoyment of a meal more than watching yourself shovel it into your mouth), the carpet that had seen better days in all the bedrooms, a master bedroom that had a purple wall so dark that it sucked all the light out of the room (seriously, I couldn’t even capture its color with the flash on) and required an entire gallon of Kilz to prime away, and the surfeit of beige paint in all but 2 rooms (and half a bathroom). Because none of those things interfered with the functionality of the various rooms; they were merely aesthetic issues.
We could’ve ignored all that, but we didn’t. And being experienced homeowners familiar with paintbrush technology and the aforementioned home improvement stores, and, you know, reality, we bought the house anyway, knowing we could fix all those things in time. We painted and recarpeted all three bedrooms and pulled down the mirrors and repainted the dining room before we even moved in; that was how we spent Christmas of 2003.
8 1/2 years later, the only rooms that have not been redone are the library and the living room, mostly because they were fine, and the library has a funky faux finish that we like and don’t have the colors to touch up, so any change to it would require total repainting. But regardless, and I can’t emphasize this strongly enough: there is always, always something to do in or on your house when you’re a homeowner. As a matter of fact, there’s a door stop waiting on the kitchen counter for me to install today, even as I type this.
All this is prologue to the fact that my loud proclamations that 2012 home improvement projects had come to an end with the completion of my office were, ultimately, total bullshit.
Not long after I finished my office, Scott started making noise about the floor in the studio, which is where our craft desks and the dog paraphernalia live. When we moved in, the studio was an Arizona room with some groovy brown indoor/outdoor carpet that wasn’t beautiful, but it worked, until we had a termite problem in 2006, and the exterminator went through the house and drilled holes into the foundation at various points, putting little holes in that carpet, and then entropy and dogs took over, because “What’s that? A string? A loose string? MUST CHEW IT! MUST CHEW IT NOW UNTIL IT ENTIRELY UNRAVELS! Or I choke on it. Whichever comes first.”
Last October, Scott had had enough of the ugly unraveling carpet, and decided to do something about. This “something” took the form of ripping up the carpet and tack boards, patching the cement, and prettying the whole thing up with an epoxy surface. He spent days prepping the floor and putting the stuff down, and when it was done, it looked clean and beautiful and we were happy.
But the happiness didn’t last very long, because the epoxy was not up to the task of dealing with rolling desk chairs, the big rock we used as a door stop, and the considerable traffic of three dogs and two humans in and out of the back yard. I was still happy, because I can ignore shit like that like a champion, but it was bugging Scott, and he said, “What if we tile in there?”
And with that, my “no more projects this summer” hiatus came to an abrupt end. I had the electrician out to install a new light over our workspace and fix some funky wiring, and then I spent the Thursday before Memorial Day repainting the room a clean white, and we laid tile (together, thank dog!) on Friday and Saturday. As I limped my crippled way into the shower at 6 p.m. that Saturday night, I announced to my beloved that I had made a command decision: We were not working on that floor anymore that long weekend, because after 3 days of hard labor, I was completely wrecked; the grout would wait until Tuesday, when he was back at work. Which he could hardly argue about; no one’s going to argue, “Oh please…I insist that you wait until I get home so that I can grout, too, after working a full day!” And then Thursday again, when I had to patch some spots that had suffered from the grout drying out too much by the time I got to them. But I finished it.
We finally got the furniture moved back into the room last night, but of course there are still things to do. Paint touch up. The installation of the door stop (no more big rock). The hanging of pictures. Because—say it with me, people—there is ALWAYS something to do when you own a house. And that’s all I’m going to say about it. Because when you make proclamations, it’s gonna come back and bite you in the ass, guaranteed. And I am not (any longer) that kind of chump.