Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My home remodel will not be televised.

Like a lot of people, I grew up watching episode after episode of "This Old House." My dad is good at that stuff, and can pretty much make anything (surely I told you about the replacement power/volume knob he crafted for my old Toyota Celica?), and he can watch shows like that for hours. As it turns out, so can I. I not only know how to pronounce "Trethewey," I know how to spell it. I've learned a few things from TOH, such as valuing traditional design and workmanship; and though I may not be capable of doing that sort of work myself, I do understand that when you see the words "Master Craftsman" in somebody's title, you're getting somebody a little better than the dude hanging out in front of Home Depot.

(Bob Vila was my idea of the perfect man for a few years there, and might explain my attraction to guys with beards.)

It seemed like a natural transition, then, to shows like "Trading Spaces" or "Design on a Dime," right? I mean, I think that's what the geniuses at HGTV were hoping. Except, no.

It took me a little while but eventually I got tired of those shows (everybody else finally did, too, because I don't think either one is on anymore). For one thing, I'm really not interested in having things (other than edible things) in my home that were homemade by anyone other than my two-year old. Or my grandma. The projects that are created on HGTV shows look like somebody had a lot of extra balsa wood, a $50 gift card to Ikea, and a hot glue gun. This teaches me nothing except that a lot of people have really, really bad taste. The guy who paints you a painting with every remodel? Um. Thanks, but no. And I really don't think that every kitchen needs granite countertops or stainless steel appliances. More than lessons about remodeling or design, we learn that everybody thinks they know what it means to have "made it" in life. A big-ass Viking stove or walk-in closets: I have arrived!

Then, it finally dawned on me that these shows all follow the same script. Nothing new ever happens. For awhile I was really enjoying "Love It or List It" but then the same old storyline about how the designer screwed up started really pissing me off. Hey, lady! Get it together! Or the homeowners would be walking around with such a huge case of "I deserve an en suite bathroom even though my budget doesn't really stretch that far in the market I'm shopping." And that feeling of indignation, every time I watched the show, started building up in me. Wait a minute, I thought. THIS HAPPENED LAST TIME! Look, I don't get to watch a lot of TV time anymore. It takes awhile for things to crack my exhausted shell. But now that I'm thinking about it, every show is a bore.

And man, whoever is preparing those homeowner's for their home inspections is totally dropping the ball! How could you not know that the house needs a new roof, or that there's asbestos in the attic? Doesn't HGTV have any liability? Don't these people work with an experienced real estate agent? Doesn't anybody have a clue?

See, that's what makes me mad, because you don't know if they're really stupid, or if they just think I am.

And now I've been reading that most of these shows are faked - that a lot of the work you think is being done by the homeowners is actually being done by professionals, or that the homes you think they're readying for the market are actually... not for sale. I guess what I don't like is that HGTV tries to sell itself as a channel for people interested in "do it yourself" (or used to, before the actual DIY Channel came along), but none of the stuff they actually show is based in actual reality. I hate relationship-based reality shows (you'll never catch me watching the Bachelor), now that feeling is moving over to home improvement shows.

See, if I ever get the opportunity to remodel my home, my feeling is that I want to create a space that works better for us than the tiny 1940s L-shape we purchased 13 years ago. That doesn't necessarily mean more space, but it does mean, better space. Improving existing fixtures and the floors in every room. Making my horrible bathroom a distant memory. What I would love is a second bathroom and a dining room - or a greatroom that can hold a dining area. These are basic desires for a home that now houses three people and two cats, and someday, I hope, a dog. I want our family to be able to be in the same room at the same time, all while holding forks in our hands, and to be at least 10 feet away from the television. I want to work with the design of my home, which I actually love: a flat-roof, open to the yard (almost none of the rooms have windows that look to the street. Well, the bathroom does). I love the idea of modernizing my kitchen without losing the sort of "grandma" feeling it has. It took me years to figure out that I like old things, and color. I'm not thrilled with the cracked tile countertops, but what would the person who chose those in 1940 pick today? I love the windows in the living room, I love the angles of the roofline. But when it's time for us to do this, I hope we don't go into it thinking we know everything about design, because we don't. That's why you hire a designer, and you let that person educate you.

HGTV doesn't educate you. Well, I know what I don't like, so that's something. It just seems like it would be so simple to show a project from start to finish without any shenanigans in the editing room, but I guess not.

I actually think that "Income Property" is an entertaining show, and not just because I have a crush on the host (Patrick loves to mock his exceptionally white teeth, but come on, that guy has a nice body, and his face isn't bad, either). Then again, I couldn't tell you his name if you paid me, so what kind of crush is this, anyway? At least it feels a little more realistic (using the actual real definition, and not the TV definition), and though I do think the designs are very generic, at least they keep clean lines and seem to do a professional job.

I think it's a shame that a lot of their shows are filmed in Canada, not that I have anything against Canadians, but because (especially the real estate shows) you can't get an idea for comparable prices. And Canada doesn't seem real to me, sometimes, which I know is dumb. But then, anyplace with universal health care seems a bit like heaven.

In closing, I'd just like to say, that if I were on an HGTV show, I like to think that I wouldn't be the person who, in shopping for a new home, gets hung up on inconsequential items like the ugly carpeting or lack of granite countertops. I wouldn't get angry at the TV realtor who shows me homes that don't satisfy my need for grandiosity. I'd hope that we made sure the home was below budget, and that we worked it out with a reputable contractor to make the changes we needed.

But what do I know? Maybe an en suite bathroom would solve all my problems. I might be a better person if I had a laundry room in the house instead of the garage.

No comments:

Post a Comment