Friday, April 08, 2011

His & Her Sinks (Hooked on HGTV)

For the last month or so, I’ve been hooked on HGTV.

Even more surprising, my husband has been hooked, as well.

Who’d a thunk it?

Surely, no one who knows us.

With an exception or two folks – it’s exactly two, now that I think of it – pretty much everyone I’m related to or friends with is into home improvement. And a lot of them pretty much believe that, if you’re not interested in perpetually updating the place you live, you have no business owning property. You should be a renter.

Not wanting to fix things up?

Why, it’s almost as un-American as not wanting to own a car.

Might as well move to some airy-fairy, left-wing, Euro-nation where people live happily ever after in small apartments and bicycle everywhere.

Now I don’t exactly think that you should let a place fall down around your ears. But I’m pretty much of the if it ain’t broke school.

Sometimes, I will confess, I do fall into the even if it is broke school. Thus, I haven’t gotten around to fixing the door knob on the upstairs bathroom that’s been MIA for three years. (Even though this should be a short fix, it’s a long story.)

But it is on my to-od list, along with put in some new overhead lights and paint the bedroom.

Honest.  As God is my witness, there will be some type of handle on the upstairs bathroom door by Christmas. (And, yes, I know that I said this last year.)

I’m pretty sure that I would be more inclined towards home projects if my husband had ever expressed a scintilla of interest in fixing anything up – rather than get the heebie-jeebies at the thought of having his routine interrupted. And I do occasionally fantasize about a do-over for the 1980’s bathrooms and kitchen. But then I come to my senses and say to myself: what the hell for? Everything works – except for that doorknob, the garbage disposal (who needs one? certainly not someone who rarely cooks), the spray thingy in the kitchen sink, and whatever that non-burner burner item is on the ancient Jenn-Aire range.

Just thinking about initiating, let alone overseeing, a major home project gives me the heebie-jeebies, too.

Maybe if someone left a bag containing $100,000 on my doorstep, expressly ear-marked for home improvement; and a side bag containing enough moola to ship us off to Paris for the duration, I’d be happy to get a few things done.

But I am absolutely not one of those folks – and I do know plenty of them – who actually enjoy home improvement, love having a project going, and get a lot of satisfaction from having their bathroom/kitchen/den/patio/whatever done precisely to their liking. And now that I think of it, the folks I know who like having a home improvement project going tend to have plenty of money to spend on home improvement projects. (We’re not talking Home Depot DIY-ers here.)

Anyway, the older I get, the more I’m afraid that I’m a chip off the old block of my grandmother, whose house was almost falling down around her ancient ears when she left it at age 92. At that point, not much had been done since three decades earlier when my parents papered and painted all the rooms in her flat (along with the other two apartments in Nanny’s house, both of which our family lived in at one point or another, until we got a house of our own when I was 7). Make that almost all of the rooms. My mother refused to step toe in the bedroom inhabited by my feckless wastrel of an uncle, Charlie.

Her view, honed, I ‘m sure, by the fact that she was pregnant at the time, was let him get off his lazy arse and paint his own room. He didn’t, so the room, I do believe, did not get a fresh coat of paint at any time between, say, 1910 and 1974, when Charlie died (in said bedroom) and Nanny went to live with my Aunt Margaret. That Charlie was a heavy smoker did nothing to improve the look and feel of Charlie’s bedroom.

Anyway, Nanny’s idea of a fix was putting scotch tape over the break in the glass of one of her kitchen windows. Or tacking a small, mismatched piece of linoleum over a worn spot on the kitchen floor. Or putting a broken vase back together with a big schmeer of brown glue, which protruded from the crack by a good quarter of inch. (I have the vase, by the way. I suppose that I could soak it in hot water and reset it with Crazy Glue so it won’t show. Maybe once I get that doorknob taken care of…)

So, yeah, I’m an unlikely candidate for getting hooked on HGTV.

Not as unlikely as my husband, however.

I’ve been telling him for years that, when we sell our condo, we’ll get less than he thinks because our kitchen and bathrooms are so dated.

His response has always been “nobody cares about that stuff”.

He now understands that house hunters do.

HGTV has been a revelation to Jim.

And an eye-opener to me.

I can’t even begin to pick a favorite show, they’re all so interesting.

In Selling New York you get to see some really great places – one in the Ansonia, recently – as well as some tiny little off-the-air-shafters that are going for $1M. Selling New York seems to typically involve some psycho drama, as well. In my favorite, a young woman was contentedly living in a very nice apartment in Chelsea when her worry wart of a mother decided it was dangerous for her to live in a non-doorman building.

The young woman put up a brave fight to keep her independence, but her mother, aided and abetted by her realtor (and Selling New York star) college roommate and her two realtor (and Selling New York stars) daughters, put on a the full court press to get her into a doorman building. One comment: “She’s too pretty not to live in a doorman building. It’s just not safe.” (Oh, no, no one would ever attack a woman who wasn’t pretty. Or who lived in a doorman building.) Another one: “What if she has to carry a heavy suitcase?” (Isn’t that what roller bags are for? Or are roller bags just for the unpretty (and un-twenty-somethings) among us?

Holmes Inspection is excellent. Mike Holmes is the home inspector to end all home inspectors. By the time he’s through, the shoddy work is gone, you’re better than new, and there’s not a termite, hint of asbestos, or loose wire worry to keep you up nights. Too bad he only works in Canada.

House Hunters. House Hunters International. (You can get an awful big bang for the buck in Ecuador, by the way.)

It’s all good.

I especially like Property Virgins, in which the very pleasant and reassuring, but tough, host Sandra shepherds first time buyers through their search and purchase.

Whatever the price range is – and the Property Virgins I’ve seen have had anywhere from $130K to $900K to drop – everyone, but everyone, expects a master suite. Walk-in closets. (Boy, am I out of luck on re-sale. We have one closet that’s not ever as deep as a hanger. You have to angle things in. Good thing we have a great location and a fabulous living room. Plus by the time we sell, there will be a doorknob on the upstairs bathroom.) Updated kitchens.

Yes, even the young couple with $130K to spend on a Southern California condo wanted an updated kitchen. And their budget was limiting them to looking at short-sales from banks on re-po’d units. They turned up their nose at one affordable place because the stove – while in good working order – was out of date. (It appeared to be 1990’s vintage.)

Jeez Louise.

Did folks with short money used to expect updated kitchens before their was an HGTV network that informed you that every other Property Virgin (PV from here on) on the face of the earth demanded one? Forty years ago, did homebuyers scorn kitchens that didn’t have avocado or harvest gold appliances?

The other evening I saw one woman fretting because she liked the house, but the kitchen would have to be redone immediately. Its offense? The appliances weren’t stainless.

Forget that the house was less than 10 years old, and the kitchen was pretty darned up to date.

“That oven is so dated,” the woman sneered. Would she have said that same thing if it had been a 10 year old stainless oven?

Not that I don’t like stainless. If I did a do-over, that’s what I’d do, even though I am well aware that, at the high end, you have your SubZero matched up to your cabinetry.

My favorite great and universal expectation, however, is his and her sinks in the vanity.

I know that it’s not quite as bad as his and her, adjoining toilets would be. But, really, who wants to be standing their brushing your teeth while your husband is trimming his nose hair?

Apparently everyone shopping for a home in North America.

It’s a bit surprising, given that most of the PVs require at least two bathrooms.(Other than the young, single PVs from New York, who are mostly just looking for a separate bedroom.) Better yet, PVs want two-and-a-half bathrooms. So they already have multiple sinks.

Yes, I know, kids take up sink time, too.

And, yes, if everyone is getting out the door at the same time, there can be bathroom conflicts. (Hey, I grew up in a big family. The major improvement when we moved out of Nanny’s into our own home was that there were two bathrooms. Which worked out to three-and-a-half people per bathroom.)

So I will acknowledge that there are circumstances where his and her sinks – or kid and kid sinks – make sense.

Still, to have this so high on the make-or-break feature list?

Couldn’t you just stagger things a bit? Or are people so darned polite first thing in the morning that, absent those his and her sinks, you end up with an endless loop of  After you, Alphonse. No, you first, my dear Gaston. And you never get to work.

Still, watching someone (other than yourself, in the mirror) flossing?

Maybe it’s just me, but that honeymoon’s soon over.

Meanwhile, wonder what’s on HGTV tonight?

As long as the Red Sox keep losing, there’s no where else for me to go.

Anything to put off having to take care of that damned doorknob.


John said...

Come to Texas. The requirements people have for houses here are nutty, and they're willing to trade 45 minutes a day in traffic for luxurious pooping. It's pretty strange.

katrog said...

It's all part of the same house pron that leads kids to reject colleges that don't provide luxurious and "updated" amenities in every dorm room. And that leads the colleges to offer such campus wide amenities as visits from Snooki. (See the article in Sunday's NYTimes Styles Section on the return on investment of a visit from the Snook.)

A decent education and a decent roof over your head--that is just so dated.

Maureen Rogers said...

What goes unsaid on these shows is that much of the new construction that's been slapped up is likely pretty shoddy. Buyers aren't looking for "good bones", they're looking at the superficials and a whole lot of make up slapped on. Wait a couple of years until the Great Room starts sagging and coming unglued.