As I sit here, exiled in the torn apart office because of a plethora of paint upon my person, waiting for the first coat of red (yes red) paint in the converted now-open closet to dry, I thought I’d take a moment to engage the minimal computer setup for something other than GW2. So…OMG! A blog post!
Opening caveat…I’m introducing this topic not just to air my pet peeves or to point fingers at anyone, but because I’m curious how TV and common usage has…cheapened other phrases, phrases I might not know about. This is actually a need-to-know/understand for a writer because making characters “feel” right often depends on correct word choice. The people who use these phrases on these shows use them in all innocence. They’re phrases TV has made popular without really ever explaining them. Having said that…
OK…I admit, we’ve become a bit addicted to all the house “fixer-upper” shows. Not too surprising, considering the constant changes we’re making to our own domicile to make it our own. However, if I hear the words “wow factor” or “make it pop” or “open concept” or “must have” one more time out of these first time buyers with WAY too much money…
“Must have” is, IMO, the epitome of me-generation spoiled brat-isms. Any cook who actually believes they NEED a kitchen the size of most apartments needs to spend a summer cooking on a campfire. With one pot. Any twenty-something who actually believes they NEED a spa attached to the bedroom needs to spend that same summer with nothing but a pan of water from a questionable pond heated over the same campfire to kill the bugs. These people willing to spend $100,000 or more for those luxuries when the house they’re buying already has a perfectly nice kitchen and master bath should maybe think about putting that money into their future kids’ (which they’re all talking about having, hence the ten bedrooms and open concept they need…one for each kid and a separate office for each spousal unit and the open concept so they can watch every breath a kid takes) college funds. If they have that already taken care of…how about a scholarship for a kid whose parents don’t have that kind of throwaway cash?
I grew up in a middle class family. We had what I figured was a pretty good life. When I was in the fourth grade, we moved out of town to a 3.5 acre “ranch” where we could have horses. My folks designed and my contractor uncle helped us build the ranchstyle house that I still think of as “home” and the essence of luxury for a cozy family. Three bedrooms…a master with a half-bath and small walkthrough closet, with an attached semi-room with a closet that housed my then young brother. Sis and I shared a 10×10 room with a closet and a killer view of the Cascades through one window and Mt Rainier out the other. My two older bros who were still at home shared another 10×10 with a single closet. All of us kids shared a bathroom with a tub/shower and one sink. The living room/dining room/kitchen/family room comprised the other end of the house. The living room had a beautiful picture window that looked out across the pasture to the distant Cascade Mountain range. It was separated from the dining room by the nice fireplace. The dining room had a smaller picture window with a raised flowerbed outside with a similar view. Right angle from dining room was the kitchen, a lovely thing with room for several to work. The kitchen was separated from the family room (where the TV and “family dining table” lived) by a convenient sitting bar with storage above and below. From the kitchen you went past the laundry area with a small mudroom (potty and sink so work-mud didn’t come inside) on the left. Two doors, one to the outside walkway that led to my grandmother’s lovely trailer parked on the other side of the back lawn, the other to the garage. Total square footage? I’d be surprised if it exceeded 1500, but it handled six people very handily. I did my homework in the family room, I curled up on the couch in the living room to read. I shared late night secrets with my sister, fought for my half of the bed, closet and chest of drawers, and came out able to have a good fight with her and come out smiling and loving on the other end.
Replace those “views” with a well-designed backyard…maybe a pond and water feature?…and the same idylic home could be brought into the necessary area for “good school district and easy access to shopping” two more “necessities” for these 21st C home-owners.
I have developed, after too many viewings of these shows, a few opinions regarding most of these “must haves.”
A) if you have to watch kids every moment of the day, you aren’t raising them to be independent. You’re micromanaging.
B) if any kid needs their own bedroom, they’ve got too much STUFF. They’ll accumulate plenty later in life. Save money. Make them do laundry rather than wear a new set of duds each day. I mean…sheesh…books these days only require a tablet of some kind for an entire library! We had to stash books and comics under the bed. 😀
C) if you need your bedroom as an oasis from the kids you’re micromanaging or the job you hate, see A and do something about the job situation, because the answer doesn’t lie in a million dollar tub.
I will admit that with computers, a designated office is increasingly useful, but not a necessity, especially if you’re getting every family member a laptop, smart phone and ipad. I mean…sheesh.
I will admit that having a good flow for people who like to entertain is a Good Thing. Having a kitchen that can handle several cooks at once is also good. Having a kitchen where the cook can actually be a part of the party rather than a slave is an excellent notion, but too often, the “must have” is taking a kitchen with all these attributes and making it bigger and spashier. Oh…and the guys who “must have” a mancave. Not as common as the “must have” kitchen, but still all too common. As I say…”me generation” thinking.
OK…having, er, dissed the me generation of home owner mentality…let’s move on to the terms once reserved for artists and architects that have been coopted by these shows and brought into general use in the populace without a clue as to what they really mean.
“Open-concept.” I mean…sheesh. Before these shows, did anyone really know that architectural term? Now…everyone they bring on MUST have it. No wonder the kids need their own bedrooms. Where else can they get away from Mom or Dad’s TV/music and other activities? More to the point, these’ “must havers” can’t seem to get it through their heads that tearing out walls is going to be EXPENSIVE. Rewiring, replumbing, working around load-bearing wall issues…that’s expensive. (Do they even watch these shows before they agree to be on them?)
If they want to tear out those walls and are truly on a limited budget…maybe they should opt for the furniture they already have rather than letting these TV people choose brand new (very expensive) furniture just to be sure it looks uber-upscale for the “reveal.” Or maybe…scary concept…just opt for a simple showhead rather than $2000 worth of jets in a flipping shower. (That’s another thing I really find difficult to understand. Who in their right mind accepts a home someone else has chosen the STUFF for? These homeowners often seem surprised at these fancy showers. Maybe they should have discussed these details BEFORE giving the contractor more money? Rather than going further into debt, if I were truly working on the budget originally stated, I’d say…give me a showerhead that works and the vaulted ceiling…Or vice versa.)
In a way, I feel sorry for the renovators. They must get really tired of the same issues, over and over, because EVERYONE they bring on is fixated on the same issues. Of course, they’re probably also generating lots of work for local contractors as people who don’t get on TV shows decide they must have these things. So…maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I dunno. I just find it weird. No one ever asks for a backyard to die for.
“Make it pop.” Do these people even understand what that means? It comes from art where a tiny speck of pure white or intense color will make certain elements of the image stand out. Just once, I want someone to ask one of these homeowners to be “what do you actually mean by that.” I’m pretty sure the answer will be “I’ll know it when I see it.” ARGH
The one that bugs me the most: “Wow Factor.” I learned this one from dear author-friend and stitcher-extraordinaire Lynn Abbey. She grinned as she spoke about a sparkly bit of stitching having a high wow factor. THAT has meaning. A high wow factor means a lot of visual bang for your effort and pocketbook buck. It means a relatively easy thing to do that has a big impact on the end product.
Wow factor on it’s own is, IMO, snob on the half-shell. These people on these shows aren’t looking for simple, inexpensive, clever things to make a place special, they’re looking for high vaulted ceilings, several thousand dollar light fixtures, rare wood or stone, i.e. top of the line this or that to make all their friends envious. In other words…they come in, saying it doesn’t have the “wow factor” and expect the contractor to give them these expensive things but do it within their declared budget. If the contractor can’t do it, if they say they have to have more money, the homeowner to be rarely says “forget it” but comes up, grudgingly, with the additional cost. I wish, just once, the contractor would call them on it and give options for how to achieve an effect that stays within their budget. Instead, the shows perpetuate this idea that wanting is having. I’d also like to know how often the production company eats some of the cost in order to make that reveal possible and make themselves look oh-so-clever.
I love watching these shows because I learn a lot about house constructions and STUFF that’s available for future reno for our own place, and I do love seeing the end result, but I have to wonder…where do they find these people? Is an $800,000 house budget really the norm these days?
I hate to admit what we paid for this place….
But my red closet is a definite high wow factor for my office. 😀 Off to do the second coat!