I watch the shelter shows. It's out of a sense of duty. It's my business, and I need to understand the zeitgeist.
I yell at the television. I literally yell at the television. That is a warning sign, like purchasing leather pants. I need to tilt at this windmill, or shut up.
It's a huge mistake for advice about housing to devolve to the unholy troika of realtors, hamhanded interior decorators, and building material shills.
The realtors really get me. If you get your advice about the liveability of your house from a realtor, you're plain nuts. They are clerks of a very particular kind. It's like asking your accountant for dating tips. They're unlikely to give you any advice other than save your receipts. After what's happened in the last two years to the bank accounts of homeowners following the cult of the realtor, I'm amazed they're not shunned liked lepers at this point. But no, they're experts about housing, and I'm yelling at the television.
How did interior decoration get thrust front and center in house design? Not interior design, interior decoration. Interior decoration is a proud profession, but it's the tail that wags the sticks and bricks dog now. Shelter shows are fascinated with soft goods. The soft goods move with the homeowner. A motley assortment of people come and place pillows around your house and then you sell it. Who is taken in by staging of real estate at this point? People that listen to realtors, I guess. It's the housing version of used car dealers putting sawdust in transmissions near death to quiet the grinding while the sucker takes the car for a test drive. I was so busy looking at the throw pillows I didn't notice the fish store dumpster under the bedroom window, dear.
You don't have time to read the 140,000 words I could dump on you like mulch right now about this topic, so let me save us all some time, and just point out the weasel words you should be on the lookout for. There's a hearty handful of them, and if you spot any one of them being used in any context on a shelter show, I hereby grant you dispensation to ignore every other word emitted from the mouth of the offender, about everything, forevermore. Here's one that' s fresh in my mind:
They rattle this one off about everything. After a while, the poor prospective homebuyers start saying it if the realtor says it a few times, like a jerk at work that whistles The Candy Man to see how many people he can infect with it.
What everyone is referring to is having a Home Depot flyer explode inside the house. If you tear out the crap these same brigands told the previous owners to install three years ago, and replace it with stuff they'll be telling you to rip out two years hence, you're "updating." Put in bamboo floors, stainless steel appliances, granite coutertops, and glass subway tile, and your house will be state of the art! At least until next season.
Updating used to means something. People would take out their 50 amp service and put in a 200 amp that a modern family needed to run air conditioning and two 50 watt light bulbs at the same time. Hot water heaters that had enough capacity to actually fill the tub would be installed. The kitchen would have enough convenience outlets for all the appliances. Services to the house like fiber optic lines would be installed, or existing lines buried. People would add a bathroom, not fart around endlessly with the appearance of the existing one. Stuff like that.
Tile, wood flooring, a lot of woodwork, and many other items used to be considered more or less permanent installations. A house has a useful life measured in hundreds of years. If it's not useful, it's still going to be around for a very long time, a blot on the landscape and a waste of the owner's money.
Run from the updaters. Try this instead: put something in or on your house that another person -- a stranger -- would hesitate before they would tear it out or cover it up.
Now up the ante. The aforementioned stranger is living there after you're dead, and you didn't die young.