…I’m getting a little weary of everyone’s demand for kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, of huge bathrooms with miles of tile to clean, and especially the “open concept” where rooms all flow together.
My house and I have been through a lot together, whether it was the time I returned from vacation to find the thoroughly soaked rug in my study from a leak in the roof, to the other end of the spectrum when I sit and take in the beauty of the hardwood floors and the paint colors I picked for the walls.
It was to have been a starter home, this little duplex that I bought more than two decades ago despite its tacky wooden paneling throughout, not to mention the wagon wheel dining room chandelier reminiscent of something from a steakhouse. But I’ve stuck by it, except for when I briefly had it on the market about 10 years ago, ready for something larger. I couldn’t find anything in my budget and potential buyers turned up their noses at being on a street with no parking out front — hey, this is the city after all, that’s part of the charm — so the “for sale” sign came down and the neighbors said they were glad I was staying put.
Still wanting a little more space to my abode, I called in a contractor and added another bedroom, moved the full bath that was downstairs to a proper place on the second story and realized my dream of having an upstairs porch. A friend had passed along a wooden porch swing on slightly rusted chains that someone had put out for the bulk trash pickup and I needed a place where it could be hung. Free swing, home equity loan payments, made sense to me.
Living in a dusty construction zone for several months, plus having to roll out of the sack at an indecent hour to keep ahead of an early morning work crew, was well worth the aggravation.
This is a popular plot on those home-remodeling shows like “Property Brothers” or “Love It, Or List It.” After a steady diet of viewing, however, I’m getting a little weary of everyone’s demand for kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, of huge bathrooms with miles of tile to clean, and especially the “open concept” where rooms all flow together.
My friend, Birgitta is also no fan to walls that come a tumbling down, of folks being in the living room with a clear view of the kitchen, explaining that “I can’t cook with people up my nose,” only she didn’t say, “nose.”
Katherine, another friend, rightly says the open concept makes a house look more like a furniture store showroom.
My parents are still in the house I grew up in and every time I go home I notice how outdated everything is, wishing the old man would spend a little money and spruce the place up a bit, but he’s a child of the Great Depression and any hints land on a deaf ear, both literally and figuratively. This last visit home, however, I gained a whole new appreciation for the yellow Formica kitchen countertops with the scratches from wayward knives, the 1960s pink bathtub surrounded with aqua tiles.
Their cleaning woman, substituting for the one who usually helps out, rhapsodized over all the throwbacks to another era as she plotted her course of action. “My grandmother had countertops just like these. I remember the time I accidentally put down a hot pan and it left a big mark. And the bathroom; I just love that blue tile. That’s like what she had, too. This is so awesome.”
By the time she had thrown out the dirty scrub water and flicked away the last bit of dust from the furniture, she was awash in happy memories. Who knows, maybe somewhere down the road people will feel that way about stainless steel appliances. I just think they show too many fingerprints.
— Nancy Luse writes from Frederick, Md., and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.