Myself and the other denizens of the HGTV message boards back in the day would frequently complain that the G designation in the title had basically gone away. It used to be that there were lots of wonderful gardening shows on the network whereas today you can occasionally see an episode of Yard Crashers, which is not so much about gardening, but more about a person coming in, bulldozing everything in someone’s yard, chain sawing down all of the existing plants and trees and basically turning it into a concrete slab. So much for that. These days the line up consists of house based shows. House Hunters, My First Place, Love it or List It, Property Brothers. Through all of these shows run many familiar phrases and memes that I feel compelled to address because to be honest they annoy me.
Open Concept. What is this? The first thing couples say when they walk into a home is “I love the open concept”, well you know what that means, cleaning, constantly, because if your guests can see your kitchen from the living and the dining room, then it means that before they arrive you have to have done all the dishes that were used in the creation of their dinner, and that the roast that you overcooked to a small piece of charcoal and which resulted in you hastily throwing it into the trash and ordering from Boston Market also means that you have to hide all the evidence. I am a cook, I would happily admit that I am a messy cook, when I have finished cooking dinner it usually results in a sink teetering with pots and pans and spoons and spatulas and I really would prefer that my guests don’t see that. I much prefer the concept of a “back kitchen” one that is tucked away at the back of the house and out of the sight of my guests. Your mileage may vary of course but if you want to spend your life keeping your kitchen spotlessly clean because someone might drop by and because of your “open concept” they can see all the way through to your kitchen when the results of your latest attempt at some dinner are on full view go ahead, personally I have got better things to do.
On the same topic the couples always say that “we love to entertain”. No you don’t. You may have a bunch of friends over and break out the chips, dips and beer occasionally but you aren’t cooking pheasant under glass, or even mac and cheese and hot dogs. You probably order Pizza, in large amounts when your friends are over to watch the game. You don’t love to “entertain” don’t lie. The majority of people don’t ”entertain” any more because it means drinking and driving and we all know that isn’t happening.
The people who do not cook who insist on a gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. Why? I mean what is the purpose of that sort of psychosis? The amount of times I have heard “I don’t cook but I want an upgraded kitchen” on House Hunters would result in alcohol poisoning were I to turn it into a drinking game.
“Master Retreat”, when talking about the master bedroom. What is a Master Retreat? You may have the idea that you are going to retreat to the master bedroom while your husband is watching the game and snuggle into your reading nook with a cup of Earl Grey and settle down to a really good book. Seriously? You honestly think that that is going to happen? You want the bathroom to be “like a spa” why? Listen, 95% of the time you are going to spend in your “Master Retreat” are going to be spent with your eyes closed, asleep. It is the same way I feel about Motel Rooms, I tend to go with the cheapest option possible, providing there isn’t an active and obvious rodent or roach infestation, a bed is a bed, you are not going to be admiring the décor, the reason you booked the room is so that you can sleep in it, I don’t care if the draperies match the bed linens. So long as the room is clean and functional it works for me.
Continuing with the master bedroom theme I often hear “our king sized bed won’t fit in here”. I know that people are bigger and more overweight these days, but the majority of people I see on HGTV are normal sized people. Were people in the 30s half the size of people today? No, and yet they managed with a full sized bed. I guess back in the day the idea of sleeping with one’s spouse meant closeness, actually being close to your spouse. I have a Queen sized bed and more often than not I will reach out for my husband in the night to reassure myself that he is still there. I cannot imagine why anyone would need a king sized bed, why do you people hate your significant other so much that you can’t stand sleeping near them?
Lets not get started on the walk in closets. When a female walks into a closet the size of most people’s master bedrooms and giggles and says “but where are you going to put your stuff honey?” it is all I can do not to throw a brick through the TV. Here’s a clue, if you have so much stuff that you can’t fit it into a regular sized closet, YOU HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF. Use the hangar trick. At the beginning of the year hang all your clothes on hangers facing toward the back of the closet. When you wear something and wash it, replace the hanger with it facing away from the back of the closet. At the end of the year go through the closet and take out everything with a backward facing hangar because you haven’t worn it for a year, if you haven’t worn it for year then chances are you are never going to wear it. Box it up, put it in storage or donate it. This isn’t rocket science. In my case I have several suits that I only need for court during a Jury Trial. They are stored in a guest room closet because they don’t fit the one year rule. My day-to-day clothes however, are strictly subject to the reverse hangar rule.
Granite Counter Tops and Hardwood Floors. Read “enormous amounts of work to maintain”. While I understand the disgust for carpeting (anyone with a pet knows that carpets are just a disaster, not only for accidents but they are a flea breeding haven), but when I replaced my carpets after the flood of Hurricane Floyd I replaced them with vinyl tile. They are cheap, easy to keep clean, easy to replace if one gets damaged and basically impervious to any amount of abuse. Granite countertops are a nightmare to maintain and it would appear that they have already become passé. On a recent episode of house hunters a couple opined “oh there are granite countertops I was really hoping for (insert latest product that the home building industry is trying to push here, soapstone, quartz). Just as De Beers convinced every man that if you didn’t give her a diamond ring when you asked her to marry you, you were a bum, then the home improvement industry has convinced every home owner that they should have granite countertops.
Appliances. Do you all remember the days when “Avocado” was a color? From Bathroom fixtures to appliances the ad agencies convinced us that we had to have the latest color of whatever. Which of course means when the ad agencies moved on to the next best thing our Avocado bathroom was outdated and had to be replaced by either you or the people who bought your home. It might be pertinent to point out to NEVER follow ad agencies advice when it comes to anything because they are trying to sell you something. When it comes to bathrooms or appliances go with white. White never goes out of fashion, despite what the ad agencies tell you. Again, I watched a House Hunters episode recently where someone was complaining that there were “stainless steel appliances” which apparently are really hard to keep clean for a family with kids and the couple were wishing that the range and fridge were white. Who’d a thunk it.
The basic fact is that the advertising industry are trying to sell you something. They are trying to convince you that unless you have granite countertops or hardwood floors you are a loser. Fact is, a home that is practical, comfortable, and suits your needs is fine for you, despite what the style experts say.
I don’t need an “open concept” living and dining area, it just results in more work for me, I don’t need a “master suite” the square footage of which would equal a single family home in some cases, I need somewhere I can sleep. I don’t need a “home theater” which will be used once, perhaps during the super bowl. Really people. Get real. Think small. Your wallet and the environment will thank you for it.