Subourbon Mom


HGTV – Where’s All Their Stuff?

In recent years there has been a lot of backlash against the fashion industry for promoting unattainable ideas of what beauty is – and to some degree, it has responded – models are heavier, they are more athletic, and they have some visible flaws. In fact, studies have shown that just looking at a skinny model in a magazine can make you feel bad about yourself.   I’d bet money that seeing a house or well-designed room that you can never hope to attain because of either lack of money or lack of design ability also makes you feel bad about yourself.

Or maybe that’s just me.

I think HGTV needs to take a page from the fashion industry’s book and inject some real “reality” in their shows. I don’t know how many divorces that channel has caused, but I’ll bet it’s quite a few.  So many of the homes they renovate or purchase are out of reach of the average homeowner, or the costs of the renovations are misleading.  Now, I’ll admit I’m just as much an HGTV junkie as anybody else, but I constantly have to remind myself during the shows that what I am seeing is not an accurate depiction of what it takes to renovate, well, anything in your home.

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I fell in love with Chip and Johanna Gaines (Fixer Upper) like everybody else. I love her style and their TV marriage, and I even subscribe to their magazine – excuse me…their “Journal”. imagesBut there is NO WAY on God’s green earth you can do the renovations they do for the amount they say it cost. Unless…. you have decades of experience flipping houses (which by the way, is done on the cheap for maximum profit), own your own real estate company and your own construction/design company, which Chip and Joanna do. So, during every episode, in my head I add at least $5k – $10k at the end of each reno cost to be realistic.

UnknownOnce I ran through all the episodes of the Fixer Upper, I watched Love it Or List It. Hubby and I even talked about trying to get on the show so they could fix our upstairs. However, the producers never show these people moving all their crap and their kids and pets into an apartment and two pods while the renovation is going on, or the fact that they are on this show in the first place because one wants to stay and one wants to move.  I think there are already marital issues piling up that need to be discussed, and probably not on reality TV. And, nothing says fix those problems like since buying or renovating a house – one of the top 10 stressors in life.  You can’t tell me there aren’t some serious plate-throwing arguments during the process.

I really have only one question about those shows: what happens when the stagers take the pretty fruit bowls and candles away, and people have to move their old, crappy, dog-chewed, not-the-same-size furniture and towels into the newly-renovated home?

What I really want to see, HGTV, is a show about decorating with what you already have.  Show me how to display the glass bowls, framed menus stacked in the attic, blue coral my cousin gave us for a wedding present, decorative metal bird cage, and our three autographed footballs in a way that doesn’t make my house look like an upper-crusty Goodwill store.  Show me where to put my couch so that I can see the TV, the snow outside and still work on my computer with having to throw a blanket over my head to cut out the glare. And show me how to hide the damned cat litter so I won’t smell it, but I won’t forget it for so long that the cats get revenge and pee on the carpet.

And for God’s sake, will someone please explain what Joanna’s obsession is with shiplap?

But for now, until they can produce a show that accommodates my middle class budget, I’ll keep watching, getting ideas for Hubby to do, and then seeing which one of us breaks first – me deciding I can live without it, or him going ahead and building it so I’ll shut up. And while I watch, I’ll remind myself to look around, see that I live in a home with my loved ones, that is warm enough, cool enough, full of memories and souvenirs and things that make my life very easy in all the ways that really matter – and I’ll be thankful.

 



Stagers and Build-A-Bear – A Moving Story About…Moving

There comes a time when every suburbanite needs a change, so they turn their lives upside down, become instant HGTV experts and get the overwhelming urge to purge.

Since there’s no good time to have kids and there’s no good time to move, we decided to add the challenge of doing it in the fall of Daughter #1’s senior year. I mean, really, there isn’t much going on except SAT Tests, college visits every weekend, college applications and Senioritis.

Once the decision was made, we realized we had to get our stuff out of the house (all 15 years and two children of it), and try to make it look like no one ever lived there except June Cleaver and a decorator from Crate & Barrel.

It quickly became clear that we needed a Stager. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, a Stager is someone you pay to come to your house and tell you what you need to get rid of or change so your house will sell. What no one tells you is that having a Stager come into your house is a lesson in humiliation.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – our Stager is a seriously nice lady with good decorating sense who was trying really hard not to be too critical when she was talking about my decorating.

Apparently, there are decorating rules.

I decorate by seeing a picture in Southern Living or Coastal Living, buying one piece of furniture to start the look, then covering that piece of furniture with stuff until you can’t see it anymore. Then I start the process all over again. After walking around the house with my Stager, she said in an exasperated but kind voice, “Are these also the same curtains that were here when you moved in?” When I nodded, chewed her lip and asked hesitantly, “So, do you like shopping?”

I looked around and said, “Um, does it look like I like shopping?”

She just nodded to herself, like a therapist would after hearing some whackadoo story that confirmed their theory that the client is definitely…skewed.

After realizing my serious decorating deficiency, I decided I would channel all of my pent up anxiety at having my world (voluntarily) turned upside down onto the Stager.

And Build-A-Bear.

I now despise Build-A-Bear. Not only did they raise the stuffed animal bar so high you spend half a paycheck picking out fake roller skates and a tutu for a leopard, but they did something even worse – they created memories for the children.

Oh, it was great when my sweet baby girls’ faces lit up on a Build-A-Bear day. I loved watching them pick out the outfits and “adopt” their animal at the kid-friendly computers. Fast forward 10 years when we are trying to fit everything into a pod and there are two more trash bags filled with stuffed Build-A-Bear creatures that just won’t go in. Can I give them away? Of course not – each bear is a memory. They say you can’t put a price tag on memories – well I call bulls#*&t. The price tag is $25-$35 dollars, if you’re lucky and get the basic model without the fancy clothes.

images-2So in went the Build-A-Bear bags (yes, I kept them, damn you, Build-A-Bear) and all of the syrupy memories, and out went two trailer loads of junk to the dump. In went boxes of schoolwork from kindergarten on, and out went my jean skirt from 1989. The closer we got to the show date, in went a lot of bourbon, and out went sentimentality.

Now that the Stager is no longer in our lives and the Build-A-Bears are packed away, I’ll have to find something new to channel all of this self-inflicted anxiety onto.

I’m thinking it will be the person who decided the NFL should play football on Thursdays. I’ve already missed my picks for Week 1 – maybe I’ll go get a football bear.




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