Thursday, February 5, 2009

Four thousand is a lot of square feet to keep clean

Thanks to a pricing situation and a fight with Comcast, we have a weird cable package where we don’t actually get HGTV. Neither do we get TLC, Nickelodeon, or the Discovery Channel. Instead, we get the poor man’s version of these channels: DIY network, Style, Nick 2, and the Science Channel. They either play boring versions of the good shows (for example How Do I Look? instead of What Not to Wear), or else they play the shows at really inconvenient times (Blue’s Clues at 9:00 pm). For some unknown reason, however, we get a handful of these channels’ good shows On Demand for free, so I still get to watch episodes of HGTV’s House Hunters every now and then.

First of all, I would like to make note of the fact that it is bizarre that I find it entertaining to watch total strangers shop for a new house. It is bizarre that anyone finds this entertaining. And yet, this show that I like is popular. I think it’s the same phenomenon that is responsible for making new homeowners suddenly start to notice flooring, door hardware and crown molding in their friends’ houses. Six years ago, I would never have thought to comment on how beautiful someone’s floor was. It’s a floor. Who notices a floor? As it turns out, homeowners do. Ten minutes after moving into my first house – one with really messed up floors, I might add – other people’s floors were suddenly fascinating. I like details on what they are made of, when they were installed, and how much they cost. And don’t even get me started on door hardware! I could discuss door hardware for hours.

So that’s part of what makes House Hunters interesting; I like to see what house features are important to other people. And then I like to criticize those people.

The other night, for example, I saw an episode where a young couple expecting a baby in less than three months was trying to find a new house because they had outgrown their rental home. Their rental home with three bedrooms. THREE BEDROOMS. A family of two people who sleep in the same bedroom had “outgrown” their three-bedroom house.

Their main problem, it seemed, was that they owned far too many clothes. The enormous walk-in closet in their rented master bedroom was “too small” because it was full of the woman’s shoes and clothes. My word, did she have a lot of shoes. And apparently, the husband was a bit of a clothes horse himself. There were also complaints about their tiny kitchen and how they had to store some of their dishes in the dishwasher because there was not enough room in their fifteen cabinets for all their stuff.

I will grant that their kitchen was a bit cramped and short on counter space. I will also grant that I, too, like shoes, and I don’t have anything against owning lots of shoes on principle. I honestly do not begrudge these people their monetary success. What I did have a problem with was their attitude. If they had simply said they wanted more space and not that they needed more space, I would have been more forgiving, but they truly thought their family of three could not possibly survive with less than four thousand square feet of living space. As someone expecting a second child in a two bedroom apartment, I have to say that I did not have a lot of sympathy for their plight.

They ended up with I think a five-bedroom/four-and-a-half bath mansion. I can’t remember if the house they picked was the one with two enormous walk-in closets or only one, but it definitely had a wood-paneled library. So I think they’ll be all right.


Becca said...

YES! Those people make me INSANE! I love it when they look at a beautifully restored turn of the century house in a quaint neighborhood and say "This won't do, the closets are too small." GAAAAAH! Or when they turn down the affordable house because their giant couch is too big for the living room. Talk about "your stuff owning you" instead of the other way around. I love that show too. For the heckling. Unfortunately we don't have cable so when we travel and stay somewhere with cable we both become greedy greedy consumers of media and give up sleep in favor of watching Mythbusters and House Hunters.

Dr. Maureen said...

I finally saw an episode with people looking for a house in New England, and it was such a relief because it's very difficult to watch all these people with budgets of $250,000 choosing between three enormous, new-construction homes that are all well within their budgets. The Connecticut couple had to settle for a teeny tiny kitchen and lots and lots of horrible wallpaper, all for $500K or so. And I said, "Yes! THAT is more like it!"

Anonymous said...

I think it's fun because it's not my money and next-30-years on the line.

And because I feel so smug about my moral superiority to people who decide to spend their lives driving to and from their enormous houses, AND because I feel smug about how much stuff I can do without, at least relative to the people on the show. I like to feel smug, evidently.

I miss the old version where they'd pretend to receive a call from the realtor telling them they got the house. In case you didn't know, these people are not professional actors.


terri c said...

God. Wouldn't you hate to see THAT heat bill? Or air conditioning bill, depending...

Whimsy said...

I love that show, and YES the people on it drive me CRAZY. My favorite part is when they walk in a new place and are all, "Oh! I love that couch!" or "I love the curtains!" or "I just can't move into this house because the color on the walls is horrible." They comment on things that either AREN'T THEIRS TO KEEP - or, in the case of the paint, comment on something that can be CHANGED, easily.