Sunday, June 13, 2010

Home Is a Personal Space

Building Moxie had a post the other day that made me take pause. In it, contractor Paul Anater shared some anecdotes from clients, illustrating the hesitancy that people have to personalize their homes.

He described a client who was taken with a particular photo and wanted to carry that similar theme in his own home. The thing he liked the most? A wallpaper pattern.

“…He went on to explain that he can’t use wallpaper in his home because it’s too “taste specific.” Mind you, this is a man who’d also told me he had no intention of selling any time soon and he was interested in making his house really his. So when did making a home “taste specific” to the man who owns it become a bad thing?”

Seriously? I’ve always believed that a house is a house – until you make it a home. The whole concept of making it yours, whether you hire someone to do it or you complete the work with your own two hands – is what makes that transformation from house to home complete.

I think the same holds true for whether something is “out of date.” That, too, is a matter of opinion. I wrote about this a while back in reference to brass fixtures. I was mighty tired of hearing all the “experts” on both HGTV and DIY decry brass as “outdated.” Just the other day I saw a headline posing the question, “Are Granite Countertops Outdated?” I nearly blew a gasket.

The only time you will ever hear me adamantly disagree with changes that someone may make to their home is if it does something to significantly alter the historic integrity of a house. Granted, it’s their house and they can do whatever they like. But still ... I remember a colleague of the mother’s many years ago buying a beautiful, albeit rundown, house. It had gorgeous original fireplaces throughout and its woodwork was nearly as pristine as the day it was built. I was in love.

We went back a year or so later for some kind of party and I was excited about seeing what she had done – until I saw it. Several of the original fireplaces had been removed. Beautiful French doors that led out to a lovely brick veranda had been ripped out, replaced with sliders that led to a monstrosity of a wood deck. And nearly every square inch of that once pristine woodwork had been painted in some horrid shade.

I was devastated. But, that was immaterial. The point is, it was her house. It was what she wanted in it, since she was the one living there.

As Paul mentioned in his post, a potential sale is a factor that could make you reconsider your decision to paint every room in the house a different primary color. Or, at least it should if you really want to sell. But if you’re not selling your home or planning to turn it into a rental property, there’s only one person who has to be happy the d├ęcor of your home: you.

And, while not everyone will agree with the choices you’ve made, both the choices and the house are yours. You have permission to invoke the line I always say I'm going to use should a visitor point out one of the flaws I know are there or if they want to criticize my color choice: They can just go the hell home!


Melissa said...

Great post! So true! Put up the peacock wallpaper if that's what you think looks good. Personally, I love neutral colors so that's the way I decorate but my favorite houses are the ones that show their owners' personality and don't feel like Pottery Barn stores. Thanks!


Cynthia said...

Good post! I really agree. One thing we set out to do when renovating our (very very old) house was to make it livable for us, while respecting as much of the character of the house as possible. But our mantra was and remains: it's not a museum. It's our home.

alan herrell the remodgeek said...

I am so with you there on a house being a home.
Don't get me started on HGTV like Bang for the Buck, which revolves around folks remodeling and then some designer picking it apart and some real estate agent assigning some arbitrary 'value' to the project. Real Estate agents make no money unless a house sells, and designers don't make any money unless they actually get a project.

Or that design challenge show that has people remodeling their spaces in only three days, to win 10 grand and bragging rights.

There is no way you get custom counters with a phone call in three days. Let alone some of the other things they use.

I may not agree with some design choices folks make, but they get extra points for making them.

Karen Anne said...

HGTV is one of the reasons I'm glad I got rid of my television. If I hear someone say that makes it pop once more, I would have done something socially unacceptable.

I have to admit that people remuddling old houses gets to me, though. If they want a modern house, buy a modern house. One houses are irreplaceable.

Personally I think of granite countertops as this decade's rec room paneling.

Monique said...

When I was in the kitchen business, I got so sick and tired of the force fed HGTV must haves: Satinless steel and granite, if you don't like them don't get them. I am still of the mind that unless you are flipping the house or going to move within the next 2 years, make it your own. Most buyers are really looking for a place that they don't have to dump a lot of money into right away. If they can walk into a kitchen and see that there are updated good quality matching appliances (no matter the color), decent countertop space, cabinets in good condition then they may be just more likely to buy than the house with crappy cabinets, badly done cheap granite counters and the low end stainless steel appliances. In my experience I had only one customer that designed their kitchen around the desired granite counters and changed to a lower priced cabinet. All others in a budget crunch I usually suggested putting the money into the cabinets vs. the counters as the counters were easier to change later on vs. the cabinets.

Paul Anater said...

Hey! Thanks for agreeing with me!

jb said...

(I love the internet and you better believe that blogging is social networking.) Great post Nicole. and for the record -- HGTV (and the others) is one the reasons I got into this "biz." I do love the balance here -- the cavet - know what you have before you do what you do.

And it is sad but true -- far too many people make "bad choices" out of ignorance -- people would make fewer though if they read folks like Paul Anater ( yourself. Thank you for the shout out and thanks to Paul. jb @BMoxieBMore

Karen Anne said...

I dislike stainless steel too :-) I yearn for my much easier to clean old porcelain sink from my old house. One of these days I'll get around to replacing this one. At least the appliances aren't stainless steel.

The fiberglass(?) bathtub in this house is a lot harder to clean than the old porcelain one also.

NV said...

Melissa -- We have a lot of neutral colors, too! But, it really is all about making your space YOURS.

Cynthia -- Funny you say that as I frequently call our house "the museum" because we have so many old portraits and other family things all over. :-) But,I'm very comfortable being surrounded by so many of my ancestors.

Alan -- "I may not agree with some design choices folks make, but they get extra points for making them." This is exactly my philosophy and why seeing the projects that others do is so much fun.

Karen Anne -"If they want a modern house, buy a modern house." TOTALLY agree! Though I am admittedly floored by the number of people who buy older homes, leave the exteriors intact and turn the interiors into ala Andy Warhol. Going to disagree with you on stainless though.I love our appliances and how they sync with the new ceiling.

Monique -- Too true! The counters were the one thing we didn't set out to replace in the kitchen thus far. And working on the cabinets is one of the main reasons why that room is still unfinished. But I'll get there. :-)

Paul -- Thanks for writing such a great post AND for stopping by!

jb -- Aw, thanks! I approach home interiors the way I approach art, music, pretty much everything: what I like and what I don't!