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HGTV is giving me a complex

  • Wednesday, July 23, 2014



I have to stop watching HGTV. It’s giving me a complex.

Our house, with its red door, white picket fence and sheltering oaks, is my pride and joy. From the outside it looks perfect. Inside, not so much.

It’s not awful — we took down the velvet Elvis and the antlers strung with Christmas lights years ago. (Just kidding. Seriously.) There are lovely hardwood floors and a cheery kitchen big enough for square dancing. But nobody will ever walk in my bathroom and swoon, unless the roosters are on the windowsill trying to break in again. I just don’t have that decorating flair. I lack pizazz.

When you tell me a room is a TV room, I obediently add a TV and two chairs. It does not occur to me to rip out sheetrock to reveal exposed brick, or hang an 18th century tapestry on the wall. It’s a TV room. People watch TV in it. (And, in our case, eat, nap, read and surf the iPad until 1 a.m.)

Our dining room set has a table, chairs and china cabinet, traditional and solid. Alas, according to today’s décor styles, it’s considered “matchy-matchy,” which is apparently one circle below plastic furniture in design hell.

Oh, the irony: I grew up when buying matching furniture – aka “a suit” – meant you had arrived. Now it means you have no imagination. Okay, I’ll own that. But what I lack in imagination I make up for in irrational quirks.

For example, I hate antique oak furniture. My house is full of antique oak furniture.

This is because my ex-mother-in-law had an antiques store and for every anniversary, birthday and Christmas she gave us antique oak furniture. There’s a breakfast set with carved chairs, a bachelor’s chest, a bookshelf and a church pew from an historic chapel in Virginia.

Of course I thanked her profusely for each gift, never mentioning my aversion to oak. We loved each other and I still sincerely miss her. But it was not the kind of relationship in which one could briskly say, “Margaret, look around. Do you see an oak desk? An oak end table? An oak pie safe? You do not, because I hate oak to the point of phobia.”

Oak isn’t the only issue. We have oodles of wood furniture. In one bedroom alone are clashing pieces in tiger maple, oak, cedar and pine. It drives me nuts. I’d love to chalk paint some of them, but Widdle Baby, who apparently earned his design degree while I was napping, forbids it.

“You simply can’t paint that beautiful wood,” he said.

If we were on an HGTV show, I’d smile and work my feminine wiles until he did what I jolly well wanted, but in real life here’s what happens: I pout and the wood goes unpainted.

Here’s another unreal thing about HGTV shows: Attractive designers with plummy accents use an army of chipper workmen with great hair to transform an airless box of a house into a chic, bright, comfortable home in TWO DAYS. I can’t clean out my refrigerator in two days.

It’s all about mindset. HGTV people look at a picture window and think, “We must enhance that lovely meadow view.” I think, “Covering that window will cost me a fortune.” As for leaving the windows unadorned, which happens a lot on TV, I’d drop dead first. Sure, you can see OUT, but everyone else can see IN.

I’d rather have plastic furniture, thank you.



Julie R. Smith, who can’t even talk about picture frames, can be reached at widdleswife@aol.com.

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