So now we are relocating. Again. And the topic that then descends upon my rapid-fire OCD brain is selling my house; the house that I’ve spent the last 18 months revamping from an unfriendly box with wallpaper that makes your eyes bleed into a bright, happy, twee wallpaper-free home. The good thing is that the time spent revamping was really time spent getting it ready to sell. If you had bought this house with the intention of flipping it, it would have taken exactly 18 months. And now I have a product that’s ready for the market.
The bad thing is that much of the personality I so painstakingly infused into this box will now have to be extracted. I look around at my split pea and emu walls, the surfboard on the wall, the chalkboard paint in the kitchen, the Eames plastic rocker and the vintage chrome chair in the living room - and I wonder if it will be refreshingly different or frighteningly different to a New England buyer.
So I go online and check out the competition. And what I find indicates that we will either surge to the front of the pack………or that we’re in deep doo doo. Because 100% of the homes listed - 100%!! - validate my fear that there is only one acceptable style in this area: I call it “Faux Antique Heinous.” It could also be called “This is What I’m Supposed to Have So I Have It.” Or “This is What My Mom and My Grandma Have So I Have It.” Or “This Is the Only Acceptable Form of Décor For People Who Matter and If I Don’t Have It I Will Not Be Accepted By the Proper People.” Or, and I don’t say this mockingly because it actually makes me really sad, “I’ve Never Seen Anything Else.” And that’s the most troubling for me. Think about it, if you’ve never seen an Eames plastic rocker it would just look silly. It’s plastic for chrissake.
I once worked with a designer in Minneapolis who refused to talk ceiling colors with me. Why would you even discuss it? Ceilings are white. But to me, a ceiling is another wall just begging to express itself. What if you painted it the palest of blues? How happy would that make you? Or a bright citrus color in a room with no sun? She finally cut me off at the knees by emailing the following message: “White is the accepted ceiling color in our area.”
She was not from my area. And I painted my ceiling a color called Sweet Pear.
And what is it about paint that needs to be accepted, anyway? Will I get reported? Will it go on my permanent record? Maybe I’ll get shunned from the paint store (ok, that would really hurt me, actually).
But my realtor is mildly concerned about our lack of traditionalism, too. He suggests that we call a professional stager. And when the business card he hands me has a man’s name on it, my prejudiced mind immediately conjures up a picture of Tim Gunn. Mike and I start calling him Tim Gunn. What day is Tim Gunn coming? Are you going to ask Tim Gunn about the art in the hallway? Do you think Tim Gunn has a partner?
When Tim Gunn arrives, he appears…….just like Tim Gunn. Damn you, stereotypes! Why must you be so true?! He is impeccably dressed and when he asks if he should remove his shoes, I struggle to say yes. The shoes! So well chosen! Removing them will totally ruin the outfit! And can you picture Tim Gunn in socks? It’s ludicrous. Humiliating. Robbing him of all dignity.
We learn that Tim Gunn is no longer living in this area as he has recently purchased a reno project in Provincetown.
He is most certainly gay. But he is New England Gay which means he is chronically annoyed and unimpressed. So now Tim Gunn has a new name:
New England Gay Stager from P-town.
New England Gay Stager from P-town would look at something, stare at it silently with his fingers to his lips, and you could never tell if he was loving it or mocking it. Mike and I would stand there and wait for his precious verdict while he stood in judgement of us. Loving? Mocking? Which is it??!
When he got to the Eames plastic rocker with the sheepskin casually flung over the arm, he paused, fingers to lips and he said, “They won’t get it.” This became his mantra.
They won’t get it.
And so now I have to strip down the essence that makes this house livable for us so that I can pass it on to the next family. Find a new place for the rocker, pack away my record collection (No!), and hide the chrome vintage chair behind an end table.
It’ll be pretty.
But it won’t say anything.