A few years ago, we decided we were tired of fixing up houses and that all our problems would be solved if we would just quit buying dumps and living in them while we fixed them up. This would solve so many problems…such as how to use the hammer drill when the baby was sleeping and how to find a plumber willing to handle lead drains. It also would save on drywall costs when removing the ’70s faux wood paneling reveals only the studs and on trying to find working hardware to fit a 90-year-old door.
Dave was inclined to buy a brand-new house, which would afford him the possibility of sitting on the couch with a bag of chips instead of doing the aforementioned activities. I still wanted a fixer for the fun of it, but since I had also lived through the previous fixers with all their issues, the thought of things being brand new was awfully appealing.
It’s like jumping to the finish line and winning before arriving at the race. So that’s what we did. And while it was being built, we imagined all our dreams coming true with each piece of drywall that we didn’t have to put up ourselves.
Until we found that the builder had accidentally forgotten that an upstairs bedroom needed a window and boarded over it instead. And that the garbage disposal switch needed to not be on the opposite side of the kitchen from the sink. But then things got fixed, and we cautiously anticipated the day this house was ours.
Once the moving day came, we excitedly hurried our furniture and boxes in and took a look around. New-house scent (formaldehyde and other assorted VOCs) filled the air-conditioned air, and we surveyed our masterpiece. Our completely drywall-clad masterpiece. With builder-beige matte walls. Kind of like the inside of a cracker box, actually. And smaller than we anticipated. Somehow those people who lived in the model home we saw didn’t have anything but a few well-chosen decorative items.
Once we parked our furniture in the builder-specified spots (breakfast nook, office, dining room, etc), we noticed a little problem. This house had no character whatsoever. And that “new” didn’t mean the exact same thing as “awesome.”
(It had seemed that new did equal awesome by virtue of the transitive property when we were in our old houses: old=absolute crap, and if the opposite of old is new, then new=awesome).
Anyway. What we realized was that while new is amazing in a low-maintenance kind of way, it does not score high on the character scale. But take heart (and stop crying about it if you were like me): this is fixable. You have to add the character.
While adding an actual built-in character would be great, and you should do it if you’re so inclined, you don’t have to add anything built-in to make the place look a lot less like cardboard. You need some vignettes (and likely some window treatments and rugs).
Vignettes are really just little scenes made out of things, and you need them in your decorating or you will be staring at drywall. They are easy to make, are not expensive, and will make your house look interesting, homey, and cozy (and different from your neighbor, who sprung for the exact same floor plan as you).
On the next blog post we’ll talk about how to create vignettes! I would do it now, but I’ve learned a couple of things about blogging:
- You will probably get bored if this takes more than three minutes to read.
- I am writing this for free and want to go home and have dinner.
Be back soon!