Someone asked me a few weeks ago, “Did you ever think when you were growing up that someday you’d live in a million dollar home?”
Heck yes, I did. I also thought it would have a pool and tennis courts (plural) and stables and be carved almost entirely out of a single block of white marble. Because when I was growing up, a million dollars was like infinity of money. If you had a million dollars, you’d be a billionaire! Plus, I was going to be rich and famous, so obviously….
Then you find out in 2013 that in many areas of the country a million dollars doesn’t buy you the dream. At least, not your dream. Maybe your grandma’s dream. Maybe your grandmother’s dream before she had television or had ever browsed houzz.com.
Here’s the problem with HGTV (to whom I owe much, sorry to bad mouth you, HGTV) and houzz.com: they raise expectations. The key to happiness is low expectations, or at least realistic expectations. A year ago my heart was all a-flutter at the very notion that someday my crammed coat closet or makeshift shoe tower and coat racks in the garage could someday grow up to be a bonafide mudroom! Then you look at people’s mudrooms on houzz.com for 30 minutes, take a second look at the plans for your own mudroom and think, “What’s wrong with you, little mudroom? Why are you so small?” Or you watch enough reveals on the HGTV shows to come away frustrated that your master suite’s walk-in closet does not have a walk-in closet of its own.
The more women look at women’s magazines, the worse they feel about their own bodies. I think I’m experiencing exactly the same effect. The more I research ideas for my house, the less impressed I am with what I have. You think you’re having so much fun browsing Pinterest and getting “inspiration”. Meanwhile you’re draining the value you perceive out of your own possessions.
Here’s another problem with the property ladder: no matter what rung your feet are on, your eyes are several rungs higher. As soon as you climb up to that rung you were looking at, you start to see a whole other world above it that you had previously never even considered. I have a number of friends with fantastic houses–and each of them has a house project to-do list a mile long. Just like me.
Which is to say that since I’ve finally chosen the carpet (Phew!!) I’m scaling back my house browsing in a major way from now through Thanksgiving. I just can’t be as grateful for the INCREDIBLE THINGS AND OPPORTUNITIES I HAVE if I’m constantly comparing them to upper rungs. So here’s to focusing on what I have instead of what I want. There was a time after I finished redecorating the living room that I was really happy with my house, garage coat rack and all. I wonder whether I was content because the house was really so super awesome or whether it was mostly because I stopped looking at any interior design related material for a while.
I am thankful for my rental. I am thankful for my teardown. I am thankful for my woohoo new construction! I am thankful.
(“Dang, that mudroom is fabulous.” You were thinking that, weren’t you? Okay, you can scroll back up and ogle it now. It helps that this mudroom–and most of the other mudrooms on houzz.com–is apparently utilized by a single person who owns precisely one coat and one pair of boots.)