Sunday, April 13, 2008

Not About the House

just kidding! all roads lead back to the house. i don’t remember the last time a thought that did not concern the house floated through my head. every time i sit down to engage in a little harmless web surfing, i end up googling things that involve the house. the house! the house! the house!

it’s my new boyfriend. not to be confused with my human boyfriend who is equally obsessed with the house. it’s quite the ménage a trois. if we go out to dinner, we bring his notebook along so we can add to the pages already filled with sketches, layouts and notes. we spend our weekends working on it, breaking our backs, visualizing the outcome.

i have to throw him some love here because he’s been a tremendous help to me in this whole house pursuit. beyond just enduring my months-long bad mood during the house hunt and escrow, he’s a design marvel who dreamt up a kitchen that was far more fantastic than the one i had in mind. handyman Dan is also pretty fantastic as he comes equipped with lots of tools and electrical know-how.

if anything, i’m more the useless helper circling around them all day asking if they need anything — screwdriver, hammer, lemonade? "yeah, bring us a wheelbarrow." i started to chuckle until it sunk in that they were serious. a wheelbarrow? really?

so i drove to the hardware store to get a wheelbarrow, an object i never imagined i would be purchasing for myself. the house has created many of those moments already. thankfully, the store had only one type of wheelbarrow so i didn’t have to choose between several models, because if there’s one thing we’ve already discovered, it’s that i shouldn’t be sent to the hardware store alone to choose anything, especially primer (long story, don’t ask).

the guys were super nice at this hardware store, which i’ve lovingly nicknamed Mickey Mouse Hardware in honor of how shoddy some of the work in my house was done. i imagine the house’s previous owners frequented the same local store to buy the scotch tape they used to hold together the broken mirrors on the closet doors.

i had no luck fitting the wheelbarrow into my car, so the hardware guys disassembled it and even threw in a wrench so i could reassemble it when i got home. they also knocked 10 bucks off the price, which is the discount i’m sure they give all the big-boobied girls who come in. i’ll definitely be taking myself and my boobies in there often in the coming months.

there’s a lot to do, and if there’s one piece of advice i’ve heard countless times already, it’s “don’t try to do too much at once.” my main objective for move-in is taking care of the floors and paint, though this is proving to still be a complicated endeavor as i have to make decisions on colors and baseboards in a jiffy. given that i’m the type of person who spends two months researching a printer before deciding to buy it, i don’t really excel at jiffy decision-making.

luckily, i have a little help from the trusty “design folder” i’ve been maintaining for the past few months. i got the idea from Pardon Our Dust, an LA Times blog on design and remodeling. (i seem to be addicted to these LA Times blogs.) i sent in a question to the editor last August, asking what i should keep in mind, design-wise, as i begin my house hunt. she suggested i subscribe to a few design/home magazines, which i did, and tear images out of the magazines that i find appealing, to be kept in a design folder. (she also suggested i start a separate folder for the things i dislike, but i just kept one folder with the love stuff.)

my folder of love has been growing since August and is now filled with photos of these ultracool things i can never afford. thanks, Dwell magazine! but it has provided me with some guidance. judging from the images i crammed into it, i guess my design aesthetic could be described as… eclectic? yeah, that’s right. eclectic. i’ll take that. don’t box me in, man!

there does seem to be a bit of everything in there. i certainly do like modernism, but not in every corner of the house — more so for the exterior. for kitchens, i like them to be bright and colorful, fun for cooking, so no stainless steel appliances for me. (i’d rather have the Big Chill Fridge, though it’s too pricey.) i seem to also be partial to vintage-type things and find myself leaning toward darker woods over the more honey-colored hues.

my ideal house would be fun, cozy and unique. i’m not exactly sure how to achieve this, but i’ll start by imbuing some whimsy into the scenery. this means filling my home with oddball tchotchkes so it doesn’t look like every item in the house came out of a Crate & Barrel catalog, though there will likely be plenty of items that have, because i do love my C&B. if you recall how i decorated the living room in my apartment last year, it’ll probably be more of the same.

although i didn’t keep a folder of things i dislike, i can already tell you that you’ll never find wrought-iron anything in my house, nor will you find horribly girlie stuff like pillows with hearts or butterflies on them. i also refuse to buy blinds or carpet. so far, i’ve decided on the flooring — and very reluctantly because i only had three weeks to do research for it. next, i need to decide on paint, which must be the hardest decision of any remodel. it’s causing all sorts of anxiety. i simply don’t know, and being constantly told that it will look totally different on the wall than it does on the swatch isn’t helping, people.

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