Sunday, January 13, 2013

The HGTV Effect?

The house I grew up in had one bathroom.  It was shared by the whole family.  My father established a "bathroom schedule" and posted it on the door.  We each had ten minutes in the morning.  When our ten minutes was up, we had to be out so the next person could go in.  Heaven help the daughter who took longer than her ten minutes!  My parents' bedroom was a little bigger and had a double closet with a sliding door.  There was no such thing as an "en suite" then, no attached bathroom.  They shared the one hall bathroom with the rest of us.

I shared a bedroom with my sister.  We each had a twin bed and one small dresser.  There wasn't room for more. Our closet was tiny, just about the width of the single door, with a shelf on top.  We each had one half of the closet. Our clothes were jammed in so tightly that it was a struggle to put anything in or take anything out.  My two younger sisters also shared a room.  They had bunk beds, one dresser and one desk.

The rest of the house consisted of a living room, dining room and kitchen.. that's it.  No family room or extra room at all.  My father read in the living room.  We watched TV in the living room.  We listened to music in the living room. We did our homework in the dining room.  We were always on top of each other.  If one wanted to escape, one went and sat on the porch swing on the front porch.

I don't remember so much fuss being made about kitchens in those days.  The floor was linoleum and the counters were Formica.  The cupboards were painted metal, and the appliances were either avocado green or mustard yellow.  For my mom the kitchen was just a place to cook.  For people these days, I think it can be a status symbol. Why else make such a fuss about what the finishes are?

When I was first married, we lived in a series of apartments.  Buying a house was out of the question when we were just starting out.  The apartments were spartan, with tiny kitchens and metal closet doors.  One especially depressing one was in a basement.  When finally buying a house, we pretty much accepted them the way they were.  It never occurred to us to knock down walls, rip up flooring, or gut the kitchen.  We used the appliances that came with the house.

Eventually, when I was in my forties, my husband and I bought a house that we loved.  It had large rooms, high ceilings, crown molding, a separate family room, and two and a half bathrooms.  Our bedroom had an attached bath and a walk-in closet.  We even had three fireplaces!  We loved that house.  We kept the floor coverings it came with, the curtains it came with, and the appliances it came with.  We didn't change much; we just moved our furniture in and were happy.  When we sold that house to a young couple, of course they planned to change everything!

Now, when I watch HGTV, young couples buying their first home have very different ideas.  Everything has to be perfectly suited to their taste.  They all want hardwood floors, preferably wide planks and dark wood.  They must have granite counters tops, stainless steel appliances, and an island in the kitchen.  Crown molding and high ceilings are a must.  En suite bathrooms are taken for granted, including double sinks, soaking tubs and glass showers.  There must be huge walk-in closets.  Even if a house has all these requirements, they usually find fault. The marble is the wrong color, the hardware is too old-fashioned, or the neighbors are too close.

They seem to be fond of knocking down walls and "gutting" things.  As I watch the show, a kitchen or a bathroom might look perfectly fine to me, but they walk in and immediately declare "this is a total gut job".  I can only watch so much of it.  I get so tired of them complaining about things and finding fault. Sometimes I want to yell at them and ask them why they are being so picky.  It seems there is no such thing as a "starter home" any more.  Do they get all these ideas from HGTV?  Do they get it from watching "Real Housewives" or the Kardashians?  When did everyone become so entitled?


Pam said...

I just think it is part of the Western world being so out of touch Judy.
I would not enjoy working in the hospitality industry where food and accommodation also has to pander to some very picky people. Meanwhile so much of the world struggles.
I enjoyed your post. Many of us were bought up with one bathroom (and narrow corridors also!) I must admit I had no sense of sadness when my parents sold the family home - it always made me claustrophobic!

the veg artist said...

Oh YES! I'm probably around your age. Over the years we have bought and sold. I know a fair amount about building/structure, and will happily spend money on making a home sound, dry and safe, but I will NOT spend on fittings that do not need replacing, updating for the sake of it, and all the examples you give.
Give me a tin of paint any day.
(Just to make you laugh - as a small child I lived for a while with my grandmother on a farm. She barely had electricity. Only a few light bulbs in the place. Bread made weekly in an ancient oven built into the wall, over a wood fire. One inside tap. No bathroom. The only toilet was down at the bottom of the farmyard - suspended over a small stream.
I can do rustic!!!)

judy in ky said...

I'm so happy to hear from you both. It sounds like we are women of similar ages and similar values. It's nice to compare notes in this way. Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one, in this day and age who feels this way. Thank you for sharing your stories.

Pam said...

Veg artist made me laugh Judy! I had one of those grandmas too!! Rustic doesn't even begin to describe it, but anything lacking inside was made up by the wonderful adventures outside, particularly collecting wood for the oven! (My gran's specialty was homemade icecream.)

judy in ky said...

My grandma had a real ice box. The ice had to be delivered in a big block and carried inside.

We had a coal burning furnace. Every few months the coal truck would come, hook up their ramp to an opening in the basement and pour the coal from the truck down the ramp into our coal huge coal bin. The rumbling noise was like thunder!

littlemancat said...

I know just what you mean about the spoiled attitude of the house buyers on HGTV - which I no longer watch.
It annoyed me so much! All about material things. And I would guess there's not a bookcase in sight in their houses. Ranting here, sorry.

judy in ky said...

That's all right, Mary. I had a little rant myself.