We don't have stairwells with skylights.
. . . or living rooms with exposed brick walls.
. . . or kitchens with butcher-block everything.
You know what else we don't have?
Plaster dust. Hot-plate "kitchens." Evenings at home scraping off layers of old wallpaper. Daily arguments over painting the walls "biscuit" versus "eggshell white."
We're not renovators, a fact we've hidden from friends, neighbors and other peers. Non-renovators suffer, after all, at the hands of those whose houses look like military campsites. We are made to endure endless descriptions of decorative accomplishments, review countless sanding jobs, and applaud myriad rooms that have mutated from "befores" to "afters."
And we believe it is high time for those of us hiding in our "before"-look houses to come out of our cramped, unpainted closets and admit our non-renovation.
Are your dinner parties clotted with tales of the thrills of wallboard hanging and huge profits reaped from real estate?
Do you have trouble looking beyond the dirty socks in your living room -- and the backdoor that sticks -- to the investment possibilities your home holds?
Does the idea of painting the dining room make your head ache?
Admit it: You're not a renovator. And why should you be?
After the hours of grouting and spackling and rewiring; after the months of living without a kitchen or a shower or, heaven help you, a toilet; after the bills for plumbers and lumber and the vast array of can't-live-without-them tools, what does a person get out of renovating, anyway?
Well, okay . . . For one thing, if your're businesslike enough to view your home with mercenary clarity, you'll find yourself living, not in just a house, but in an investment.
Of course, to cream those nice profits off your house, you first have to sell the thing and move. And we don't want to.
If you're not in this renovating business primarily for the money -- if renovation serves as a convenient way to fritter away your extra time and funds (and anyone with either of those quantities is invited to call us directly for suggestions) -- you'll receive the lovely bonus of a lovely home.
Or at least it might be lovely, if your skills as a carpenter-painter-plumber-electrician-decorator are up to professional standards. If not, you might hire professionals to bring their skills . . . and their tastes . . . and bills . . . into your home. With either option, the end result will not be quite up to what you first envisioned.
But oh, how wonderful it looks when it's finished. And how horrible it looks while the renovation proceeds. We know of a couple who spent the whole two years of their being-renovated-townhouse-ownership camped out amid scraped walls, oilcloth, cans of paint and wallpaper paste, and half-sanded kitchen cabinets. The day they finished, they moved.
Is this how you want to live?
And what happens the day your dreamhouse comes true? Or, more to the point, what happens the next day, and the day after that, when someone's homework gets strewn about the dining room and an inadvertent splotch appears on the recently painted kitchen wall?
The house's basic decoration will only be evident when your home is reasonably tidy and, let's face it, a lot of the time a house isn't reasonably tidy. Two boys we know, in fact, have rooms so astonishingly askew that we submit that no one could tell you the color schemes or style of furniture.
Renovation, you see, isn't something you can do just once. Little by little the ravages of time (not to mention children and pets) necessitate your renovating the old renovation. It's like dieting; you can't do it once and then stop.
Just as there are thin women who enjoy dieting, there may be artistic types whose hearts' cockies are warmed by the thought of continously redecorating. If you are one of these, our hats -- could we find them in our inadequate closets -- are off to you.
But we wonder, just to be picky, if you've developed a house so gorgeous that nobody can live in it. Did you invest in rugs the dog can't sleep on, sofas your husband can't eat on, and whole rooms where your children are unwelcome? Has the decorating become more important than those you supposedly decorated for? Did the house take over the home?
This syndrome gets worse if you are decorating, not for your own family, but for some unknown buyer who will shell out big bucks for your hours of toil. Your house, then, becomes a gigantic piece of merchandise that you don't dare use before you sell.
We've skipped all this trauma by not renovating. To us, what makes a house priceless and beautiful is not its decoration, its structure, or even its location. We admire instead the role our homes play for our families as refuges, fortresses, centers.
Here, we can firmly shut the door on the world's preferences and priorities, and exercise our own. Here, we can raise our children, generate our security, and leave our dirty dishes in the sink.
Our homes are more ravished than ravishing, and we pride ourselves in maintaining decorating schemes that intimidate no one but the pretentious. And though for years we were wracked with feelings of inadequacy at the sight of a "Better Homes and Gardens," and stood in awe of those whose homes contain wallpapered sewing nooks and decorated woodworking corners, we have learned to fight back.