What Were We Thinking?
The idea of fixing up our house to sell it and downsizing to a smaller place seemed great on paper. In this paper, actually. But the reality is a whole other story.
“You’ve got to unclutter this place and make it seem like a model home,” said the realtor. “And all those bright colored walls have to go. The personal pictures must disappear, get rid of everything on the kitchen counter.”
Kill me now. Okay, maybe the place does look a little like Spencer’s Gifts after a hurricane, but unclutter completely?
A famous real estate mantra is that a home is never really finished until you go to sell it. In our case, my home was finished 14 years ago, about three days after we moved in. I had art on the walls before the moving truck left. So that meant we had to unfinish the house.
Bonnie spent the last month painting the walls beige. Gone are the flashy colors and den full of gay rights memorabilia. Gone are framed pix of friends in the entryway. Missing are the many Schnauzer geegaws sprinkled about. All the walls are now Sherman Williams Latte. And trust me, you need a double shot latte just to stay out of a coma in here.
That goes for the carpet too. The old dirt-colored carpet (seriously, when we put it down the carpet people said, “What color are you thinking?” and I said, “Dog dirt brown.” It was a champ!) So it’s gone now and we have brand new, clean, fresh, neutral blah carpet to go with the neutral blah walls.
And clean! You could do an appendectomy on the kitchen counter. And bland! It’s like living at the Days Inn, which wouldn’t be bad if we had room service. But no, the kitchen floor has just had its third coat of hardwood floor brightener, so we’ve been eating out all week. I had to move the vodka and mixers to the garage fridge. But then we sold it at the yard sale, so now there’s only one thing left to do. We’re moving into the RV in the driveway.
Seriously, it’s our only choice for many reasons.
For one thing, every time we get a call that the house is being shown, we leave and loiter on Route One. So far we’ve spent money for the new place at Millman’s, Home Goods, and the Unfinished Furniture store. It has to stop. So next time we get a call from a realtor, we’re going to hunker down in the RV until it’s all over—much less costly.
Secondly, it’s hard to actually live in a house on the market. Say we’re about to have lunch and a realtor calls. Unless we want the place to look like we fled one step ahead of the mob, it takes a whirlwind effort to clean up and make the place pristine. By that time I’m not even hungry any more, which actually has its up side, but that quickly pales.
So now we have the RV pantry and fridge stocked and picnic in there. Besides, people will be peeking into our kitchen fridge. We carefully purged the fuzzy science projects in the back and half-eaten Capriotti’s sandwiches in the front. Then I began to think about it. How do we make the best impression?
So I staged the fridge with organics, foie gras, chutney, craft beer, and put the Grey Goose in front in the freezer, hiding the frozen meatballs and Klondike Bars. Wait a minute, what would you do for a Klondike Bar? Buy my house?
And “Let there be light!” Real estate etiquette says a home on the market should glow. Every time we exit now it’s like a bonfire, visible from the space station. It’s our own personal Motel 6. We’ll leave the light on for ya. Also, the electric bill.
You know the proverbial rhyme “for want of a nail?” showing how small actions can have large consequences? One day I left the house as Bonnie was building a closet (seriously) in our spare room so we could officially advertise it as a bedroom. I returned several hours later to find my spouse standing, with one foot on the closet baseboard, and her head bowed against one of the upright 2x4s in the closet opening.
“What’s the matter?” I hollered, sure she was either hurt, weeping or both.
“Finishing nails. I ran out of finishing nails.”
For want of a nail she was propping the wall with her head and I had to suffer the large consequence of surviving Walmart.
So over the July 4th weekend, we had our guests stashed in our new abode, eating off paper plates and sleeping on air mattresses (Discouraging Guests 101) and we were ensconced in the RV, entering the house only for changes of clothes and laundry duty. I know the goal was to downsize but I really didn’t mean this much. Or did I? We will let you know how it goes.
Meanwhile, tell everyone you know there’s a great 4-bedroom house for sale, featuring awesomely neutral colors; big, personality-less rooms; re-conditioned hardwood floors; and glowing in such bright light you could have a night-time Nats game in here.
Know somebody interested? Call Allen Jarmon at Remax! And come find us on the driveway in the RV. We’ll leave the light on for you.
Besides, with air-conditioning, cable, and vodka/tonic in there, we may never come out.
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Frying—a Rehoboth Beach Memoir; Fried & True—Tales from Rehoboth Beach, and For Frying Out Loud—Rehoboth Beach Diaries.