There are several reality shows we might have benefitted from. Restaurant: Impossible or a show of that ilk, for instance. But Steve’s place seems to have proven just slightly, well, over-impossible–even for the reality shows specifically looking to document a Sandy miracle. Then there’s that house one, where they send a struggling family away (Southern France, please?) and fly them back (am I making this part up?) to an impossibly improved house which, when they uncover their eyes upon first viewing, they completely lose their minds over.
A few interjections here.
One: I am always forgetting the names of books, movies, shows, and celebrities, and normally, I would turn to Google. About this show I am thinking “Dream House” and I know that while the concept is correct, the title is not even close. My mind then exclaims, “Home Improvement!” But I quickly chide myself, thinking, “That was that 90s sitcom, with a funny fellow named Tim something-or-other. Tim with tools. Wait—it’s coming to me! The star was married to someone also famous and funny. Roseanne Barr! No, that’s Tom Arnold. This is Tim something. I’ll Google it!” But I have no access, because I am without a wifi password, again spending a Saturday at the home of another generous couple who let me lounge in their yard while cleaning Steve’s construction clothes.
Two: Could I do it? I mean, entrust a seasoned professional with skills so exceptional they are applied on national television, with selecting an aqua I can live with? Not too pastel, pale, bold, green, or blue? Suggesting, not screaming, Retro? And could Steve do it? Or would he sleep fitfully on that plane (there is a plane in that process, right?), suffering through a series of nightmares about ceiling fans with flourishes and, heaven help him, stairways with banisters? I’m not sure either of us is capable of forfeiting our quirks in exchange for $300,000 in goods and materials, free labor, and a top-of-the-line designer.
Which brings me back to my original idea: that instead of (I’ll just call it) House Improvement Dream, or Restaurant: Impossible (whose name, of all the home and restaurant shows, is the only one that sticks because it is so suited to the rebuilding of a business located below street level one block from the ocean), the show I would like to come calling is that one where–I forget the name–a designer assesses the personal tastes of each partner and names their decorating styles (traditional, shabby chic), and then combines the two looks to create a decorating scheme for their shared space. I haven’t come across it in years, and for all I know they only aired the pilot….perhaps because the designer ran for the hills.
Because it is no joke, marrying two disparate decorating styles. Ours are even somewhat suited to each other. Take Steve’s “modern” lines, and throw in a few of my “eclectic” pieces, and you have a Better Homes and Gardens ad, right? It would seem so. But we have not disagreed so vehemently with each other since I insisted we not play “Starla” at our wedding reception lest people decide before the salad course that they could not go on, not only to the pasta dish but also in general (Rolling Stone describes the song as “Billy Corgan’s first true epic, building from a slow, meditative ballad to an extended instrumental outro with blaring, intensely emotional solos”).
I think it would behoove the designer on that decorating show to proceed on the same principle we eventually decided to apply: one half of the couple must choose not to give a hoot. Start from here! “Whatever you want, Sweetie.” It works for us—well, me—99.9% of the time. Once in awhile Steve will throw in a monkey wrench by actually asserting his right to care. I simply remind him to pry loose that meddling tool and calmly walk away. When he is ready to return I will have picked out the ideal sofa, with both our decorating styles and our lifestyle in mind—I promise. Because if he picked it out—and he knows it—we would have to learn to lounge on a gray parabola with a bat-winged back.
Over many months, though, of waiting for building to start, we have honed our technique. I attempt to choose an item with both our tastes in mind (effectively acting as that design mediator on that show we really needed to be on), and he ix-nays until he doesn’t. Then we buy it immediately and without further discussion. In this fashion, we have succeeded in designing and buying several signature pieces for a home that currently looks like this:
A thing of beauty. Stay tuned for the final episode!