The Neverending Remodeling Job

Susan Page
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Wednesday - July 06, 2005
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Recently I was at a party with several couples, when the topic of remodeling came up. One husband said he’d just be happy when the house is completely finished, no more remodeling. The men all vigorously nodded in agreement, while the women looked in utter disbelief. Finished? Is he kidding?

He wasn’t. And herein lies an age-old struggle: Men look at the home as a refuge — a place to relax, rest, eat and feel secure from saber tooth tigers and other job-related stresses. Women look at the home as a project — a place to improve, make more comfy, spacious, attractive and efficient. In other words, an ongoing, open-ended remodeling job. Men are happy with a place to hang their clothes. Women are happy hanging pictures, light fixtures, drapes and … building permits.

One husband complained: “The other night when I was just falling asleep, my wife nudged me and asked how I thought the wall behind the TV would look in teal?”

The men nodded knowingly.

The wife retorted: “I think about those kinds of things all the time. How can he look at that wall every night and not wonder what it would look like in another color?”

The women nodded knowingly.

Another husband: “I just want to finally get the house finished so we can enjoy it?”

Wife: “But I enjoy improving the house.”

Yet another husband: One time we were playing golf and just as I was about to putt my wife said, don’t you think we need to enclose the garage?

His wife: Well, with all the grandkids, we do. You would’ve probably three-putted anyway.

I’ll admit I’m one of those women who loves to remodel and my husband often asks when it will all end. In reply I always look up to Heaven.

This is why he often refers to our house as the Winchester House. If you’re not familiar, wealthy Winchester Rifle heiress, Sara Winchester, started building a house in San Jose, Calif., in 1884 and continued it until her death in 1922 — 38 years later. The Victorian mansion was a construction project so large and filled with so many unexplained oddities, that it’s now known as the Winchester Mystery House. But for the earthquake of 1906, it would’ve had seven stories; now there are just four. It has 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces, 467 doorways, three working elevators, 40 bedrooms, 40 fireplaces, 52 staircases (one set that leads to the ceiling), and two basements. It cost $5,500,000.

The comparison is a gross exaggeration. We don’t even have one fireplace. I , however, do understand Sarah. She was simply feathering her nest — a very large nest.

Times are tough for men who long for the day the hammering and sawing stops, when their favorite chairs stay put for two days in a row, and when they can simply relax in a room without discussing the need for new molding, fixtures or closet shelves. ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition ruined that dream. Husbands now have to contend with hunky show host Ty Pennington, whose personal motto is “remodel till you drop.” He lives to turn peoples’ houses into unrecognizable masterpieces from a design he drew on a napkin. Ty is a guy who’d be siding with the wives, not the husbands, when it comes to remodeling that has no exit strategy. Ty could make most guys look bad.

But after a heart to heart talk with Jerry, I think he understand my needs better, and I’m trying to leave the bed where it is and not spring another idea on him — just yet, that is. If I mentioned the Japanese tea house for down the hill, he may just head to Heaven early.

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