Just Paint Over It, They’ll Never Know

Another Sunday, another open house and this one, on the surface at least, was… passable. It was an old structure, possibly past its hundredth birthday with patches and paint-overs and very new siding. But there were child hazards everywhere.

The front porch was a granite slab about 3ft off the ground with no railings, attached to the front steps which also had no railings and the smallest of the bedrooms on the second floor was immediately adjacent (inches, really) from the staircase which had, of course, no railings. There were some hastily patched holes in the floor boards my son could certainly punch out of place without too much effort and all of the windows were set down at toddler height making it so very easy for my son to fall out of. The listing said “finished carpeted basement” which turned out to be a desk in a cellar with discount carpet fragments laid across the concrete floor and the stones that formed the foundation painted white. Above the desk, hanging from a ceiling beam was a Harvard diploma. As with most Harvard graduates I’ve encountered, the owner must think we’re all much too dumb to understand the meaning of “finished” or “carpeted”.

But it was painted serene and HGTV-approved colors and the floorplan was flowing and comfortable. The bathrooms were newly cabineted and clean (although the first floor half bath had 3 very large windows on two walls making your bathroom time feel like a neighborhood performance) and there was plenty of space for a family of three.

Were I a serial killer, I would not delight in this home quite like the one we visited last week but there was still a vibe. A bad vibe. Maybe no one was murdered, but perhaps a few wives were slapped around by abusive husbands. Maybe some children were punished corporally. Maybe there’s Yellow Wallpaper under some of that paint? I felt stifled and not just because all four realtors were wearing the same overabundance of perfume. Moreover, I felt like I didn’t want to be there, not just live there. I didn’t want to visit the people who might live there. I didn’t want to be their neighbor. I didn’t want to work with them or grocery shop in the same town. I just couldn’t wait to leave, hike back up the street to our car, and let the people who are impressed with fancy bathroom cabinets fight over it.

Like last week, we gave up on open houses after that. We’re not serious shoppers at the moment anyway and with me working less than part-time to take care of the child, it’s probably not the best time to move. But after three weeks of disappointing open houses, we’ve concluded this: people are getting REAL good at taking pictures for their listings. Too good. Ain’t no “no filter” bragging going on here, now, is there?

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