Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The days of steel and granite

Remember two years ago, when every home improvement show on television was touting hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, and granite countertops? Ah yes... the days of endless home equity lines of credit...

I, like many people with an innate obsession with how their homes look, developed something of a Pavlovian response (involving lots of drool) to the sight of modern home decor. When we moved into our condo last year, I informed my husband that as soon as we had enough money, we, too, would jump on the bandwagon. I envisioned deep, undentable hardwood floors running throughout the downstairs... rich, plush, stainless carpeting upstairs... stone tile in the showers... black gabbro countertops in the kitchen... a privacy fence around our postage-stamp-sized patio... and of course, the ubiquitous stainless steel army of dishwasher, stove/oven, and refrigerator. 

Obviously, I am from the Planet Clueless, because even if the economy hadn't nosedived, there's no way we'd be able to afford any of that. What was I planning to do - get a loan? Put it on the credit card? Probably.

The country's recent financial struggles, while frightening, are teaching us some important lessons about frugality, savings, and making do. One lesson I've learned is that there's nothing wrong with using something until you can't use it anymore. Our carpets are matted and kind of dingy, but they still provide a soft place for our son to play. Our kitchen cabinets - and some of the walls, and the old prefinished hardwood floor in the living room and kitchen - are dented in spots, thanks to said child's propensity for destruction, but they still do their jobs. The stovetop is scratched, but it still heats up just as well as it always has. There's a big crack in the lining of our freezer, but nothing's thawed out, so I guess it's okay for now.

We know we will use these things for as long as we can, and then - unless our home warranty buys us a replacement - we'll probably use them for even longer. In a way, it's a relief. I don't have to worry about making my home look perfect just because someone on television tried to brainwash me into thinking it's necessary.

I won't lie. I will probably daydream every now and then of Electrolux appliances and smooth, shiny floors, but I'll also try harder to be satisfied with what I have. And I'll remind myself of our long term goals, which don't really involve kitchen upgrades anyway.

To those of you whipping up dinner on your Formica countertops, wiping spills off your linoleum, and strategically hanging pictures over the imperfections in your walls - I salute you. 

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