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Not About To Fixate

We love our old home, even without the wonders a makeover could bring

Illustration by Chanelle Nibbelink

My husband can watch fixer-upper programs for hours. Not me. I disappear while show hosts transform one outdated house after another into spectacular showcases. Thank you, but I’ll keep our home’s mostly original look and layout.

Still, sometimes a fixer-upper segment reels me in. I sneak glances at the TV while hosts work their magic on a house that will soon have a fresh design and sophisticated decor. As the reveal unfolds and the homeowners react with unbridled joy, I can’t help but wonder …

What if?

What if we remodeled our 1950s kitchen? What if we replaced the laminate countertops with glossy granite? Put in snazzy backsplashes and dramatic lighting? Maybe knock out some pine cabinets and add an island? Take down a dining room wall for a more open feel? Pull up the vinyl tiles and put in plank flooring?

Years ago we splurged on upgrades to our bathrooms. We bought new sinks and light fixtures. A contractor did some tile work, but the same old vinyl floor tiles stayed. So did a white porcelain gas wall heater.

Guests love that heater. Our built-in ironing board, too. “My grandparents had those in their house,” they recall fondly.

They also love our oak flooring in the bedrooms and living room. They don’t see the water splotches, ugly scratches and other stains. I rarely do either. Likewise, I neglect to see claw marks on a pocket door. A back doorbell that’s never worked. A walk-in closet without a door (so I hung a long curtain).

Oh, but if the kitchen’s wooden drawers had rollers. Our utensil drawer sticks the worst. And the cabinets could really use fresh paint. As needed, I touch up worn spots. A few nicks reveal mustard yellow and fire engine red, bygone colors chosen by the couple who built the house in 1956.

She taught first grade in our town and hosted Easter egg hunts for her students in the backyard. He was the ag teacher at the high school. Together they raised their three children and later, both in their 70s, drew their last breaths in the house we’ve now called home for nearly two decades.

What if?

Yes, I wonder. I confess that sometimes fixer-upper shows sway me to think our house isn’t good enough. That a remodel and updates would make me happier.

But would they?

Deep down I know the truth. We may not live in a showcase. But, scars and all, this house is where we feel the most content, comfortable and safe. We have everything we need. And, after all, isn’t that what makes any house a true home?