by Matt Edens
Used to be, â“house pornâ” was something a young couple could enjoy privately at home. And it was strictly for educational purposes. You know, things seemed stale and dull. You were open to ideas for the bedroom, wanted to try something new, and didn't mind getting a little dirty.
Sometimes, it was something you did on your own, just the two of you, or even solo. On special occasions, or if there was a certain skill you hadn't mastered, you brought in a professional. It was amazing the things you learned. Then there was the swapping. That was the best. For a while, no one could get enough of that. Every week, millions would tune in to watch two couples trade spaces and redecorate.
Lately, though, these newer shows are shameless : Flip this House, Buy Me, Designed to Sell . They're pure exhibitionism, all about tarting the place up and making a quick buck. I blame the housing bubble, mostly. For a time, flippingâ"buying a beat-up house, doing a quick fix, and then cashing in on the resaleâ"was sort of like day trading before the dot-com bust. It moved out of the fringe to become a middle-class fad that people found addictive.
And, like day trading, flipping attracted a fair number of newcomers. Whenever I watch one of those shows, I'm amazed how they milk drama out of the day the contractor didn't show, or when they ripped down the wallboard to discover the rot, or how they realized they'd blown the budget. Have none of these people renovated a house before?
Still, I'm ceaselessly amazed by our fascination with watching paint dry. But I do have to admit to picking up an idea or two from a decorating show. Maybe someday I'll actually get up off the couch, grab a reciprocating saw, and make one of those ideas a reality. In the meantime, since many of them are shot in and around Southern California, I mostly watch the flipping and house hunting shows for the sticker shock. They paid how much for a shag-carpeted '70s rancher that they're going to gut down to the studs?
Makes you feel pretty good about this charming circa-1940 cottage on Emoriland Boulevard, doesn't it? With oak floors, a lovely living room fireplace (with gas logs), two baths and the kitchen all tastefully redone, the house reminds me of the â“afterâ” photos you're supposed to be amazed by on the design shows.
Outside, the corner lot offers more of the same: a garden patio that's great for entertaining and a fenced back yard with mature trees and shrubs. There's even a garage tucked underneathâ"tough to find downtown or in 4th and Gill. Best of all, buy this house and the only â“do-it-yourselfâ” project you'll have to worry about is hiring the movers.
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