Things I Think Every Time I Watch ‘Fixer Upper’

Fixer Upper is nailing up its last shiplap after the fifth season. Obviously Chip and Joanna have plenty going on, and somebody has to … fill the silos with subway tiles, or whatever it is happens in Waco… so we don’t begrudge them taking a break. But since Fixer Upper, along with the Great British Bake Off and Bob’s Burgers, is one of my Adult Sesame Street shows (gentle, soothing, predictable and sweet) – well, I’m happy I have one more season to think the following things every single time I watch:

Why does my house have walls?

A common theme in older homes: walls are used to divide areas into separate rooms. Which sounds obvious, but by the end of an episode of Fixer Upper I’m always questioning why some Edwardian dummy put a wall between my dining room and kitchen.

[Although, I don’t have to look at my dirty pots and pans while I’m eating, so I’m pretty sure walls are great.]

These people don’t REALLY want ‘the charm of an old house.’

Episode after episode, I see a homeowner wax poetic about the “charm” of old houses. I agree! My house is 108 and my parents live in an 1830s farmhouse. But more often than not, during the Fixer Upper reno process walls get taken down, moldings get swapped, a new fireplace is fitted, flooring is changed… y’all could’ve gussied up a 1980s cul-de-sac special for the same (beautiful) result.

Shiplap, huh.

The only thing I love as much as Joanna Gaines loves shiplap are my family and Jesus. I kid, sort of, but has anyone done a pie chart of how many Fixer Upper homes use shiplap? No, because it would just be a circle all filled in with one color.

Food for thought: dealing with the old owners’ shiplap is going to be to 2040s remodeling what dealing with old owners’ wood paneling is to 2010s remodeling.

What time is it? It’s BIG CLOCK O’CLOCK!

It’s always Big Clock O’Clock in a Fixer Upper house.

This is what 2010s decor will look like to people from the future.

You know, like how 70s looks like shag carpeting and orange/avocado/brown appliances, and 60s looks like mid-century Mad Men (but PSYCH! most suburban middle-class ’60s homes were kind of Colonial Revival-y), and the 90s looks like country geese and sponge paint?

In period films set in 2015, but made in 2035, it’s going to be light gray walls, shiplap, barn doors, subway tile, open floor plans, industrial lighting and exposed wood beams.

Easy, Chip.

At least once an episode. Different reasons each time.

I could move to Waco.
I  can’t move to Waco.

Maybe just a field trip.

What if Joanna Gaines and Nancy Meyers teamed up?

The Intern, possibly my favorite Nancy Meyers kitchen but don’t quote me on it.

Ain’t no kitchen like a Nancy Meyers kitchen cuz a Nancy Meyers kitchen is ABSOLUTELY CHARMING.

I would absolutely watch a show where Nancy Meyers and Joanna Gaines team up to give people kitchens worthy of a lead in a rom-com. The reality show could be kind of a rom-com itself, wherein the homeowner always finds love or herself by the end.

There is no way you cook that much.

Every time somebody needs a double-oven and an island this size of a literal tropical island and they have two kids.

There is no way you pee that much.

Every time someone needs 4 bathrooms and they have two kids. Maybe it’s because I grew up 6 people to one bathroom, but a bathroom per person is bonkers.

[Of course, I live by myself, so I DO now have a bathroom per person, and I can confirm that it is amazing.]

Can they sell one of these whole kitchens at Target?

I’m really excited about the Target Hearth & Home collab, but also I don’t want a sign that says “Farmhouse” or “Eggs 5c,” I want an entire Gaines-ified kitchen; too much to ask?

I wonder what’s under my floors.

My house is all hardwoods, except the kitchen and bathroom. But are there hardwoods UNDER the kitchen flooring?

I found out the hard way that the answer is yes, but it’s actually under a vinyl floor, sheet linoleum, a subfloor, other sheet linoleum, ASBESTOS I THINK, and then another subfloor. So I don’t actually think this when I watch Fixer Upper anymore now because I bit that apple. I bit it hard.

By the way, do you want to know what’s in my rafters? Very old haunted-looking newspapers that seem like they’re a clue or something. I assume someone name Bertha or Sherman stashed them there in 1911 just to mess with me.

Joanna has great hair.

At least once an episode I’m struck by how shiny and frizz-free Jojo Gaines’s hair is.

 

 

It’s 1997: Let’s All Decorate With Sponge Painting!

Welcome to another edition of Let’s All Decorate! It’s 1997. Maybe we’ve discarded our bonnet-wearing geese, and maybe the last of our weird pastel southwestern stuff has been shipped to Goodwill. If we’re really cool, we might even own a giant tv armoire. But if we are creative, artistic, and like to amp up our home decor using household cleaning products, we have some serious sponge painting going on. It’s like when Elaine Benes wondered who was sponge-worthy, we as a people said “NO. The question is what is sponge-worthy?” And then we collectively answered: Everything. Leave no wall un-sponged!

If you’re too young to remember, or just preferred your walls to be one continuous, non-spongy color, let me explain sponge painting. First you’d paint your wall a base color. In modern times, that is where we leave it. But it was 1997, you were blasting Hanson or Jewel on the radio, wearing one of those shirts with one big stripe across the chest, your curled-under-with-a-round-brush bangs hadn’t drooped yet – you were feeling good and you wanted to keep going. Did you have a sponge and a second paint color? Well then you were ready to create a home decorating masterpiece trainwreck! You’d get a bigass sponge – not a flat kitchen sponge but a big old textured mofo. You’d dab it into paint color number two, then you’d just freaking blot it all over your walls. I mean, you’d re-up the paint when it ran out, which was often because it’s a SPONGE whose job is to absorb stuff. Like, the sponge tried to prevent this decorating atrocity from even happening, but we just kept at it.

You could have more or less overlap depending on how much of the “base” you wanted to show. You could leave the sponge ghosts loud and proud instead of overlapping, like these brown kitchen people. Yeah, that was not how you were supposed to do it.

Also, it helped if your base and sponge colors were variations of the same color instead of… this:Sometimes sponge painting made it look like your house was overtaken by a mud-tornado or a sewage explosion:Sometimes it looked like you chewed up paint and then regurgitated it atop other paint, which doesn’t really make sense, but then again neither does painting your walls with a cleaning implement:But be careful not to press too much paint into your corners! Or actually who cares, it’s all terrible:But hey, if you sponge painted your counters, maybe they’d look like marble!

NO, oh my God just kidding, it would look like your cat walked through tar then trip-trapped across your sink.

You could even sponge up your dresser even though looking at it kind of triggers my vertigo.You could combine your sponging with solid paint and wallpaper, too. It was a way to “mark your territory” for all future homeowners, because this mixed-media masterpiece can’t be easy to remove.

Okay, but why? Look, I’m not an outsider. I was all about the “texture” and “interest” that sponge painting provided. I sponge painted a table and a guest bedroom at my parents’ house. So this is not the perspective of one of those “flat-painters” or “wallpaper people”: I was THERE. I remember. I just don’t totally understand.

Like most members of my generation, I cannot pass up an opportunity to shift the blame to Baby Boomers. Their kids were growing up and they had more time to sink into household projects. This was their answer to a childhood in post-war houses that were painted in solid colors, I guess. Always the rebels, those boomers. Obviously I sponge painted as a child, so sure, my generation was in on it. And after a lifetime of “everyone is special” and “you all get a trophy” we believed that maybe we were decorating savants. But with most decorating trends, “so simple a child could do it” isn’t really an endorsement.

Maybe there weren’t generational factors at play. Maybe it was just the final gasp of 90s DIY culture. Maybe El Nino led to an explosion in the sea sponge population. Or maybe we just all lost our damn minds for a while there.