I called a plumber yesterday. Our shower, kitchen sink and washing machine drain have been backing up. I actually woke up to a wet garage floor where the washing machine (yes, it’s in the garage) had overflowed during the night, presumably while the dishwasher ran.
So the plumber came and listened to my story, ran some faucets and flushed our toilet. He told me he can sometimes tell where the problem is just by listening to the water run. Whatever. I just need to do laundry, so if that means I have to pay the Water Whisperer to fix our pipes, I will.
At least that’s what I thought. After he looked in our crawl space and did a little research into the last big job his company did at our house (replaced water main, two years ago, thousands of dollars), he came back into my house and said, “I really like to give people several options, but I’m afraid you only have one option.”
Apparently one of the main pipes that pushes water to various places in our house is rusted and possibly collapsed. COLLAPSED. What. On. Earth.
You guys? It’s going to cost ONE BILLION DOLLARS. (Please, understand this is hyperbole and also read that in your best Austin Powers voice.)
And this? This is why I am the only middle-aged, female Christian person who does not watch Fixer Upper.
The other night I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a video about Joanna Gaines. I paused and wondered if it would be a good fit for the website I curate for, but quickly realized I’d watched it a year ago. I thought then, just as I thought now, that show looks great. I should watch it. And then I didn’t.
Look, I know the Gaines are super sweet and funny and creative and awesome people who make beautiful things. At least that’s what you all tell me. And you know I love watching television. So CLEARLY I should be watching THEIR SHOW.
But I’m not.
And I’m not going to. Because it is too painful. And watching home renovation shows simply gets me all riled up and frustrated and envious and discontent. It’s not good for my heart. (Or my budget, because while I may not be able to knock down a wall in my kitchen, I can certainly buy ALL THE PILLOWS AT TARGET. I can. But I shouldn’t.)
If you’ve read this blog for any time at all, you probably know that I live in a small house that we’ve tried to sell more than once in the past few years. I struggle with contentment. And frustration. And disappointment. And, well, entitlement. I’m a mess. This house is a mess. And watching Fixer Upper isn’t going to fix up any part of that.
When we first bought this house thirteen years ago, we considered it our “starter house.” We’d heard that’s what your first house was; it was the way the real estate market was back then. Young people bought a small house, fixed it up, and sold it to make a bunch of money for the down payment on their REAL HOUSE.
So in those early years, Mark and I spent a lot of time with Home Depot and HGTV. We painted and decorated and made plans to do so much more. But then we got busy and then we got pregnant and then we got even busier and pregnant again. We tried to sell the house, which meant stripping it down to the most basic decorations and repairing all the annoying, less-than-glamorous things that had been lingering on our to-do list.
Why isn’t there a TV show about fixing broken closet doors and installing outlets to meet code?
At the same time, we fought with our crumbling pipes and backed up toilet and peeling wood floors and broken windows and flooded back yard and sagging siding. None of which were fun or affordable. All of which were required fixes before we could hope to move on to that REAL HOUSE.
Somewhere along the way, watching home renovation shows became a whole lot less entertaining and a whole lot more stressful. Rather than allowing us to dream about the possibilities our cozy little house held, it just reminded us of the money pit we were stuck with.
If you can’t see the video, click here.
When I told Mark about the plumber’s diagnosis (and cost estimate), he kind of lost his mind. I reminded him of how awesome it is that God knew this was going to happen and had already laid the groundwork to provide for this outrageous expense. But it’s still hard to swallow, this investing more money into a house we don’t want.
But the thing is…it’s the house we have. And even on the most frustrating days, I’m grateful for that. I am! When I lost my job right before Annalyn was born, we came very close to losing this house. And even if it’s small and old and falling apart, it’s a house. It has bedrooms and a bathroom (with a toilet that usually flushes) and a kitchen. It’s a place my family gets to live, and I don’t take that for granted. At least I try not to.
And that’s why I don’t watch Fixer Upper – or any other home renovation show – right now. It appeals to the part of me that is so unsatisfied with what I have, and I just can’t feed that part of me. I was writing a guest post for another site yesterday, and I mentioned that one of my friend Sara’s life goals was “to love what I have and not yearn for what I lack.” Easier said than done, but I’m trying.
So last night when I crashed on the couch after putting the kids to bed without baths and sloooowly rinsing my dishes (you know, to make sure the water went down the drain like it’s supposed to?), I deleted Fixer Upper off my DVR and turned on Lip Sync Battle instead.
(I mean. It was the Channing Tatum episode, so it wasn’t actually a hard choice. But you get my point, right?)
[Side note and disclaimer in case you misunderstand me: If you adore Fixer Upper and the Gaines and wish you could watch HGTV all your waking hours, that’s awesome! I don’t blame anyone else for watching what used to be – and may someday be again – fun shows for me. I just can’t handle them right now.]
I totally get this. And while I have what I said 4 years ago was our dream house…when the neighbors started doing a total remodel and then replaced their siding which made my blah grey siding look even more hideous, and I grew more and more discontent with my home, I knew I had a problem! I wrote a post about it last summer about how quickly my dream house turned to dump in my eyes! It is all about perspective isn’t it…but let’s just be real, plumbing issues stink and the cost to fix them do too…so I am sorry and praying that it can be fixed soon!!
Yes – how is it that a dream turns into a dump just because somebody else’s house is different than ours?! Perspective is a tricky thing to maintain, that’s for sure! (And thank you for the prayers!!)
What a wonderful blog about real v reality TV!! I’ve lived a little longer raised a family, completed three homes all with the intention to STAY forever. At the risk of sounding maternal give yourself a hug. Family life is a balancing act. The modest honesty of your blog I admire. That said I adore Chip and Joanna because they are a team. Not because it’s perfect or “magnolia dreams come true” but because they work their butts off, love each other (they’d have to – can you imagine working with a spouse?) and include their love for their children. I love their collection of animals the family cares for on their gorgeous farm acres. I love how they play and smile together even if you know that might not be how perky they feel. Look up the statistics on remodels and divorce and hang on to priority. You can take the houses I’ve stunningly decorated, renovated, lived in and truly loved in but without a warm hearth and heart there is no home. Love your home even if all you can afford is one uplifting pillow from Target. Be happy at home. You have no guarantees on tomorrow. Proverbs 3 5-6.
I just want to say that I can so COMPLETELY RELATE! I love the idea of all the cozy, cute and up-to-date…but we are doing well to remain functional in a home that doesn’t work for us and keeps us cash poor. I live in the home that my husband built with his first wife. She chose the tile counters and dark cabinets that are FAR from my style and I struggle to embrace them as God’s provision – yet I know they are. He tried to sell this home before we married and could not. We remain “upside down” in this home that was purchased for THEIR double income (mine is much lower that the first Mrs.) so it is a monthly struggle.
Thank you for letting me know I’m not the only one. Sometimes I inwardly roll my eyes when I hear how much someone “needs” the new sofa, rug, or whatever. It’s just not a choice for me, but I choose to be content. I choose to see how the Lord provides. I choose to recognize that this home has provided stability for my step daughters.
God promises to withhold “No good things,” so I guess a different home isn’t good for me right now. Maybe this year?
You are definitely not alone. And YES – here’s to hoping and praying that this is the year a different home is good for both of us! :)
I can totally relate to this. I had to quit reading one of my favorite blogs because all the home improvement projects “took me down” after a while. (Blogger’s husband is very handy and even started a remodeling business. My husband has NO interest in home improvements. If there’s a TV and a recliner, he’s happy.) I have never been blessed with having my own home, and I struggle with this, especially as we get closer to retirement. And my husband lost his job of 35 years in 2015, and his current job pays much less, seemingly putting home ownership even further out of reach. So, yes, cute as Chip and Joanna are, I totally get not watching Fixer Upper. (Made easier for me by the fact that we have never had cable.)
Oh, Bonnie, I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s job. That is hard! You’re smart to walk away from a blog (or anything) that creates discontent, though. Praying God’s provision and peace for you…
Hi Bonniebes, I was in your shoes where my husband also loved to sit in his recliner and either watch tv or nap. I was getting so frustrated over things not changing God finally got through to me. I could either grow old being frustrated or put it all in Gods hands. I prayed a 30 day challenge for my husband and I’m still seeing the wonderful results of trusting in the power of the name of Jesus. God also changed my view of things and I am so grateful for the whole process. If you really want your own home even late in your life remember Sara was blessed and got pregnant when she was in her old age. God might be waiting on your heart to be His before giving you the desires He planted there. Trust in Him and He will bless you. I will pray for you and all the women going through their own discontentment…May God make you aware of His presence in your life and work in your heart so His blessings will fall abundantly into your life, always in Gods good timing.
Ps…my mom lost my dad after 50 years of marriage, because he was sick and depressed and had no interest in home renovation she did many updates after he passed. I know she’d love him to still be living in that house with her.
Give thanks for the situation you find yourself in, and that you have your husband regardless how you feel at this present moment. Remember, Jesus is and will always be your first husband. He is always faithful to us even in our sinfulness. Ask God for awareness of what He has already done for you and ask Him if the things you desire are His will for you. Wait on the lord, He is trustworthy. He will give you discernment and He soothes the longing heart. You might start seeing a difference in your husband before you know it.
You know, I never could put my finger on why I don’t like renovation shows. But I think it’s the discontentment that wells up in me. Or the stress that I’d like to be that creative and handy, but I’m not in those ways, so then I think about the all hobbies I’d like to have … it’s like a vicious cycle. And it’s the same reason I don’t have a Pinterest account. I could probably be labeled the only blogger without a Pinterest account. :)
I’m sure you’re not the ONLY one… ;) Yeah, it’s funny. I can handle blogs and Pinterest, but TV shows put me over the edge. It’s good for each of us to figure out our boundaries, I guess!
I totally get it, Mary. And I well remember the feeling as a young mom with a very limited income–that frustration, that wanting to be somewhere, anywhere!, else in life. That wishing that today was yesterday and that life would be so much better tomorrow. And then one day my sweater caught fire and God reached down into my mess and told me that today is where it’s at. All of it. The mess. The lack of money. The kids who drove me crazy. All of it.
I don’t blame you for not watching Fixer Upper. Not at all. I get it. I wouldn’t have watched it either (if it had been on 20 years ago–ha!). You just get about the business of finding that joy wherever you can. And you can! I believe in you, friend.
“And then one day my sweater caught fire…” I feel like all stories need to include this line right here. :) (Although, I don’t want all life experiences to involve a sweater fire!) Thank you for your encouragement, Shelly. I know it’s just a season – but I kind of forget that when I tune in to shows I shouldn’t.
And this is why I adore you, Mary! Your transparency regarding a real struggle with home improvement envy and discontent. It’s our Pinterest mentality on steroids! I get it! I completely relate to this post. Thank you for saying what so many need to hear. We really should learn to love and take care of what we have. Let’s share more with others. Express gratitude for what we have… Choosing Joy and contentment!
It’s true, Berta – contentment and joy really seem to go hand in hand! Learning as I go… :)
I happily walked away from ALL HGTV shows six years ago. It’s all a (pretty) illusion. All that work and money done in an hour. No/hardly any fights. It’s so misleading and it pushes people toward discontentment and comparison. And we know comparison is a thief.
Thanks for being so honest. I hope that you have found at least one place in your little home that you absolutely love. Having been a three time homeowner, I can tell you something I love about every single room in our little apartment. Bless you…
Regina, I had to laugh when I read your comment – the no fights part is definitely not real in my renovating experience! :) Thank you for your encouraging words!
This is exactly the reason why I love and yet need to step away from Instagram often!! I love pretty houses and inspiring makeovers but then I get all wonky in my heart about where we are at in our drafty diamond in the rough, which I am beyond grateful to have despite the worn out floors, peeling paint, and leaky plumbing. It’s so easy to lose perspective. A wonderful post – thank you for writing it.
Yes, a friend of mine wrote a great post a couple months ago about how we just need to unfollow all the accounts that stress us out. Her “thing” was Instagram, too. Perspective is hard enough to keep hold of without filling our minds with impractically perfect and pretty things!
I loved your post and as I sat reading the comments underneath, I love your readers too! Wonderful way to get right to the heart of the matter in a completely nonjudgmental way. Your humility and honesty are so refreshing!
Yes, I have great readers!! :) Thank you for your kind words, Liz!
I agree. I love the show but I can’t watch it. I’m 7 months pregnant and waiting on my brilliant but ultra-perfectionist husband to finish the projects in literally every room of the house so I can have a spot for the home birth. He is also not working a steady job, so budget is very thin for any decorating dreams! God has promised me things will work out, but I am barely keeping my faith and sanity without watching instant makeovers. All I can watch right now is IHOP live or funny stuff with no plot :P sanity and faith are so closely linked it’s scary.
Oh Laura, I feel your pain. When we have visitors to our house, I always find myself telling them that there is something broken or unfinished in every room (which was the case before my 2yo was born, too…!!). Funny TV is a good idea. Praying you keep a tight hold on both your sanity and your faith!
I do not (nor have I every – am I allowed to say that?) watched Fixer Upper. Or anything on HGTV for that matter. So you’re NOT the only one!
Glad to know I’m not alone, Christi! :)
Oh, yeah! I totally get this! My husband and I bought our first house — a fixer-upper — in June 2007, right before the housing bubble popped. Ugh. It was not a house I’d wanted, and I’d recommended that we wait. It was hard to see how so many of our friends had made a ton of money buying houses in the years before while we were living overseas… And then we lost… and lost… and lost. We finally sold it this past summer at a “break even” point on paper, but still a loss after fees. It was a whole lot of lessons for me — learning to be content, to see possibilities in ugly things, to appreciate the beauty around me, to see the sometimes-small ways God provides, to not rub my husband’s face in it, and to be so grateful that it’s finally off our hands. I do watch Fixer Upper now, and I laugh a lot — especially when Chip has to make the bad phone calls. But I can totally understand how you feel! I think I need to monitor my Instagram usage and blog reads for the same reason. Thanks for the honest reminder!
Thanks for commiserating with me, Joy! If we are able to sell our house this year, it will be the same kind of “break even” that’s not really even. But whether that happens this year or next or some other time down the road, I look forward to the day I can watch Chip and Joanna with an easier heart! ;)
I like your honesty. I thought years ago HGTV was setting us all up to fall into deep, deep, debt if we really believed we had to have all that they redo and put in houses. It’s not that I don’t like the looks of what they put on, it’s just that I think the reality is for lots of people that the projects they do cost way too much for most people to really do and pay for. I am like you and your commenters here–I have a house that is older because we couldn’t afford a newly built one. And then we have had to spend money fixing the plumbing, the foundation, the electrical box, and other things to make the house function and work for us so we can live in it with running water and electricity that most people in a civilized world get to live with. Then we get to spend on making it pretty. Hasn’t been enough of that money left to make it look like a fixed up house on TV. I feel blessed to have a roof over my head that mostly works (we need another one of those soon too) and warmth in winter and cool in summer. l can have people over now and then and we can enjoy my house even though it doesn’t look like a house on TV fixed up to look palatial. But we have tried to make improvements to it that we could do some ourselves (like painting, putting up some new light fixtures, etc) to make it as good as we can right now. I still want a really nice house too and it’s frustrating I can’t have it cause I want it right now. But I have to consider that I have the house I have right now. Maybe I need to fix this one up a piece at a time as I can and not worry about getting the house of my dreams.for my next house. Maybe I should try to make this one more like the house of my dreams if I can do it on a more lower budget than they do on TV.
Yes, it is definitely a struggle! Praying you find peace and provision to make a few of those improvements, Debbie!
Thank you! Thank you! I have been a stay at home/homeschooling mom for the last 16 years. We have revisited the decision for me to stay at home at the beginning of each year and will continue to do so. Every year, thus far, we have decided that, for our our family, investing in our children is worth more than investing in the house of our dreams. Yes, we have limited space and finances, but our kids have learned: to clean and organize; how to take care of one’s possessions; how to host a yard sale; how to cook; how to paint and do yard work; to share (the bathroom especially); that eating out is a special treat; and that they matter more than stuff. And, I am convinced that our close quarters have kept us a close-knit family. I am not saying that you can’t learn or have these things and be financially blessed, but for me, I am determined to be content and thankful, and have found that often HGTV (and the like) only “help” to undermine that determination – at least in my heart. Too, in comparison with most of the world, we American’s are so, so blessed, and I deeply desire that my kids have that humble perspective for their entire lives. That, and the knowledge God is a good, good Father who loves His children very much.
Yes, yes, yes – I have absolutely learned so many things living in a small house, and I’m grateful for the lessons and the “pros” of not being more spread out in a larger space. Great points!!
This was a balm for my hurting heart today. We bought a fixer upper type house a couple of years ago and I thought we were just about to start fixing…and got word yesterday that my husband is being moved into a different position at work and that position comes with a significant pay cut. Thanks for sharing!
Oh, Bethany, I’m sorry to hear that about your husband’s job. I know how hard those unexpected changes can be! Praying God provides and gives you peace and contentment with your home.
It’s nice to hear someone say what I’ve been feeling about HGTV for a long time. I don’t own a home, and if I do ever own one, I doubt I’ll be able to do any renovations on it for years. And that’s all HGTV has. Shows about huge renovations and buying and selling homes. I would just feel terrible after watching a few of these shows.
Yep. I’ve certainly enjoyed those shows during other seasons of my life – this just isn’t one of them! :)
Oh, I can sooooo relate to your housing woes! We are also stuck in our money pit starter home, been here for 17 years now. It’s good that you can recognize how home improvement shows affect your attitude and make the choice to not watch them. I got the chance to finally see Fixer Upper when it came to Netflix and have to say I’m hooked. But I use it as inspiration to budget-DIY things around my own house to help me not hate living here. I just can’t relate to some of the episodes, but some of them really do make me smile.
Yes, I can’t wait for the day when I can “safely” watch Fixer Upper and a few other DIY-type shows! I really do enjoy the FUN parts of homeownership, and I have faith that someday we’ll have a home (this one or another one) that has a better balance of fun and work. :)
I hear you, and have been there several times over. My wonderful husband bought this fixer-upper before I met him, and then did nothing to fix it. Shortly before we married, he was laid off, so there was no fix-it money. He never was fully employed over the next 18 or so years. I retired in 2001, and just before I moved my 401K the bottom dropped out of the market. All this to say we’ve never had tons of cash to spruce up our home. We did what we could, as we could. We were blessed to never have your plumbing problems (ours were much cheaper!), nor any major health issues, although I have had several different surgeries (covered by insurance). I have loved HGTV through the years. I have learned soooo much about buying, selling, and fixing homes, and have gotten some great ideas to use in our home. Example: our kitchen island was small. An HGTV episode showed me how we could just screw a picnic table top to the formica that was there, and viola, we have a nice, big island. (The base is a cabinet surrounded on 3 sides by brick, so it wasn’t going anywhere!) We don’t have cable, but my inlaws do, so I gorge when we visit them. I really love Fixer Upper! It shows me what can be done, and gives me things to shoot for. Between HGTV & craigslist free stuff, I’m getting closer to a dream house all the time.I had to wait 18 years (242,000 miles) for a new car. It was over 20 years before we could replace the heat/a/c, but 1 great window unit & some portable heaters did the jobs. We got a new roof after hail damage. We’ve replaced the carpet (great pad on sale, cheap carpet still better than the 30-year-old stuff). It has taken for.ev.er, but it’s starting to come together. Now that it is looking better, wouldn’t you know? We’ve decided to move to FL to be nearer my husband’s parents. Since our house is older, it won’t sell for the price of a brand-new home, so here we go again.
I love how you’ve learned things from HGTV shows, Gay! That’s a smart way to watch them – and what I’ve appreciated about them in the past, for sure. Praying you find just the right home to make your own in Florida!
I absolutely cannot watch home decor shows because they make me a little nutso. Given my total lack of design skills, it just makes me feel super bad about myself. Food Network, I am all about. HGTV, not a chance. Plus, living in an apartment I can’t really do anything about the fact that our electricity probably needs rewired and we have destroyed our carpet (CHILDREN), and probably have mold in the walls …
I’ve given up on comparing our home to others’, because I am who I am and there are a ton of other benefits to us living here. After our foreclosure, it’s a giant blessing. So I’m choosing joy or something. Seems I read that somewhere lately. ;)
And that’s why – no matter how much I love my home someday – I’ll never watch cooking shows! At least not the fancy ones. Because that is not me, and there’s no use pretending it ever will be!
I couldn’t love this more. While I love the Gaines family and think her work is beautiful there was always a tension that I couldn’t shake. Especially when people would say to us, “You’re the next Chip and Joanna.” But I don’t want to compare or compete. My story with my husband will not look like theirs and it’s not supposed to. We bought a 107 year old fixer upper last year and mostly I really do love it. Until I start comparing. Thanks for the reminder to be thankful for our story! I appreciated this post so much <3
Uggghhh, the whole “you’re the next so-and-so” is so awkward! Good for you keeping perspective!
I’ll admit to having an HGTV/designer blog habit. My husband calls it ‘house porn.’
I love HGTV and watch it every weekend, however, my perspective of those “perfect” homes is a bit different. We lived in our “starter home” for 19 years and just 4 years ago moved into our “dream home.” The joke is on us because upon leaving our first home we finally replaced the carpet (after raising 2 kids, several cats and one dog in a home with hideous light blue carpet) painted the interior and redid the kitchen along with some other sprucing up to turn into a rental. I do not regret not having done it while we lived there because the reality was that we really did not have the money early on, and later the house was filled with furniture, items I saved for the day I had my next home and could display them, and just the normal accumulation of stuff so it would have been a nightmare to try to clear a room to paint or re-carpet. Our new home originally came with a carpet allowance which I fully and gleefully intended to use, but we gave up once the house appraised for less than our offer. So once again we live in a home with carpet that is easily 19 years old. Due to our current home having been a rental for a number of years and vacant for a year before we bought it we have to focus on “infrastructure” – water and sewer and gutters, etc. before we can start on the fun cosmetic stuff. In hindsight, I am so thankful we did not have the carpet allowance or the funds to redo our home before moving in. Some of the things I hated and fully intended to immediately remove are now my very favorite parts of my home. The way we live in our home is also different than I fantasied about as I poured over the realtors photos while we were waiting to close. We are now empty nesters with 3 (currently indoor due to construction) dogs and 4 outdoor cats, that lovely new carpet I envisioned would no longer look lovely or new. Engineered hardwood flooring and tile are now on our “dream” list. Many of the items I hoarded for years for my new home don’t fit and have been donated.
I enjoy watching the home improvement shows with my husband to dream of what we want our home to evolve into, knowing that it will be many years before we can install that tile backsplash or redo the fireplace. I take joy in the dreaming with him and am look forward to the journey of making this house our home. We will not pour a small fortune into making it “open concept” just to find out every noise carries and a bit of separation or privacy would be welcome. Our shelves will not be filled with pretty things that have no meaning, but will contain items that I have carefully chosen and have meaning to my family. The books I display will be there not because someone pulled them from their warehouse but the few that are old friends I will read and re-read over the years. So when I see people pour tens of thousands of dollars into the “perfect” home I kind of feel badly for them. Once the initial shine wears off, or circumstances change such as the birth of their first child they may find that the “perfect” home is not so perfect. Or, perhaps that gorgeous couch is not really so cozy and comfortable after sitting on it for more than a few minutes. However, having spent so much money on the “perfect” “designer” house it would be difficult to justify changing out all the new, functional things even if they did not work in the way I expected for my family or my taste changed, I would feel obligated to keep them for years until they needed replacing. So, while I can appreciate the beauty of those homes I am grateful they are not mine.
Great perspective, Kathryn. Thank you for sharing with us!
I love this, Mary. I’ll spare you the whole saga of our home buying/renting issues over the years, but I definitely have a love/hate relationship with HGTV. I love seeing old homes restored and getting ideas, but those shows do not portray reality in terms of the money, drudgery, and plethora of issues that go into buying and maintaining a home. When the market crashed in 2006 and the first home we bought and fixed up was suddenly worth almost half of what we paid for it, I wanted to throw my remote through the TV every time an HGTV show came on. I do enjoy watching shows now on occasion, but I view them through reality-colored glasses and see them for what they are: shiny, happy entertainment that doesn’t represent real life.
Great blog! We have been in a home with great needs for years. I totally agree with guarding the watching of renovation shows, which I love!! I have heard they affect the housing market too. Everyone wants a restored home. I find I have to avoid sale fliers too; especially Lowes and Home Depot! Thanks, continuing to work on contentment!
What you and the other commenters are saying is true, its all about perspective. I’d always seen myself as lucky to have my own ‘fixer upper’ as I enjoy working on the house, and generally had been happy with my old but reliable car and homemade furniture. Then my husband and his ex started battling for custody and I feel like we started a game of one-upping each other. The thing is neither side is wealthy, but for the past year its been a contest on who can seem like they are doing better. I started ogling new construction homes and had gone so far as to pre-qualify for a car loan so we could show up in a shiny new one. Only during this past Christmas did it finally hit me how much I had changed my values in response to his ex, and that I need to drop this attitude. Not only is it definitely not the example I want to set for the kiddos, its not even close to who I want to be and the life I want to live.
I feel like I had strayed off my path, wandering through a thicket of discontent and materialism, and now I found my way back to the right trail. I will work to remind myself that I have everything I need, and more, and to be happy with it all.
funny thing about houses … I hate mine, but I love where I live. well. maybe hate is a strong word, but like so many others who have commented before me, we bought this house with aspirations of something bigger. we had an unexpected surprise along the way & our home for 4 became a home for 5. we make plans & God laughs ;) in 2014 we were faced with the possibility of moving. the kids FREAKED out. not only because of their friends & school … but because this is their HOME. for all its flaws & shortcomings, this house is where we’ve spent the last 15 years. there’s good stuff here, even if we need new windows & flooring and I have a 1970’s closed off kitchen, We took a trip to IKEA on New Year’s Day. All our years of watching HGTV & the Food Network were on our side — we saw multiple uses for everything we bought. (it was hard not buying every kitchen gadget in the store. I’m not gonna lie) $500 & hours of assembling stuff later, we still need new flooring & windows, but we feel better about how things look … we feel inspired to make other affordable changes until we can tackle the big ones. As for Fixer Upper? All the marathons HGTV did ruined me. The homes all look the same. They all have a happy ending. And they’re all in Texas. LOL … give me a House Hunters marathon any day. I’ll sit with my laptop & do my own search on Zillow to see which home I’d pick. Harmless window shopping & I don’t feel quite so inadequate.
We do watch this – it’s one of the few shows that we watch as a family (with our 6 year old daughter). Every single time – EVERY single time – my daughter whines about us not having a kitchen island. As if! it makes any world of difference to HER??? LOL But I can see that it plants a seed of discontentment in her for our home, and have considered watching it at a different time so she doesn’t have to worry about kitchen islands.
We are living in our “starter” home that we bought just over 10 years ago. We bought at one of the worst times to buy and are blessed to have gone through a time (5 years ago) where my husband was unemployed for 10 months and we were able to keep up the payments on the house. Right now, if we were to sell we would break even (but probably not quite, because there’s always fees and such that get to be paid). So we stay here and I keep trying to be content!!!
I do not watch any other remodeling shows, I guess one is enough. ;)
I do enjoy watching HGTV, but I’m with you on how depressing it can be when you are in the midst of a project and its just not as easy as they make it look on tv. I have to train my brain when watching these shows and think of it as finding ways to be inspired. I know that I will never have the budget that they have, the man power, or the “magic of tv”. There is no big reveal after I complete something. To me these shows are for entertainment, not to try to copy or imitate.
House Envy is a real thing and I get it too! It’s why I can’t bring myself to watch home improvement shows. It’s also why I don’t watch the ones that show a really cute couple selling everything they own and buying some massive and gorgeous home in some far away and exotic location. Discontentment is a tool of the devil that he loves to use with me, so I just avoid it. So you’ll never see me at the Parade of Homes or “just browsing” at the local car dealership. It makes it so much easier to love my little home and my reliable, yet dirty and ordinary car. :)
Love this post, and love your vulnerability. Such great comments here too. If you want a good laugh (oh my!!), watch Extreme Homes (or something like that!) BLEH!!! Unbelievable! I totally “get” the angst with watching home decorating shows. I also feel the same about home decorating magazines, even though I watch and read such at times. They are great for ideas, but feeling discontent with what God has blessed us with, is a reason to cut back or quit watching and reading… Choosing thankfulness and contentment…..that’s what I want to do.. Thanks again for this post!
Wow, I understand, and I so needed this today. I had to stop reading the comments so as to avoid crying. I’m such a perfectionist and want the ideal showplace, which causes friction in my home. Glad to hear I’m not the only one struggling with things like this.
I really need this blog today! I love Fixer Upper, but have been getting those feelings of discontent that you described. My husband and I are in our 60’s about to retire with just enough money to squeak by the rest of our lives (we hope), so we aren’t going anywhere or be doing any renovations….I will be content with what I have, which, by the way, I used to love until I started watching Fixer Upper….so I get you!!
We’re too cheap for cable so no HGTV but I get what you’re saying. Houzz and Pinterest can do the same for me. We could really use some more space, but I have to constantly remind myself of having a home that is paid for, and mortgage – free is better than perfect.
Their show is fake. I live in Waco and know a few of their customers. None of them are happy and many have to consult attorneys. It’s not just Fixxer Upper. It’s HGTV as a whole. Just as a police show isn’t real life, a legal show how it actually unfolds in the courtroom, or any dramatized activity, Fixxer Upper is totally fake and not realistic. Chip doesn’t swing a hammer and hitting the budget or the puffed prices they advertise is totally unrealistic. Don’t give up on your dreams of a remodel, just carry on with a realistic perspective and the understanding that real life isn’t what you see on television.
We watch Fixer Upper occasionally. Chip and Johanna are awesome, however, we make a game of counting how many times she says “ship lap”. It drives me crazy. But I do love them. :)
I get it! I’m 49 years old, and have a large, beautiful, but older, home that is coming due for the expensive replacements. Add that to the home we own in another state because the bubble popped in 2007 (our starter home that we lived in for 21 years)…and well…I’m questioning whether home ownership is really all it’s cracked up to be. After insurance, maintenance, taxes and repairs, I can completely understand why people rent!
I feel your pain. We too bought a house thinking that it was a great deal and all the extra money that we saved we could use to fix it up. That fix up plan, turned into a house that needed to really be torn down but when you have a terrible Realtor and Inspector and you’re wet behind the ears and don’t know anything about houses…what are you to do. I can’t make it pretty because I’m to busy paying thousands of dollars at a time to make it safe to live. One day, I hope to make it pretty but until then I do not watch shows like that because it really depresses me.
I’m with you! I see Fixer Upper in the TV listing and just can’t get up the nerve to watch. We own a home that I don’t really like but am keeping together and we just bought a lot on which to build our forever home. However, I can’t even seem to get excited about it or even want to look at home design ideas. My husband has been unemployed for 3 months so there you go. Two mortgages. The Gaineses do beautiful work (even though it’s not my style) but I’m so over feeling like I would have to match it. I don’t do Pinterest either. Too much pressure! Thanks for putting into words what I have felt for months! I thought I was the only one,
I totally get it. We are also in our ‘starter home’ 5 years & 3 kids later… Life is certainly not turning out like I planned. Plans, haha.
We’ve not tried selling because I know it won’t ever sell until there’s a new kitchen. I love Fixer Upper but it does leave me a little depressed. I don’t want the fancy decor, or a massive home. I just want cabinets that aren’t falling apart & living room walls that adhere paint (nothing sticks to our current). Until then I’ll just watch Fixer Upper & daydream I guess.
Oh my stars in heaven above. I could have written this. My husband bought our house shortly before we started dating, at the time, everyone said it was a great idea. We have worked through battle after battle, at times barely scraping by to keep a house we don’t want, unable to sell. I’m so grateful that this is our trial, and not something else. We have made huge strides and it’s a place I (mostly) love to be. But we have four kids and only two bedrooms (and one bathroom!) and some days I feel like I could suffocate from lack of hope. I could keep babbling on, but mostly I just want to say thank you. I knew there must be others like us out there. Bless you.
I finish this post .. REFRESHING! I read so many blogs every day about refurnishing/refurbishing/renovation homes to make them bigger, better, and more perfect. Those things are great, but I love that you are just trying to appreciate what you have! So many have even less. Even with bum pipes, you are a lucky lady.
It might sound crazy but I canceled Cable. Yes, GONE! The kids and husband thought I had lost my mind. But, I found that when I watched home improvement shows it encouraged me to shop. I love Chip and Joanna but not enough to hurt myself and my family by creating a feeling of discontent with what we can’t have or afford. I wish them well and hope that the homes they create bring happiness to the families that own them.
Mary, I gotta tell you, I rarely comment on blog posts. But yours made me laugh out loud. Literally. “Whatever. I just need to do laundry, so if that means I have to pay the Water Whisperer to fix our pipes, I will.” I wasn’t laughing at your calamity, but because I could so relate! That is so real.
And, yes, I watch Fixer Upper, but your post is so on target – about all HGTV remodeling shows. Or House Hunters. (How do newly married couples buy $500,000 starter homes????)
Thank you for being so real and so honest. I am a first time reader today and I loved it!
P.S. I am a brand new blogger with two whole posts. You inspired me and taught me today.
I really appreciated reading your thoughts about “Fixer Upper” and the home shows in general. They’ve always sort of rubbed me the wrong way, and I never understood why. I understand it so much more after reading your post! I guess I’m a tiny bit jealous, because these people seem to have these new, shiny, beautiful homes handed to them, without the expense and tremendous effort that the rest of us would have to put out there. “Love It or List It” is another one that bugs me.
We bought our 1950’s rambler 18 years ago, updated the major issues like roof and furnace, then thinking we could do the inside updates gradually, but then life and kids and finances got in the way. We have been getting by on just my husbands salary so that I can be a stay at home mom, so that limits us even more. We did manage to update our pink tile 1950’s bathroom, but we still have our original 1950’s kitchen, even the same linoleum! We desperately need new carpeting in our living room, but just can’t handle another monthly bill right now!
I also wanted to say I totally agree with Michelle (#27) when she talks about home ownership maybe not being all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve been wondering the same lately. Eventually everything that you do in a house will have to be redone and at great expense. Add to that all the routine expenses and it’s hard to break even. I’d be curious to see if anyone has researched it fully to see if home ownership is really the way to go.
I understand where you are coming from and why it can be hard to watch a show that fixes up a home that starts out ugly. Yet, I love Fixer Upper. I don’t let it get me down about what I don’t have. I love seeing all the different things they do to simplify and creatively make the once, usually unlivable house into a relaxing home. I also love how Joanna chooses design that is more classical than trendy. They are choices that I could live with for a long time if not forever. Aside from the design part of the show, it is great entertainment by showing great family relationships. They treat each other with love, respect and honor. May it be different behind the scene? Yes, but don’t we all show our best behavior in public? ….because we do love, respect and honor those in our family? Here we are, or aren’t, watching a family on tv who doesn’t even own a tv themselves because family is that inportant to them.
I think God led me to this blog post today! My husband and I watch Fixer Upper, and I just love the Gaines. My husband is exactly like Chip, believe it or not, he’s such a funny guy. But I have started feeling the same feelings you describe here. FU was on last night, and all day today I have been grumbling about how tacky my house looks and why can’t I get that Joanna Gaines look and I need to open up walls and get some ship lap (for goodness sake, I never even heard of ship lap before I watched this show) and……blech! I am sick of myself! I actually told my husband this morning i don’t know if I should watch this show anymore, it makes me so discontent. God gave us a beautiful home, and I am really grateful for it. I need to remind myself what we are seeing on TV isn’t always the reality. What looks stunning on camera may or may not be practical. I mean, those beautiful open windows with all the natural light looks gorgeous but IT’S TEXAS AND IT’S HOT AS BLAZES AND WHY AREN’T THERE EVER ANY BLINDS? I live in Oklahoma and I would never give up my blinds or my ceiling fans.
Thank you for your honesty. This was a refreshing post to read and the Money Pit clip was perfect!
I totally understand what everyone is saying in the comments above. I have felt what they are feeling in the past, then we fell on hard times and had to resort to living with friends to recuperate and while they were kind enough to help it wasn’t like having your own space. I remember driving around looking at homes and begging God to help us find a place we could afford even if it wasn’t what we were used to. We did find a house and at that point we couldn’t watch shows like fixer upper either,it was depressing to know we couldn’t do the things that we longed to do. In time our situation changed and I can watch again and matter of fact have frequented the store . My point is be patient, watch the shows and tell yourself one day I’m going to use that idea. Keep in mind what you are depressed over someone else would love to have. There are many unfortunate situations out there and to have a space of their own with flushing toilets and running water and rooms for their children to lay their heads.at night is but a dream to them. Many people in shelters and cars and homeless do to situations beyond their control. Your home dosent look that bad does it?
I completely agree with your post. I was looking up ideas for decorating and came upon this. What was supposed to be a fun experience redecorating my home I found it to be stressful and frustrating because I do not have the money to buy all of the things I see on fixer upper or any home decor show. Thank you for reminding me to be content and grateful. Thank God my heavenly father for his guidance and patience with me
We recently moved into our new home and what I want to know is how they are able to fix those homes for so little money. I know how much new flooring, cabinets, countertops, roofing, siding and windows cost and it’s not THAT cheap. That’s the part that frustrates me about these shows!
I want to thank you for this post. We moved into our “starter home” 16 years ago and then life happened. So many times we started looking for our next home only to have something in our house brake, or go wrong in our lives. We kept putting off updating, painting, flooring, ect.etc. because we thought we’d do it when we moved. Well, now we’re no longer moving and I feel stuck in a house I hate.
I really needed to hear what you said in this blog. I compare myself too often to my friends’ homes. Iam working on my gratitude for a place to call home and trying to make it homey. THANK YOU for your honesty.