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Flip That House, Not the Channel

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I spent most of my birthday stuck on a plane for five hours longer than I’d been planning, yet I counted myself among the lucky ones, all things considered. After all, I had had access to two of my favorite TV channels: HGTV and TLC.


Favorite? Who am I kidding? Two of my addictions. I can flip back and forth between those two channels for far longer than five hours.


Trapped and unable to go anywhere, stuck in an ice storm that prevented my flight from taking off and getting to my destination on time, I could at least escape into a viewing marathon of shows on home decorating and organization.


Am I a hopeless slob who needs a professional organizer to put all my papers and books in order? Nope, I pride myself on my filing system and alphabetize my DVDs, CDs, and bookshelves. Do I have big home renovations planned? No, again. I live in a roomy (for New York City) two-bedroom apartment. Before we moved in, the main selling points that got me were the fantastic colors on the walls. I believe my exact words to our landlord were, “We’ll take it, as long as you promise not to repaint.” Anyway, as a renter, I couldn’t really change anything major about my apartment even if I wanted to.


So besides watching these shows for entertainment, what’s the point? I mean, on a normal Saturday I could watch any of the three episodes of Masterpiece Theatre I have on my Tivo; or in the case of that recent plane journey, dive into the enormous book I’d brought along to read on the trip.


Well, I think it’s because I’m a planner. In the same way I like to have my next vacation in mind before I’m on my way home from the last, I like to look ahead to some time when I might have cause to apply all the home decorating wisdom I’ve garnered from these two networks. Someday I might want to do that, I think to myself as I watch the couples on Trading Spaces repaint vintage furniture. I could do that, I tell myself as I watch the Design on a Dime team re-tile a country kitchen table. I study the color wheel on Get Color with the attention I once devoted to English Romantic poetry and Victorian social history (and just look at how handy that knowledge has been for me!). I dream of the matching rattan baskets and boxes which will hold all my photos attractively when I finally accept that Mission: Organization.


My boyfriend and I plan far-down-the-road projects like ripping down walls in his kitchen or expanding his master bedroom (he’s lucky enough to own a house). We even spend that sleepy, just-before-bed time talking about what colors we could use to repaint his walls. The other day, we priced laminate flooring. 


Nothing is going to happen right away, but with a firm background in these shows, anything seems possible, even to someone whose only experience with construction and major repairs is from building and striking theater sets in college—sets meant to withstand only a few weeks’ use before being stripped again for parts. 


I think that’s the allure of these shows for me—and the fact that every task begins and ends within a tidy half-hour or hour-long block of time. These shows make every project seem imminently doable, even for a complete neophyte.   Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment with Flip That House.

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