There was a period of my life when I watched HGTV obsessively. I didn’t have a job at the time because I was living on my savings attempting to be a screenwriter (No one liked my buddy-cop script that is best described as Lethal Weapon meets Silence of the Lambs. And by no one, I mean the one contest I entered. Perseverance has never been my thing, but a strong fear of rejection has!) I had plenty of time to watch shows like The Property Brothers or Investment Property, which made my then-boyfriend exasperated when I scurried over to the couch to watch reruns of Love it or List It at 2pm EST.
“I can’t watch this shit,” he said on his way out to work at his bar job. “I live in this dump and I can’t afford a house. It’s rubbing it in our faces.”
I shrugged and turned the volume up. I can dream, can’t I, I thought as I pulled the cats over me for warmth in the drafty apartment.
He stopped at the door and looked at me. “Wait, shouldn’t you be writing?”
I shrank further into the pile o’cats and turned up the volume up enough to make the downstairs neighbor bitch about the noise again as the narrator ran down the details of the homeowner’s current “shitty” home. “Oh, look at that,” I screamed over the jangly theme music while looking at my pretend watch. “You’re going to be late.”
I don’t know why I liked watching home buying shows. Maybe it had something to do with my parents dragging us to model home showings for years when they were researching builders for a new house. Or maybe I just wanted to feel like I lived in a nicer home than I was living in. Or maybe I wanted to chase the high of my favorite House Hunters episode when I guy walked onto the balcony of a luxury high-rise, looked down at the tentaments literally and figuratively beneath him, and groaned, “I can see poor people?!”
I stopped watching HGTV years ago (man, fuck jobs!) but I still rent and our place of 5 years doesn’t look like any of those gray-walled homes or even like the cute-ass places I see on influencer Instagrams. The ones where the decor style is either a monochromatic minimalism or just a fucking explosion of 16 shades of pink and 47 different patterns of wallpapers that somehow works together.
We don’t have a decor style, unless “couch potato chic” is one. The couch and TV are nice, but nothing else is. I have hung up zero woven wall hangings. I bought a plant-hanging macrame kit for Robert Plant from Michaels but it’s still in the packaging because I remembered that White Cat loves attacking string and how am I supposed to do macrame and not have my hands torn to ribbons with him around? It doesn’t matter anymore because the plant died.
Cute pillows are expensive and I’m always wondering, “How do I wash this thing after my open mouth afternoon naps? Or when I dribble ketchup on it?” Then I bought another plant to replace Robert Plant. Then the new plant died. I buy funny art, like a hot dog riding a bicycle underneath “Chicago!” or Monty Python’s Black Knight in the center of a clock with his limbs at the bottom or bizarre cat prints but none of it comprises a single gallery wall.
The real problem isn’t that our home lacks a decor style. It’s that there’s shit everywhere and I don’t want to deal with it. Organizing all the stuff we collected in our decades on Earth is like a never-ending 3D Tetris nightmare.
I’ve been struggling for two weeks to summon up the wherewithal to find the printer cable (I know where it is–two feet from the printer) to plug in the printer (it’s sitting directly above an outlet) to print out a rebate (that’s definitely expired at this point) for my contacts I bought months ago.
I am alone here in wondering how people’s homes look cute as fuck? Do you ever just look around your own home, imagining it through someone else’s eyes, and notice how you actually live? We get so used to our shit, but it’s usually only when someone is coming over, and only then you’re like, “How long has this entire room been taken over by Amazon boxes? And where did this 6-feet tall tumbleweed of my hair and cat fur come from? Was it always here?”
But maybe it’s not that bad? I really don’t think it is. I think it’s just normal. Then I went searching for random blogs on home decorating tips to see how fucked this place was. I chose one randomly to compare myself to whoever this person (i.e. hired freelance writer, obvi) thinks are basic decorating skills.
Set the Tone at the Front Door
This one I’ve nailed, actually. As soon as you step inside my apartment you know what to expect. The jumble of shoes you’re tripping over in the entryway and the ever-present scent of “Musty Basement” is a sure sign you’ll have at least one cat litter box and overflowing trash can (including the Jenga pile of recycling) in your line of sight at all times.
“Be realistic about what you need or don’t need.” Bitch, I’m trying, but we have three tiny closets in here and one has two-thirds of it taken up by a giant pink pig Mike won at a state fair. An event he attended by himself and apparently, after he won the pig, children surrounded him for it, which he thought was hilarious and since he was an adult male alone at a state fair, also very alarming.
Mix colors? What is this? Doesn’t everyone except Kim Kardashian live in a home with more than one color present? I nailed this one, obviously, because I and no one else except the ultrarich live in a blank void.
Lose the Frame
This one confused me. Intially, it seems they’re recommending people bust out the poster putty and put up decor from childhood: torn out photos from TigerBeat or their favorite black light poster (I’m old. Leave it alone).
But it’s not. They’re saying to hang up sculptures? And textiles? I don’t know, decorations with angles and crevices seem like a nightmare to my delicate sinuses with all the cat dander and dust floating through this place because fuck vacuuming. This sounds like an updated version of ’90s thing where every surface was covered with fake plants.
Just Add Mirrors
Buying a full-length mirror has been on my to-do list for at least two years. Instead, I stand on my bed and try to see what my outfit looks like in the mirror over my dresser, all hunched over with my neck bent like a swan trying to see myself. Doesn’t really work, but I do have a cute decorative triangle mirror in the corner! Like a bigger version of the mirror Matthew McConaughey stared into in the only good season of True Detective. I have a mirror to stare into my psyche but none to tell me if I need bigger pants.
Blend Your Fixtures
Jesus, I’m already getting so bored with this list. No wonder I’ve never done this. Fixtures? Like my lamps and bookshelves and shit? Yeah, nothing matches, but not on purpose. Check.
Create Fascinating Displays
“A striking contemporary table can be brought alive by creating a light display – invest in a few different lights, including positionable stage lights and lights that hang from the ceiling, and play around until you find a display you love.”
They’re telling me to create light shows on an end table. You know, the one where I stack the mail next to the cat’s ashes. Hahahaha who wrote this hahahahaha–also no.
Choose a Theme
Is ‘Disorganized Cat Lady’ a theme? No? Fuck.
“Cover one wall with bold wallpaper.” I like this! I should do this! But I would take it too far and Mike would come home and be like, “Are those dicks all over that wall?”
“Yeah, they’re wearing fedoras!” I would say back, super happy and covered in wallpaper paste. “I got it on Etsy.”
Use Your Special Items Daily
I guess they’re assuming we’re like our grandparents and have ‘plates for company’? Ha, no. My special items are the Fuck It and Eat a Bag of Dicks mugs, the I’m Going to A La Mode the Fuck Out of This oven mitt and the Cute Fuckers dish towel.
That shit is used on the regular. Nailed it.