I’m meeting my realtor for lunch. Our topic: rebuilding for strangers. My house, that is. I still plan to sell it. When I flew back home from my business trip the night of the fire, I thought I had only one day to clean up all traces of my son’s housesitting from the last week. The photographer had already taken lovely photos of the house, yard, and gazebo, and my realtors were about to post them online. I was already thinking about how I would spend Saturday morning away from the house, hoping that the first potential buyers would be coming by. Instead, I came home to a fire, a son in ER, and a ruined house. My son recovered in a couple of weeks, but it was going to be three or four months for the interior of my house to be restored.
It’s been about eight weeks since the fire though it feels much, much longer. My house is being gutted and there are piles of dry wall in many of the rooms as the giant dumpster outside is already full to the brim. The contractor calls and says I should start thinking about cabinets and paint colors now, just in case they have to order something. This is when I call Sharon, my realtor. I had interviewed Sharon and her husband Bob a few months ago and selected them to sell my house and help me find another one. I especially liked Sharon, who is bubbly in her enthusiasm about, it seems, almost everything. She can also sympathize about the fire as she had had a similar experience some years ago. The son was home alone, asleep, and the dog woke him up to the fire. They were out of their house for several months, too. When I talk about how stressed I am, she knows firsthand how it is.
I’ve brought magazines with photos of kitchens and bathrooms I like as well as paint colors. My contractor had suggested a light beige with white trim everywhere, nice and neutral. Personally, I like more color, but I’m not decorating for my tastes. I have to keep those house-hunting strangers in mind. How about a few other neutral colors in some of the rooms, I ask. Nope, Sharon says, take it from me. When developers paint a house, that’s how they do it – the same neutral in every room. Yawn. I guess I’ll live in a boring house for a few months then. We look and discuss lots of options and then bypass most of my personal preferences for impersonal house-selling ones. Personally, I lean towards the lighter woods and a north European or Scandinavian look, but we decide on the cherrywood cabinetry and slightly darker flooring. At least it will still be modern in its basic design. That’s what most people want, she tells me, and I take her word on it. My contractor later agrees. They’ve seen a lot more houses than I have, so I concur, and I console myself with the thought that I can do whatever I want to my next house.