Member Musings: Iris Shur

Member Musings features the reflections and thoughts of an NPC member.


There’s something about an open house sign that’s like a siren call to me, especially if it’s in a really upscale neighborhood. Those are homes I would not normally get to see.  Not only that, there is something of the voyeur in me. I find that seeing how other people live is really interesting.

Sometimes people don’t live as well as you thought they would. When I was house hunting, it boggled my mind how few people cleaned the top of their stove. You would think that if they were trying to sell their home, they would make every effort to do that.

One good reason for going to open houses is to get decorating ideas. Which brings me to my recent open house adventure. It was a house on my street—open houses I don’t ever miss. Aside from comparing decorating ideas, we need to know about the competition should we ever decide to sell, right?

The outside of this house was freshly painted. Every bush and tree was in prime condition. As I entered, I experienced a bit of a shock. It was my house. Well, not actually “my” house, but the same builder and exactly the same floor plan. On my street, few homes are similar, so I was taken aback.

It was my home and it was definitely not my home. Every single part of this house was pristine—not a drop of dirt anywhere. All the grout, even in the kitchen, was white. No dings here and there on the walls. Every room was immaculate. The accessories were few but lovely, the furniture ultra clean. It was like a model home but I knew that, like mine, it was at least 20 years old. They even had the proverbial empty but interesting shopping bags on the closet shelves, as model homes often display. Three or four blouses hung in the master bedroom closet.

The walk back to my house was depressing. The dying palm outside my front door added to my unhappiness. Opening my front doors (badly in need of refinishing and new hardware) intensified this feeling of inadequacy. Then I looked around inside. The difference between my house and the “model home” I had just visited was stark. Mine was full of very busy, unusual and quirky art pieces, free standing and on the walls. Here and there the walls were scraped. Evidence of a leak, before I had the roof replaced, remained on a ceiling or two. An oriental rug in the family room was frayed around the edges. The sofas had seen better days. My closets were so stuffed with clothing it was embarrassing. If I were selling my house, what would potential buyers think?

The next day I happened to be talking with a neighbor who lived across the street from that “model home.” I told her of my unhappiness with my home after seeing her neighbor’s house. “Oh,” she replied, “they only live there three weeks a year.”
The fog lifted. That house was almost a virgin home. Mine was a lived-in home.

Suddenly I did a double-take and my house became the safe haven it had been before—colorful, lively and lived-in.
But I will have the dead palm tree removed, the front doors refinished and the door hardware replaced.

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