If you’ve ever read my stuff on this blog, you know I tend to ramble. I’ll usually meander around, like, deep mental-health-type things from a guy’s perspective, and go off on tangents that have nothing to do with the subject at hand before reigning it back in to prove a point. Well, rest easy guys. Today is different. I just wanted to pop in while we’re designing our future farmhouse to write a quick post about how I’m pretty much an expert designer now. Just a brisk little post about five things I’ve contributed to the design plan that Emily didn’t think of. This means I’m kinda better than her at being a design blogger. No meanders, no random tangents, just the facts. Promise.
I’ve never been much of a video game guy. My parents wouldn’t allow us to have them growing up, no matter how many times my brother and I hissed through clenched teeth, “You’re, like, so tight!”. The term ‘tight’ meaning strict and mean. And although my parents were neither strict nor mean, we would hurl the phrase at them any time we didn’t get our way. I can’t have the new hot pink Andre Agassi’s? Ugh! You guys are so tight! No Squeezits in my packed lunch like all the other fourth graders? Quit being so tight! But looking back now, I’m actually glad that my folks were, “Like, the tightest parents of all our friends! UGH!” because we never really had the opportunity to catch the addiction to the pixelated time-suck of video games (not to mention the tooth-rot that came from Squeezits). I mean, sure, we would body-check our friends out of the way when we visited their homes, and commandeer their Nintendo for hours. Sad, deprived creatures that we were, the 8-bit glow gave us a thrill we couldn’t get at home, so we nearly sucked the controllers into our mouths when we visited friends. Sleepovers were especially bad, a challenge to see how many of the 24 hours could be spent playing video games. I remember one night in a buddy’s room at 4 am, not being able to tell whether I was dreaming about Super Mario Bros 2 or still playing it. So I guess there’s something to be said about moderation.
Well, I’ve been introduced to a new kind of video game and I’m kind of obsessed with it. It’s called ‘Whatever The Program Is That Anne From Arciform Uses’ and it needs to be on the cover of the next Game Informer magazine. It’s basically a program in which Anne has plugged our future farmhouse, all the exact measurements down to the light sockets, and is able to manipulate it in real-time. In 3D! …Kinda. It’s amazing. It’s like dressing your video game character up in any suit of armor you can imagine and spinning him around to see all the sides. Wanna take out this wall? Boom, here’s how it would look. Wanna pop out a bunch more windows? Bam, take a walkthrough. Wanna put in a secret fireman’s pole that slides down to a hidden mancave in the basement that even Emily doesn’t know about? Pow! That’s never gonna happen. But it could! Do you see all the exclamation points I’m using? That’s because there’s finally a way for me to be like actually excited about designing our future house! Which is pretty remarkable.
I wasn’t ever super involved in designing any of our previous abodes. I was in a deep depression for the Glendale renovation and just kind of stuck my tongue out at the whole thing. Which was really awesome for Emily, I’m sure. Then for our Los Feliz house, I tried to get more into it, but the whole thing was overwhelming for someone who isn’t that design-minded, so I took a backseat and threw in little ideas here and there. The Mountain House was always going to be a showcase for Em’s work and a content machine for the blog, but I was more invested in it because it was a cabin in the woods and I love that kind of thing. ‘Cause I’m a MAN, MAN! I started out strong – began filming all the design stuff, like I Design, You Decide. I gave lots of input, visited tile places, and made serious decisions like how we should clad everything in wood. But we had like three of Emily’s employees handling the design full-time so I got used to just kicking my feet up and letting them do all the work, and I just kind of let it go altogether. Frankly, when you’re married to a design expert, you don’t really feel all that needed when it comes to design input. And that’s not meant to be read in a negative way, I was never excluded from any discussions, quite the opposite, Emily always wanted me to participate more. But I’m not good at design and she had a team of pros, so what could I possibly contribute?
Well, it turns out, when you put a video game in front of me, I can contribute a ton! I’ve been hyper-involved since day one of designing our farm up in Portland. Maybe it’s the mental shift from a year of isolation, maybe it’s having an outside design team take on the hard work, or maybe it’s just that the property is that magical? Whatever it is, I’m super excited when we talk design these days. Like, who knew that I’d have an opinion on the amount of muntins should be in our vista window, terms that I definitely know and use now that I’m a pro designer. It’s been a blast to sit in on the weekly Zooms where we rotate and scrutinize all the nooks and crannies of the house. I even had a few big suggestions that may end up in the final plans (can’t say what they were yet, no spoilers!). And because I’m now an official design blogger with a huge audience that I grew myself and is reading this because I’m an expert, I want to highlight a few things that have come up in our process so far that were sources of disagreement for Em and me. I’ll let you decide who is the more expert designer.
1. I don’t want paneling in the house. There seems to be an emerging pattern for what I like in our successive homes, and it’s a trimming down of the busy. After spending months here in the Mountain House I realized why I feel so much peace here. Yes, there is wood on the ceiling and all over the kitchen, but all the walls are just a smooth matte white with not a lot of colorful art. It’s kinda like a really professionally baked white cake. Why would you throw a bunch of sprinkles and messy glops of writing all over it? Those things don’t taste good anyway! Yeah, they’re great for a kid’s birthday, but if you want to sit and admire a cake on a quiet Sunday morning, you know how people just stare at cakes on Sunday mornings? Wouldn’t you want a clean, velvety smooth, white cake? Well, that’s why I don’t want paneling. I have enough chaos with kids and work and dogs and alpacas (let’s see if she catches that), so I don’t need any more lines to look at when I’m zoning out.
2. I don’t want a shower room in our primary bathroom. I didn’t even know what shower room meant before our video game sessions, and maybe I’m not even using it right, but I’m a design blogger now so the rules don’t apply to me. But I think it’s a shower that’s enclosed by walls and tile rather than surrounded by glass. I like the openness of a glass surround. I know it seems like the opposite of what I guy would want, but I think our bathroom should feel like a hotel spa, big and bright and flowy. Maybe it’s because I spent my college years in a rental that had a tiled shower stall that was so small that the freezing cold tile would goose me every time I turned to a different side. My echoed yelps would make my roommates laugh, but it sucked! I know enclosed shower rooms are cozy, I know they’re private, but I just don’t like them as much as glass. I don’t know why! Maybe it’s because I like to fog them up and press my buttcheeks on the glass and laugh at how it looks like two giant cartoon-alien eyes peering into the shower. I mean, is that so wrong?! But seriously, I think it looks way more luxurious to have a glass shower surround when you’re looking at the bathroom as a whole. And I’m nothing if not luxurious.
3. No auto-appliances. If the Terminator movies have taught us anything, it’s that robots will kill us all eventually. So why would you want to put your privates in the jaws of a bloodthirsty cyborg unit? When it comes to appliances, I want control. Manual control. I need knobs.
4. No added closet in the entry. Emily wanted a small closet added to the front entry because she is tired of seeing all our snow jackets hung and flung all over the place. Also, she said that when Barack Obama comes to our dinner party, he would want a nice, formal place to hang his jacket. I said no. It was too cramped with the closet – Anne drew it up and we stood in the virtual entryway. And it took up too much of the room and was superfluous. I said we can do hooks and a coat rack. Besides, Barack is cool enough to hang his jacket on a rack. He’s super down to Earth. Sorry, number four is kinda boring. But it was a disagreement.
5. This one doesn’t have anything to do with design, more with the farm in general – I Want Animals! I mean, what’s the point of having pastures if you don’t have any livestock grazing on them. I grew up with horses, but I don’t want horses, they’re too big and we have a love/hate thing between us. The amount of bites and kicks and bucks I’ve been on the receiving end of… It’s just too much. BUT I still want some animals roaming the land up there. My pick right now is alpacas because they’re so stupid looking in the best way. They make me laugh so much when they chew. And the fluffy fur, I mean come on. I’d be into goats for clearing brush, but I’ve been butted by some mean goat before and that would be a bummer. Also, their poop is hilarious. I would do a mini-thing, like either a miniature donkey or Shetland pony? Those seem like they may need more attention though. Which is Emily’s big protestation, that we have enough responsibilities already and we should see how it goes. Meh. We’ll at least get some laying hens and maybe split the coup up for a rabbit hutch. Elliot really wants a flop-eared bunny and I’m not going to discourage it. I want creatures! I don’t have a green thumb, like, I have whatever the opposite of that is. I don’t have the patience for crops, it’s just not interesting to me. But I’d shovel a lot of sh*t for some animals.
I’m sure there will be more disagreements as the process continues and I’ll come here to vent, so stay tuned. It feels good to know that as a successful design blogger I can get come here for support when I just need to get away from all the stressful work I’m doing on the farmhouse. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go see if Anne can add a man-sized whoopie cushion to the upstairs landing and let me virtually jump on it.