Stop Giving Me Low House-Esteem!

It’s a thing people. A thing. And we have HGTV, Instagram and other forms of social media and all those sneaky ads that pop up on our phone or Facebook or whatever.

Home Decorating Ideas, Kitchen Designs, Paint Colors - House Beautiful

My home will never look like this–first of all, I can’t afford custom design. Secondly, I can’t afford custom design.

Let’s have a little backstory first.

I grew up, before moving to Long Island in a duplex in Ozone Park, NY.  My immediate family lived on the bottom floor, and my grandparents and aunt lived on the top. That house, to me, still remains close to perfection.

This was actually the house next door but you get the gist.

The living room was in the very front of the house—and being in a borough, one could look out the window and see all the goings on of neighborhood families and friends.  So much that when a stranger was spotted skeptical eyes stared at the image—even from inside the house.

I don’t have photos of the interior of the old house but the living room walls looked just like this with a beige-ish wall color.

My mother had this room decorated beautifully. Not extravagantly—but incredibly tasteful. She had curtains hung with care, a big fluffy sofa that was dressed in slipcovers—in very 1950’s prints during three seasons and in the summer, the sofa, along with two club chairs that were formerly dressed in the same slipcovered fabric, were all naked. As it should be during those hot months.

Enjoy this photograph of my Aunt Tessie and my mother (right) in front of our house in Ozone park. You can see in the background my mom had a thing for window coverings.

The next room, another large room, served as a dining room—a rather formal one at that. And one that was rarely used.  The walls of these rooms were thick. No sheetrock. No drywall. You could say the building was as strong as a brick shithouse.

Me, on the far right in the coat and beret with the neighborhood girls on the stoop! We all had a stoop!

Next was the kitchen—and it was large enough to have a table, chairs, and incredible space for the appliances and my mother to cook the daily meals.  Next to the kitchen was a pantry and stairs that led to the “cellar”. We didn’t have a basement. There was no fancy furniture. No area for a “she shed” or a “man cave”. We all dwelled together as one family unit.  So back to the cellar. There was a little area where my father installed Popeye the Sailorman linoleum. It was the area that I, along with my sister, played while my mother did the laundry—the machine being in that same cellar. Also in the cellar was an area of utter mystery and intrigue. The coal bin. Back then our home was heated with coal. I remember the coal deliveries and I remember my dad, shoveling coal into the furnace that would bring heat to the radiators. Simple. No technology needed. And the heat in the home was outstanding.

Look at that glistening coal! It’s so funny because I remember the coal bin so well!

The design of the house was also a sort-of shotgun style where the front rooms, to the kitchen were walk-through.  The floors were all hard wood that my obsessive mother would wax and buff once a month and they were absolutely beautiful. There were no decorators. The TV stations showcased Jack La Lane teaching stay-at-home wives and mothers how they could stay in shape and in the afternoon, I remember my mother watching a plethora of cooking shows. But TV didn’t run our lives.  We were more active and our homes were more pragmatic back then. An abode for families to enjoy each other and as long as the house was clean and tidy—that’s what mattered.

And over the years, I’ve lived in studio apartments as a young twenty-something in NYC, in larger NYC apartments, and in larger homes.   All decorated to my taste but nothing elaborate.

The Chatillion at 214 Riverside Drive in New York | NY nesting

The Chattilion aka 214 Riverside Drive. Living in this building was like living in a dorm. It was so much fun!  And the rent was only $275 a month for a one-bedroom!

Fast forward to the home The Frenchman and I currently own.  As I sit here writing this post, I am looking at the two long and narrow windows that are in the living room. Blinds are drawn in the evening for privacy and during the day, the light flows in from the opened slots.

183 Hudson Dr, Phoenixville, PA 19460 | MLS# 1003452767 | Redfin

Our townhome. I love it because it’s a corner unit! 

LOL. Almost every day I ponder window treatments then I get stressed out because of drywall!

So, this is where I started to establish low home-esteem.  My windows, other than the blinds, are naked. There are no window treatments.  But before I move on, please allow me to explain this low-home esteem. Then I’ll show you what I mean.

HGTV. Remember the old-school House Hunters?  Back maybe ten years ago? People were actually in search of homes that worked for them and within their budget.

House Hunters - HGTV Reality Series - Where To Watch

House Hunters–the show where one half of a couple doesn’t work and the other one is an influencer and has either two million to spend on a home or….they want a custom mansion for $450K

Now—you have couples, many of them looking for a home way outside their budget of affordability. They want all the bells and whistles. Updated kitchen, spa bathroom, pool, land far away from neighbors.  Basically, they want a custom-built home for, on the average of $450K.  Uma. Then they end up buying a fixer-upper.  Proof that House Hunters is scripted and further proof that, unless couples are looking for future foreclosure, their grandiose plans are lowered a notch.

House Hunters' Episodes That Are Next Level - Lonny

When the budget is $450 K but you want a custom mansion!

Then we have Chip and Johanna—the infamous curators of Shiplap. Granted, I do like her taste in home furnishings but let us take a small step back. The couples are paying to have the homes they are purchasing to be fixed up.  They are also paying for all that staged furniture, if they chose to do so. This would lend itself for a substantial amount of money for all new items.

Fixer Upper's best-ever renovations |

Possibly one of the nicest Fixer Upper interiors I’ve ever seen, but the home owners have to pay extra for this–and can they even afford it?

I used to like them but honestly, now their brand Magnolia is nothing but overpriced crap sold at Target.

Primed (Ready to Paint) DIY Shiplap Planks | Ninth & Vine

I do find the shiplap inviting though. I’m getting ideas…..

Don’t get me started on The Property Brothers. I used to really love them. I mean, twice the amount of adorableness—but even they jumped the shark with the furnishings.

I can’t watch these two cuties anymore. Why? Because Vincent and I are NOT Property Handypeople!

Actually, the only home decorator I enjoy is Nicole Curtis. She of the restorations to old homes in the Detroit area. I love watching how she takes a torn down, abandoned home and restores it. Rather than knock down walls to make a “living space”, she reconstructs rooms.


Now Nicole has a show where she restores old lake houses. I freaking adore her!

She restores old, Detroit homes and turns them into visions of beauty.

It’s amazing and her taste is impeccable!

And to be honest, I am a room person. I love those designated, separate spaces.

So yeah, I definitely experience low home-esteem. And I shouldn’t.

We have a townhouse. Both my husband and I had single-family homes when we were younger adults raising our children (child in his case).  Now, as empty-nesters it’s a more practical choice to live in a townhome. We purchased nine years ago and have hardly made updates.

The walls can be painted but we’re just not sure as to what colors we want.  It’s an expensive undertaking and at my husband’s age, he certainly doesn’t need to be getting on a ladder and risking a fall.

Don’t even broach the verticals in the sun room. I hate them. And while I realize that “hate” is a strong and offensive word these days, I have no shame nor do I apologize for using that word to describe these vile window coverings. They make me cringe.  But I love our sunroom so much that I’ve dealt with this for almost ten years. And they, although outdated, don’t make the house look trashy.

The verticals. I can’t stand them. For almost ten years, I’ve been complaining and still–they hang!

Carpeting.  Shhhh!  I’m secretly waiting for the Frenchman to go to France by himself on family business so I can literally rip the carpeting off the stairways, sand the wood that lies underneath, and paint each step with a shiny enamel then add an oriental runner.  Carpeting is the bane of my existence.  It is a petri dish for germs and microscopic bugs and other nasty beings. No matter how many times these disgusting lays of fabric are vacuumed or cleaned, they bother me.

Redo Stairs | How to Remove Carpet and Prep Stair Risers

I want to do this to our stairs. Two stairways. Yes. I do. See how much prettier the stairway without the filthy carpeting looks? Now I have low stair esteem!

We did have crown molding added to the upstairs bedrooms.

Crown molding was added to all upstairs bedrooms.

And, last week, my husband paid a small fortune to have the toilet seat in my little bathroom replaced.

This was a big deal to my husband. It bothered him that the original toilet seat was the wrong size. Here’s the thing–he doesn’t even USE this bathroom. I do. And I never noticed the seat was the wrong size. I thought it was just my fat ass.

Our home, when we don’t have visitors, has blankets strewn on the sofas in the living room due to Chippy’s love for being a couch potato canine.

The normal state of our living room sofas. And you wonder why I have low house esteem..

Obviously, Chippy has a different point of view!

However, THIS is the way I want to view our sofas!

Is that so much to ask?

Our dining room table is my work space—a delightful mélange of  laptop, journals, pens, paper, and whatever I can pile upon it to create an artistic mess.  When guests arrive, the table is properly cleared and then set for meals.

I’m beginning to think that dining rooms are just another word for workspace! When the kids were in school, the dining room table was project city. Nowadays my blogging and journaling stuff rests on it!

But it cleans up nicely…

Sometimes I'm an Absolute Ingrate. But I Have Lots to Be Thankful For! | Atypical  60

…and looks even nicer when dinner guests arrive!

The downstairs family living space? It hasn’t changed since we moved in. That’s because the only time it’s used is when the kids visit or when I’m ironing and want to watch TV. There is a bedroom down there and my husband decided to purchase a cabinet to store extra bed linens.

The downstairs guest bedroom is clean and comfy. And that’s all that matters–it doesn’t need to be like a hotel room.

And when the kids visit, they can always relax here and even watch..

….the tv!

Sadly, this small cabinet didn’t fit in the bedroom and is now standing flush against the door leading to the common space outside. A door!  It drives me crazy to look at it but then I think—well, if someone tries to break in, they won’t get too far because the cabinet is protecting the entrance.

This thing. I can’t stand looking at it flush against the door. WTF? I would rather paint it and bring it upstairs.

The kitchen area. Okay. This is a large area and even though  it’s looking nice and airy, there’s a lot of wasted space and my workspace for cooking and baking allows only for one person. Since I don’t want anyone in my cooking space, I’m fine with this.

The work area in the kitchen is small..

A major lack of “good” working space but still, I’m able to bake and cook –I just need to work with the space I have.

The small table and chairs are part of the kitchen space..

come-on-cabinet | Atypical 60

..and this vintage cupboard is also a part of the kitchen space..


But when I see these magnificent kitchens with all the latest and greatest in appliances and aesthetics, it makes me feel that there’s something wrong with me in the fact I’m not going into debt to make my kitchen more “guest” friendly.

32 Magnificent Custom Luxury Kitchen Designs by Drury Design

Now, THIS kitchen has a ton of work space. However, I will not go into debt to remodel our kitchen.

But..the kitchen space also leads to my favorite nook in the house–the sunroom. And if I was going to do ANY updates it would be to add french doors  so the sunroom would be shut off from the rest of the house into it’s little designated space of a separate room!

My favorite space in the house. I love to cuddle up with a book or cup of tea in here!

The little room where I apply my makeup in the morning that doubles as a guest bedroom?  During the week, it accumulates into an untidy mess—I waste so much time drinking coffee and getting ready that if I take the time to tidy up, I’ll be late to work.

Yeah. The mess accumulates daily..

But on the weekends or when guests arrive, it’s all tidy!

And then it gets cleaned up again on the weekends or when the cleaning people arrive.

It’s a nice little room!

Our bedroom.  It’s large. Very large.  And I’ve been meaning to purchase an area rug to warm the room up a bit, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Other than that, the furniture fits the purpose.

The bed?  The Frenchman loves any bed coverings with blue. I do not. If it was up to me, I would have bed linens with no color or pattern at all. But one must pick and choose their battles.

Not my choice for bed linens. It’s too fussy!

The Frenchman’s favorite item in our home. The huge TV in the bedroom!

I love this oriential cabinet in the corner!

And when push comes to shove, yeah, there are updates that we can make but then we would have to give up travel. And while we are physically able to travel, making life memories comes first.

The Return to France. Ready. Jet. Go No! | Atypical 60

Whether domestically or internationally, for now, the money is better spent on traveling and the memories that travel brings.

The window treatments, the painting, ripping out the remaining carpeting, updating the kitchen—that can all wait.  And it is simply because I love my home the way it is. It is comfortable and inviting.

Yeah. From the welcoming hallway as you enter to the rest of our home–all you need is what makes your house a comfortable and inviting home!

Hmmmmmmmmmm. Maybe I don’t have low house esteem after all!


About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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24 Responses to Stop Giving Me Low House-Esteem!

  1. Elizabeth Lincoln says:

    Your home is lovely! I think we all have moments of low house esteem (great phrase btw). I’m with you though- if there’s a choice between travel or a home improvement, most of the time I’d go for travel, hands’ down!
    How do you like having white slip covered upholstery?

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks Elizabeth. Thank you!! Yeah. Travel comes first–always! The white slip covered upholstery? I love it. I have to wash the slipcovers a few times a year and overall, when the ugly blankets are taken off, they look great!!! XOXO

  2. Kathryn says:

    Your home is beautiful Cath-comfortable and welcoming. And your kitchen-well all I can say given the amazing food you produce from there-it’s perfect! I agree, experiences over dazzling home decor.

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks Kathryn. Yeah. My kitchen is absolute proof that you don’t need the biggest cooking or working area. It’s about the cook–not the look! XOXOXOXO

  3. Sharon Daly says:

    You certainly have your priorities right! Summer on the Rivera or home decor? No contest! Your house is cozy and welcoming. Love your Blue Dog print! I have one of the Washington Blue Dog with the White House and the Capitol in the background.

    • Catherine says:

      Ahhhhh. Sharon! The Rodrigue Blue Dog. I got mine in New Orleans many years ago and love it–I always found those blue dogs so charming and fun! XOXOXOXO

  4. I remember the coal bin and and coal deliveries from my childhood. These memories have stuck with me for some reason, because I find I don’t remember a lot! I usually ask my best friend something about my history (we grew up together) and she sets me straight. 😏

  5. Bonnie says:

    Your home looks very lovingly lived in. That’s what’s important. Like you our home has it’s odd “moments’ but that makes the place all the more personal. While I love to see the pictures of the perfect home – kitchen etc. They never feel lived in. Enjoy spending your money making memories – the best use of money possible.

    • Catherine says:

      HI Bonnie. Thank you! I LOVE a lived in look–TBH, my mother didn’t allow us to “use” the living room unless guests were over. I could never understand that. A house is to live in. And while some homes often look as though they belong in a museum, I like to plop down on the sofa and read a book! XOXOXO

  6. Donna says:

    Catherine, I’m with you…there are some things I’d like to change in our home, but we want to travel while we’re still in good shape (and in good health)!

  7. marsha57 says:

    I think your home is so classic and perfectly you. I love color and have already painted our kitchen and dining area! We moved into our condo in August. I goofed and picked Sherwin Williams Antique White which, in our lighting, reads more antique parchment yellow. I convinced my husband it was time to paint last week. He stays off the ladders so I do all the high work as well as the cutting in at the floor. I’m all contorted with my nose almost on the wall because the dang bifocals just don’t cut it for that fine detail work! I absolutely agree with you on the Gaines crew. I think it’s become such a cash grab for them. I guess that’s part of the American dream, but it bugs me that they’re pitched as such an All American (whatever that means anymore) couple. I always wonder where the people work on that house hunting show. I wonder where they even work. Nicole Curtis is fabulous! I love how this single mother takes on city hall and wins, saves gorgeous homes, and produces a really good show. Another good show that’s no longer on was Sarah’s House. I imagine it can be found somewhere. While I didn’t always like her designs, I did like how she went about redoing spaces.

    • Catherine says:

      Marsha. You are a better woman than I. I’ve fallen off ladders in the past and my accident track record isn’t that great. OMG. I remember when I painted what I thought was a navy blue (I loved dark walls when we lived in NYC) and it ended up looking like a Philips Milk of Magnesia bottle blue. That paint was changed within a weekend!
      The thing with the Gains and most of those other “home” couples is that they are all shoved in our faces as All-American–but I’m beginning to think that has an adverse reaction these days! Nicole rocks it. She’s feisty and a fighter–you nailed her personality! I’ll have to look for Sarah’s house–I would probably enjoy it! XOXOXO

  8. Momcat says:

    We are in the planning stage of selling our (well lived in) home of almost 40 years.
    It looking forward to the House Hunter types….
    My neighbours just sold their place and one day an agent came by with a pair of millennials to look at the house. My neighbour was in the house during the showing of her exceptional home and said that from the way they spoke you’d think this couple were straight out of House Hunters. They were very critical of the house, the decor(!) my neighbour is one of the cities top interior designers,..critiqued the appliances etc.etc. then loudly stated the house was way over priced @1,400,000.00 which is a standard comp for this hood. My neighbour couldn’t hold back and said politely’then this isn’t the right house for you’! She said the agent looked like she was going to throw up:)) My neighbour said she was sure they couldn’t afford to put an offer on it and wondered why the agent wasted her time.
    So not looking forward to the selling process, seems everyone watches HGTV and they are all experts!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Al, Ugh. Don’t get me started on Real Estate agents. They are vile.And the entitled couples who do nothing but criticize really nice homes–have no taste other than “Mommy’s basement” style. It’s ridiculous. And I swear that these TV shows are largely responsible for our delusions. LOL. Best of luck with selling the house. Where are you planning on moving? XOXOXO

  9. Sandra says:

    Your home is warm and inviting and you have lovely childhood memories. We downsized to an apartment after 40 years of home owning and never regretted it. Travel to France is ALWAYS a good idea-you would miss not going more than window treatments! Experiences trump stuff in my opinion.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Sandra, Hey. I would LOVE to downsize to an apartment. Get rid of most of our stuff but my husband loves the space of the house. And yeah—travel and experiences definitely trump the stuff to be sure! XOXOXO

  10. juliet brown says:

    I love your house, not so keen on the overly styled ones (where do you sit if all the space is taken up by cushions??? what do people do in such immaculate homes, especially without books or things to do???? if it starts as “perfect” how does it evolve and get added to and amended as your grow and change and buy new house-things… do you demand a dress code of visitors so they fit with the decor? how do your space visitors to fit around your cushions? where the heck do they put a wee glass of wine or nibbles?? so many questions…). As for your windows without curtains, I much prefer that look, we have bamboo blinds in our bedroom after we painted and got rid of some big heavy drapes… I LOVE waking up with the light, it has improved my sleep patterns dramatically (I also get very anxious/claustrophobic if I’m in a really dark room, I find it truly horrific), I dislike carpet and curtains and yeah that’s just me but I am on a house mission to get rid of our carpets, wish me luck with that as the husband hates spending money, he once nailed the edges of a huge hole in the carpet down in the old house rather than even discuss options.

    • Catherine says:

      Hahaha! Juliet! I think our husbands are related in a way. I cannot STAND carpeting and the Frenchman is fine with it. He even went as far as to tell me there is NO wood under the carpeting on the stairs. I challenged with a “let’s find out then”!! Its so weird. In the summer I love not having curtains its during the winter that I ponder! XOXOXOXO

  11. kyriaana says:

    Yours is a fabulous home, Cathe!!! I love the way it’s decorated; very inviting. Your sunroom and the kitchen area with the cabinet and table are special!!! Also, one thing I noticed about your mother and aunt is that they have beautifully slender legs — just like you do. My shoe size is on the wide side … My genes bypassed mom’s slender feet. So I’ve got a little envy there. I agree that making travel memories is important. After the excursions, one returns to one’s nest at home, and HOME is love. Thanks for a great post!!!

  12. Susan D says:

    A very different blog for you and very enjoyable. Your home is lovely and not over styled as so many homes are. The most important thing is that it is a happy home. ❤️
    Susan D

  13. Cyndy Floor says:

    Thank goodness you got the right size toilet seat. We were worried!

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