I am completely addicted to the American TV network – HGTV. I have always been addicted…I think it must be genetic, as my mom is also an addict. Anyway, it just occurred to me that I am totally missing something in my life – the ability to decorate my home. I mean, yes I have “decorated” my house, but it’s nothing like my home in the States. My house in the States was a rainbow…every room was a different color, and had its own mood. My rental homes have been, well…rental homes. I think they lack color and personality. As much as it is my home, it’s not my house.
When we were initially supposed to move to the Czech Republic, we were pleasantly surprised with the housing options. Since this was still an emerging economy, it was a housing boom and things were cheap. There were beautiful brand new homes with big bathrooms and yards (AKA gardens) with in-ground swimming pools. The one downfall was the fact that jetliners were flying over your house because it was close to the airport. When those plans fell through, and we didn’t move to Prague, we thought we had an idea of what to expect in other cities. Boy, were we wrong.
On our next house hunting trip to Geneva our mouths dropped when the doors to the rental houses opened – and not in a good way. We had a HUGE budget, and so we thought we would have the pick of the litter. Each house we entered looked like we were walking into a 1970’s Euro edition of “Ugly House”. The tile décor was horrific (three different designs in the same bathroom), the layouts were peculiar (random sinks in the bedrooms), and the vibe just wasn’t working…oh yeah, did I mention the “Cheese Rooms” and nuclear fallout shelters – I thought Switzerland was neutral, why would they need a fallout shelter? We saw so many houses, and ended up with a smaller semi-detached home that had a newer (90’s era) kitchen and ugly brown tile floors. It too had airplanes flying over head at all hours. We definitely enjoyed our short time there, but we did not have a single picture on the wall, as we couldn’t figure out how to penetrate the concrete walls. It was the most boring hodge-podge of crap shoved into a small space. Looking back, it was pretty pathetic!
When we were preparing for our move to Brussels, I figured we’d be faced with the same sort of issues as Geneva. And, this time I was prepared for it. The housing market in Brussels was different from Geneva (price variance), but we were moving at a peculiar time…October…so we had missed the prime renting season. We never had a “look and see” visit, so we were kind of doing this by the seat of our pants. We looked all over the place, and were faced the dilemma of what house to choose…until we saw the last house. We couldn’t get in because the gate opener was dead, but my husband was able to heave me over the gate to view the house, and I finally I was able to figure out how to open the gate from the inside so he could see it too. It was great…really felt like a home…because it was at one time to our landlords. They raised their family in the house, and you could see that they had cultivated it and took care of it…unlike the rest of the rental properties that were out there.
Are house has some real character with wood floors, a carved door, a very large kitchen with a big refrigerator, a playroom, and big windows with nice sized bedrooms. We also lucked out, and have a beautiful yard with tulips and daffodils in the spring, cherry blossom trees, roses, flowering bushes, hydrangeas…I could go on. The good thing about the yard is that we also have a gardening service, as I would kill all things green and our grass would be up to my knees because the man of the house isn’t around long enough to cut it. As much as I really like this house, I’m still having some issues of “nesting” in it. When we first moved in, I hired a handyman to put stuff up on the walls, and to put up our light fixtures (rental houses come without light fixtures…strange, I know). I can’t paint the walls and I can’t change certain things (like the crazy wallpaper in the toilette room along with the African art window cover). I mean, I guess I could, but why would I want to redecorate someone else’s house then have to put it back to the old way before I moved out!
I have also noticed that my decorating style has changed over the past few years. I am becoming more “uncluttered comfortable contemporary” – is that a style? I’d love to buy stuff, but I find myself hesitating as I don’t know if what I buy will work in my next place, and how to put it all together. Also, it seems that IKEA has monopolized the affordable “child friendly” furniture and accessories market. Besides, most expats have the same stuff…kids beds, sofas, rugs…you get the picture. I refuse to buy anything “nice” until my kids are out of the messy eater stage, but from its current progress…this could be a long time.
So, I guess I’m struggling to figure out how to get over this “itch” I’ve got. I’m trying to sell a few things here and there, and I’m trying to figure out what my style really is. I wish I could just hire someone to do it for me…it would be so much easier. So, if Candice Olson is reading this, and you’d like to take a trip to Brussels…let me know, I’d love to have you.