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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Yet another disappointment


I finally got a call back from the co-op about the townhouse we're moving into at the end of the month. I had left a message asking about the colours, hoping that the woman I spoke to had reached the maintenance guy in time to get just the one colour for paint, and not use white. I'd forgotten she was on holidays, though, so it took a while, and it was another woman who called me back.

First, it turns out it was too late to catch the guy. The bedrooms and upstairs bathroom are in "cool white." Eldest has already said she doesn't plan to unpack until after she finds a colour they *will* approve, and paints her room herself. Of course, we will have to buy the paint and do the work ourselves, but she says she'll pay for it herself, if she has to. I don't blame her.

I did bring up during the call that we had the impression we could choose almost whatever colour we wanted for the bedrooms - I even double checked with the girls, in case I was remembering wrong, but they confirmed how I remembered it. We were asked to avoid colours that would be difficult to paint over (and clearly, their definition of "neutral" is much more limited than is typical). I suppose Youngest's colour might've been a bit much, but Eldest's was about 3 shades away from grey, and the bedroom and bathroom colours shouldn't have been a problem at all. Cost, however, was apparently another factor. It would've been nice to know that ahead of time. It seems the colours we picked would've been more expensive because of the tinting involved to get the shades. Having never had to buy interior house paint myself, I have no idea.

Second, the carpet colour was described to me at being "not the lightest" but a light shade of tan.

So it's basically beige.

Beige and white. That was pretty much my nightmare.

That wasn't the end, though. It turns out that our choice for lino, which hadn't been brought up when I found out about all this, was also not approved, because it was "too dark." The alternate? A light coloured "hardwood floor" pattern.

We had chosen a stonework pattern. One of the reasons I thought it was good was that, with the grey tones it had, including shades of grey, grey blue, greyish green and a hint of greyist pink, it was something easy to match with. However, with such a light carpet colour, of course it would look dark! Still, there were quite a few stone patterns in the sample book. If the guy had to pick something, couldn't he have gone with another stone pattern??

So we went from stone patterned floor to light hardwood, dusty rose carpet to beige, shades of green for bedrooms and a mid-tone blue for the bathroom, to white. The only colour we picked that stayed was a very pale shade of green we'd selected for the "public" areas, upstairs and down. A colour I know worked well with the other colours we picked, but I still can't picture going well with the colours the maintenance guy picked.

Suddenly, I feel sympathy for the woman that moved out.

Now, that there should be limits to what we could pick, I have no problem with. Budget constraints, I completely understand. Had we been told our colours weren't acceptable right away, we could've quickly picked something else. Time was of issue. I had dropped off the samples with our choices on Friday afternoon, shortly after 1pm, and they were buying the materials by Monday morning. I'm pretty sure we could've come up with something over the weekend.

On the one hand, we're getting a completely renovated townhouse, and we're not having to pay a dime towards the reno. And it's really not that the substitute choices are overly horrendous. I mean, we've lived in places with some pretty unfortunate colours and patterns before. When you rent a place, it's a given that you don't have a choice for that sort of thing.

This, however, isn't just another rental. This is supposed to be our upper-case-H Home. Not just another temporary abode, not knowing how long we'd be there, or not planning to be there for more than a few months. This is supposed to be long term. Not only that, but we are moving into an established community, a close neighbour, where everyone works together in a partnership that keeps things going. That we were able to choose our own colours was part of making this our Home, instead of just another place we happen to be living in for a while.

So it's not about the colours that bothers me. It's that we told we could make these choices, and one person took those choices away. And no one told us. We weren't given the option to make other choices. Suddenly, it's not going to be our Home anymore. It's just someone else's place that we're going to be living in. Someone who thinks we should live in beige and white and pale hardwood floors.

I still think it had more to do with the maintenance guy being ticked over the mess he had to clean up from the previous resident than because our colours. We did try to stay within the guidelines, as we understood them.

While talking on the phone, it was brought up again how they really try to stay with neutral because, should for some reason we end up leaving in just a few years, it makes it easier for them to prepare for the next residents. What I couldn't help thinking (and a nasty side of me wishes I'd said) was that, by doing this, they've pretty much guaranteed that we *will* be moving out in a fairly short time - just as soon as we can find a place that really will be ours, and were some guy I saw for about a minute, has the power to take away our choices and replace them with his own.

The woman I spoke to was very apologetic about it all. Like the other woman I spoke to, she seemed almost embarrassed to admit what had been done to us. She tried to explain the whys of it, but I think she realized that "why" wasn't the issue. It was the "how."

I'm still looking forward to the move. We've needed a bigger place - and the lower costs - for a while. It's a step up from where we are now. It may even be that, after we've moved in, I'm going to totally love being there, get to know some fantastic people (the ones I've had the chance to talk to so far have been great), and we all might really enjoy living there and never want to leave. Until we actually move in and live there for a while, who knows?

But right now?

Right now, it's become just another apartment, just another house, just another rental.

Just another place we happen to be living in.

It's just another home, instead of Home.

And that makes me feel very sad.

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