Decorating is not what it used to be

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 22, 2003

My home life used to be relaxing. I often put in long – at times grueling – hours at the office and always looked forward to getting home and relaxing.

My wife, Cathy, bless her heart, has always been somewhat sympathetic to the schedule I keep and has harbored mercifully low expectations of me when it comes to household chores – Keep the grass short enough so that we can find the dog and take the trash out.

Those days are gone forever, I fear, thanks to The Learning Channels’ Trading Spaces.


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It used to be that Saturday nights were my night to relax. I always looked forward to Saturday when I could sit around and do nothing except watch a good movie.

Now, from 8 to 10 p.m. our schedule is set and is not subject to negotiation. The antics of Paige, Frank, Amy, Doug, and Hildie are the only thing on the agenda. Were that the extent of our infatuation with the program, that would be great because it’s entertaining.

Such, however, is not the case.

Cathy has always had this obsession with home dcor. It seems our entire 16 years of marriage has been a blur of moving furniture around and hanging things. One would be hard-pressed to find any article in our home that has not been dragged into the backyard and spray-painted, spackled or antiqued.

We’ve always tread carefully around the subject of this behavior. Both seemingly suspecting that there was something not entirely sane about it. Now, thanks to Trading Spaces, we’ve found that this behavior is not only not a bit bizarre, but also the height of chic.

And as such, I’m now expected to make a meaningful contribution to such projects. Cathy is the creative one. Having been born without a sense of style, I merely do the grunt work.

She selects colors and fabrics, scours flea markets to find interesting knick-knacks, and now has her mail delivered to T.J. Maxx where she spends countless hours in a quest to find just the right combination of two dozen pillows to put on our sofas and bed.

Much of our limited closet space is devoted to pillows that couldn’t bear up to my wife’s changing whims. I, meanwhile, remove doors, apply the paint and otherwise exhaust myself.

I only wish it were as easy as the Trading Spaces crew makes it look. It’s not. They squeeze nearly 48 hours into a 1 hour program, 12 minutes of which is devoted to commercials.

We see smiling faces emptying rooms of furniture in less than 30 seconds, stopping only to dance a little jig or do some cartwheels. They are downright giddy as they remove cabinet doors, sand them and paint; they make building an entertainment center from scratch look as easy as making a bed. I hate them.

Nonetheless, I’m fascinated by the Trading Spaces phenomenon. I’d be willing to wager a complete room makeover that many men, such as I, have had their comfortable existences disrupted by it.

Its impact is evident by our Spring Home Improvement section, which is inserted in today’s paper. Normally, this is an eight-page section in which we have used what we refer to as &uot;canned copy,&uot; PR fluff provided by a manufacturer.

The section you receive today has 32 pages of almost all local stories. Advertisers, our sales team and news department were excited about the project and worked hard to make it one of the best we’ve ever done.

We hope you enjoy it, but be advised, everything in it sounds a lot easier than it really is.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald.