Inglewood Craftsman Home

Restoring our 1906 home in Inglewood CA on a budget

“Domestic Journeys”, or How to Make the Most of Unsolicited Opinions

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This is the first post that isn’t about doing something in our home. It’s about thinking about something in our home. Oh, and it’s somewhat about jerks.

I saw a vintage sink and faucet (on Craigslist, of course). It was one of those 30s generation colored porcelain varieties- black porcelain, to be exact, with a fascinating faucet attached. Though I figured that at $1200 for the package the faucet wouldn’t be separated from the sink, I asked. It can’t hurt to ask, right? I’ve gotten dozens of deals by just making requests or seeing if something was possible (a few posts on those, including our amazing handmade bed, are ready to go and just need some pictures- stay tuned)! So I asked.

The seller replied that he/she would never separate the two, as the faucet was made specifically for this model of Crane sink, but that he/she would be happy to send me other faucets available that might work with our sink. A picture was requested. As I wasn’t home, all I had was the blog, so I sent one of the stills from the pre-move-in tour. Blurry, incredibly hard to see, but it at least gave an idea of the sink (basic white pedestal). I sent over the specs I knew and what we were looking for, as well as a picture of this other sink intended for the guest bathroom and a request for a mixing bridge for it if the seller had one available. I included a “thanks for checking to see what you have” and waited.

Here’s what I got in return.

 

“im not being mean but the picture of the sink in the bathroom is just an inexpensive repro. sink……doesn’t really work with the tub and of course the toilet doesn’t work with either. the bath-tub valve has been jury-rigged and is not “period correct” or even correctly installed. are you at the beginning of your journey with this b-room? [sic]”

Not me, but how I felt

I’m not even sure where to start with this. Oh- and as I was composing a reply, the seller sent me several pictures with the attached text: “these are the type of fixtures that would have been in your house originally…all are avail.  notice the bathtub….easy to return it back to original. [sic]” None of the attachments included faucets, except a sink with faucet installed, though it was not mentioned whether the faucet was available with the sink.

So I wrote back. I pointed out that, while I don’t think the message was mean, it certainly did overstep the bounds of the conversation, which was a potential customer’s inquiry in regard to purchasing faucets, not the solicitation of an opinion of the previous condition (or present condition, for that matter) of the pictured bathroom, nor a request for information about or references on period bathrooms. I responded to the other email with the images, saying thanks, but I have dozens of books to help me with how these things would have looked in a 1906 Craftsman, plus, of course the power of google. I politely continued that I’d move on and return to searching for a faucet at the architectural salvage shops, where I’m at least not patronized directly and where “inexpensive” isn’t meant to be derogatory. After all, the tagline of this blog is and remains, “Restoring our 1906 home in Inglewood CA on a budget” (bolding added for emphasis).

I got back only “laughable…. pathetic”.

That’s fine. I’m “laughing all the way to the bank”, as it were, if restoring a home on a very small budget is laughable.

You know what we could do? We could spend all our money on travel and stop working on the house altogether. We could adopt a hundred stray dogs and spend all our money on food and vet care. Or we could take out some loans to pay contractors to refinish all the little things that don’t quite fit in or don’t work, instead of slowly working on things ourselves when we’re home and have the time and money for them. We could have a landscaping crew come in and even out the whole hillside that is our yard. Heck, we could even sell this home and use all our money plus a bunch of loans to build a brand new one that’s exactly what we want from the ground up.  And some people choose to do those things. There’s nothing wrong with any of those priorities or approaches, and there’s nothing wrong with people who have loads of money lying around to work with!

So what can we possibly have learned from this snooty self-possessed person with his/her unsolicited condescending opinion of a blurry “before” picture?

1. We’re working the way we are for a reason. This exchange made me think about and articulate for myself some of the tenets of what we’re up to.

-Our budget makes sense to us. We like to travel, so we spend some money on that, though we do travel cheaply as often as possible. It’s also important to save, especially while we’re young, so we do that. We donate to causes that make sense to us. We could spend all our money on the house, as I mention above, but that’s not what makes sense for the lifestyle we want. As a rule, we generally only spend money on the house that the house has earned (such as through Airbnb or Sparechair visits). So we likely won’t be buying any $1200 sinks (or even this amazing $400 faucet I’m in love with) any time soon.

-The hunt for hidden vintage treasures (at a discount) is exhilarating! It’s not a triumph to announce that I found a brand-new piece of home decor at a huge markup above retail price at some store; it’s exciting to announce a deal or a free find on the side of the road or an item we transformed or fabricated ourselves. That’s why I almost always include the price of the items I dig up. I think it’s good to demonstrate for others who desire to learn the skills involved in decorating on a tiny budget, and to show people that a beautiful space really is possible with very little money using the right skills. That’s part of why I started this blog in the first place.

-Our house is a safe and functional place to live, so all the rest is just fun. These are not necessary remodels; they’re fun investments of our time.

-We like to have our hands physically on things (6 years of art school and a household combined total of 8 years of art school, anyone?), and we like to accomplish things together while learning new skills, so we complete these projects ourselves. Some people take cooking classes or volunteer to clean up the beach; we work on the house. It’s an enjoyable bonding experience for us, but might not be for others. That’s cool too, and those people can hire contractors!

 

2. We’ve re-named our approach to working on the house.

OK, I’m a stickler for detailed project management. I’ll come clean: we have a working google doc we use for keeping track of what we want to do. It’s divided into length of time we predict each item will take. Possibly excessive, but it’s a great feeling to delete items from the list!

Originally, this list was entitled “House Projects”, and was divided into “Inside Projects” and “Outside Projects”. It turned out that considering these items as “projects” actually proved stressful, because it implied that these things HAD to get done, rather than that they were desirable. I changed the document to reflect this, and entitled it “Wish List Items”, with “Inside Wish List” and “Outside Wish List” as the subcategories.

However, this supercilious message exchange gave us a new phrasing. Remember “are you at the beginning of your journey with this b-room”? I laugh every time I think about that. Which is exactly what we need when we’re deciding what is possible for us to work on in a given amount of time (particularly if we don’t quite know what we’re doing, which is often): levity and humor. So (and you’ve already seen this if you clicked on the google doc link above)… our list is now called “Domestic Journeys”. We have “Interior Journeys” and “Exterior Journeys” to complete the categorization. I can’t stop laughing.

Sometimes rude people contribute more than they know! In this case, I’m happy to report that I was able to use this instance as an opportunity for reflection, rather than the beginning of a battle. I think it’s important to think about things like this every now and then in the midst of a go, go, go life, so I’m happy we got a chance to.

Oh- and the original $1200 sink listing was removed almost immediately after this exchange (possibly and hopefully from embarrassment). If you see it re-listed, refer the seller here for a proper thank-you 😉

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3 thoughts on ““Domestic Journeys”, or How to Make the Most of Unsolicited Opinions

  1. Hi Morgan: Enjoyed your e-mail. It’s too bad when people use poor judgment in responding to others – it’s no big deal, really. I just have to remember to be kind in my responses and judgments. It just dawned on me that you would probably be interested in knowing that Grampa and my second home was a Sears Roebuck home – in Park Ridge. We lived there from ’56 (2 months before Carey was born) until 1989. We did alot of work on the house and really enjoyed living there. I “Googled” Sears Roebuck homes and, among other things, found a picture of my aunt and uncles home inb Erwin, TN – a place where I had a great time and later on Evan too. I’ll send the picture when I finish this. Grampa and I pray for you and Jonathan and rally look forward to see you at Christmas. Alan and Martha arrive today – we’re so excited. Love you Gramma Jo

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  2. Pingback: New Brass Faucet | Inglewood Craftsman Home

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