Mother­lode be­comes a stage mother, sort of


The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - LOR­RAINE SOMMERFELD www.lor­raineon­

I have never bought a house be­fore, un­less you count the time my par­ents sold me theirs.

There were no real es­tate agents in­volved, no list­ing, no clos­ing, no ne­go­ti­at­ing and no mort­gage for sev­eral months.

Now I’m learn­ing how it re­ally works. I’m close to list­ing, which means I haven’t slept in over a month. My back is killing me.

Sell­ing a house is a ton of work, es­pe­cially when you’re clear­ing out more than five decades.

I’ve had Jeff, my con­trac­tor-slash-painter, here with me full­time for more than six weeks. The place looks amaz­ing, and I’m fi­nally fix­ing, or get­ting fixed, all the lit­tle things you tend to over­look. Elec­tri­cal out­lets, deck rails, light fix­tures, switches and, of course, the end­less clut­ter that I stopped notic­ing when I was about 10.

My sis­ters were here to help me stage rooms. This is a fairly crazy lie per­pet­u­ated on the buy­ing pub­lic by the end­less tele­vi­sion shows that make you think you can trans­form a rab­bit war­ren into the Taj Ma­hal in an hour.

I learned some ba­sic facts from a pro­fes­sional stager:

• Peo­ple only use white sheets and tow­els at all times;

• Beds must have no fewer than 70,000 pil­lows on them;

• No­body wipes their butt — you must hide the toi­let pa­per;

• No­body brushes their teeth — you must hide the tooth­brushes; • No­body uses soap or sham­poo; • No­body cleans their toi­let — you must hide the brush (I’m sur­prised they haven’t found a way to hide the whole toi­let); • No­body has pets; • Hav­ing a bowl of 50 le­mons and limes is nor­mal;

• Six­teen dol­lars buys a lot of green ap­ples;

• You are for­bid­den from hav­ing mats, photographs, med­i­ca­tions or a sense of hu­mour. (I will ex­plain this one in a later col­umn.)

My sis­ter Roz art­fully ar­ranged shell-like things in a bowl my par­ents re­ceived as a wed­ding gift in 1956, be­cause stag­ing a house is when you fi­nally use things you re­ceived as wed­ding gifts and promptly hid. I’d picked up the bag of shell-like things af­ter wan­der­ing around Home Sense look­ing much like an alien in a scifi movie: these are not my peo­ple.

Mean­while, my sis­ter Gilly was up­stairs turn­ing one bed­room into the home of­fice I’d al­ways wanted, and then cloak­ing my beds in pris­tine white.

The cats rather en­joyed this, though were baf­fled by the pil­lows that threat­ened to crowd them out.

I started a list of peo­ple I know who own vans so I’ll have some­where to hide my life when we’re ready for an open house.

An­other neigh­bour didn’t hes­i­tate when I told him I needed his cof­fee ta­ble for a week; yet an­other has no idea my cats will be vis­it­ing for a few hours one day as I pre­tend I don’t own them.

My son Christopher, 25, popped over to take apart a com­puter tower for me. He took in the liv­ing room, with its new sooth­ing colour palate and dec­o­ra­tor pil­lows.

I dragged him up­stairs to see the rooms.

“Are you nuts? Why are you mov­ing?” he said, as we stood in the mas­ter bed­room.

For the first time in a long time, it looks like a per­son with good, if bor­ing, taste lives here. Not to men­tion some­one who keeps bowls of beachy things on their dresser in­stead of un­matched socks and the cor­ner at­tach­ment for the vac­uum.

“Wow. Is this new car­pet?” he asked, as we stood in the empty rec room.

I laughed. This has al­ways been the room he and his brother spent the most time in. All I did was throw them out, get rid of their junk and clean it.

I walked through my un­rec­og­niz­able din­ing room af­ter he left, and grabbed a green ap­ple from the bowl.

Rules be damned.


Six­teen dol­lars buys a lot of green ap­ples.

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