Divine Design

HGTV has warped my sense of reality. In the same amount of time that it takes me to consume half a package of raw cookie dough and a bottle of wine, the designers accomplish truly amazing things with imagination, a dash of design trickery and a little elbow grease. And they look pretty damn good doing it. When did carpenters begin to look like GQ cover models?


I am not sure if it was the sugar rush or the alcohol, but at the end of one show, I was certain that Paul and I could do the same thing, if not better than those pretty boys. With just a budget of $2,000 I was positive that we could renovate our Boston condo. My thinking was that the renovations featured on TV were much larger than our 497 square feet of “dated, but good bones” space. Bring on the parade of young, buff carpenters and paint chip samples!

The term “Reality” TV is a little loose. I expected young muscled guys with good hair.  What showed up at our door, when they showed up, was more like something from “The Hills Have Eyes”; Science experiments that have gone terribly, terribly wrong. I would receive an e-mail from my friends, Sam and Cary after each appointment; “WELL??” the impatient subject line would state. I knew what they were expecting: “Dear Penthouse, I never thought this would happen to me….” What I was crafting in my mind was: “Dear Better Business Bureau, I never thought this would happen to me…”

When it came to picking out paint colors and furniture it was a breeze. Paul gave me a choice of two and when I started to pick the wrong one, he would gently guide me towards the other. “Pookie, you have the ‘vision’, I’m just the labor”. He said. I basked in the glow of my superior design skills, while Paul demolished, constructed and rebuilt our condo. The budget of $2,000 was not close; however, it was a multiple of $2,000.

HGTV was not there for our renovation, but I have a vision of them filming a segment on our renovated space. The film crew van would circle the block one hundred times looking for a parking space. Cue the doorbell sound while Paul and I graciously welcome the host, “Welcome to our new home.” We say. The irritated sweaty host replies “Makeup!”, because he has just climbed four flights of stairs.


“OK, Mr. Dameron, let’s see the rest of your space”. The host says. “Oh, this is pretty much it.” I reply. Giving the camera man the universal “cut” signal the host, clearly not happy says “Look, Mr. Dameron, when you filled out the online form for submission, you indicated that this was a ‘Spacious’ condo remodel!” A little embarrassed I say “Well, I’m a gay man, have you seen our online dating profiles? This is about as truthful as it gets, and in terms of size…” The host cuts me off. “Just show me the effing water view!”  I crowd the crew into our bedroom and say “OK, if you can just stick the camera out that window and just a skoach to the left, you’ll catch a glimpse of the pool if you look real hard….” I turn around just in time to see the door slam behind the host. But, I don’t care; because it’s the fourth Wednesday of the month and I know their van has been towed.

It may just be 497 square feet of Martha Stewart paint, Ikea cabinetry and refinished hardwood floors in a fourth floor walkup. But it’s our 497 square feet of heaven in the city. And I married the young buff carpenter.

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