"Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand." Mary Anne Evans (Nov. 22, 1819-Dec. 22, 1880), better known by her pen name George Eliot, English novelist, journalist and translator, and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. "Silas Marner" (1861)
This past December I had to renew my driver's license. And as Southern Nevadans know, every eight years you have to personally go to the DMV so they can look at you -- and this was my year. After the obligatory hour-and-a-half wait, I got to my appointed window and the agent started going over my information. He very politely asked if my eyes were still blue, hair still blond (yes, thanks to my hairdresser), and then he didn't actually say the numbers, but he sort of leaned in, pointed to the form and said, "And are you still this tall and weigh this much?" Without thinking, I said, "Well, actually no, I'm 10 pounds heavier and an inch shorter." The expression on his face was priceless. He looked at me as though I had just suffered a minor stroke and I had no control over the words coming out of my mouth, and should he call 911. But he said nothing, and we proceeded with the forms.
Now this may not be significant in and of itself, but you see, if I had expected that last question, I may have been inclined to just say yes. I'm sure that was his expectation.
Just recently a business acquaintance commented that she had visited the home of a mutual friend and was somewhat disappointed in the house. "I just expected more, you know, better," she said. She couldn't really explain her expectation, but the house clearly wasn't it.
So I guess expectations are somewhat like opinions. You have an expectation and then have an opinion about whether or not it was met. Everybody has them and, thank goodness, we all have different ones.
This is never truer than when it comes to our homes. Whether we verbalize it or not, we expect certain things. We expect that when you flip the switch, lights will come on; hot water will come out of the hot water tap and not the cold; and that when the button on the garage door opener is pushed, the garage door will in fact open.
I expect more. I expect my home to behave (all systems working -- I guess that's up to me); look pretty (that's me, too); smell good (me, too, I guess); and be a welcoming, comfortable place to be. Someone came into my home recently and said, "Oh, it's so cozy." Well, I'll take that. I'm not sure what his expectation was, but I guess cozy wasn't it.
It's perfectly OK to expect a lot from your home. The key to living happily with your expectations is a healthy dose of reality. We do have a certain amount of control in our spaces, i.e., what we put in them, how we keep house, and whether we want to welcome other people into them. Sometimes events or circumstances come into play that may preclude our highest hopes and, as adults, we need to adjust our expectations.
And, we definitely do have expectations about other peoples' homes. Sometimes our expectations are met and, sometimes, not so much. But chances are you will have a preconceived idea about what a house will be like before you go in.
It's interesting to see some of the real estate programs on TV in which some home shoppers expect to buy the mansion on the hill, when in fact their budget is more in line with a small condo. In this case, it's certainly OK to "dream" about the mansion, but realistically understand that the condo is in your future. I think it's healthy to dream about spaces. After all, that's what show houses and model homes are all about. And while we may not afford the show house today, we can certainly expect it to be in our dreams.
When it comes to expectations about your home, keep in mind those things you can control and those you cannot. Dream big and manage your expectations. And if a visit to the DMV is in your future, they are going to want to know your height and weight! So, expect it.
Carolyn Muse Grant is a design consultant, expert home stager and creator of beautiful spaces. Questions can be sent to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.