Monday, May 2nd, 2011...7:24 am

#156: Downsize Your Dining Room

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During one of my random tours of Twitter the other day (how are you supposed to use that thing?), I happened to notice that @EpsteinLiterary, aka literary agent Kate Epstein, claimed she’d sold her house in less than a day using the advice in a book she’d represented,

Okay, excuse the dangling sentence there, but I couldn’t remember the name of the book, so I wasted some time trying to track my order on Amazon before finally hauling my lazy ass up to the bedroom to check on the title, but then I had to make the bed and carry my husband’s dirty cups downstairs to the kitchen, where I felt compelled to repolish the countertops I oiled last night, and then when I got back to my computer I’d forgotten the name of the book again.


But now I have it. It’s Home Staging That Sells, by Starr C. Osborne. And yes, this is an Old Person Style Reminiscence, but I don’t go on like this very much anymore, at least not in print, so you’re just going to have to put up with it.

Though before I lose your attention completely, here’s a visual aid:

So anyway, I got this book, thinking ahead to the day in the not-so-distant future when we were going to be forced to dump unload sell our beautiful home, which absolutely does not need to have the entire foundation repointed or the front porch rebuilt, in hopes of discovering some simple, eye-catching things we might do to get enough money to put our last kid through college and rent a little shack down by the railroad tracks.

One of the really smart things this book talks about is the tastes of different generations of home buyers.  You have to realize you’re going to be selling your house to someone a generation or two younger than you, the book says, and stage it accordingly.  And one thing that people in their 30s and early 40s don’t care about, according to the book, is a formal dining room.

Brilliant, I thought, and absolutely true.  Young (well, young in their minds, but young-ish in fact) couples who’ve been living in the urban youth ghetto and are now transporting their newly child-encumbered lives to the suburbs have done without a dining room since….well, since they lived with mom and dad.  They don’t entertain by throwing formal dinner parties in dining rooms; when they have friends over, everyone sits around the living room or stands around the kitchen or heads outside.  Dining rooms are old as — old as Richard Nixon.

This puts me in mind of the A. R. Gurney play The Dining Room, one of my favorite plays ever.  (Forget that going to the theatre to see a play called The Dining Room makes you doubly-old.)  The play is about a changing cast of WASP-y characters over the years dealing with love, divorce, life, death, and changing mores, all in the dining room.   In 1982, when I saw The Dining Room with my brand-new husband, I only aspired to having a dining room of my own.  And now, thinking of dismantling the dining room of my life, searching for a video to post on this site, I found every scene from the play, no matter how badly shot or poorly acted, moved me to tears.  Here’s what I mean:

So yeah, if you want not to act old and to sell your house to a 37-year-old who makes five times as much money as you, downsize your dining room. Just don’t expect it to be easy.

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