Great Expectations

I stumbled across the show Tiny House Hunters the other day. Holy unrealistic expectations, Batman! I mean, there’s no way you’re going to get a kitchen with full-size appliances, separate offices for you and your husband, and a bedroom big enough for a king-size bed (plus plenty of space to walk around the bed) in a house that’s less than 400 square feet and costs $35,000 including delivery. It just isn’t happening!

At first I got all cranky-pants about the whole thing. Who the heck thinks they can get all of those things in that size for that price?!? And for heaven’s sake, why didn’t their realtor explain that to them? How stupid are these people? Then I felt bad about being cranky about it all. (Other people feel bad about getting annoyed with people on TV, right? It’s not just me?) At any rate, it got me thinking about some of the unrealistic expectations I’ve seen in person and what I can do to help you avoid the pitfalls.

We’ve talked before about figuring out where your project is on the time/cost/quality scale. Knowing where you fall combination-wise on that scale is half the battle. The other half is making sure that the combo you want is even possible. For example, you may have set a budget of $5,000-$15,000 to furnish three rooms and pay for a designer to come up with the perfect design concept for each room. Depending on what you need, design fees alone could easily be that entire budget—or more.

Another common expectational challenge (oh yeah, I’m making up words today!) is how much furniture you can fit into a particular room. I once had a couple who wanted to use the 8’9” x 11’ office by their front door as a formal living room with seating for 10-15 people. Even seating for six people would have been a squeeze. I was able to create the room they wanted, but it required moving walls—not exactly something you want to hear when you’ve just bought the house. If you’re buying a new home with rooms for specific purposes, it’s probably a good idea to check to make sure what you want will fit before you sign the closing documents.

Time frames are often misunderstood, too. Trying to buy the perfect dining table the week before Thanksgiving is pretty much impossible (let’s not even get into trying to get that bad boy delivered before the holiday). If you want the right pieces for your home, you need to plan ahead. And not be shocked if it is going to take 3-6 months for things to come in. No, I’m not kidding. You should also be prepared for weather delays due to giant snowstorms or hurricanes on the East Coast (it’s where a big chunk of furniture manufacturers are). Sometimes, too, there are delays because the fabric that was going to go on your upholstered piece had a flaw in it and now the fabric is backordered at the fabric mill.

So…what if your expectations are out of whack? Don’t worry, I reserve my cranky-pants judgement for the people who go on national television and blab nonstop for an entire show about how they *must* have it all and for the designers, realtors, and producers who let them. Instead, I’ll let you know what adjustments need to be made. It’s that easy.

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