A tidied-up media cabinet is a lot cheaper than a brand-new $1,500 unit. (Jennifer Bardsley)

A tidied-up media cabinet is a lot cheaper than a brand-new $1,500 unit. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Does my home need improvement, or am I just sick of it?

When I’ve decided to upgrade our furniture, my husband looks at the price tag … and gets to work.

“What are you doing?” I asked my husband. It was Sunday afternoon, and instead of relaxing, he had the tape measure in hand.

“Moving our daughter’s furniture,” he said. “Again.”

Over the course of the pandemic, our sixth grader has redecorated her room five times. She convinced her grandma to buy her a bed-in-a bag for her birthday. She scoured Pinterest for ideas. She saved up money and ordered fake ivy leaves, LED strips and tapestries. Basically, she’s become an 11-year-old version of Martha Stewart, without the prison record.

We all have our ways of dealing with stress, I guess. I’m not interested in rearranging furniture so much as I am in replacing it. But that’s wishful thinking, since furniture is expensive and shopping means popping our COVID bubble. Instead, I’ve ordered free fabric samples from furniture stores. I’m unlikely to spend $500 on a custom dining chair, but it’s fun to subject the dry-clean-only fabric samples to fork and spaghetti-sauce trauma. Yup, new chairs would definitely be a waste of money.

My biggest cost-saving decorating non-purchase was when I showed my husband a $1,500 media cabinet that would be great in our family room. “Look,” I said. “It has space for the sound bar and all of the miscellaneous junk cluttering our current cabinet.”

He stared at the picture. “Fifteen hundred dollars for that?” Twenty minutes later he had cleaned away the random wires, cables, DVD cases and old gaming consoles by our TV. He even brought out the dusting mitt. When he was done, our media console looked brand new.

Aren’t I clever?

My daughter’s clever, too, which is why my husband was upstairs, moving furniture instead of relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, I sat on the couch watching a new TV show on Netflix called “Get Organized With the Home Edit.” The concept was simple, bring in a team of women who squeal loudly whenever they meet a celebrity. Watch them transform rooms using thousands of dollars worth of plastic boxes from China. Oh yeah, and delight in their use of label makers.

Witnessing the makeovers was fun, so long as I had the sound-bar remote control when the squealing got too loud. I did agree that the rooms looked better after the team worked their magic. But were expensive plastic boxes the answer to home improvement? They seemed bad for bank accounts as well as the environment.

“Well,” said my husband, coming through the family room to put tools away in the garage. “Her room is redecorated once more.”

“I can’t wait to see it,” I said. “By the way, I have an idea for how we can improve the garage.”

“We” meaning, my husband, of course. I showed him how much the plastic boxes from China cost, and waited for the magic to happen.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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