Let Inga Tell You: Bad taste is even worse when you have no taste for change

Blinds and a hardwood floor were not Inga's idea of haute decor when her husband put them in one of the rooms of their house.
Blinds and a hardwood floor were not Inga’s idea of haute decor when her husband, Olof, decided to put them in one of the rooms of their house.

OK, I admit it. I don’t like change.

When Olof married me after eight years of commuting from the Bay Area, I knew it was important for him to have his own space in my house since he’d had to give up his own home. Since Rory had just left for college, I told Olof that Rory’s room was his to do with what he wished.

Who knew I married someone with no taste?

What I really meant when I made the offer, of course, was that he was free to do what he wanted with the furniture. Buy more. Decorate at will. No Air Force souvenir too tacky.

What I wasn’t prepared for was his decision to dump the wall-to-wall carpeting and shutters in favor of hardwood floors and blinds.

I still remember the dagger that went through my heart when he announced this.

I grew up in upstate New York in a house with hardwood floors and blinds. The floors were cold, noisy, high-maintenance and uncomfortable to sit and play on. They needed to be waxed, and therefore stripped of wax, two chores that I vowed I would never do in any home I ever owned.

And those Venetian blinds? I spent my childhood in forced labor dusting those suckers slat by slat on Saturday mornings.

From the time I was 6, my dream home included only wall-to-wall carpeting and shutters. OK, shutters have slats, too, but my dream included a cleaning lady.

Meanwhile, Olof was peeling back a corner of the wall-to-wall. “Great!” he said. “There’s hardwood under here. All we have to do is rip out this crummy carpet.”

Crummy carpet? Could this marriage be saved?

I have to confess that I delayed, stalled, cajoled and otherwise resisted removing my beloved carpet and shutters. But ultimately, a deal’s a deal, even if the dealer was a total idiot to ever have made such an ill-considered promise to the dealee.

It would look odd, I insisted, to have one room with hardwood floors and the rest of the house carpet. Olof’s solution, of course, was to dispense with all the carpet. Oh, so not happening.

The day the floor refinishers showed up to take out the room’s carpet, I panicked. In my heart I knew this was a terrible decision, one that Olof was going to regret once the sterile Siberian floors were exposed and the nasty, charmless blinds were in place. But we’d never be able to match the carpet again.

Which is when I hatched a brilliant idea. For a large undisclosed sum, I hired the floor folks to roll up the carpet and pad and wrestle it up into the crawl space in the attic. (No garage in this house.) Who knew carpet could be so heavy? But when Olof realized the error of his ways, I could say, “Tada! It’s not too late! The old carpet is still here!” He would be in awe of my prescience and creativity.

The floor guys saw it differently. “I just hope you realize that that carpet is up there permanently, lady,” they groused. “And we wouldn’t advise standing underneath it in an earthquake.”

When Olof came home from work that night, he admired the newly sanded floor awaiting its first coat of urethane. “You’re taking this all remarkably well,” he said. “I would have thought you’d be on your third glass of wine by now.”

I smiled beatifically. “Olof, my little lutefisk, my only goal in life is to make you happy.”

Which he was until he got out the ladder some months later to bring down a computer box from the attic.

“Inga,” he said tersely, “why is there 500 pounds of carpet in our crawl space?”

Ultimately, all the carpet in the house had to be replaced, the worse for wear after 20 years of kids. The once-pretty rust color had turned a rancid orange. And who wanted to postulate how many gallons of child beverages had been poured into it over the years. (Sitting on the nice, comfy carpet and watching TV was a mainstay of my children’s upbringing.) So it was either all new carpeting or go for all hardwood.

By this time, the kids were gone and I’d come to realize these were not my mother’s hardwood floors. Nowadays they were easy to clean, almost maintenance-free (with several coats of urethane), lovely to look at. OK, so Olof was right about the floors. (I still dispute the ugly blinds.)

When the refinishers came to rip out the carpet throughout the house, I had to pay them six times the original undisclosed price to get the quarter-ton of carpet out of the crawl space. “What moron would do this?” they wondered, grunting as they wrestled the carpet down.

That’s easy: one who hates change.

Inga’s lighthearted looks at life appear regularly in the La Jolla Light. Reach her at ◆