Before, During and After — A Failed Reality TV Premise

by Katy on January 24, 2010 · 19 comments

If there’s a love that unites this great country of ours, it’s an abiding love for makeovers. Decorating makeovers, marriage makeovers, beauty makeovers, whateveryoucanthinkofmakeovers. Heck, they even have an entire TV network focused entirely on the transformative attraction of the before and after.

And I’m no different from anyone else. I fantasize about a team of experts who sweep into my life and organize my home, my wardrobe, my waistline and then landscape my yard within an inch of its life. All for free.

But reality is like slap in the face with a cold wet trout. Long lasting life transformations do not take place over a 24 hour, or even a seven day period. Because real life has a before, during and after.

Take my bedroom as an example. This is not a room that has received much decorating attention, and tends to be a repository for stuff that has no other logical designation. Sasha dolls from my childhood, a big basket of yarn, (I neither knit nor crochet) and textbooks from when my husband went back to school. It all lives in our bedroom. This was starting to really irk me, so I decided to put an effort into turning our bedroom into a nice space.

My husband and I have been sleeping on a full-size mattress since day one, and I decided that we would much more comfortable with the elbow room that a queen size model affords. So I put the word out and sure enough, a friend of my mother has just divorced and wanted her almost new mattress out of her life. A sturdy Hollywood frame was promptly mined from a neighbor’s basement. I like to have a headboard, but know one will turn up in time.

Our bedroom has built-in shelves on either side of the windows, one of which is designated as mine, the other as my husband’s. I really like the look (and function) of white canvas lined baskets, and as a result I keep an eye out for them when I go to thrift stores. I would like to have both sets of shelves hold a cohesive collection of these baskets, which could then hide the cluttery crap that seems to follow our every move. But right now, my side is fairly organized with baskets, and my husband’s is an embarrassment. I could fill the cart up with organizing gear at Target, but I’m okay with keeping an eye out and being patient.

I’m also keeping an eye out for another bedside table and a rug to complete my before and after bedroom project, but I’m in the lengthy during phase at the moment.

This method of redecorating would produce far from compelling TV programming, but that’s okay, because I am the reality that reality TV forgot.

The before, during and after-ness of being a one-woman team of experts that also has to make dinner, help with homework, hang the laundry, well . . . I think you get my point. But . . . if they’re looking for a before and after makeover show of underwear drawer transformations, then that’s about my speed. (All miraculously in under 24 hours!)

Do your fantasies veer more toward a pantry makeover than Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

P.S. Click on the photos to enlarge the organization vs. clutter of our “his and hers” shelves.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda January 25, 2010 at 5:36 am

Everytime I see one of those house makeover shows, I wonder what the house looks like one year later.

I am constantly dealing with clutter in my home. I hate clutter! Somehow the clutter still crowds us. If I do not do maintenance everyday on my house, the clutter adds up.

I agree that it would be fun to have someone do it all for us but again, I wonder what it would look like a year after.


Jill January 25, 2010 at 6:36 am

I am the type who may watch a reality show and declare (loudly, I might add) that there is NO WAY that was done in 24 hours – or a weekend – or a week! The ‘during’ happens throughout, making it slow way down. And Katy, why is it OUR bedrooms get all the crap? But you touch on a great idea – a real reality show based on thrift store finds over a period of time. Might be a slow watch, but I’m up for it!


WilliamB January 25, 2010 at 6:53 am

My fantasies are that the semi-organized parts of my house – attic, garage – get organized. Part of the problem is that they’re not under my sole control. We actually have to coordinate before we organize.

Linda, I’m with you, I want a 6 month follow-up visit.


Bellen January 25, 2010 at 6:55 am

I’ve stopped watching the make-over anything shows – just don’t think they are real. Timelines and contractors that show up on time are not from the world I live in.
Almost have my home ‘done’. How is this possible? Only have my husband and myself, gave my husband the garage as his space, no attic, no basement and limited closets. Plus promised the kids we wouldn’t leave a mess for them to clean up. Really does keep the clutter to a minimum.

Now about those baskets – I’ve purchased baskets at the thrift store along with plain white sheets and lined the baskets myself. Works well as long you measure twice and cut once!!


Katy January 25, 2010 at 8:39 am

I have thought about lining the baskets myself, and writing this post made me think about that again. I’m not an experienced sewing machine person, but it’s all straight seams, right?

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


shymom January 25, 2010 at 6:22 pm

The sewing should be fairly easy. Make a template from paper first and remember to give your self enough seem allowance.

I’m having a hard time imagining that I would have the patience to not only find the basket to fit the space but also to match in color. For the baskets themselves, you may need to spray paint them to get them to match.


Lisa January 25, 2010 at 10:43 am

Ah, the trials and tribulations of doing it yourself! There are areas of my house that are great…organized and with minimal clutter. Then there are those spots that seem to be catch-all’s. These are the unfinished portions of our home which still lack finishing touches like drywall, or sanded drywall or paint. It seems to be easier to just let things pile up in areas where the doors remain closed. Out of sight; out of mind. Of course, I would DIE if a visitor ever ventured into these areas. So if I can muster up enough of that particular fantasy, perhaps I’ll get off my fanny and start doing my renovation work again this year. I get disheartened by the lack of money for supplies. How do you manage to wait for the universe to fork over what you need? You’re a more patient woman than I am!


Laurie January 25, 2010 at 3:43 pm

I find that waiting for it, watching for it, and getting those scandalous deals or freebies make everthing so much more valuable to me.

My dad and I laugh over his $2 curtains that we launder and care for with love.


jenniwaka January 25, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Your his and hers bookcases look just like our his and hers bedside tables–mine all in cute boxes and his I neaten and neaten and neaten his but it still goes back to chaos.


magdalena January 25, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I cherish dreams of an organized pantry, with beans, flour, pasta, and rice all in perfect see-through alphabetized containers…and the reality is assorted jars, coffee cans and even the odd plastic bag or two! I’m an organization fiend and if I don’t watch it, I can drive everyone else out of the house. Liveability is more important than my obsession. and P.S. – a romantic headboard, maybe rescued from a decrepit bed and refurbished with paint is so much better than just any old thing.


Sharron January 25, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Great post, Katy! Since life is a work in progress why should a remodeling, redecorating, revisioning process be any different? Besides, reality television cannot by the very nature of its “reality” be real. Once one points a camera at a person, the dynamics change–I don’t care how disciplined one is. An actor portrays a character–not him or herself. So what does that leave a “real” person to play when the camera rolls? Usually it’s a version of themselves, but never the person in private. The only reality shows, in my humble opinion, are those where the camera is truly hidden. So you go! Keep it real. Viva la process.


Brenda January 25, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Love the post, laugh out loud funny. I guess I can relate. My fantasy came true this fall when I had my own pantry makeover.


The Compact UK January 25, 2010 at 10:42 pm

since we’ve started the compact challenge, my OH and I noticed a change in our decorating efforts. We still put the same time & effort into our house as before. However, before it was about getting this and that to make the place look nice. Now, it’s about what we can get rid of, re-organise so that the house is more streamlined and clutter free. Now we understand the irony of spending lots of money on containers to put away your clutter, when getting rid of your clutter would be free!


Marie-Josée January 26, 2010 at 6:25 am

Moving. That’s what healed us of clutter and got us organised. And IKEA Ivar shelve units really help. After spending 17 years in the same house, raising two children there, we moved three times in the past four years. This gave us all ample opportunity to decide if the third grade math test, memento, lego box, you-name-it was so essential to our emotional or physical well-being. We moved into a housing coop in an neighbourhood I don’t really like so my fantasy is about moving into another coop in the neighbourhood of my dreams where we could settle in forever.


Beth January 26, 2010 at 10:15 am

I missed the “cold, wet trout” on the first read. What an image!


Katy January 26, 2010 at 10:26 am

Glad you liked that. I wrote it as “carp” at first, but did an image search and saw some HUGE carp. Possibly lethal to be hit by one. 😉

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Lisa January 26, 2010 at 10:48 am

I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in my organizational quest. Nor am I alone in my significant others disorganization. Sigh…. rather than continue tidying up after them, it might be easier to give them closed off storage space by curtaining off or installing doors on cabinets. Come to think of it, that might be an excellent idea for both of us. It would definitely be more stream lined.


Sierra Black January 27, 2010 at 10:14 pm

We just cleared out our pantry and laundry room this weekend, and it feels *so* good! I can’t get enough of standing there jsut admiring the swath of flat space under the window.


AJ in AZ February 3, 2010 at 7:47 am

They do say that you sleep better in a bedroom that is only devoted to sleeping. No TV, no hobby supplies, no desk. But how many of us have so many rooms that we can keep all that stuff in other places? Not me, that’s for sure. I live in a one-bedroom house with a studio, and the studio is absolutely packed with stuff. This is in spite of decluttering for several years now. It is a great place though. The one bedroom is on 20 acres, and that makes up for a lot.


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