The Unimproved House Is Scarcely Worth Living In

Trend-spotters tell us Americans are devoted to home and hearth as never before. One might naively take this to mean folks spend all their time at home. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The more people care about their homes, the more likely they are to spend their days shuttling from hardware store to home center. If you need to reach a house-proud American, don’t bother phoning him at home; have him paged at Home Depot. What sort of home improvements are atop people’s to-do lists? A poll of homeowners commissioned by Ace Hardware examines the topic. People are especially eager to cope with the clutter that engulfs their homes: 63 percent intend to reorganize their storage areas during the next six months, with basements and garages among the key targets. Half the respondents plan to do interior painting. Why? For 66 percent of soon-to-be-painters, it’s because they’re tired of the current paint. Forty percent plan on repainting a wall that’s needed repairs. Another 27 percent want to “keep up with the latest decorating trends,” which presumably means they’ll be painting over a previous effort to stay au courant. Having decided to paint, relatively few people stick to a single room. Instead, 33 percent plan to paint two rooms,19 percent will paint three and 24 percent will paint four or more. As for tasks that don’t involve paint, 36 percent of respondents will replace an electrical switch, outlet or light; 36 percent intend to change a faucet/showerhead; 34 percent will repair walls or millwork; and 30 percent expect to repair windows and screens. In standard stereotype, women instigate home improvements and men execute them. While the first part of this may hold true, the second does not: 62 percent of homeowners said “the woman of the house is at least partially responsible for physically tackling home repairs and improvement projects.”