Thursday, May 27, 2010

Guaranteed Ugly

A homeowner in my subdivision has had this hand-lettered sign planted on her front lawn for over a year now. The sign reads:

"Attention Dog Walkers!!! Please keep dogs off of my grass and flowerbed by mailbox! NO PEEING or #2! It kills my grass and I have worked too hard to have a nice lawn! Thank- You!"

Now, before I say what I'm about to say, let me say (as a dog owner) that no dog owner should relieve his or her dog(s) on someone else's property. It's just a matter of common sense and good manners.That said, I was intrigued by this hand-lettered sign because it illustrates an interesting point. When I saw it, I couldn't help but think to myself, "What's worse: having a discolored lawn some of the time, or having an ugly sign up all of the time?" An ugly sign, I might add, that very explicitly describes IN CAPITAL LETTERS various forms of canine excrement, thereby symbolically installing said excrement (in verbal form) on the lawn...permanently!

The sign is an example of what I would call "guaranteed ugly". Without the sign, the homeowner would risk having dogs discolor her lawn some of the time, but with the sign, she was virtually guaranteeing that her lawn would look ugly 100% of the time.

This got me thinking about ways that we sometimes opt for "guaranteed ugly" inside the house. Here are a few examples:
  • Keeping the new couch covered in beach towels and sheets to protect it from spills and stains. What's uglier, an attractive couch with a stain on it, or a couch forever shrouded in towels and sheets?
  • Choosing not to make the bed in the morning because it will "just get messed up again" at bedtime. This policy guarantees that the bed will be unmade 100% of the time.
  • Not opening the blinds in the morning because "they will just have to be closed again later". This policy guarantees that the house will be dark 100% of the time.
  • Covering the carpet with a clear plastic runner to protect it from footprints. Need I elaborate on this one?
So, you may ask, what's the alternative to "guaranteed ugly"? The solution is to make choices that fit your family and your lifestyle.

  • If you have kids and/or pets, opt for furniture upholstered in forgiving fabrics such as chenille or microsuede. Patterned fabrics hide stains better than solids; dark colors hide stains better than light colors. Leather tends to be resilient as well. Another option is to purchase furniture with removable, washable slipcovers.
  • If you hate making the bed, consider simplifying this chore by using a European-style duvet.
  • Choose window treatments with easy functionality. Lightweight cellular shades are easier to raise than heavy blinds; curtains on clip rings slide more easily than rod pocket curtains.
  • Rather than "laminating" your carpet under a clear plastic runner, consider choosing family-friendly carpets or opting for hard surface flooring.
  • Here's another reason to vote plastic carpet protectors off of the island forever: years ago, I had a roommate who placed one of these runners over the wall-to-wall carpeting in our hallway. One day, a spider walked down the hall, and I could actually hear its little feet tip-tapping on the plastic runner. Nothing says "home" like the pitter-patter of...spider feet!
So, what do you think about the concept of "guaranteed ugly"? Did I miss any other examples?