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Making remote-control dreams come true

By MIMI BECKER

Coffee With Mimi

Perhaps we are not thinking rationally. Maybe the sequence of events we have navigated recently has lulled us into a false sense of security. 

It all started with a look around. We have lived in our home for 29 years. Our three children hardly remember any other house. This is our third home and I plan for it to be our last. 

Over the course of our years in this house, we have passed through rooms many thousands of times. We have turned lights on and off hundreds of thousands of times. 

 And, we have lived fairly efficiently all these years with the light switches and outlets we were given — with a couple exceptions. We have made few changes in the floor plan which we inherited. We did flip a bathroom around as, with children in the house, the door was always left open and allowed a full view of the amenities from the front door each time someone visited. A second tiny bathroom was slightly enlarged. We enclosed an “L” shaped extension off the kitchen to allow for an extra bedroom. Of course, we just completed the removal of a wall between the dining room and kitchen. 

In all those projects we disturbed the basic floor plan minimally. More significantly, we barely rearranged the light switches more than a foot from their original position. I figured they had worked for the necessary use of the room all the while we lived here, and quite a few years before, so I was quite casual about where they would go in the minimal renovations. 

There are several light switches in our house that do nothing at all. Never have since we moved in. This is a matter of very little concern to me. Every so often, after I rearrange furniture, I will test out the switches to see if they are tied to an outlet which now has a lamp plugged in regularly. 

Early on in our life here, it became imperative that we upgrade the electrical service. Nothing lasts forever. New outlets and switches were required in various rooms. I was offered options and always responded “whatever works.” I was never one to debate the merits of one light switch placement over another. Walking a couple of feet extra to turn on a light was not bothersome.

But, when you sell the house … that then will be someone else’s issue. They inherit. It’s part of the house.

But now, finally, after all these years, we are considering adding a room onto the back of the house. This would be new construction, a blank slate with light switches and outlets.

The kids are all gone and we have three spare bedrooms. Why would we possibly need any extra space? Because we only have one room large enough to sit in and visit with more than three other people at one time. None of the existing spaces will remedy that situation.

Also, when everyone is home, there is no space to go if you need a breather, unless you hide out in a bathroom or a bedroom. 

I’ve dreamed of this new room for years. But, with one thing and another, we never really tackled the discussion. I have some definite ideas involving reinstalling doors which were left in the basement, incorporating found architectural details, creating a full view of the fireplace wall and back yard from the kitchen and an absolute minimum number of square footage. 

I have imagined and drawn out the furniture arrangement. A ceiling fan will be a practical addition. A splurge on a big screen TV over the fireplace for game and movie viewing would be a special touch when we have a crowd.

As far as I am concerned the footers can be poured. We are done with the discussion.

In my plan I have not placed outlets and switches. Never have before, why worry now? Well, not one piece of seating furniture is arranged on a wall into which a lamp can be plugged. The entire seating group floats in the middle of the room. And then there is the ceiling fan, which of course will have several speeds and light levels. And the wall mounted TV. The fireplace will have gas logs. How will that work?

My dream room threatens to turn into a nightmare of decisions about switches and outlets and connections. Not to worry, I am informed. We can install outlets in the floor for the floating lamp tables. A couple wall switches for outside lights will do. And, remotes can control the rest.

What? The one thing worse than decisions about switches and outlets could be keeping up with remotes. Our current TV equipment requires three remotes, at least one of which is MIA at any point. Now we will need THREE sets in one room?

OK, I’ll negotiate; remotes for my square footage and architectural details. The next owner will have to live with it. Someday she will wonder what the odd remote laying on the mantle in the den operates. If she is flexible, she accepts it and lives happily ever after.