I Have Never Lived In My House

Nancy Daley
5 min readMar 4

And I blame house stagers.

Plan for my next bedroom ceiling. (Author’s Photo)

My bedroom ceiling has one of those light tunnels that are a type of skylight. It seems a stupid idea to have one in a bedroom, but the ultra-fastidious woman who supervised the house’s construction had a small child at the time and maybe she thought it would serve as a gentle nightlight.

In the past I’ve covered the thing with paper, but that came down and I haven’t done anything with it since. This morning as I lay in bed I thought I should paint the glass yellow and paint sunbeams all around it.

Not gonna happen.

We sold our last house twelve years ago. Evidently the house staging process thoroughly expunged any notion I might have of ever doing anything to my house that a potential buyer might not like. This is not the easiest thing for what I like to think of as my artistic imagination, but I could never deeply love a house with a garage facade anyway. The house and I have lived in a state of truce since I moved in.

In 2019, with retirement and possible relocation on the horizon, I consulted my real estate agent about what we should do to the house to improve its salability.

Pretty much nothing, was her advice. At that point and for a couple of years after, Austin houses were selling at way above asking price with multiple bids and a variety of bribe tactics before they even hit the MLS listings. Our neighborhood remains hot — not quite incendiary, but people are still spending a million dollars and gutting the house before they move in.

This is a level of privilege just below the rich white folks who have yachts with helicopters on them, I know. Of course we chose our house according to the “cheapest property in the best neighborhood you can manage,” so I ain’t no millionaire. But I am still extremely fortunate.

Well but so my real estate agent sent her favorite house stager over to offer her suggestions. FML.

The first thing a stager will want to know is whether you plan on living in your house until it sells. Since my goal was NO mortgage, not TWO, I admitted that we did plan to be here throughout the ordeal. House stagers respond to that attitude as if you were mold in the bathroom they couldn’t manage to get rid of. You’d think I…

Nancy Daley

Artist, food-worshipper, grouch, retired psychologist and uni lecturer (Human Sexuality). Currently running for Queen of the Universe.