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Zillowing Out

A $5.9 Million Home To Lie To Ourselves In

I have an very narrow view of how incredibly expensive houses should be, and that was entirely dictated by watching The Parent Trap (1998) too many times. I only accept three types of fancy, very expensive homes in my imagination: Lots of land where everyone wears denim and something is farmed or harvested; Regal family townhome with crown moulding, spiral stairs and lots of dark wood built-ins; Penthouse apartment that looks like it is owned by a robot.

It is easy for me to imagine the people who occupy these houses in this order: Dennis Quaid in the 1998 version of The Parent Trap, Natasha Richardson in the 1998 version of The Parent Trap and every evil billionaire. I really do not like when fancy houses do not fit into one of these categories. It makes me uncomfortable. If I can’t make it fit then I cannot imagine what kind of person lives there.

That is why, before I even got to the indoor photos of this week’s house. I hated it. Let’s look at one single photo before we get into it. Okay? Here it is.

Screenshot: Zillow

Wow. I hate it! It looks like a Frank Gehry in that I know that Frank Gehry has designed buildings inspired by crumpled up paper bags. This looks even worse. This looks like some architectural student finally got Autodesk Revit on their computer, made a bunch of shapes and plopped them in the middle of some green grass. The roof looks like a chip. The curved walls look like an asylum. The whole thing looks like a space ship that would certainly explode upon takeoff.

This house was sent in by Ellen! Thank you, Ellen. She says, ” I found this house because I treat Zillow like others treat video games. I pride myself on my skill and finesse with the filter system, the goal being to know about interesting houses in my area before my husband does. I always win because only I know the rules.” I also play this game and I am also always winning because I am the only one who knows I am playing. Everyone please congratulate both me and Ellen.

Ellen also said, “I also normally have a full time job which gets in the way of my Zillow study, but I was in an accident in December (I’m fine), but I’ve been off work for a few months. All of this to say that this house is an area and price range that I’m certain NO ONE is searching for.” Ellen! I hope you are recovering well!

This house is located in Tenino, Washington. According to the census, the population of Tenino is a little over 1,600 people so I’m not sure why this gigantic house is here. I zoomed out on the map and it seems to be south of Tacoma and Olympia. It seems very close to the entrance to Olympic National Park which is my new favorite National Park, so that’s nice I guess.

But I must note that when I went to Olympic National Park this summer, I drove through Olympia (which is just north of Tenino) and like Forks, Washington, it had some of the worst vibes I have ever felt in my life. We needed gas and I absolutely refused to let Trey stop for gas in Olympia or Forks because they were too scary! I was worried something bad would happen! And it was sunny outside!

Unfortunately, Ellen also felt this. “Others may feel differently, but in my opinion, rural Washington is not a friendly place no matter your identity or political leanings, and I was taught by my fertilizer salesman father that you ‘don’t go into the little towns unless you have someone to see.’” That’s about how I feel about this area and this house. ” This seems absolutely correct to me. And no one should go to see people who live in $5.9 billion mansions because they can almost certainly pay their way out of jail time for murdering you.

The specifications are simple enough: three bedrooms, four bathrooms…uh, 7,342 square feet. Hmm. That’s an awful lot of space for only three bedrooms isn’t it? It was built in 2005, which makes absolute sense because it looks like what every single mid-aughts popular culture piece thought the future would be like: somehow white and sleek and green and lush all at the same time.

This house was sold in 2010 and put back on the market in 2018 for, say it with me: ELEVEN MILLION DOLLARS! This, obviously, did not work. They dropped the price $1 million a year later, another million a month after that, and then three months after that, dropped it by $3 million more. Imagine money being so meaningless to you that you list a house for $11 million and then a year later decide it’s fine, you’ll take $5.9 million instead. Weirdly, the house has stayed at this price since December 2019. Ellen’s sister also noticed this because it’s FUCKING WEIRD! Why did this happen?

Let’s see if we can figure it out by looking at it. Here’s the front door, I think.

Screenshot: Zillow

This is an immediate no from me. If you invite me to your house and this was the front door, I would be like, “Oh, no. I actually have to leave so sorry,” and then I would RUN to my car. I’m not stepping inside this steel trap of doom! No way! This is the kind of door that vaults have in my imagination, which is very stupid because if you were going to break in you could obviously just break the glass window. But because I am very brave for all of you, inside we go.

Screenshot: Zillow

Here we have a living room with a vagina layout. That’s something. This long coffee table is incredibly impractical. Imagine being the person sitting on the end and having to fight the person across from you to put your drink on that sad little corner. I do not like how many swoopy walls there are here. How am I supposed to put art on the wall when they are ALL CURVED? Stupid! Why is this fireplace vertical? I didn’t realize until seeing this that fireplaces are usually shaped horizontally, until I felt completely unsettled by this egg one. Thanks, I hate it!

Lets take a few steps backward without turning around. Great. Here we are:

Screenshot: Zillow

Because I found a video of this property, I have a much better understanding of the layout than these photos allow. Directly behind us there is a staircase. There are also walls of cabinets and two ovens, both of which seem installed too high. This is a new thing I have noticed: ovens are being installed at waist level. This is crazy to me. How do you not burn the living shit out of your elbows trying to get anything out of them? I can just imagine myself getting a burn on my damn rib cage while taking a chicken out of the oven, and that is an awful thing to imagine.

Anyway, the stove top is really nice and I don’t hate this oval island. There are SIX burners AND a griddle. That’s luxury baby. Over there, through that door is the dining room, and…

Screenshot: Zillow

This is not my style, but I think I appreciate it. I like how this table seems to be balanced atop a tree trunk. I like these spooky little chairs. I like the color palate even. The view is incredible. Why they had to muddy these decisions with a chandelier that looks like it belongs in a children’s dance studio and carpet that is just waiting for me to spill a whole carafe of pinor noir onto, I do not know.

Moving on!

Screenshot: Zillow

YES! Hell yeah! Look at this shit! This is what rich people should have. You can just barely tell these are floating shelves—because this room is very poorly staged—that should be filled with books up to the ceiling. That silver bar along the top belongs to a LADDER that goes all the way around the room that you can swing around to retrieve your books, or perform a musical number. This is a much better system than mine, which is to stand precariously on the back of the couch, use the shelf for support, and pray. I also do really like this sheet music chandelier lamp. That’s fun. And obviously I love this big picture window that makes it feel like the outside is inside.

The only failure really is that the colors framed by the window are not complemented inside the library. Imagine, instead, if this room was a nice deep aqua. Wow. That would be so nice. Imagine if the piano was wood. Imagine if rich people had taste!

Let’s keep going:

Screenshot: Zillow

Oh jesus. This reminds me of a terrible art installation I once saw in Los Angeles where every single surface was covered with shag carpet. The art itself was interesting, but it was an incredibly uncomfortable room to be in. Something I am noticing about this house is that the designers do not understand balance. What makes a room cozy isn’t covering every object with soft fabric so you can watch a surround sound movie. What makes a room cozy is CONTRAST. You need a hard floor to really feel how cozy-as-hell this big plush circle bed/couch is. I want to jump on that bed. But I also do not want to confuse the wall with the bed.

Here’s another room with the same problem.

Screenshot: Zillow

See how everything in here is hard and flat. I can’t tell if this is carpet or stone, but it’s dense and flat like the walls. There is no color here. This is where dreams go to die. Why is the side-table a different type of wood entirely? Why, in this opulent, giant house, are all the bedrooms so small?

But this? This is the stuff I like.

Screenshot: Zillow

Is this my ideal bathroom? No. Those sinks are so shallow and those faucets look like microscopes and the white is BORING. But what I do love is this tub that looks like a bottom lip. LOOK AT IT! I have never seen a tub like this before! My whole dream in life is to be able to have a tub that will allow me to submerge my entire adult body in water. Look how it has a window! I also really like the addition of the curtain. Give me my privacy so only the birds and that weird security camera looking lamp can see me.

Moving on we have… a miserable little cubicle?

Screenshot: Zillow

This sucks! It looks like the kind of office that tech bros try to convince you is not saturated with soul sucking material. It’s not even a real office. The lamps aren’t hanging over anything. You can’t see out the window if you are not 8 feet tall! Plus, if you can afford a $5.6 million house, what kind of work do you really need to do?

Now, because I care about all of you, I have watched the video tour. And there is something in the video tour that is NOT on the Zillow listing that you must see. It is this:

Screenshot: YouTube

This whole room is circular and PADDED and has a ROSE ON THE CEILING! I will not be commenting further on this but it felt important to share.

We gotta get out of here.

Screenshot: Zillow

Oooh! Here is a staircase down to the pool! That’s nice! Huge missed opportunity to be a slide, but the pool does looks very nice and calm. I want to sit in it.

Around the other side of the house is, you guessed it, another DIFFERENT pool!

Screenshot: Zillow

I guess the functions of a lap pool and a party pool are different but it seems like you could just have a bigger party pool and swim back and forth. I don’t know because I’m a terrible swimmer and will never get any better. I do really like that this lap pool has these garage doors that swing open so that it can be outside. That’s great.

Let’s go explore the gardens:

Screenshot: Zillow

Wow. These are really nice. Look at these steps. Look at these bushes. All big fancy houses on lots of land should have complicated gardens. To me, this one could be a lot fancier, but it is time for us to get the hell out of here. Do you see that figure at the bottom? Who is that? Do you know?

Let’s not stick around to find out.

This week’s house has been listed on Zillow for 375 days. If you buy this house, shame on you. People don’t have homes! Give that money away and get yourself one of the three types of houses rich people are supposed to have.