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Zillowing Out

A $635,000 Valentine’s Day Cottage For Smoochin’

an overxposed artistic rendering of a pink cottage
Chris Thompson/Defector|

Edited in Prisma app with Mononoke

Back in my day—before looking at Zillow was a hobby popular enough for a SNL skit—you could find rooms made and designed for sex on Zillow without much effort. In the far off past, I used to show my friends these houses on my laptop (this was before the Zillow app) and we would scroll through the photos together. We grew up on Chatroulette, on seeing naked bodies on the internet, on navigating to sections of the internet our parents didn’t know existed and (if we got caught) learning to erase any evidence we’d been there at all. The existence of sex rooms is risque. Sex isn’t even risque, really. There are very few things that most (though not all) adult humans have in common, but sex is one of them. There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before. What was risque about the Zillow sex rooms was that the same thing that’s risque about all Zillow lurking: the voyeurism. 

What was fun about the Zillow sex rooms was that (like all other Zillow rooms) most people have really bad taste. There were harnesses mounted on walls and cheap velvet wallpaper. There were beds with floral comforters surrounded by ropes. There were mirrors on the ceiling but off-center. But this was before. This was the mid-aughts, when blogs were still the good internet and BDSM and “sex rooms” were not part of the popular culture conversation. Since then we’ve had 50 Shades of Gray and a whole public conversation in popular culture about sexual preference. There’s a brand new book of fiction that came out this week just about sex titled Kink

But Zillow? Zillow has become chaste. Maybe this is because certain houses began to go viral for these photos of sex rooms, and it became a kind of rogue marketing scheme. As recently as a few years ago you could find these houses. Here’s one that went viral in 2019. But Zillow made them take the photos down, and (based completely on my own anecdotal research) seems to have created a system for finding these photos before they can do the same. Now there are still plenty of listings promising a “secret room off the Master” or doors that “open with a key” but there aren’t any pictures. The kink is gone. Which is a shame because, just like every other Zillow house trend, there really was a lot of material we could have discussed there. 

All of this is to say that I did not want to bring you this adorable little sweet Valentine’s Day home with absolutely no twist whatsoever. I was simply forced by the Zillow Gods via power of elimination.  

This week’s house is so cute it makes me want to die. It is $635,000 which seems like far too much to me for because it has two bedrooms, one bathroom, and is 800 square feet, but I’m guessing the price has to do with the location. Though the street address is for Oak Bluffs, Mass., the little Zillow blurb informs me that this town is apparently in Martha’s Vineyard. We have already been over the fact that I do not know where Martha’s Vineyard is, refuse to look it up, and believe that it is one large vineyard owned by Martha Stewart, so there’s no need to get into that here. But it does make sense that Martha would allow this house to exist on her vineyard since it is adorable and also very consistently designed: something the Martha Stewart magazine is very adamant is an important aspect in home design. 

Screenshot: Zillow

This house is so unbelievably cute that it seems fake to me. It is like a little doll house!!!! The whole house is painted in the exact same pinks as that bubble gum that comes in the big roll inside the plastic clamshell. The boards are painted bubblegum and the trim and the doors and the big wrap-around porch are painted hot pink so that it looks like a Candy Land drawing. There is an ornate white trim around the roof that reminds me of gingerbread house icing, and the porch railings are also white. The flower window boxes on the Juliet balcony have hearts painted on them. There are even pink flowers hanging around the roof, and big, green plants around the side. If you look closely, there is also (for some reason) a plaque with the state of Texas on it, so hook ’em, I guess. This is the house personification of a Valentine. 

If you are going to have a house this pink on the outside, I fully believe that you should just lean all the way into the bit, and these homeowners have. The front double doors are painted pink on the inside, and though the walls and ceiling are white there are scalloped adornments on the doorways. Frilly is the word I want to use even though there aren’t many frills in sight. The living room has a wall of windows with sheer curtains and pink accent pillows. One of these pillows has embroidered on it “Pink House 1864.” The house does seem old. There is a whale doormat that absolutely has been misplaced. 

Screenshot: Zillow

Off the living room there is a small dining room with a double set of hot pink doors of its own and not much else to see. I have to assume that the wide angle lens is doing a lot of favors here, because from the outside of the house, I can see how small that porch is and where the doors to the dining room are, and it is not far! There’s more scalloped doily accents on the beams in this room too. 

Screenshot: Zillow

Let’s go into the kitchen. This is a delightful, adorable kitchen. It is so cute in such a specific girly way that it makes me wish I was a little British lady who could exclaim over it. The floorboards are pink, which is a bold and quite ridiculous choice that only works because nothing else is pink. The cupboards are cream, the countertops marble, the walls white, the ceiling wood. The extra pink in here comes yet again from the accents. Pink mugs with hearts. Pink toaster and kettle (both Smeg, the fanciest brand of all). Pink pasta bowls. Pink paper lantern. Pink cake plate. So sweet. Let’s move on. 

I have no idea where the stairs in this house are. I think they might be through the little corner door in the dining room. That doorframe has pink hearts hanging decoratively from it, which is cute but seems rather impractical for anyone taller than me. Magically, through the power of Zillow, we are upstairs. Who cares where the stairs are. 

Screenshot: Zillow

Up here we have a vaulted ceiling and some very, very small rooms. At what seems to be the front of the house based on the Juliet balcony with (you guessed it) double hot pink doors, there is an A-frame roof with the support beams painted light pink, and just barely enough room for the bed and two dressers. The floors up here are a kind of green-ish gray that I really like. I imagine this very pink house could be toned up even more with some more greenery to highlight how pink it is. 

Off the bedroom is what seems to be a college dorm room with a sink in it and a bunch of vaulted ceilings and a very narrow twin bed or bench? It’s hard to tell because the sink seems very small and the proportions of everything in this room are confusing. Is that a regular size bathroom trash can, or is it teensy? Is that painting on the wall 8x10? Or more like 16x20? There is a curtain to go around the bench/bed presumably to create some privacy from the two bunk beds in the other teensy tiny room just around the corner. This ceiling is also vaulted so I do not recommend sleeping on the top bunk unless you are a small and careful child. 

Screenshot: Zillow

There are many curtains on this floor which I assume are hiding things that are boring to see like closets, but could also just be stand-ins for privacy, of which this house has none. But it seems okay to have such a small upstairs when we have such a nice big brick patio outside. There is a little gate to the backyard which has some ivy on it and is very nice, but in the backyard itself there isn’t any greenery. I understand that people hate to mow the lawn and that hating to mow the lawn is a top-five personality trait for a lot of people, but wouldn’t it be nice to have some nice green grass out here? To lie in some soft grass amongst some flowers in sturdy oak boxes and gaze at our adorable little pink house. 

Screenshot: Zillow

This isn’t a house that I really like that much to be honest. I have never been a very girly-girl and I don’t really understand this kind of idyllic dollhouse life. But I appreciate it. Sometimes I think back to how much I hated Valentine’s Day as a teen and still talk shit about it as a commercial and trite holiday. But as a kid I did like Valentine’s Day. I loved making my little cardboard box and getting valentines from my classmates. I liked putting heart stickers on my face. It was fun because it wasn’t normal and it didn't come with all the romantic pressure we put on adults.

I want to be able to see Valentine’s Day the platonic way I did as a kid: a good day to tell your friends that you like them and think they are great, a good day to (if you are very brave) confess a crush, a good day to express a positive emotion you might be repressing because it seems too earnest or too silly or too sappy. I picked this house this week, because it is cute and nice and a kind of Valentine for you, the readers. Something saccharine and silly and appropriate only for this day of the year. Thank you for writing such nice comments on these blogs and coming here every other Saturday for five months. Happy Valentine's Day!

This house has been on the market for 100 days. If you buy this house, please invite me for the weekend. I would really like to meet Martha Stewart.

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