By Mary Lynn Bruny

My husband likes to watch HGTV home remodeling shows. Occasionally I’ll join him, and when I do we become The Opinionated Panel of Two. Let me state that we are basically nonjudgmental people, especially my husband. But if you’re a stranger on TV shelling your wares, all bets are off. Plus, we like to make each other laugh.

“Really? That tile with that wall color? What medication were they on when they made that choice?” I say.

“Well, I think the hand-woven headboard thing-y is way worse. Looks like something made at summer camp by an angry fifth grader,” my husband responds.

“I’ve worked with fifth graders, and most fifth graders have way more talent than that,” I reply.

I will note that we also point out the great stuff, as if we’re some top-in-our-field design experts, which of course we certainly are not.

“That’s how it should be done. These people know what they’re doing,” we’ll say knowingly.

About halfway through the pandemic (10? 15 years ago?) in order to preserve my sanity, I started a walking group with two women I’ve always wanted to get to know better. Besides being interesting and fun, they are very, very nice women, which has always scared me off a bit. Regular readers of this column may have surmised that I have a slightly cranky side. One does not want to be the bitter pill amongst the sweet pudding of society. But my general liking of these women and my need for real-live human interaction got the best of me.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, these women are smart and funny. And they, like me, enjoy their homes and looking at houses while we walk. But what really made me happy is they too can be a wee bit “house judge-y.” And by this I mean that interspersed with our conversation about the general chaos in the world at large, there will be comments like this:

“Oh, my! The front door color… that is so unfortunate,” says one friend.

“They were probably going for a classic red but instead they got…what would you call that? Stomach bile red?” I ask.

“Why would they not repaint that?” responds my other friend.

Now you may think we are catty – house catty. And you would not be wrong. But I say it is a harmless form of stress relief and general human bonding. And we also note the houses done really well; we balance our sour slings with sweet notes. And there are so, so many homes that merit sweet notes in our town. But it does seem to me that for some reason it’s a bit more fun to shoot the sour slings.

One person who would not agree with this is my kind-hearted eldest son who literally will not hurt a fly (just relocate it). He really doesn’t like my husband and I criticizing folks’ remodel efforts on HGTV.

“People are trying their hardest. You guys shouldn’t say these things,” he would say.

But after buying a home, going through his own remodel, and becoming a real estate junkie just like his parents, he has inched into the fray. Or, perhaps more appropriately, he’s been sucked into the muck.

“Perhaps that wasn’t the best counter choice,” he’ll now say while watching a kitchen remodel show.

Not too harsh, but give him time. He’s got decades to evolve. I’ve got faith in him.

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn writes about local real estate and home-related topics. Contact her at [email protected]. To read previous The Lighter Side articles, go to