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They’re down on the farm after seeing luxury houses


OK, that was a mistake.

Now we know better, and we’ll never take our kids to see the latest in Dallas County home design again.

Our 13-year-old daughter, a designer wannabe, saw a whole new world the moment we walked into the first place on the tour, and may well be chainsawing display nooks into our walls at this very moment.

By the second or third atrium-enhanced family room, even the 9-year-old son was urging us to dump our farmland and sink the proceeds into one of the HomeShowExpo houses.

Thinking back to his simple country-boy days when the tractor was all he could talk about, I said, “But where would I park my John Deere?” He didn’t seem to care.

The typical home in this year’s show offered about 5,000 square feet, ensuring that you’ll always be able to hide from the rest of your family, and a home theater, ensuring that they won’t notice. And when we say “home theater,” we’re not talking about a big-screen TV and an exit sign. We’re talking about remote-controlled window shades, a sound system that makes the floor rumble during war movies and fully reclining seats that absorb your weary body with an almost biological squishiness. In short, rooms that make the outside world seem kind of pointless.

Coming from a rural setting on the poor side of town, it struck us adults that these lots have no trees and there’s not enough room between the houses to swing an invasion-of-privacy complaint.

But the kids, weary of being told to pick up fallen branches and help in the garden, have no desire to go outside anyway, so what’s the difference?

Sure, those interior design features looked cool to us, too. Take the house with the Asian motif. The bamboo floors, the hot tub, the tradition-breaking angular walls — living there would impose so much Zen-like calm that people on the street would start mistaking me for Lao Tzu. But once a month, the mortgage payment would come due and make me long for the true inner peace that living in an Airstream trailer can provide.

The best news was that architects are finally starting to disguise the garages instead of building luxury homes that look like warehouses from the street. The bad news: When they flipped the garage sideways, they didn’t add any width to the driveway. Average drivers will have to call for a tow truck, or Dale Earnhardt Jr., to get the SUVs in and out.

We wandered through homes priced at more than $700,000 and some at a mere half-million. What’s the difference? When you come across a 10-foot-by-15-foot wine room and a 12-foot coffered ceiling with illuminated copper inserts, you know you’re near the top of the range. A couple of these chateaus seemed to be only an armed guard and a donation box away from museum status.

The whole idea of going was to pick up some remodeling ideas. We returned home with ideas, all right. One being that we should limit our future remodeling visits to the paint-chip display at Menards.

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