Illustration: Serge Bloch
We thought, Hah! We don't need no stinkin' egg-and-dart moldings! We're free!
Shortly after we moved into the weird modern home we'd just built for ourselves, the trash man showed up for the very first time. "So where's the house?" he asked genially.

"It's that building right behind me," I replied, trying not to sound testy. "The one I just came out of."

"No kidding!"

We get that a lot. In our semi-rural area—about equally divided between 200-year-old clapboard farmhouses and vinyl-clad Colonials that, except for being beige, wouldn't look out of place on a Monopoly board—we have the weirdest house around. It's kind of a gull-wing contraption covered in corrugated steel and divided into two main sections. We've taken to calling these the North Trailer and the South Trailer, because when we finally finished building the house, a trailer was about all we could afford to live in.

We decided to build modern because we didn't have the energy to tackle the older fixer-uppers that were available. Columns? Egg-and-dart moldings? We thought, Hah! We don't need no stinkin' egg-and-dart moldings! We're free! But we soon learned that building modern comes with its own obsessive demands. In our house, we treat plywood with the reverence other people reserve for antique chestnut flooring. We fret over where to find streamlined address numbers, or whether people will recognize that the green glowing object outside is actually a doorbell. Even the kids can't escape: When we built them a playset, it had to have a corrugated roof to go with the house.
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