Commentary

Lowe's 'Weekender' Radiates Do-It-Yourself Bliss

Do any of you know somebody with connections to the black-market organ trade? The reason I ask: Because we’re idiots, my wife and I decided to cram a quartet of long-delayed home projects into a narrow temporal window. The thinking was that by knocking them off semi-simultaneously, we could minimize the impact on the kids. Theoretically, they would only be disrupted (read: forced to venture up or down a flight of stairs to use the potty - do with me what you will, Protective Services) for a week or two. Theoretically.

You can guess what happened next. One project went slightly off the rails and another lingered well past its estimated completion date. Then the air conditioner exploded, layering a sweaty glaze of misery onto recaulked tub and neglected backsplash alike. We plan to solve the problems by throwing money at them; hence the need for somebody who can secure top dollar for my extra kidney.

There are two things I take away from this experience. First, that home ownership is a scam on par with self-actualization seminars and skim milk. And second, since it’s unlikely that I’m extricating myself from the first thing, I gotta up my DIY game.

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Right now, my around-the-house utility doesn’t extend much beyond accurately deploying the alarm system. I could hang a framed item on a wall, but I’m too much of a pacifist to inflict my craftsmanship on either the item or the wall. If the houseplants came to life and gained the ability to drive the kids to school, there would be no role for me here at all.

Given the amount of time I’ve recently spent weeping in the aisles of the local Home Depot while waiting for assistance that never arrived, I ruled them out as a potential resource. So my first stop for video salvation was down the digital freeway at Lowe’s, which debuted a multipart home-improvement-for-mouth-breathers series, “The Weekender,” in late summer.

On one hand, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before: Comely people take a sub-comely space and, over the course of the episodic arc, render it fully, undeniably comely. There’s plenty of product placement (for Lowe’s, obviously, but also for implements like the Dremel Velocity) and the vibe is so sunny as to make “Property Brothers” look like a World War II documentary by comparison.

Still, I found “The Weekender” both entertaining and - more importantly - useful. The host, Monica Mangin, attacks the projects less as an anointed-by-destiny home-improvement authority than as a friend who happens to know what she’s doing (Lowe’s should probably come up with a less reductive description for her on the “Weekender” website than “DIY blogger”). The people she works with seem pleasant and uncomplicated; we’re spared the weepy “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” reveals. It’s a fix-your-house series for people who don’t like the manufactured drama of fix-your-house series.

Take the most recent episode - “Photographer’s Paradise,” in which photographer Olivia attempts to convert a modestly appointed room into a client/studio space. She prattles a bit much about the intangible aspects of the renovated space (“when people walk in the door, I really want them to know what my brand is”), but otherwise proves a willing partner in the exercise. Mangin proposes solutions; Olivia nods dutifully and assists ably enough in their execution.

I buy the easygoing tone and I buy the creative concepts (which are explained in even greater detail on the Lowe’s website). And as many views that home-improvement disasters might ring up on YouTube (“America’s Most Asbestos-Laden Drywall Disintegrations, vol. 12”), I’m glad that “The Weekender” spares us the headaches and failures. Sometimes, a linear approach will suffice.

I could probably do without the many home-reno-show mainstays - in particular, the music and scene-setting shots of geese and lakes and ever-so-quaint towns - that the “Weekender” videos ape. Too, I’m still recovering from the icy chill that the title voiceover’s promise about “creating Pinterest-worthy spaces” sent up my spine.

But the series works because the first thought you’ll have at the end of each episode is some variation on, “Hell, I can do this” (by “I,” I mean “someone who’s not me”). So mind the homestead construction site, Mindy - I’m off to buy me one of them Dremel Velocity cutty/slicey thingies at Lowe’s. Here’s hoping that I’m able to write next week’s column with a full complement of fingers.
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