Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Musing on Home Makeover Shows

For the past week or so, I've been relaxing in the late evening by surfing the internet and watching old episodes of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on Netflix streaming (thanks Kerry for the heads-up). Watching the episodes of QEFTSG makes me remember just how much I love home makeover shows. I haven't had cable in 12 years, so I don't get a chance to watch them often. When I do have cable access, I glut myself on hours and hours of home makeover shows. (I swear if we ever got cable, the television would never move from the HGTV channel) And sometimes when I see the incredible results (and all the fancy stuff the homeowners get for free) I have a pang of "oh...I wish I could be on one of those shows..." But then I realize...no I don't. And here's why.

-Nothing you have is good enough for the designers. And there's a reason for that. No one wants to watch a home makeover show where the designer just takes what's already in the room and moves it around for better flow. The public wants to see Big! Wow! Makeovers! So ironically, often the designer will poo poo items you may have in your room that are perfectly adequate or downright beautiful, just because they may not go with "their concept" of how the room should be. I watched a recent episode of Queer Eye where the guys at the beginning were mocking and laughing at the homeowner's stained glass window clings. In the big reveal, Thom pointed out that he had used the clings as color inspiration for the whole room (and left them up). Apparently they weren't so awful after all, huh? And speaking of which...

-The room that is created for you is one that intentionally appeals to the widest variety of audiences. This is public tv, honey. Creative canvas art projects are brought in that are just giant blocks of color on a newly striped wall. Everything is generic, and very little is personal. Now, some designers do a better job than others of trying to incorporate your feedback into the new space. Thom Filicia from Queer Eye usually takes the guy on a shopping trip to explore what he wants in the new space. But even these segments drive me batty, because it's obvious how they steer the homeowner toward the products *they* want them to end up with.

-Quirky and whimsy are mostly thought of as four letter words. My husband and I have a Geek Room in our house. We keep our computers, DVD collections, and gaming consoles in there. And our theme to the room is...Spider-man. What childless grown-ups would have an entire room of their house devoted to Spider-man? Ones that haven't lost their sense of whimsy, that's who. But most home makeover shows cringe at the idea of including anything in the new space that will make it seem silly or lighthearted.

-You sometimes have no say in what they do to your house. Sure, sometimes (like on the Queer Eye episode I watched the other night) the designer will pay for new chair railing, wood beams, and leaded glass doors to be installed in your room. But then sometimes, the designer will decide to try out a new paper bag faux finish technique that involves gluing hundreds of crumpled bags to your wall. And then if you hate it, you have to spend hours and HOURS getting the room back to normal afterward.
Imagine trying to undo this...

Sometimes I may pull my hair out at the way that my obsessively design oriented brain looks at a space in my house and just knows it's "not quite right" yet, without knowing quite how to fix it. But learning how to find the answers for ourselves is how we manage to keep our spaces personal. Sure it's an easy quick fix to have an expert show you how to divide your strangely shaped living room into three separate comfortable seating arrangements, but where's the pride in knowing you eventually sorted it out on your own? I believe that the energy of a home that has been decorated and built-up by the heart and hands of the owner is quite different than the energy of a home that has been decorated by a professional, no matter how hard they try to make it seem personal. I believe that energy translates into the comfort level and enjoyment of the home not only by the people who live there, but also anyone who visits the house.

So no. You'll never see me on a home makeover show. I prefer to stay a hot mess all by myself, and learn as I go, thank you very much.


  1. I used to know someone who worked on these kind of shows, and he was full of horror stories. The quality of the work done is so poor that most owners would have to spend much more time and energy fixing it up after the film crew left than if they'd just decorated it themselves in the first place. They may look good on TV, but that is all.

  2. I'd love to hear some of those stories. Or then again, maybe I wouldn't! Even the stuff they show on screen sometimes is frustrating enough...like when they'll get rid of furniture the family likes, and move in essential furniture from other rooms of the house to take its place...

  3. I wouldn't let ANY of them anywhere NEAR my home. A major re-model in 2 days? My a##, you say! I wonder how often someone crys in the Big Reveal from sheer horror at what's been done to their house. And the yard redos are as bad. Nothing but hardscape in MY neck of the woods means a good place to broil steaks! Reason? Because its so stinkin' hot in the summer, thats all it would be good for. And I Dont Like chemical fires, they stink.