There may be no place like home, but recent design trends—and ones that appear frequently in print and on screen—have made many homes look very much alike.
The wide world of home-improvement media—from magazines like Better Homes and Gardens to buzzy HGTV shows like “Fixer Upper”—may seem harmless, but new research has found the influence is so great that homeowners are decorating in accordance with their mass-appeal sensibilities.
And, ultimately, it’s making people very sad.
“They’re seeing everything that’s wrong with their home and imagining when people come into their home [that] they’re also criticizing and scrutinizing and judging their home,” explained Smith School of Business associate professor of marketing Annetta Grant, who co-authored a new study on the phenomenon, in an interview with the Washington Post.
But prioritizing the perceived preferences of the general public over personal décor desires, it turns out, is a formula for anxiety, detachment and feeling out of place in a place meant to be yours.
“It really makes people feel quite uneasy about the decisions that they make in their home, and so they’re always kind of fearful about getting it wrong,” Grant added.
Yet, the takeaway message from hit renovation shows seems clear: Unique, cluttered and unconventional spaces have less mass appeal and a lower resale value, so consider the next homeowner first when making renovations.
(HGTV did not return The Post’s request for comment.)
Of the 17 individuals who were involved in the study’s research, the majority said they wanted to be seen as a “smart homeowner who has invested in my home” and avoid distinct, potentially polarizing design choices, Grant said.
One individual told the study authors she believed the reason she’d gotten so much positive feedback on her renovated bathroom was because it looked “like a hotel.”
In another era, or to a less-conformist homeowner, this would certainly have been taken as something of a diss, a comment on the bathroom’s generic sameness.
In a world that apparently believes standardization is superior, though, it’s now a compliment.