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Home Renovation Shows Are Making Us Prioritize Others Rather Than Ourselves

by Marianne Navada
bathroom decor

There’s plenty of research showing that the lives of social media personalities can make us frustrated and envious. And a new research shows that not just people, but home design trends affect our happiness as well. 

The magical transformations from shows such as Dream Home Makeover inspire me. I follow interior design accounts on social media. And yes, I regularly check real estate apps such as Zillow to see how much our house value has appreciated. How are all of these habits affecting us? 

In a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers Annetta Grant and Jay M. Handelman find that instead of personalizing our home, we take on a “market-reflected gaze” when making decisions about design. We strip our home of ourselves. We think about how the market, buyers, and observers will evaluate our home. As a result, most homes look the same: beige and staying true to trends. Homeowners second-guess decisions. And they are unduly critical of their homes.

One of the most standardized rooms for example is the kitchen. You often see homes with restaurant-style burners and exhaust systems. 

“It’s hard to imagine how the average homeowner would know how to use these appliances, let alone have the need for 12 ranges on a gas stovetop.” 

Bedrooms look like hotel rooms. Homeowners paint dark wood cabinets, since they’re no longer considered pretty. 

Our Renovation 

This study resonated with me after recently renovating our bathroom and kitchen island. I remember leaning towards a black granite/composite kitchen sink and rustic square tiles for the bathroom shower. I seriously thought about these options even though I’ve learned from experience that black tends to get more soap scum. Also I prefer a shower with the least amount of grout. In the end, I went with a stainless steel sink and slab tiles for the shower. I’m happy with my how it turned out. I made design choices highly influenced by social media posts, such as an oak kitchen island. But I also incorporated elements that went against the trends (keeping the kitchen cabinets white in the kitchen and opting for dark wood in the bathroom). I’d like to think I made my decision based on my style and how it flows with the rest of the house.

The point is, it’s fine to get influenced and inspired by things we see online, but we have to know what works for us—the people who have to live with these design decisions daily. I find it harsh that we have home design trends that come out yearly. It can be exhausting and deflating keeping up. Imagine spending tens of thousands on a renovation and reading that your decisions are “on their way out”.  However, I understand making decisions for resale, especially if you have plans to move. Finding balance between personal/family design style, what is functional for the household, and resale considerations is key.

I’ve always wanted a double wall oven and happy that our house has one. I remember when the designer came to our house and started explaining how it’s now better to have a 48 inch stove top with ovens. She suggested removing the built-in double ovens. For a minute, I started thinking that would make for a better kitchen. But I shook off the thought. Double wall ovens are fine! Nay, I love them!

On the flip side, I wanted to expand the shower and remove the tub in the primary bathroom, since I didn’t really use a tub. The designer convinced me that most home buyers look for a 5-piece primary bath. She convinced me. I’m glad she did. Now I actually use the tub!

Commit to living.