We all love those HGTV design shows. Whether it is “Love It or List It”, “the Property Brothers”, “Good Bones”, “Mountain Mamas”, or a rerun of “Fixer Upper”, we absorb their contents with joyful passion.
I recently enjoyed a “Love It or List It” marathon. Episode after episode confirmed the fact that when homeowners want to move or engage in a significant home remodel, they invariably mention that “the space no longer works” for them.
After this fact has been established, we then see the interior of these houses and most of the time we see a cluttered space that gives the impression that truly the space does not work for the family anymore.
Typically, the common denominator in these homes is the clutter. Why does the space “stop working” for a family? What does that even mean? Maybe homeowners have stopped trying to conform to the space they have and instead, have gone out of control holding on to much more stuff than they need. Maybe they have stopped objectively looking at their possessions altogether. Things accumulate without anyone noticing and one day they realize there is stuff everywhere and many things can no longer be put away, or they cannot even use certain spaces because their stuff occupies such space.
Do not take me wrong. I love these shows the same as everyone else. In particular, “Love It or List It” is fantastic. The dynamics between David and Hillary are wonderful, and this is one of the few shows where you see the Designer really fighting for a budget to be able to deliver her proposed plan. I have never understood the budget distribution on these shows’ renovation projects. How can $100,000 completely renovate a home, including a whole new roof (and I don’t mean shingle replacement, I mean removing the entire existing roof where you can see the sky, and replacing the whole thing – like I saw on “Mountain Mamas”?)
But back to my main idea, what is so interesting to point out about these shows is that it would be impossible to present, and truly appreciate, the “reveal” of the new spaces if it was not for staging.
Staging plays a fundamental role in the final product. Obviously, the initial clutter is gone because homeowners move out of the property during the renovation. But at the time of the reveal, we see that every area has new furniture, accessories, even plants and flowers- everything perfectly appointed and that goes flawlessly with the new concept. Well, of course it needs to be like this. Nothing less will do.
But the point is that what we see is none of the homeowners’ belongings in the space. We see hanged clothes in closets, for example. It is a carefully curated selection of clothes that barely occupies the space. And just like the clothes and shoes in the closets, we do not see the real toiletries in the bathroom, or the real contents of the living room cabinets or kitchen dishes or an over-abundance of forgotten appliances.
What would the end-product look like with all the homeowners’ stuff and their original furniture? Not quite as impressive for sure. What is the missing link here? The part they do not discuss is the staging involved.
For the homeowners to move back in and have this wonderful layout “work for them”, they would need to flex those long-neglected organization muscles. Otherwise, the place will very shortly stop working for them again. No matter what changes are made in the space, if life is not lived considering the space available, and belongings are not kept in check and managed, no HGTV design wonder will help in the long run.
So, the hidden true hero in those HGTV homes we love is the staging. For obvious reasons, the staging needed for the big reveal cannot be discussed in the show, or the focus on the design would be shifted.
Rest assured though, without staging, there would be no big reveal whatsoever. Staging does not seem to be compatible with day-to-day normal living. Unless we look past the design and into the way the home gets organized around the space available, the shine of the big reveal will fade as soon as clutter returns.
These HGTV shows do not discuss that for homeowners to continue being delighted in their wonderful new space when all staging props are removed from the scene, they had better reconsider the amount of stuff they keep and how everything is stored in their house. That is precisely what organization is about.
Staging is the true hero on these shows, but organization is ultimately what can make the magic stay alive once reality sets in and homeowners’ stuff makes its way back into the house. Clutter the area again and nobody will care about, or even notice the wonderful design that once took their breath away.
There are very valid reasons to want to move or renovate a home. But when it is just a matter of the “space no longer working for us”, maybe the costs and complexities associated with renovations or moving could be avoided if organization is given an honest chance. When organization is given an honest chance, then it is possible to live in a staged home worth a design show reveal any day of the week.
As an organization expert, I wish to show homeowners how they can permanently live in a state of bliss with their home environment. They can have a home and a space they truly love for its functionality and beauty.
And speaking of organization experts, there is a new show premiering in late June on HGTV – “Hot Mess House”. It is about the organizing perspective in all of this. An organization expert is to be the central figure of this show (as in Professional Organizer). Finally, the recognition organization deserves! We will see what this new show will bring.