When “The House Stops Working”
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. But what is the hidden magic of HGTV design shows?
I recently enjoyed a “Love It or List It” marathon. Episode after episode confirmed that when homeowners want to move or engage in a significant home remodel, they invariably mention that “the space no longer works” for them.
Clutter Is The Common Denominator
After establishing this fact, we then see the interior of these houses, and most of the time, we see a cluttered space that gives the impression that the home truly does not work for the family anymore. Typically, the common denominator in these homes is the clutter.
But why does the space “stop working” for a family? What does that even mean? Maybe homeowners have stopped trying to conform to their homes and instead have gone out of control, holding on to much more 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 they can no longer put things away even if they tried. Or they can only use specific home spaces if their stuff occupies all their living space.
Please do not take me wrong. I love these shows the same as everyone else. In particular, “Love It or List It” is terrific. The dynamics between David and Hillary are fantastic, and this is one of the few shows where you see the Designer fighting for a budget to deliver her proposed plan.
I have never understood the budget distribution on these shows’ renovation projects, by the way. How can $100,000 completely renovate a home, including a whole new roof (and I don’t mean shingle replacement, but removing the entire existing roof where you can see the sky and replacing the entire thing – as I saw on “Mountain Mamas”?)
That Hidden Magic
But back to my main idea. I find it very interesting that these shows could not present their “reveal” without the staging.
Staging plays a fundamental role in the final product. The initial clutter is gone because homeowners moved 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 is 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 we see none of the homeowners’ belongings in the space. We see hung clothes in closets, for example. It is a carefully curated selection of clothing pieces that barely occupies the space. And just like the clothes and shoes in closets, we do not see toiletries in the bathroom, the contents of the living room cabinets or kitchen dishes, or an overabundance of forgotten appliances.
What would the space 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 need to discuss is the staging involved.
So, the true hidden hero in those HGTV homes we love is the staging. Although the staging details are not discussed in the show to avoid diverting the focus on design, that big reveal is only possible with staging.
These HGTV shows do not discuss that if homeowners want to continue enjoying their fabulous new space when staging props leave the scene, they better reconsider the amount of stuff they keep and how they store everything in their house. That is what organization is about.
No Organization, No Magic
Staging does not seem to be compatible with everyday day-to-day living, though. So, unless we look past the design and pay attention to the home organization and available space, the shine of the big reveal will fade as soon as clutter returns.
Staging is the true hero on these shows. But it is the organization that ultimately makes the magic remain 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 outstanding design that once took their breath away.
For the homeowners to move back in and have this fantastic layout “work for them,” they need to flex those long-neglected organization muscles. Otherwise, the place will soon stop “working for them” again.
No matter what changes a space undergoes, if we don’t consider the space available and adequately manage our belongings, no HGTV design wonder will help in the long run.
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 giving the organization an honest chance saves us the costs and complexities of home renovations or moving.
Properly addressing the organization of the home makes it possible to live in a home worth a design show reveal any day of the week.
As an organization expert, I wish to show homeowners how they can live in bliss with their home environment. They can have a home and a space they love for its functionality and beauty.
That home you never knew you had? I can’t wait to show you!