CHICAGO (NewsNation) — Home makeover shows might influence owners to make choices that prioritize future buyers instead of what makes them happy in the present, a new study first reported in the Washington Post found.
Dr. Annetta Grant, an assistant professor of markets, innovation and design at Bucknell University, took a closer look at this with Jay Handelman, an associate professor of marketing at the Smith School of Business.
Grant’s research looked into how this type of media is making homeowners worried about being judged or scrutinized and how some go the neutral route while renovating and decorating instead of making bolder choices that express who they are.
After talking to 17 homeowners doing renovations, Grant found most of them wanted to make smart choices so their homes could be worth more down the line.
Grant and Handelman found that home renovation media actually changes how people view and think about their homes.
“So increasingly, what’s happened is that these media outlets have made the home more of a financial asset to be maximized,” Grant explained. “So now people are doing renovations to an AI with what everyone else wants, and not necessarily what they want in their own homes.”
She said, as a result, homeowners often feel quite uneasy in their own homes.
The big thing that has changed is that the home should align with the standards created by the media, Grant said. She explained that in the past, especially post-war, a lot of American suburbia was being built as a place from the family, as a reflection of the family. Now, instead of bright colors that reflect personality, there’s been a shift to a more neutral standardization.
Grant said the markers of standardization for now are things like gray walls and floors, white quartz countertops, industrial style, stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, open concept kitchen, and spa-like bathrooms.
“Instead of the home being a reflection of you and your own personality, the idea being perpetuated in the media is to have the home match these standards,” Grant said. “The media really puts out the message that this is the right way to do your home, and if you’re not doing it up to these standards, then you’re getting it wrong.”
The biggest message is that homeowners could potentially be hurting their greatest financial assets, Grant said. But the interesting thing that the study found was that most times, people don’t really have any intention of selling their homes anytime soon.
“What the means is that they’re making these decisions that seem to be for everyone else, or for the real estate agent, even though they have plans to continue living in their home for 10 or 20 years,” she said.
A common script for a camera crew filming home renovation shows is to go through a home and point out everything that is wrong with it. For example, people may go into a kitchen and point out how the backsplash doesn’t go with the countertop, or that the bathroom is all wrong.
“This really creates the message for homeowners that when they look around their own home, they may have the sense that anyone could also be criticizing and scrutinizing those same things about their own home,” Grant said.