Thursday, March 3, 2005

My HGTV Obsession

What is it about all those decorating shows on HGTV that I find so compelling? I’ve watched Designer Guys, Design on a Dime, Holmes on Homes, Designed to Sell, Renovation Warriors, My First Place, Kitchen Renovation, Design Inc — all with intense interest. I can watch HGTV for hours at a time, while my daughter sleeps and dishes remain piled in the sink.

Pretty soon I am making plans. If we knock down this wall, freshen up the living room with a light coat of paint, then reupholster the chairs in a fun retro floral print… my husband usually cuts me off about here. “Wait, wait” he is always telling me. “We can’t knock down supporting structures, and besides, we don’t have the money to do all this.” Blah, blah, blah. He is such a downer, ruining all my fun. I’m only dreaming. But that is the thing with HGTV. The shows are designed to make you want to want more. My kitchen just isn’t up to standard. Who cares that it is functional, I want more space and more light and more expensive hardwood floors.

I have never been one to get caught up in celebrity culture, wanting the designer clothes and expensive purses that this or that actress wears. I purposely eschew such blatant materialism, and yet, when I thought about it, HGTV isn’t that different. It is like one really long commercial, broke up into half hour segments. How did I not notice this before? They, being the large conglomerate companies that sponsor these shows, are trying to convince me a need a larger kitchen and an industrial styled faucet with pull out spray function. They have fooled me.

I don’t buy beauty magazines because they make me feel that I am not pretty enough. And now, I will have to ban HGTV, because their shows are giving my house an inferiority complex. And I am not alone in this. After a few casual conversations with some friends, I realize the affect these shows are having on everyone — reno envy. Why don’t we all just take a few breaths and really look around. We are living better than our parents and considerably better than our grandparents. Thank god for washing machines and microwaves, but despite our many upgrades, we never seem to be happy with what we have. We want more and when we get it, we want even more. So I am suggesting a mantra we can all say when we are swept up in marketing mayhem: “my life is full enough.” The truth is we do not need heated tile floors in our bathrooms. These are luxuries that few can really afford, and the rest of us would have to go into debt or sacrifice our retirement savings to get them. If I watch HGTV again, I will silently repeat the mantra when I feel my mind starting to go on a whirlwind house renovation — my life is full enough.