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May 19, 2005

DIY & Home Makeover TV shows

Filed under: Interior Design — DO or DIY @ 3:08 pm

During the last decade DIY home improvement shows, interior design makeovers and relocating & property developing programmes have been flooding our TV sets. We either love them or hate them – but either way, they have affected our lives and our perception of home improvement & decoration. Most of us want to live in magazine-style homes and we think we can achieve this with just a little imagination and small amount of money.  Apparently, these days, ‘everybody is an interior designer.’ Most of us are confident that we are able to design, decorate, renovate and develop properties – with little experience or knowledge  – within a short period of time..

This is an illusion. The reality is, of course, totally different. Interiors cannot be transformed over a weekend – not if you want to do things properly. Nor can they be done as cheaply as it’s made out – style has always had a price tag. Quality work takes time. Quality materials cost money. The final result of a makeover perhaps looks good on the TV – but we can’t feel it, can’t smell it and can’t touch it. We should also ask the practical questions: how long will those quickly constructed objects stand up? How many hours of maintenance will the new room require?  Does this new scheme go with the rest of the building? Does it suit the building in the first place?

These questions are never asked on the telly – let alone answered!

As to the "designers"- hardly any of them are actually qualified interior designers but are fine artists, jewellery or textile designers – or have nothing to do with design what-so-ever, just have "personalities". Their lack of spatial knowledge is very noticeable in their "designs" – they normally lack depth, balance, concept, dialect and any link to the building, or the rest of the interiors, or the inhabitants. They keep telling the world that  their TV shows have made interior design "democratic". If they think that it was democratic to lower the standard of interior design into a theme-park of bold colours and DIY MDF furniture, then they should think again – both about the meaning of the word "democratic" and the purpose of design. Interior design is not about contrived themes and DIY furnishing. It is to create a spatial experience with subtle details, layers of ideas, lines, textures and finishes. It’s is a conceptual connection between people and spaces. Being creative is one thing – being an interior designer is another. It’s an acquired skill – we are not just born with it. The same applies to being a good carpenter or tiler or plasterer – these are skills that have to be learnt either through formal training or experience. So if you’re a keen DIYer – you’ll be making many mistakes before you get quality results.

These makeover shows are certainly entertaining to watch but the real consequences of them are not something that we should be celebrating. On the one hand, people are encouraged to make their homes into a stage-set – disregarding the appropriateness of space, time or style.  On the other, most qualified interior designers are almost ashamed of calling themselves "interior" designers, as the term is now mainly associated with meaningless, tacky and shallow decoration themes. 


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