Monday, April 12, 2010

Why I Need to Stop Watching HGTV

I orginally wrote this as a note on my facebook page.  I've been thinking a lot lately about contentment & went back to reread what I had written.  I thought I'd share it with you here.

I need to stop watching shows like House Hunters, My First Place, and Property Virgins on HGTV. I've become convinced that these shows exist for one reason and one reason only...and that is to breed discontent in the heart of their viewers. People walk in with sky high budgets and a laundry list of 'must-haves' - master suites, walk-in closets, 'updated' kitchens and bathrooms, etc., etc. The word 'updates' is so overused in these shows it makes me want to gag every time I hear it. If anything is older than 5 years then it needs to be 'updated'.

There are many times that I've sat and watched one of these shows and my mouth just drops at the materialism that has so inundated our society. Last night I was watching one about a first time homebuyer in Mississippi. She actually had a reasonable budget of $120,000. The first home they looked at was a smaller, older home at a great price of $114,000. When they showed the inside of this home I fell in love with it! It had original hardwood floors & wood trim and interior wooden shutters. It had a beautiful wood beams exposed on the ceiling & an original wood mantelpiece in a stone fireplace. The one bathroom had bad wallpaper & most of the walls needed some fresh paint. The back yard was small & the decking was in some disrepair. And, the kitchen was small but had good, solid cabinetry and decent countertops. But, the woman's lack of enthusiasm as she toured this home was astounding. And, the real estate agent kept referring to the home as a fixer-upper. It needed paint! That is all!

But, to so many people, the idea of living without granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, freshly tiled bathrooms, and brand new cabinets is unthinkable. This woman even said she would probably tear out the original mantelpiece & replace it to make it more 'modern'. Ugh! If it sounds like these kinds of attitiudes really make me upset, you'd be right! It makes me downright angry! John & I have been living in a small, honest-to-goodness fixer upper for 8 years. Having children along with the time & money they require, plus living on one income has forced us to put so many renovations on hold. I live with linoleum that is cracking, stained, and probably as old as our house is (which is 80+ years by the way). There is also linoleum on the walls going up our stairs & on the walls of our stairwell. The sunroom areas are completely unfinished and not really very liveable...we use them basically for storage. And, the ceiling has been collapsing bit by bit in that area. There is still unfinished, exposed heating ductwork upstairs. My kitchen has 2 different kinds of original to the house & a second set (circa 1970's) that John added in when we added an island area to our ktichen. Neither are all that appealing. Our downstairs bathroom is a thorn in my side. It really needs help...we'll just leave it at that. We actually added an upstairs bathroom, losing one of the 4 bedrooms we originally had. This bathroom is probably the nicest part of the house & one of the only completed projects. We make 3 bedrooms work for the  6 of us. John & I have a room. The 2 big boys share a room, and Charlie has a room...although we'll probably move him in with his big brothers soon.  The baby is outgrowing his bassinet which is in our room & needs to move to the crib.  When I feel cramped, I try to remind myself that the family that originally built and lived in this house raised 9 children here!

I could go on and on about the ways our house needs to be improved. There is a lot that is started & not completed. And, right now, it's just not feasible. Sure, we could take out loans, hire people to do the work for us, etc. etc. But, with the exception of our mortgage, we have no debt and we want to keep it this way. We believe in living within our means, and this requires sacrifice, saving, and planning. We can't have what we want right now without spending money that isn't really ours. So, we wait. And, I guess that's where HGTV really irks me. It showcases how much our society demands instant gratification, how we are never really satisfied unless we have the latest and the greatest. We are always hungry for more, more, more. And, I'll admit, I struggle with the issue of contentment a lot! I would love to have bigger home, a more attractive home, more land, etc. But, I don't and so I need to be grateful for what I do have...which is a warm, dry house filled with love and family. And, isn't that what a home is really all about?

I also have to admit I struggle with what my proper response is when and if John & I can afford that bigger, better house. Do we really NEED it? When we live in luxury, cracked linoleum and all, in comparison to so much of the world, do we really need to strive for more? I don't know the right answer to this. In my heart there are seeds of hope and desire planted for 'my dream house'. My dream house is still relatively conservative based on what so many others seem to desire. I would love to have an old, (preferably stone) farmhouse that is respectably restored (wood floors, large eat-in kitchen, plenty of rooms for boys to spread out & for entertaining) on 10+ acres. Stream, meadow, and mature trees a plus. That's where I can picture myself and feeling like it was my 'forever house'. But, when it comes down to it, am I just as poorly motivated as I feel the 'perfection seekers' are? I don't know. Where does 'enough' really begin? Maybe I'm living it now.

And, if you have any doubt that the majority of us here in America truly do live in luxury, you need to watch this short video on Hong Kong's cage homes.  Watching this video puts it in perspective.

"There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more.  The other is to desire less."   - G.K. Chesterton

I want to make a conscious effort to be grateful each and every day for how truly blessed we are.


  1. A big amen to your final comment, because we are so blessed.

  2. Hi Karen! I have to admit to a love of many HGtv shows, and my husband hates it because he says it creates dissatisfaction. You too certainly agree! I do despise all of HGTV's kitchen shows - everything is so bland and boring. Character and personality in homes is much more rewarding than trendy high end items. Often HGTV shows no imagination, just a never ending fat wallet and insatiable greed.
    Nice seeing you again at Reflections!
    Take care,


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