Here’s a controversial topic for you: I fucking loathe the whole concept of the new Netflix show, The Home Edit and strongly recommend that you don’t pollute your brain with that crap.
An interior designer opposed to a beautiful home organization show? Gasp—clutch pearls.
Yes. I am vehemently opposed. Please do not watch this show. Avert your eyeballs when the autoplay starts rolling the trailer. Believe me when I tell you that shows like The Home Edit are THE DEVIL and should go straight to effing hell.
Why on Earth would I say such a thing? I am a person-slash-designer who adores a colorized bookcase. I appreciate a well-organized closet, office, and/or pantry and don’t begrudge anyone having those things. I believe that good organization skills can bring peace to your life in so many ways and I am totally here for it. But does everything in our lives have to be Insta-worthy? Do we really need celebrities shoving their 4,000+ square feet of absolute perfection down our eyeholes and gullets every minute of the dang day?
I am drawing a line in the sand.
I have been in the interior design business in Austin for over seventeen years. I have seen a lot of changes in design demands and client attitudes over those nearly two decades, and I can tell you definitively that nothing causes more underlying pain, anguish, isolation, and suffering than the quest for perfection and the struggles of comparison. Nothing robs us of more joy than the feeling of not measuring up to standards set by others, especially when we don’t have Kardashian-level financial means to throw toward correcting perceived flaws in ourselves and our spaces.
Anyone with Khloe Kardashian’s celebrity/influencer status and bank balance can pay (or be paid) to surround themselves with the outward illusion of perfection. She has earned enough money to hire an elite interior designer to create a beautifully designed home. She can employ a staff of house cleaners and personal assistants to keep everything running, tidy, and sanitized. She can trade on her promotional power and receive designer-level organizational goods and services gratis (she more likely was paid an appearance fee on top of receiving these free goods and services) by agreeing to be featured in an episode of The Home Edit. I mean, how supercool is that if you’re Khloe Kardashian?! Be on the show, hire your people to do and create all the things, live your life of financial ease and enjoy it, by all means. The danger lies in how watching that hyper designed-within-an-inch-of-its-life kind of lifestyle makes us feel about our own.
Social media and its influencers bombard us 24/7 with messages about what our bodies should look like. What kinds of phones and electronics we should have. How exotic our vacations should be. How our every plate of food should look like art. That our daily outfits must be worthy of editorial coverage. That our pets should have heart-shaped markings whenever possible. That if we do “achieve” these things, we’ll gain more followers. We’ll get more “likes.” We’ll up our social currency, our status.
Enough is fucking enough. I’m calling it.
I had a client once (I’ll call her Sally, not her real name) who mentioned casually that she didn’t entertain as much as she would like to because her walls were so damaged and desperate for repainting. I should preface this by saying that Sally did not in any way strike me as someone who had unrealistic expectations for herself, nor was she someone who exuded the traits of a control freak with OCD tendencies. She lived in a modestly nice neighborhood—not in the super rich part of town, but plenty comfortable. Her home was very cozy and approachable from my perspective as an outsider coming into the space. Her decor struck me as very personalized and somewhat quirky—two characteristics I highly value. So to hear her casually say that she does not let as many people into her personal space as she would like to, simply because she thought her walls were chipped and embarrassing, it felt borderline heartbreaking. Because I looked around Sally’s house…and y’all. Everything was so warm and inviting. The paint condition of the walls that I passed was so dang normal. It was many years ago, so I wouldn’t be able to say with any certainty the number of scuff marks or chips there actually were, but in no way did I walk into her home and think, “thank goodness you called me, lady—you need help!” I cannot stress enough how I—as a professional—would have classified her paint condition as average to even above average.
And yet she kept people at a distance, because in her mind, those trace elements of imperfection reflected poorly on her as a person.
We do this to ourselves all the time, don’t we? Every Instagram shot we see, every Facebook post we read…they can be so creatively or personally inspiring, or they can do such horrible damage to our psyches when we compare what we see and hear to our own lives. When I first saw the trailer for The Home Edit, I wanted to throw bricks at the TV. Sally and many, many clients like her immediately popped into my brain. I would have to include myself in the category of people who have built unnecessary walls between myself and others based on others’ expectations and the assumption that my home would fall short. (I justify my own feelings because people are biased to believe that the homes of interior designers are totally beautiful and perfect, and yet I recognize that this behavior causes more harm than good.)
There has to be a limit to how many of those messages we internalize. That level of perfectionism is killing us. It was bad enough when every gawd damn thing had to bring us joy, but perfectly composed and color-coordinated storage solutions for every little stupid thing? Aaaaaaaaaaaagh!! It’s enough already.
Here’s what I’m for:
- De-cluttering your closet, your pantry, your home office, your kid’s toy bin(s). Let’s agree to acknowledge that too much visual clutter can cause us stress, and not being able to find things easily can lead to irritation and frustration. But your closet, your pantry, your home office supplies, and your kid’s toy bins shouldn’t have to be photographically beautiful in order for you to feel successful, adequate, or cool.
- Having designer-y storage solutions can absolutely make a person feel happy, but shouldn’t be a requirement of happiness or contentment. If you want to separate your things as a means of creating order, I’m behind you! Stressing about how those containers, methods, or file folders look is another thing altogether.
- Surrounding yourself with possessions or interior decor that bring you joy? Fabulous! Feeling pressure or inadequacy because your possessions or interior decor don’t look like those of Hollywood superstars? We need none of this.
Where interior design and decorating are concerned, wanting what others have is what has led to gray everything and the overexposure of Carrara marble. It’s led to an over-dependence on decorating trends and the decline of unique, personal taste. It’s led to greater and greater fear over home decor decisions.
It’s caused such a…sameness.
Look. I’m an interior designer, so I understand and appreciate the value of good design and organization in life. I will gladly support you in those goals because I know how calming and inspiring it can be to live in those types of environments. What I think is inherently evil about a show like The Home Edit—especially during a pandemic that is out of our control and causing enough stress in our lives—is that the added pressure of creating photographic perfection on every layer of our lives, down to the minutia, is beyond reasonable. Perfection is unachievable and the pursuit of absolute perfection will only result in negative feelings.
A little bit (or a lot) of messy can be healthy.
Scuffed paint reflects true life and the existence of more important priorities.
Personality is more important that perfection.
Fuck everyone who tells you (or makes you feel) otherwise.