Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan. They’re Scottish, they’re gay, and they do a spectacular job of decorating people’s homes. Usually, ostensibly, without their permission. But they annoy me, slightly. Together, they’ve made numerous TV shows about bad design ideas, how to decorate your home so people will buy it, and so on. Today, I’m focusing on two of their shows. One is a British series called “How Not To Decorate”, the second is a newer Canadian series called “Home Heist”.
The former of these series’ consisted of Colin and Justin appearing at someone’s poorly designed, badly executed and generally ugly home, and proceeding to renovate the Christ out of it until it resembled something awesome. This does not annoy me in any way.
The latter series is much of the same, with the part about the house being badly designed and ugly being substituted for the house being basically an average house, much like the one you’re sitting in now. This annoys me.
It annoys me because of the format of the show. The “plot”, as it were, of each episode is as follows.
Colin and Justin “break in” to the victim’s home. They mock everything within. Stealing a couple of artifacts, usually an ugly arm chair and a component of the poor person’s collection of dolls or beer bottles or something, they ambush the person at some point in their day-to-day activities. Usurping their house keys, Colin and Justin now begin re-inventing the home.
Along the way, they force the home owners to wear t-shirts with demeaning phrases on them, which I acknowledge is all in good fun. They also “teach” the home owners three lessons regarding parts of home decoration that they’ve decided the home owners suck at. Which, in many cases, is fair enough.
I’m also happy to acknowledge that the end result of all of this is that the home owners get a brand new, professionally designed interior over four rooms for nothing. I’m not oblivious to this.
The part that really jostles my coconuts is the way Mr. McAllister and Mr. Ryan mock people’s homes. I grant that in some cases, bad design prevails. In the vast majority of cases, though, it’s very clear that a lack of money has prevailed. For example, the family who’s baby daughter’s bedroom was also the laundry, complete with dryer. Same for the family who’s child’s room contained a fully fitted kitchen, minus stove. It’s not a case of someone deciding this would be a fantastic design move, it’s more a case of the home owners could not afford an alternative solution. It gets my goat when people are insulted for things that clearly aren’t their own choices or their own fault.
As I said before, I didn’t have a problem with the first show. It was British, the humour was more prevalent, and nine times out of ten, the homes actually were total home design disasters. For example, the house that had one room with alternating pink and black walls covered with fluourescent hand-prints. Yes, please, mock that. Don’t mock someone’s choice not to re-paint their home from the original beige, nor someone’s decision to keep hand-me-down furniture, nor someone’s decision not to store their crap away.
Oh, yeah. People’s crap. I take umbrage at this part, too.
Sure, yes, design-wise, having your belongings in your house is a horrible idea. It makes everything look messy. However, we don’t all live in IKEA catalogues, and it just so happens that we all own shit. And most of us want to see it. Not two items of it. Not just the items that match colours. I don’t consider it materialistic to want to own things that remind you of your life, and I don’t consider it bad design to want to display them, in any number.
I actually wonder how the people who own the homes Colin and Justin renovate manage once C and J have left and they’re left with the dilemma of re-assimilating their own belongings back into the (admittedly very nice) design they’ve been presented with.
The British version had a follow-up segment at the end of each episode showing how the home owners had adapted the final design to work for them. Canadian one doesn’t.
Anyway. I’ve ranted about two gay guys renovating houses for far longer than I really wanted to. I like the show, but it irritates me for the above reasons.