Is there a kind of mania running amok in Britain’s homes? I ask the question in the light of a survey which shows that 80 per cent of Britons say they want to change something about their property.
The data comes courtesy of an online poll pegged to the Ideal Home Show.
It reveals a number of regional variations. Residents in the Midlands are the most anxious to ring the changes, those in Northern Ireland the least. The middle-aged emerge as the age group (35-54) keenest to make alterations, women more than men, though not by much.
The reasons given range from essential maintenance put-off on grounds of cost, to energy efficiency measures. A third of respondents said they wanted to change their home to ‘make it look nicer’.
The figures do suggest a persistent sense of low-level dissatisfaction among householders. Only a fifth of people felt able to reply that they liked their home well enough to feel it did not need tarting-up in some way.
Does this reflect a deep-seated unease brought about by the home improvements industry? Have four-fifths of the population succumbed to a strange compulsion to forever ‘do up’ – never reaching a nirvana of inertia where they can down tools and colour-charts for good?
Perhaps millions of us really have been seduced into an abiding sense of domestic guilt by those battalions of television programmes, magazines and websites. They implore us to see every home as an investment opportunity or as a podium on which we can parade our good taste.
It would be interesting to see longitudinal data on this. Has this fetishizing of the home grown worse in recent years? What about the international comparisons? Has the English obsession with the home as ‘a castle’ made them particularly prone to the improvement fixation?
However, the biggest question is one which no survey, poll or study can satisfactorily answer. It is simple. Do homeowners focus too much on the way their home looks, rather than how it works? This is the essence of much of the thinking done by the Home Renaissance Foundation.
It seems to me that an Ideal Home is one that does not demand constant change, but constant attention; a very different thing and not one which appeals to the home improvement industry. That industry would grind to a halt if homeowners threw of the insatiable desire to remodel, rebuild, or renovate and chose instead to – relax!