I love HGTV, really, its just when they make a big deal about things that aren’t a big deal (which is all of the time), it makes my job harder. Watching House Hunters tonight, a young lady, the prospective buyer, asks the realtor, “and how large is this house?” She hears the figure, frowns and says something like, “the others houses are larger.” So? You haven’t even looked at the house yet! You don’t know how the rooms are arranged, you don’t even know if the rooms are less furnishable (a word I just made up to mean that there’s a place to put your stuff) or more furnishable than the other houses. I’m sure that she’ll make the total square footage one of her primary deciding factors in her choice which would be wrong which is why (at least one reason) I also hate HGTV.

There are other things that drive me nuts about these shows, like people making happy noises over vast, soulless empty high ceiling areas or discussing how beautiful a home is when it’s a huge garage on the left (always on the left), a tall skinny entry in the middle and a big window over the master bathtub on the right. These reactions are always so much the same (as are the houses) that it seems to me that HGTV is in cahoots with the AUHA (American Ugly House Association) in a desperate attempt to sell these awful things, but tonight we’re talking about square footage so I’ll try very hard to get back on track.

I was walking through a house with the builder/developer some years ago. It was a very large vacation rental house, six bedrooms, 6,000 square feet. All of the rooms were huge but none more so than the master bedroom, which I’m sure was 20 feet by 30 feet. The furniture was being moved in at the time and there was not a wall large enough to place the king size bed and the two 42 inch wide bedside tables that had just been delivered. If there had been wall space, the owners would need a projection TV screen and opera glasses to be able to watch TV from their bed because the closest available place for a TV was so far away.

Wouldn’t it be better to build a smaller space designed to fit furniture arranged in a way that fits your life-style? You could spend the extra money on better quality construction, more detail (but only if it’s tasteful, don’t get carried away), a more efficient heating, air conditioning and insulation system or a combination of all of those things. To keep the conversation going, I’ll answer for you, “Why, of course! To do otherwise would be foolish, but I’m not an expert (although I watch enough HGTV that I’ll soon be one), luckily I brought my realtor along to keep me from making a mistake.”

Mmm… I’d better take back my post, you’re starting to get a little off track yourself. Your realtor might be helpful, but not too many realtors are going to take the time to figure out if your furniture will work or even think to ask the right questions about your life style to help you work through it. Their job is to make a sale. If you want to focus on square footage, they’ll help you find a house. If you want a “pretty” house, they’ll work really hard to figure out what “pretty” means to you and steer you in that direction even if they personally think its the ugliest house in three counties, but the last thing they’re going to do is to discourage you by suggesting you do what you need to do- hire an interior designer or an architect, take time to let them know what you want and have them draw a furniture plan  before you buy. Have them look at your top choices and get their opinion. You’ll consider it money well spent.

One more thought. If you’re building a new home, interview architects and interior designers. Hire ones that you trust and let them help you design a home that fits your life style and if the square footage is a little less than what you projected, be happy!


About More Than Architects

I’m Rick Clanton. Michael Ruegamer and I are architects and the principals of Group 3 Design on Hilton Head Island, SC. We provide architecture and interior design services for homes in the US and the Caribbean Islands.
This entry was posted in design, home design, what not to build. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to HGTV…Arrggghhhh!

  1. Vernon says:

    Enjoyed this piece. I too coined the word funishable when I realized that a well positioned 16×16 living room could be furnished to seat more people (10) than a much larger but less furnishable space.

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