I don’t think I’ll ever forget the crazy floral wallpaper, in shades of orange, green, tan and brown, on the kitchen ceiling at the home of my aunt and her family in the late 60’s. It was a great house, a two-story built of stone, often the site of family Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. The overriding concept behind this memory – that the house was a place – imbued with the lives and the personalities of the family residing there, is contrasted with house as asset in a fascinating article from Atlas Obscura, How Beige Took Over American Homes.

There are several variables at play in the story – the rise of home improvement television, fluctuations of the housing market, and the mechanics of consumerism. Remember the energy crises of the 1970’s? Followed by the ME decade of the 1980’s? The hallmark of conspicuous consumption became, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” One of the never-missed television shows in our household (in the days before DVR) was This Old House, debuting in 1979. It was ten years later that we finished renovations on our old house in College Hill (and another ten years before the introduction of TiVo, in 1999.)

There was more reality in an episode of the documentary-style show back then than contained in an entire season of what passes today for reality TV. Take a look at the evolution, proliferation and monetization of home improvement TV:

We all know what happened a few short years ago when life as we knew it began to implode around us. Don’t miss the HGTV list of the types of mortgages available in 2005. And please read the entire article to understand how media convinced us that beigeification of our living spaces added actual value to our homes. I think you’ll be fascinated too.