HGTV’s Top Three Worst Design Trends

If you too are tired of hearing how drapes “soften” a room, or hearing your coworkers go on and on about their design “inspiration objects,” then I suggest you check out this New York Times essay on how  TV-decorating mania has spawned an overabundance of home decor terms.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m interested in decorating as much as the next homemaking-minded gal, and I’m generally a fan of HGTV. Even if I too find the constant talk of “focal points” wearying, I like that HGTV encourages us to use our imaginations and really pay attention to our living spaces. (Side note: I also think HGTV fueled problems in the housing market by encouraging people to view their houses as investments rather than homes, but that’s a subject for a whole other post).

Still, this article reminded me that the world would be better off without some decorating concepts embedded in HGTV dogma.

The Top Three Worst HGTV Decorating Trends

1. Water Features. I’ve never understood HGTV’s obsession with water features. According to HGTV, water features belong in every room of the house. But why would I want a fountain in my bedroom where it will get the rug wet? Or in the living room where guests could knock it over? I’m not against a tasteful fountain in the backyard, and I have very fond memories of my grandmother’s goldfish pond, but I swear to God every HGTV room has some kind of cheap fountain that looks like it would be a pain to keep clean. I’m sorry, but I don’t want an ugly fountain taking up space in my home, especially if it serves no discernible purpose.

2. Outdoor Rooms. Perhaps it’s because I’m originally from the Pacific Northwest, where it rains nine months out of the year, but I find the whole idea of creating an elaborate “outdoor room,” complete with furniture, drapes, and nick-knacks, ridiculous. In the real world, I don’t want to leave a bunch of fabric-covered items sitting outside through summer thunderstorms. And even if I live in a dry climate, outdoor furnishings are still going to gather dust, dirt, bugs, and God knows what else. Plus, where are you supposed to store all the furniture in your “outdoor room” come winter time? I think it’s fine to get some nice lawn furniture if you think you’ll use it, but creating an entire outdoor space is just excessive to me.

3. Anything Can Be Art. Now, I’m not against making your own art; in fact, I absolutely love doing amateur art projects, and many of my creations are hanging in our living room. But I dislike that the designers on so many HGTV shows grab random objects (coasters, tea cozies, trivets), nail them to painted boards, and call them “art.” I know that those shows are under huge time and budget constraints, but for real people, it’s better to wait and collect (or create) pieces that you really like. If you get a bunch of random crap and throw it up on the wall because you have space to fill, you’ll be sick of it in two months. For those of you interested in learning more about affordable art, check out this Apartment Therapy post on affordable art. I’m also a big fan of the indie band posters over at The Small Stakes, which run about $25 and are hauntingly lovely.



  1. Rebecca said

    I completely agree. Water features are ridiculous. They take up a ton of space and they run on a motor… not very environmentally friendly. And YES YES YES on the outdoor room furniture storage issue. That stuff is heavy. Once you drag it into the basement or garage to store what are the chances the furniture will reappear out in your room anytime soon. Right on Modern Domestic.

  2. moderndomestic said

    I really wonder sometimes if HGTV buys stock in companies that make those damn “water features.” Like, it’s the only explanation for why they insist on putting super ugly water features in every room of the house.

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