By Julie Cadieux – The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette. Fall is the time of year where, once we are done closing the pool, storing the outdoor furniture and raking all those leaves, we turn our attention back to indoor projects like finally cleaning out those cluttered closets and replacing the leaky faucet. For many, it also means spending on new home decor items like a new lamp, installing shelves or painting the living room a brand new colour. This interest to perfect our homes has been fed by the hundreds of home improvement television shows, magazines, books, websites and of course the new home improvement stores that are multiplying in order to feed our habit. I personally love it, and I know I’m not the only one who has wasted hours drooling and ’pinning’ over at Pinterest.com.
The $65.2 billion gifts and home decorative accents market has increased 72% since 2002 and is, according to a study done by Harvard, expected to grow 3.5% per year.
A recent survey done by Houzz.com found that 86% of homeowners who were planning to build, remodel or decorate in the next two years, stated “improving the look and feel of the space” as the reason. “We expected that in this economy Americans’ highest priority would be increasing home value, but instead we found people are focused on pleasing themselves.” says Liza Hausman, vice president of marketing for Houzz.
Figures released this month from Statistics Canada showed that Canadians household debt ratio is currently 163% (which means Canadian owe $1.63 for every $1 of disposable income). While Americans have actually managed to reduced their debt from the 165% since before the 2008 crash to just around 140%. It might look good on paper but compared to the average household debt from over 50 years ago of about 113%, it’s still huge.
Bogged down with so much debt why do we keep spending on unnecessary items like throw pillows and area rugs? I think way before credit cards and Home Depot were invented, we have always had a desire to nest. To put a stamp on our homes and create a personal place by using colour, mementos and objects that not only make our spaces an attractive refuge for ourselves and those who live with us, but also to show others a glimpse into who we are.
A new lounge chair by the fireplace with a coordinating blanket might not fall into the important-necessity category, but I do know feeling good about where we live is. A home is a backdrop for our lives and tells a story of who we are, where we have travelled, our hobbies, passions and interests. Which is why we want to feel pride when we walk through the door, comfortable when we gather our loved ones around the dinning room table and happy to invite a friend over for coffee.
I get it; if I’m not painting, improving or decorating my own house, it’s only because I’ve been hired to help someone with theirs! However I do feel that there is definitely a huge disconnect if we are willing to put our finances at risk because of it. Wanting to make a house a home for our family versus wanting to have the best and most beautiful things to fill it up with at risk to our family’s financial future is not the same thing. What story does your home say about you?
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Feedback on last week’s column All kinds of intelligence:
“I so agree with you. That’s why we are so thankful that our son got into Vanguard. Twelve students per class. Classes are made up of close in age children that have the same types of learning disabilities and about the same level of reading ability. Then let’s say a kid is better than the average in math, he joins a stronger math group for his math classes and so on for different subjects. Plus the teachers are almost all orthopédagogues specialized in helping children with learning disabilities. I too believe our school system is no longer adequate for many children and that you can not blame the teachers, most of the time they do the best they can with what they have. Thanks for the interesting column.” — Cynthia
“You have recognized some really important concepts on multiple intelligence! Keeping up with tech will be just half the battle. Thanks for tackling this issue.” — Guidance Counsellor
“My wife and I agree and feel the exact same way. Thanks” — Peter from St-Lazare