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What Is House Shame?—And How To Overcome It

House shaming tips

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The feeling of house shame—sometimes also called “housebarrassment”—is precisely what it sounds like: a deep sense of discomfort when it comes time to introduce your home to others. Whether it’s about the tidiness of your home or the newness of the furnishings, house shame, much like body shame, is something many people worldwide have dealt with, long before there was a name for it.

If social media is anything to go by, the prevalence of house shame appears to be on the rise. So we reached out to several experts to figure out why we all occasionally blush at the idea of opening our front door to visitors.

We discovered that house shame has an array of causes—and thankfully, solutions. Read on to learn how you can turn those negative emotions into empowerment.

Why you may feel house shame

While it’s impossible to precisely establish more than one person’s source of anxiety over their home, several themes appear to recur when it comes to the current era of house shame: money, social media, and the amount of time, post-pandemic, we’re spending in our homes.

“‘House shame’ is a term that has been coined by the interior design community over the past five years to identify what we’ve known for a long time,” says David Mason, owner of interior design site The Knobs Company headquartered in Omaha, NE. “The design of our homes has an important influence on how we feel about ourselves. And buying a house is one of the most significant investments we will make in our lifetime.”

In other words, there’s a lot of pressure to prove to yourself—and others—that your home is a reflection of your good taste and solid financial chops.

Andrea Chapman, marketing manager for Nature and Bloom in London, can relate to the house shame many feel across the globe as we Zoom our days away. Our homes feel more exposed than ever to co-workers, our kids’ classmates and teachers, and friends on social media.

“The videos being created on social media platforms are filmed from areas like living rooms, bedrooms, or backyards, so we get a glimpse of how aesthetically pleasing they are compared to ours,” says Chapman. “And because we’ve been working and studying from home since 2020, we’re more conscious than ever of the way our home looks and how it doesn’t look anything like those videos.”

Don’t let others house-shame you

“If other people are making you feel house shame, it may be time to reassess those relationships,” says Tanya DiNicolantonio, a real estate professional at Re/Max Escarpment Realty in Hamilton, Ontario. “In the end, where you live is worthy of respect, whether you’re renting or buying.”

And remember that living within your means is always the responsible, honorable thing to do.

“People can be judgy, but the important thing is, how do you feel about your home,” says Katie Kochelek, an interior designer and CEO of Ten Key Home & Kitchen Remodels in Edmond, OK.

Overcoming house shame with art and decor

Kicking house shame to the curb is partly a mental exercise, but making a few quick, inexpensive tweaks to your decor will also work wonders.

“There are so many things you can do to make your home more appealing without breaking the bank,” says DiNicolantonio. She suggests starting on Pinterest and taking inspiration from color combinations, decor styles, and practical storage units that appeal to you.

“Some of the most creative ideas on Pinterest can be reproduced with finds from thrift and dollar stores,” adds DiNicolantonio.

Overcoming house shame with greenery

Bringing greenery into your home can take care of several problems at once: Plants will improve the look of your house—and make you happier and healthier.

Houseplants, like trees, actually clean the air. And simply looking at greenery helps people relax and stay calm and increases your levels of happiness. (According to one recent survey, 75% of respondents said plants improved their outlook on life during lockdown.)

And if you feel you’re one of those people who can kill a plant by looking at it the wrong way, don’t worry.

“Since I don’t have a green thumb, I avoided having plants for a long time,” says DiNicolantonio. “That changed when a friend pointed out that it’s OK to look at an inexpensive house plant as a bouquet. Enjoy it as long as it lives, and replace it if it dies.”

Overcoming house shame by decluttering

Another great way to improve your home and state of mind is through a few manageable projects.

The easiest and cheapest by far is simply decluttering. Tidying up pays mental as well as aesthetic dividends—studies have even shown that decluttering can make you healthier and happier, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“Most people feel best when their space is decluttered and neat, so your first step to creating a home you can feel good about is clearing out the clutter,” says Kochelek. She also notes that you can make money in the decluttering process by selling items online or writing them off on your taxes after donating them.

Overcoming house shame with DIY projects

Michael Helwig, an interior designer and owner of Michael Helwig Interiors in Buffalo, NY, felt his share of house shame. He canceled get-togethers with friends and made excuses about his availability when his friends were in his neighborhood.

To get over his discomfort, he watched YouTube videos that showed him how to tackle some of the eyesores that were bothering him.

“So I updated my front railings, put in a new front door, refinished my concrete steps,” says Helwig. “This added immediate curb appeal. Then I added awesome planters and installed shutters on my front windows.”

While Helwig made the changes slowly, he immediately began feeling better about his house. You can also tackle a surprising number of DIY projects with the help of tutorials from pros on YouTube, says Helwig

The bottom line when it comes to house shame? We should all try to overcome this sense of discomfort by taking one project one step at a time. Taking action will not only make our home look better, but it will also make it feel cozier and more authentic. And you’ll likely feel good about it no matter who shows up at your front door.

The post What Is House Shame?—And How To Overcome It appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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