Reality TV Homes: Real Style or Really Tacky?

Ever since MTV’s debut season of The Real World first triggered America’s reality TV obsession, the homes in which reality TV stars eat, sleep and fight have been tricked out as spaces created for the ultimate lifestyle. For that first season in 1992, Eric, Julie, Kevin, Becky, Andre, Heather and Norm lived in a two-story 4,000 square foot loft in SoHo, featuring a living room adorned with lavish gold curtains suitable for a New Kids on the Block video shoot, gold framed doorways, blue mood lighting and a giant blue barcode print. Nearly twenty years later, this season’s reality shows have a new cast of characters and increasingly impressive living spaces as their stage.  Earlier this month, the 13th season of Big Brother debuted with a new, Venice-beach themed interior design for the Big Brother house. Unlike the Real World houses, the Big Brother house is not in fact a real house, but a set located at CBS studios. This fakeness within reality TV begs question, can we really still be inspired by reality TV home interiors?

In response to this question, I’ve developed a list of DO’s and DON’Ts of interior design based on the Big Brother Season 13 House:

DO identify themes for spaces in your home. Theming concepts like “Venice Beach” provide inspiration and act like glue to hold the design together.

DON’T interpret your theme too literally, or else you’ll feel like you’re living in a theme park. Case in point: the ice cream and candy themed bedroom in the Big Brother house. Yuck!

DO change out kitchen countertops or cabinets as needed to reflect changing trends and functional needs. Between Season 12 and Season 13 of Big Brother, the countertops were changed from blue formica to wood butcher block (which you’ll also see on the set of ABC’s Hells Kitchen). Good call!

DON’T place cameras in bathrooms and bedrooms. Creepy! If you do have cameras in your home for security purposes, be selective about how many you have and where they are located.

DO select a limited color palette and use it repeatedly throughout the room. For example, the Head of Household bedroom has a color palette of orange, brown, blue and cream. The brown appears mostly in wood finishes, but is also brought out by the ornamental wallpaper at the top of the wall. The cream is used to break up areas of brown with a light, contrasting tone. It is used in the area rug, furniture, pillows and trim. Orange and blue are the accent colors, which add a sense of excitement to the space. Notice how the orange is used not only in the blanket and pillows on the bed, but also in flowers, table accessories and the corner furniture piece. The head of household bedroom also incorporates a nice variety of textures.

DON’T forget to develop a space plan laying out furniture and fixtures based on their actual measurements before you start construction. The Head of Household bathroom is awkward, with the mirror off-center above the vanity and the bathtub a little too close to the drawers and the place you’d stand to use the sink and mirror.

DO use bright colors and an eclectic mix of furniture pieces in outdoor spaces. Ornamental side tables and vases like the ones on the Big Brother deck make unique accent pieces in an otherwise simple space.

DON’T use astro-turf, ever.  If you’re looking for a low-maintenance alternative to a lawn, try landscaping your yard with plants that are native to your area. Ask your landscaper for plants that do not require watering beyond the natural rainfall your yard already receives.

To provide more DO’s and DON’Ts, I tried to find some images of the Bachelor Pad Season 2 house, but all I found was images of shirtless men and women in bikinis. I guess that’s just a reminder that, in the end, the house is the stage and it’s the characters that make the show. Have some fun in your stage this summer and be thankful the cameras aren’t watching!

This post was written by Katie.

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