21 February 2008

Religion makes you decorate your house like a colourblind imbecile

We’re house hunting* and have been witness to a bizarre variety of decorating options over the course of the ~10 houses we’ve seen so far. I’ve noticed a fascinating pattern of religious ornamentation. I’ve seen lots of Christian stuff, including crosses, crucifixes, inspirational posters, and East Orthodox icons. I’ve seen serious, old-fashioned Buddhas and jolly rotund Buddhas. I’ve seen the many arms of Vishnu (“hey, Ganesha, want a peanut?”). And, amazingly, despite the very limited sample size, some very definite trends have emerged that correlate religious expression with home fashion sense:

1) No Religious Ornamentation – This coincides strongly with the having the best home fashion: inviting colours, tasteful, well laid-out furniture, decent artwork. I can’t say for sure whether the current inhabitants actually live this well thought-out life of irreligion and good taste or if it’s just a ploy to sell the house better, ie. Obtain new furniture that you’ll return once you sell the house and clean the house to make it more presentable, ie. Hide your creepy religion. Regardless, these houses show very well.

2) One Dominant Religion on Display – This has always been one form of Christianity (no dominant Hindus yet). This coincides strongly with a more conservative approach to home décor. Sometimes it can be quite tasteful in a ‘granny’ sort of way. Mostly, it is just austere and cold, often keeping the unimaginative original carpet and paint. Typically the colours are drab or plain white. Crosses/crucifixes are obvious in the entrance and usually in the kitchen/dining area and in the bedrooms. There are usually bibles somewhere and maybe some fridge magnets, inspirational posters, even some artwork. Generally not too inviting.

2.5) Fascinatingly, there is a subset of this grouping: One dominant religion plus one wacky apostate – Twice I saw houses that looked like normal religious homes when I was suddenly floored by an incongruous room with a Buddha, Chinese calendars, incense, etc. Both times, this stuff was tucked away in the smallest, crappiest bedroom (actually a converted office room in one case and a cramped partially finished basement room in the other). I get a feeling the rest of the family is hiding these poor souls: tucked away in the darkest, lowest build-quality rooms to live their sinful lives in shame. Or I could just be building the story up in my mind. Either way, weird.

3) Religious Hodgepodge – These houses are living nightmares of décor. There are religious items of all sorts – Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, various Asian traditional religions – basically anything with some sort of catchy motif or trendy ‘religion of the day’ fad associated with it. There are typically woo books on the bookshelf. The paint is insane, usually bright and contrasting and not pale enough to be unobtrusive or dark enough to be soothing. For instance, one place kept the original burnt rose carpet and augmenting it with lime green walls. Furnishings are laid out in strange ways that interfere with movement. Furnishings are also hideously ugly, being of garish designs and colours that look like they are from a bad ‘80s science fiction show. They might have been trendy in the gawd-awful yuppieverse of the ‘80s, but did I mention all these houses were built in 2001 or later? Just atrocious. The basement of one had been converted into some sort of twisted dance club, complete with a superugly black and mirrored wet bar (of the aforementioned bad ‘80s science fiction variety - amazingly, it matched the master bedroom furniture), disco ball, and several miniature plasma lights instead of regular lightbulbs.

While correlation does not equal causation, I will go out on a limb and say that religion seems to impair your taste in some way, or that if your taste is impaired, you will choose to be religious. I will further say, in regards to the class #3 people out there: HOLY FUCK, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? HOW DOES YOUR HOME MAKE SENSE IN ANY WAY? WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE WATCHING TRADING SPACES: HOME EDITION, WERE YOU REALLY HOPPED UP ON A COCKTAIL OF ASSORTED HALLUCINOGENS AND WATCHING AMERICAN GLADIATORS? I MEAN, SERIOUSLY, WTF?!!!


Other than that, I have discovered that in about 40% of homes, regardless of income or education, there will be some form of blatant hockey-related ornamentation not necessarily confined to the rooms of the children. This is Canada, after all.

* There’s a chance I’ll even be close enough to walk to work, which would be very cool.

Labels: , , ,


At February 21, 2008 12:51 p.m., Blogger CHADMAC said...

During my final undergrad year in Winnipeg, I found a room & board rental a two minute walk from campus. However, since I arranged the room from Ottawa and had my brother check the place out for me, I didn't realize that they were quite religious. The house definitely fell into your second category. The fairly large crucifixes and assorted pictures of Jebus and his mom all over the house were a little off-putting. But the food was good, the rent was cheap and I was two minutes from class..... so I'm not one to complain.

Only 40%..... seems kind of low.

At February 21, 2008 2:38 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

re: 40% - probably the small sample size. I saw one house where there were a half dozen hockey figurines in the master bedroom. That was impressive.

Good food is important, though I just learned to cook for myself. Was it as starkly decorated as what I found? It can be hard to tell with rental places since with all the transient inhabitants they typically don't bother to decorate much or paint the walls an interesting colour.

At February 21, 2008 4:22 p.m., Anonymous Karen said...

What was your wife's impression of these places? Did she like the Christian decor?

At February 21, 2008 4:42 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

Actually, Karen, my wife much preferred the irreligious decor. She never even commented on the religious ornamentation and found the bleak paleness quite offputting.

We've been living in an eggshell-coloured apartment for the past 2.5 years. We're pretty sick of living in a monochrome world. Also, my wife has taste when it comes to fashion that completely trumps her religious sensibilities!

At February 21, 2008 7:48 p.m., Blogger Mouth Breathing Old Codger said...

I once lived in the basement of a house that had been converted into an apartment. It had square dancers painted on the walls and wagon wheels as the arms of the couch. There were three very devout (and very hot) Nazarene gals that lived upstairs. I really liked living there.

At February 22, 2008 9:36 a.m., Blogger PhillyChief said...

Fascinating. I think along with just general common sense and critical thinking, aesthetic sense is lost when religious, or it's at least wildly set askew. It might be that all that creative and imaginative thinking skills are being wasted in trying to keep their silly beliefs sounding reasonable that there's simply nothing left for anything else.

Great observations.

At February 23, 2008 3:14 p.m., Blogger Necator said...

The BH and I viewed a place that would fit into category 2 when house hunting once. Though it was sort of cold and austere (in the Scandanavian decor-style sense - minimalist but aesthetically pleasing) it was replete with crazy hardcore Catholic imagery. 1/3 scale carvings of Christ on the cross, lithograph replicas of martyrs being burned or eaten by lions and all that really creepy fire and brimstone art. We knew the people selling the house and they were the most loving caring Catholic family we've known - but a bit crazy with the religion - and evidently, decor.

At February 24, 2008 10:15 a.m., Blogger TheBrummell said...

When you described the monochrome deeply religious places, I thought of the broad pattern among big religions of suppressing everything fun.

Then my mind wandered down an odd path: children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (and a few other developmental syndromes that are happily rather rare) do best, behaviourally speaking, when they're in an environment of muted colours and few distractions. Where most children really like bright colours and lots of details, FAS kids seem overwhelmed. Then I made the link between brain damage and religion, but that's probably unjustified. Probably.

Will you still live in Whitby, or are you moving somewhere else?

At February 25, 2008 9:23 a.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

MBOC: wow, square dancers and wagon wheels? I don't know what to make of that. Glad you enjoyed it though ;-)

Phillychief: I'm with you on this one. Though I must point out that in the bad old days, most art was religious in origin. Just like with crappy religious music, once a secular alternative became available, religious artistic sense became crap, I suppose.

I would like to point out that in The Simpsons, Flanders has a pretty nice rec room. I'm not sure how this affects my thesis.

Necator: Actually, lithograph replicas of martyrs being burned or eaten by lions sounds pretty cool, especially the lions part ;-) But seriously, 1/3 scale replicas of the crucifixion? Isn't that a little creepy? That Jeebus would be ~2ft tall. I'd have a strong urge to dress him up for Christmas/Halloween/Easter etc.

Brummell: It could be supressing fun. I'm not sure. It could be FAS. Why not? Hooray for blog posts full of unsupported conjecture!

Yeah, still here. Looks like I'm stuck here for the long haul.

At February 25, 2008 10:13 a.m., Blogger PhillyChief said...

Well in "the bad old days" the church had most of the cash so they contracted most of the art made. Even the rulers contracted religious art to ingratiate themselves to their god (and the church and look like good guys to the people). So yes, I agree, once artists could create for others, there weren't many, at least not many good ones, who stayed behind to create for the church.

At February 25, 2008 11:38 a.m., Anonymous bookjunky said...

We would be in house #3 - many types of religious paraphenalia. However, we watch HGTV so it's all very tasteful!! No Xian stuff that I can think of, however.

We do still have the original dusty rose colored carpeting, but only because the house is so enormous we haven't been able to afford to replace it yet. No lime green walls, though, just neutral colors.

At July 14, 2008 11:42 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the most important items in a bedroom is furniture. Bedroom furniture usually consists of the cot where the bed is usually kept. Other important items include a lampshade that one might find useful for reading in bed Similarly the bed should consist two sets of bed and pillowcases. If necessary you may have a mattress. Many of the bedrooms also have a full sized mirror. Antique Bedroom Furniture http://antique-bedroom-furniture.blogspot.com

At May 27, 2010 12:37 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...



Post a Comment

<< Home