05-May-2018 • Personal Finance

  • Australians believe their home’s style is more important than their dress style
  • Style-conscious millennials feel the most pressure to keep up with the latest decor trends
  • Affordable homewares retailers are driving cost-conscious approach to interior styling
Dressing our homes is more important to our self-worth than dressing ourselves, according to new research from home loan lender, ME.
According to ME’s House Proud Survey:
  • 76% said the style of their home was important to their happiness and individuality compared to only 46% who said the same about their personal dress style
  • 62% said they put time, effort and money into styling their home compared to 40% who made the same investment in their personal dress style.
The only group less obsessed was renters, with 59% of that group reporting they put less effort into styling their homes because they rent while 54% of renters said they don’t spend money on styling because that money could be put toward buying a home of their own.
Not being able to afford the home of your dreams may be contributing to the obsession, with 44% of all respondents stating they spent more on styling their home to compensate for living in a home below their expectations.
Also, according to ME’s survey, when it comes to styling:
  • 83% style cheaply at low-cost retailers to keep costs down
  • 37% have regretted spending too much money on furnishings in the past
  • 36% are regularly buying new furnishings to improve the style of their home’s living spaces
  • 26% felt pressure to style their home, and of those 69% said it was because their home is an extension of their personality
  • Small furniture was the priority, followed by 2) big furniture, 3) dinnerware and kitchenware, 4) manchester, 5) plants, 6) lighting, 7) carpets and rugs, 8) outdoor entertaining items, 9) window dressings. Art was given the lowest priority.
ME Money Expert, Matthew Read, said based on these results, what Australians are seeing in the mirror is less important than the mirror itself.
“Whether you think it’s misplaced or not, the finding is a sure sign of the importance of ‘property status’ among many Australians.
“While there’s nothing wrong with styling your home, it can involve emotional purchases and with a third of respondents regretting spending too much it’s important to stay objective.
“Furnishings can be expensive so a good strategy can be to get it right the first time. Consulting with an interior designer and setting up a master plan can avoid costly styling mistakes.
“It’s also worth keeping an eye on the resale value. Idiosyncratic styles may not appeal to everyone.
“That 44% of respondents said they’re focused on styling their home because they can’t afford the house of their dreams shows many Australians are willing to compromise when it comes to their property aspirations, a good strategy considering high house prices. The right styling can significantly improve how much you love your home.”
Must-have millennials
Style-conscious millennials are the biggest culprits when it comes to falling for the interior styling craze, bowing to external pressures and continuously updating their home’s style.
In fact, 90% of 18–24-year-olds feel pressure from their friends and family to keep up appearances by purchasing furniture or investing in decor that matches the latest trends.
Visual social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest (50%) are key drivers among 18–24-year-olds who feel pressured to style their home a certain way, followed closely by TV shows such as The Block and House Rules (40%).
Cost-conscious Aussies
Interior styling is booming but Australians are taking a cost-conscious approach, according to ME’s survey.
Around 83% said they can style their homes inexpensively thanks to retailers such as Kmart, Zara and H&M ‘offering affordable and stylish options’, while 76% of those aged 18–39 choose to style their home in the most inexpensive way possible.
Buyer demand is reflected in Kmart’s latest annual report which shows the budget department store’s revenue has risen by 33% since 2013 to $5.6 billion after introducing its now infamous homewares line, while retailers without a strong focus in the homewares realm, such as Big W, face heavy losses.
“It’s encouraging to see that while Australians are incredibly house proud, they’re still cost conscious when it comes to styling their homes, opting for inexpensive on-trend options that can be updated seasonally,” said Read.
Home style % agree Dress style % agree
“The style of my home is important to my happiness and individuality 77% “My dress style is important to my happiness and individuality” 46%
“I am satisfied with the current style of the living spaces of my home” 73% “I am satisfied with my dress style” 88%
“I put effort, time and money into styling my living spaces” 62% “I put effort, time and money into my dress style” 40%
“I feel pressure to style the living spaces in my home” 27% “I feel pressure to get my dress style right”

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Editor notes: ME’s House Pride Survey was completed by a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Australians in February 2018 using online methodology.
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