It’s home sweet shrine time

Tacky trend has Cana­di­ans putting egos on their walls

Vancouver Sun - - Nation - BY MISTY HAR­RIS

The old no­tion of the hum­ble home is be­ing chal­lenged by a grow­ing trend that has Cana­di­ans turn­ing their liv­ing rooms into per­sonal shrines.

In what might be called the “ home as au­to­bi­og­ra­phy” move­ment, to­day’s house­guests are be­ing bom­barded by their hosts’ wall- sized glam­our por­traits, end­less fam­ily pho­tos and enough self- doc­u­men­ta­tion to make Paris Hil­ton blush.

The book­shelf brag­gado­cio has be­come so vul­gar that Mar­ian McEvoy, a lead­ing ex­pert on so­cial graces, is call­ing for a mora­to­rium in the Septem­ber is­sue of Domino mag­a­zine on “ fam­ily para­pher­na­lia” in liv­ing and din­ing rooms.

McEvoy’s break­ing point came af­ter en­dur­ing a lun­cheon held in the shadow of a photo of her host­ess breast­feed­ing.

“ It was un­be­liev­able,” says McEvoy, Domino’s Muse Mar­ian colum­nist and for­mer ed­i­tor- inchief of Elle Decor and House Beau­ti­ful. “ I know [ the home owner] meant it to be, like, a groovy con­tem­po­rary art state­ment or some­thing. But I thought very dif­fer­ently of her af­ter that lunch.”

Al­though per­sonal por­trai­ture can be a taste­ful ad­di­tion to bed­rooms, dens and even pow­der rooms, she be­lieves giv­ing your ego a shelf life in more pub­lic spa­ces can be pre­ten­tious.

McEvoy says such “ fla­grant self- doc­u­men­ta­tion” may be due, in part, to the in­crease in own­er­ship of dig­i­tal cam­eras, which has led peo­ple to take hun­dreds more pic­tures than a tra­di­tional roll of film would al­low.

Ac­cord­ing to mar­ket re­search firm In­foTrends, world­wide sales of dig­i­tal cam­eras are ex­pected to reach nearly 89 mil­lion units in 2006.

“ It’s op­pres­sive. It’s too much in­for­ma­tion,” says McEvoy, who is based in New York. “ You are forc­ing peo­ple to re­act to your private life and that’s not a very nice thing to do.”

Cana­dian ex­perts seem to agree. Julie Oka­mura, pres­i­dent of Cal­gary’s pop de­sign group inc., says even a sin­gle photo of one­self in the liv­ing room is typ­i­cally one too many.

“ When you’re dec­o­rat­ing, it should re­flect who you are,” she says. “ But it shouldn’t be su­per ob­vi­ous . . . As soon as peo­ple have one gar­ish pic­ture or photo of them­selves — and gen­er­ally it’s a gi­ant one — then it starts to get re­ally creepy.”

Oka­mura says most Canucks are clue­less when it comes to dis­play­ing per­sonal pho­tos and me­men­tos. She re­calls one cou­ple’s wed­ding paint­ing that was so mas­sive, the brush­strokes could prac­ti­cally be seen from the neigh­bour’s house.

“ The trend with art to­day is to go huge,” says Oka­mura. “ So I liked the idea of the scale of it. The fact that [ the paint­ing] was of them was the prob­lem.”

Bar­bara Mitchell, an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor of so­ci­ol­ogy at Si­mon Fraser Univer­sity, be­lieves the In­ter­net may play a role be­cause it fos­ters the ex­treme per­son­al­iza­tion of ev­ery­thing from me­dia con­tent to blogs and searchengine queries.

“ The In­ter­net, in a sense, at­om­izes and in­di­vid­u­al­izes peo­ple so their own per­sonal place in the world has an op­por­tu­nity to be­come more vis­i­ble,” she says, adding that plac­ing your own pic­ture on the liv­ing room walls may be a nat­u­ral off­shoot.

Then again, the ex­pla­na­tion could be as sim­ple as square footage.

“ We’re def­i­nitely see­ing a re­ally strong move­ment to­ward larger homes com­pared to pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions,” says Mitchell. “ So maybe we’ve just got more space to fill, more walls to put things on.” mhar­[email protected] canwest. com CanWest News Ser­vice


Tucked away in a pow­der room, Mar­ian McEvoy’s per­sonal photo col­lec­tion feels charm­ingly self­dep­re­cat­ing. But other Cana­di­ans are not so re­strained.

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