The 3 Biggest Triggers That Make People Feel Ashamed of Their Homes

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Quick, look around your house: If you had to ballpark a number, how much would it cost you to turn this place into a space you’re proud of? How much would you be willing to spend? For many people, that figure is somewhere around, oh, $40,435. Yup. Slightly more than a new set of throw pillows and a fresh coat of paint in the kitchen.

At least that’s according to a 1,100-person survey conducted by personal finance site MoneyWise, uncovering that $40,000 figure as the average most people spent to achieve their dream home aesthetic. And at the root of a lot of these upgrades was: embarrassment—and a desire to keep up with the Joneses, Kardashians and whoever else appears in your Instagram feed.

One in four people felt their homes weren’t as nice as their friends, and a whopping 83 percent said social media influenced their idea of what a dream home should look like. So, what triggers this sense of shame? It seems there are three major factors at play—here’s what they are and how to deal with them, in case you find yourself in a “my house is a dump!” spiral.

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1. Cleanliness

The eternal struggle: You invite people over, and an hour beforehand, you desperately want to bail, because how can anyone see you live like this?! Cue hastily tossing everything in the guest bedroom and hoping the door doesn’t burst open and reveal your clutter bomb of lies. While the temptation—particularly post-Get Organized with The Home Edit binge—is to buy organizers to corral everything, start by paring back. Schedule a donation pickup, and work backward from that date, listing a room a day in your calendar where you’ll do a donation bin sweep. Just focus on that single area, set a timer and start sifting through things. Knowing the truck is coming will help ensure you tackle at least a few corners by the deadline. (And also? Take solace in knowing you’re not alone, and that anybody coming over cares far more about you, not the dust bunnies on your mantel.)

2. Overall Style

Just like staring at too many photos of airbrushed models can give you unrealistic expectations of what your body should look like, staring at Photoshopped, perfectly groomed rooms in your feed does the same. From working at home magazines, I can tell you: There are hours of work that go into cleaning and styling each room for a shoot, and often what’s just out of the camera’s lens is a hot mess (stacks of boxes, tchotchkes that didn’t fit the “look,” family photos—you know, the things that make a house a home).

Plus, with trends disappearing as quickly as your Instagram Stories, it’s easy to get stuck in a buy, bye, buy cycle here (purchase, grow tired of it, buy something new). On average, people whose style was influenced by social media spent $3,608 over the past year on décor, compared to $1,901 among those who weren’t. Picking up a bunch of bitsy, trendy items to fit a look leads to clutter, which can bring you right back to shame trigger number one.

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Alisha Bube/Getty Images

3. square Footage

Woe is the human who complains their home is too big—for most people, the concern is the opposite. If you have the space, expanding your square footage is a major way to boost your home’s value, according to Realm, but it’s not always realistic (or in the budget). That can lead people to consider moving, though in today’s market—with mortgage rates climbing rapidly, to the highest they’ve been in a decade, combined with very few homes for sale—you may want to hold off until fall. Some experts anticipate fewer bidding wars for homes then, and homes tend to be cheaper during that time of year.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...