Commentary

A Very Brady (Boomer) Renovation Story

Here’s the story: The old “Brady Bunch” ‘70s ranch house will be renovated in a 2019 HGTV show featuring the six original Brady siblings. The network has bought the actual Brady home and will cover its dramatic transformation — keeping the groovy ‘70s charm but updating the design and adding 2,000 square feet of living space.

Rather than the typical millennial couple that needs a home before the baby arrives in two weeks, the six Brady brothers and sisters — all squarely within the boomer demographic — will be the renovation clients. Barry Williams (Greg) is now 64, Maureen McCormick (Marcia) is 62, Christopher Knight (Peter) is 62, Eve Plumb (Jan) is 60, Mike Lookinland (Bobby) is 57, and Susan Olsen (Cindy) is 57.

Instead of the traumas of the 1970s, such as Cindy losing her mother’s prized earrings or Peter hitting Marsha in the face with a football, the siblings will have more pressing issues to deal with. They’ll have their hands full overhauling a house that still has wood paneling, country curtains and an upstairs bathroom that never had a toilet. Of course, it will all be much easier because they’ll each team up with a HGTV designer to redo a different part of the house.

advertisement

advertisement

Hey, if all these renovations had been done back in the 1970s, Bobby and Peter might not have had that famous fight where they decided to divide their room in half by running a piece of tape across the floor.

Seriously, it’s a refreshing change to see a home improvement show featuring the boomer demographic. Home buyers aren’t always the first-time shoppers who can afford to pay $900,000 on the salaries of a freelance yoga instructor and organic food blogger. Buyers are frequently in the age ranges of the “Brady Bunch” siblings.

Having said that, it looks like this show could miss an opportunity to highlight the true home renovation needs of boomers. Marcia will be redoing the living room with the Property Brothers, (updating a staircase that boomers probably won’t want to climb as their needs change). Greg and Jan will be renovating Greg’s old attic bedroom, with help from Lara Spencer of “Flea Market Flip.” (We don’t see boomers needing an attic bedroom; they’d prefer the first floor.) Cindy will work with Mina Starsiak and Karen Laine of “Good Bones” on the second-floor bathroom. When the team renovates to include a toilet, will they add grab bars to the tub?

If not, why not? According to a 2018 Harvard housing report, more than half of U.S. households are headed by someone over 50. Households in the 55 and over age group already account for more than half of home improvement spending, and projections suggest that they will drive more than three-quarters of the growth in market spending from 2015 to 2024.

In addition, 26% of households over 50 include a member of the family with at least one disability, yet only 3.5% of U.S. housing units are accessible to people with disabilities.

More needs to be done to address the changing needs of boomers. Architects and other home professionals are doing incredible things with sleek, stylish universal design, and it would be great if their work could be showcased more frequently on networks like HGTV, which has a healthy boomer viewership. (A recent report by Statista found that 31.44% of 2018 HGTV viewers are 50–64, while 26.7% are 18–29, and 24.29% are 30–49.)

And people in all age groups can benefit from accessible design. After all, if ageless design features were incorporated more often, “the forever home” that every HGTV home buyer seems to want wouldn’t just be “the forever home until you have a knee replacement,” but truly a home for a lifetime.

The only renovation news better than that was in season 2, when Greg impressed the chicks by converting his dad’s den into a far-out bachelor pad.

Next story loading loading..