Transformation scenes: the television interior makeover

Deborah Philips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ‘transformation’ or ‘makeover’ of people and places has long been a standard feature of popular women’s magazines and is now a dominant form of television. The television design programme offers an uneasy interface between the private world of the domestic and the public world of television, a tension apparent in the conventions that surround the encounter between ‘ordinary’ people and television personalities in interior decoration programmes such asHome Front andChanging Rooms. The magic of television promises that the old fashioned, the dowdy, the ‘tasteless’ can be transformed through the expertise of ‘designers’ and experts. This article will address the transformation of designers into television personalities and argue that the ‘experts’ on the television makeover show act as ‘tastemakers’. The article will argue that the growth of the transformation programme on television is bound up with the privatization of property and with the rising cost of housing and that knowledge of interior design is explicitly understood in the language of these programmes as a capital investment. Using Bourdieu, this article suggests that while claiming a democratization of taste, such programmes serve to confirm the superior knowledge and cultural capital of the designated expert. The subjects of the makeover are required by the programme’s conventions to accept the dictates of the ‘tastemaker’ and, in that acceptance, to erase the traces of their own ‘habitus’ in favour of a commodification of taste and style.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-229
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005


  • Bourdieu
  • taste
  • television


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