Living in a Furniture Store
"Oh, they live in a furniture showroom."
In the Standardized Sitcom Housing
that Dom Com
families live in, things are always well organized, clean and tidy: no open books are ever left on the coffee table, and no shoes are ever sitting randomly by the front door, no clothes are strewn on the floor (unless Chekhov
left them there). You'd almost think that they were living in
... yeah, you know the rest.
Oh sure, there'll be arguments about doing dishes or housework, and they may demonstrate this with excessive waste, or just allude to
how messy it is. But beyond that, nothing clutters the place up, and the junk is at least in one place, out of the way — possibly in an Exploding Closet
. Sometimes, the place may be doused in grime and stains, but will still probably be free from mess.
This is especially noticeable when the inhabitants are stated and shown to be lazy, slobbish or disorganized. It's also more common in cartoons, as it takes a lot of effort to draw convincing clutter. In Live-Action TV
, the actors still need to move about the set safely, and too much stuff can cause shooting errors quite easily.
See also: Friends Rent Control
, The Beautiful Elite
, Hollywood Homely
, Product Placement
. Contrast with Men Can't Keep House
. Compare Pottery Barn Poor
and First World Problems
This does not include cases of people actually living in furniture stores.
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Anime And Manga
- Rare animated aversion in Whisper of the Heart: Mr. Tsukishima is a librarian, Mrs. Tsukishima is a graduate student, and the family's tiny apartment is literally stuffed with books and papers. Even the elder sister moving out halfway through the film hardly makes a dent in the omnipresent clutter.
- Similarly, the various paper masters' houses in Read or Die are shown to be virtual disaster areas due to all the books in them. In the OVA, Yomiko has trouble finding the phone from under the pile of books, which she's also sleeping under. Yeah, she's weird like that.
- Played horribly straight in Transformers Armada: Rad's dad complains about his messy room, despite it being 100% clean and completely orderly.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica has an unusual case of this. Mami's house in the TV airing was sparse and clean, like a student's apartment bought one piece at a time. Considering her situation, it's justified. She even apologises for how unready it is for guests. This might have only been due to the cost of drawing animated clutter, because the Blu-Ray release packs her house full of stuff. It still looks like a furniture store, just a higher-end one.
- Averted in Harry Potter: Harry spends his first ten years at the Dursleys living in the cupboard under the stairs. When the masquerade starts to crack, they're nervous enough to move him into the upstairs bedroom (formally a storage space used exclusively for Dudley's broken birthday presents). Since he doesn't have much incentive to tidy and would rather be anywhere else, it generally stays a mess.
- Played straight with the rest of 4 Privet Drive, but justified since Aunt Petunia is a Neat Freak. It's even Lampshaded in the fifth book when Tonks comments that the extreme cleanliness of the house is a "bit unnatural."
- This is averted in the first few books of The Dresden Files as Harry Dresden is, well, a man living alone. Later on he gets fairies to clean up his apartment for pizza.
- Also, in book 4, it's mentioned that he has been too preoccupied to clean since the end of book 3, because he's been more or less living in his lab, looking for a cure for Red Court Vampirism to save his ex-girlfriend.
- Hilariously enough, Harry can't tell anyone about the fairies or they'll stop cleaning, so in a short story from Thomas' point of view he mentions Harry apparently turned into a major neat freak a few years ago who buys cupboardfuls of strange foodstuffs.
Live Action Television
- Married... with Children: You'd think the Bundys would be absolute slobs, but apparently, their house is tidier than yours. Their empty kitchen might have prompted the Flanderized joke that the Bundys never actually had food in their house, rather than Peg being a lazy housewife.
- Unless of course you hit the furniture- a cloud of dust will appear. The house may not have clutter, but it is most certainly not clean. (Besides, how can anyone leave dirty laundry around if there is never any clean laundry?)
- Malcolm in the Middle averts this one and also hangs a lampshade on it: not only does their house seem to have the normal amount of mess that an average house would have, but after Francis invited his hoodlum friends over (who are so destructive that it only takes three of them to turn the house into the same kind of wreck one would expect from a Wild Teen Party), they even notice their house looks "too clean" after they manage to clear all the mess left behind. So, the boys dirty it up a bit.
- In Everybody Loves Raymond, despite mother-in-law Marie's constant digs about all the dirt and mess, Ray and Debra's house seems remarkably clean — just as clean, in fact, as neat-freak Marie's house (minus the plastic wrap on the furniture).
- Justified with Adrian Monk's apartment in the TV series Monk. Since the eponymous character suffers from several neuroses, compulsive disorder and (among many many more phobias) a fear of germs and dirt, not only is his apartment spotlessly clean, but also Monk gets jittery if any item is moved even a millimeter from where it's supposed to be.
- Very much averted in Sherlock with 221B Baker Street, which is strewn with so many utterly realistic items- everything from magazines stacked on the floor to grungy coffee cups left on the table to bills piling up near the phone- that you'd swear blind it was a real interior where people really live. "Guys Are Slobs" is apparently the show's next biggest theme behind "mystery-solving".
- Irene's house, on the other hand, invokes this trope, especially when she and Sherlock find themselves in an enormous pristine room, with what seems to be very little other than a posh sofa and a fireplace/mirror.
- Possible Fridge Brilliance, Irene could keep rooms she entertains clients in as bare as possible to let them project their fantasies onto her and the environment.
- Friends either averts of justifies this. Justified in the case of Monica and Rachel's apartment: Monica is a neat freak, and doesn't like people moving furniture around. However even the furniture is eclectic and mismatched, and the decorating (like the famous purple walls and frame over the door) are more homey than you see on most shows.
- When Rachel moves in with Phoebe, she goes overboard at Pottery Barn. Ross remarks that the living room now "looks like page 72 of the catalog."
- Joey and Chandler's apartment managed to accomplish looking much more lived-in and normal despite the general lack of clutter, though this was probably in part because of the colors used and that most of it looked assembled bit-by-bit rather than carefully arranged and bought all at once.
- Despite how many times it had been trashed by monsters, and what traumas or bizarre living arrangements the family are currently dealing with, the Summers' house of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is rarely less than spotless. This was lampshaded by the gang a couple of times in Season 6.
Anya: "This is a Slayer's house, why aren't there any weapons lying around?!"
- Seinfeld is excused since the title character is a neat freak, but it would have felt out of place otherwise, considering how "ordinary" the people are.
- Averted on Roseanne where the house is often messy.
- The various Degrassi series do this far too often: especially in the earlier shows, every home looks exactly like a stage set. It wasn't until Degrassi: The Next Generation that we got to see messy rooms, and then it was only with characters who really demanded it (Emma and Peter literally live in the basement, complete with all the basement clutter, while Alex's mother is an alcoholic, abused wreck).
- Inverted on Black Books where the living space (also a place of business!) was unspeakably messy. There were molluscs on the pipes. There was a dead badger lying on the floor, presumably for days. One episode's plot was motivated by the fact that the main characters had to leave as the place was being professionally cleaned; two weeks later, it was back to its usual squalor. That episode ended with a piece of toast falling from the ceiling onto a character's head. And let's not forget the patch of sticky floor, intentionally left that way to stop "children running around".
- To demonstrate how abysmally squalid the place is, the professional cleaner runs a white-gloved finger through the air, and when he holds it out for inspection it is covered in grime.
- Some Britcoms including Only Fools And Horses, Father Ted and The Royle Family all have relatively clean homes, though the furniture all looks old, well used and authentic for the place/time.
- Completely averted in Life: Charlie's house does look amazingly tidy, but that's because Charlie's house is massive and has no furniture whatsoever, though he does keep a Room Full of Crazy handy. It's a Zen thing.
- The Big Bang Theory: The guys' apartment is this (due to Sheldon's OCD habits). Penny's, on the other hand, is usually a mess.
- How I Met Your Mother: half-averted. The couch area is usually rather clean but the rear area frequently has some of Ted's W.I.P. (ranging from drawings and assignments to 7' Empire State Building models) left out in the open and the bedrooms are realistically messy.
- Barney's apartment, on the other hand, is always terrifyingly clean.
- All in the Family has a pretty clean and sparse living room. Considering the amount of running around in each episode, along with being filmed in front of a live studio audience, they couldn't really be bothered to fill the setting with too much junk.
- The Golden Girls is a prime example. There's very rarely anything out unless it's specifically needed for that scene. The bedrooms are basically furniture and a few knickknacks. It's even more improbable considering they live in Florida and almost surely don't have a basement for storage.
- Played with in an episdoe of Murphy Brown. Frank normally lives like a rich, tidy bachelor who's never home: His apartment is huge but has nothing in it bu a TV, a chair, and an exercise machine. At one point he tries to construct a normal life, and invites his collegaues over for dinner. They enter to find the place fully furnished. One of them picks a catalog up off an endtable, and notices that the apartment looks exactly like page 12.
- The Montgomery and Marin houses on Pretty Little Liars. The Montgomery house has two teenagers, a dad who couldn't care less about the family, really, and the exceptionally busy Mama Ella, who seems to run an Art Gallery, raise the two kids by herself, teach at the High School, and know everyone in town. The Marin house has just Hanna and her mother Ashley, who works constantly, but the house is always spotless. Like, weirdly clean.
- Justified with the Hastings family. They're so rich they probably have several maids.
- Almost true on a episode on an episode of Laverne and Shirley. Lenny and Squiggy go on a game show and their prize could be a living room set. It rolls forward, scooping them up and one of them said "We gotta live here?"
- This trope seems to be the aim of nearly every Reality Show dealing with home improvement or interior design. The goal seems always to be a model home that would look good on the cover of a magazine, not a place you could actually live in comfortably. You will never see these home remodellers ask "Where will people throw away their trash?" or "How easy will it be to keep this room clean?".
- Subverted in Arrested Development. Plays the trope straight and justifies it at first, since the Bluth family is forced to move into a full-furnished model home that has never been lived in before. It's a Running Gag that the workmanship is incredibly shoddy, however, and damage done to the home in any given episode is retained with meticulous detail in subsequent episodes, so that by the end of the series, the place is a dump.
- The Cosby Show is a major culprit. Cliff and Claire have full-time jobs in demanding careers, the kids all have after-school activities. And yet, the only chore you ever see anybody do is cooking. AND the whole family has enough spare time on their hands to completely rearrange the house and enact elaborate fantasies such as teaching Theo what living on your own is like.
- The Mentalist: In the episode "Ruby Slippers". Jane and Van Pelt are examining the childhood bedroom of a murder victim, which fits this trope to a T. Van Pelt mentions that it "looks like a furniture catalog threw up in here"; Jane realizes the victim's father must have decorated it in a sign of disapproval for his gay son.
- The brownstone in Elementary looks actually lived-in.
- The Simpsons: Considering how lazy Homer is, and Bart's reputation, you'd think the house would be a disaster area. However, it's in a poor state only when they make a plot point of it. Several episodes show an obsessive Marge as being obsessed with cleaning obsessively to the point of an obsession.
- In one episode after an entire day of Marge cleaning until the place sparkled, the family comes in and goes into the kitchen. The door swings in as they go into the kitchen and when it swings open (two seconds later) the room is a disaster with debris and food everywhere.
- Averted by Futurama, Fry and Bender's apartment is always disgusting.
- One of the first clues viewers had that YouTube's lonelygirl15 wasn't a real person was the observation that all of the visible furnishings in her room came from Target.
- Averted: while IKEA does offer everything to furnish your home, they happily admit that no one does this.
- With one possible exception. Someone buying up a dilapidated Big Fancy House to convert into apartments may choose to offer them for rent ready-furnished to attract college students and other young adults who are only just moving out of the family home. Ikea's products are a bit on the bland side and not exactly built to last, but if you do need to furnish an entire apartment in one trip they're hard to beat for price or convenience.
- Ikea TV commercials in 2012 feature families who actually live in the store. The employees try to remind them that they can buy the furniture and take it home with them, but to no avail.
- The company Rooms To Go advertises this, buy an entire room setup out of their catalog.
- New housing developments will often contain a "showhome" furnished in this manner as a kind of real-life artist's impression of what living in one of the properties might be like. Once every other home is sold, the showhome is frequently put on the market with all the furniture included in the price; convenient if you're a first-time buyer, perhaps, but probably a bit disconcerting to live in before one can personalise the place a bit.
- Often subverted by real estate agents, who will rearrange a home for sale (called "staging") to best present it to potential buyers. Along with moving furniture around, staging often includes leaving the house as bare as possible. Examples can be seen on the various house selling shows on HGTV. In particular, any extra rooms are left empty: the seller might think that spare room would be wonderful for a nursery, but if the buyers don't have young children and aren't planning on it, the nursery decor could be distracting.
- People (especially housewives) will tidy their house to look like this for when guests come round, even if the guests wouldn't care. They will often ask their children to tidy their rooms even if the guests aren't even going to go into their room. This paints an unrealistic picture of family life but some people think it implies class and/or shows the respect towards the guests.