TORONTO - Whether it's your choice of clothing or career, a new series seeks to explore whether the image presented to outsiders can reveal clues about your most treasured interior space — your home.
In "Who Lives Here?" which premieres Monday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on W Network, five strangers take turns visiting each other's homes, relying solely on their detective skills and powers of perception to pair each person with his or her respective dwelling. The winner takes home $1,000.
The debut sees an interior designer, security services worker, entrepreneur, TV producer and hairstylist attempting to determine who among them lives in an urban home, converted garage, detached home, loft and bungalow.
"You meet somebody for the first time and you're processing all of this information on a certain level and you're making assumptions about who they are as a person, how they operate, all different aspects," said series narrator Todd Talbot, who also co-hosts "Love it Or List It Vancouver."
"I think if you extend those thoughts to where they might live, it paints a picture. I don't mean to get too philosophical about it, but we're very fixated by our outward appearance in public."
The participants don't shy away from critiquing spaces they visit. Talbot said while contestants understand the nature of the show, they can still be affected by observations made by strangers.
"It's hard to hear somebody make fun of your home because I think ultimately that is a reflection of who you are. And maybe that's not who you are that you show the public, but it is that internal vulnerable side."
Talbot said there are some people who are very bold and love to infuse their space with perhaps an even more magnified version of themselves. But in his experience, more people are hesitant to do so.
"Especially when it comes to selling or showcasing their house, people tend to have this assumption that they need to depersonalize. And I think that idea of depersonalizing sometimes gets sterile to the point where you don't get a sense of who lives there.
"To me, a house tells a story," he added. "People get really caught up on design elements, whereas really a house represents your home and your lifestyle. And I really do believe you don't want to swing the pendulum too far but you do need to embrace those aspects of yourself."
Talbot cautioned, however, that flaunting your sense of personal flair doesn't necessitate veering into tacky territory.
"No offence to the six shot glasses that you bought in Cabo when you were 21 and you thought they were the best thing ever and you've got them displayed out there — that may be going a little bit too far. I think the principle to remember here is less is more," said Talbot.
"For me, I think people fall into the trap of showcasing those knick-knacks. But what would happen if you took four fantastic photos from that trip and you blew them up and you made them black and white, you put them on a nice mat in a nice frame and you showcased them?" he added.
"The difference is that brings you into the story."
Ultimately, Talbot said individuals can deck out their domains however they see fit.
"Although there are ways to set things up maybe in a more appealing manner, at the end of the day, who am I to judge? Or anybody else for that matter?"
"It gets back to 'Who Lives Here?' We make these judgments about what we think your house should look like, and really, if it makes you happy, paint your walls neon pink. Now, if you're going to go to sell it, I would suggest you buy something a little bit more neutral. But if it really inspires you in your space and that's what fills you up ... go for it."
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