Housing can be used to satisfy man's needs on all five levels as identified by Maslow, although in the context of Tshwane, South Africa, housing decisions are especially guided by a great need for safety as well as status. Townhouse living offers a secure living environment for residents, while simultaneously providing an adequate status living option that is generally accepted by the public. Along with several advantages townhouse living provides, there are also significant negative aspects. The main consideration for this study is the fact that all of the units in a given complex look either the same or very similar, leaving no room for differentiation amongst the units. This can become problematic, since theory suggest that all people have a need to be unique, and when placed in a situation where they are perceived as being highly similar to others, as in a townhouse complex, people will tend to act in a counter-conforming manner. The only viable option available to the residents lies in the interior of their homes. Much has been published to date concerning the need to be unique and the expression thereof within the clothing environment, but only limited research has been done to explore townhouse residents‟ need to express their extended selves in the interior of their homes. The study involved 182 respondents of both genders, who lived in townhouse complexes in Tshwane. They completed a structured questionnaire, which investigated who was responsible for decisions regarding the interior design and décor of their homes, identified their most valued objects, as well as the reason why it is regarded as such, whether or not they restricted guests to their social zones of their homes, as well as whether they portrayed their social selves to onlookers, their level of need for uniqueness, their buyer behaviour, the source of interior inspirations and lastly, a section on the overall satisfaction they might have with residing within a townhouse complex. One qualitative section, the identification and motivation on their valued objects, was included to gain insight into what type of objects are regarded as valuable, supported by motivations on why it is regarded as valuable. Data collection was especially time consuming, since it was difficult to gain access to townhouse complexes. Convenient snowball sampling proved to be the only option viable to collect the data. Data analysis involved descriptive statistics as well as factor analysis. Respondents indicated that interior professionals were seldom, if ever, asked to assist with the design and décor of their homes and that furniture was their most valued interior objects for social, rather than private reasons. Respondents furthermore indicated that they wished to restrict guests to the social zones of their homes as far as possible and that those respondents who resided in their homes for less than five years preferred their social selves to be displayed, while respondents who resided in their homes for more than five years chose to display a limited version of their personal selves as well. Respondents showed an average inkling to express their extended selves in a counter conforming manner, with the creative choice counter conforming motivation being the most popular option. Their buyer behaviour supported their need for uniqueness, in that the objects purchased for the interior of their homes had to be aesthetic and original. The most prominent source of interior inspiration originated from interior shows and thereafter the respondent's family. The majority of interior shows guide and encourage the viewer to attempt the design and décor of their homes themselves, which may serve as an indication on why so few respondents made use of services provided by designers and decorators. The respondents agreed that, due to the fact that the exteriors appear the same or similar, greater attention is given to the interior of their homes, and that more unique products are sought to compensate for the lack of uniqueness in the complex. About half of the respondents did state, however, that presented with the option again, they would still choose to reside in a townhouse complex. Findings of this study will contribute to existing literature and will be useful to property developers, retail industry, interior designers and decorators in terms of marketing opportunities for their products, be it mass customization (property developers and retailers) or individual customization (interior designers and decorators) to tailor a product that will provide the illusion of uniqueness to potential consumers. Copyright
Dissertation (MConsumer Science)--University of Pretoria, 2012.