It's scary, but it's true. There's a disease lurking in the land. It's called . . . House Obsession.
According to a recently released study, one out of 10 Americans fantasize about the house of their dreams every single day.And, if that's not enough, how about this? Those fantasies conjure up a house decorated by a superstar designer and complemented, not with servants, but with master bedroom suites and a bowling alley.
The study was conducted for the Spiegel Home Fashion Monitor by Bruskin Associates Market Research and included telephone interviews with 1,000 men and women 18 or older.
The blueprints for the American fantasy home would include a giant spread with four bedrooms, three baths, two fireplaces, seven closets, three TVs, four phones and, for one in 25, a bowling alley, according to the survey.
At some of the dream digs, you might find a satellite dish in the yard (28 percent of the respondents said they'd go for one). Twenty-four percent said they craved an imposing driveway, 19 percent would go crazy for formal gardens with fountains and 9 percent said they wouldn't mind having a court for smashing the old tennis ball around.
Although roughly half the respondents (47 percent) dreamed of having a gourmet kitchen, it would be staffed by the homeowner, not a hired hand. Nearly three out of four surveyed (71 percent) would not equip their house with servants.
The top two choices for dream-home locations were the oceanfront (35 percent) and the woods (29 percent). One in four chose a South Fork-style ranch a la "Dallas," and 22 percent opted for an English Tudor country estate. Seven percent indicated that they'd just as soon have a luxury penthouse in the city.
"We could have conducted a survey that was more grounded in terra firma," said Bette Rosenberg, homefashion director for Spiegel Inc. "However, the home-furnishings business relies on a combination of pie-in-the-sky ideals and practical issues. Asking consumers about their home fantasies helps us determine which categories and product features we need to pay attention to."
One of the more interesting dreamhouse fantasies the survey dug into had to do with who, other than themselves, the respondents saw living in the house.
Certainly not Ivana Trump. Just 6 percent of the respondents thought that she would enjoy living in their fantasy home. On the other hand, both men (16 percent) and women (24 percent) could imagine Paul Newman living their dream and loving it.
Twenty-five percent of the women thought their dream house would appeal to screen heartthrob Tom Cruise, who edged out President Bush and first lady Barbara (16 percent). Still on the celebrity circuit, 18 percent of men chose high-visibility actresses Michelle Pfeiffer and Candice Bergen.
For some, owning their dream house seems to represent a solution to a problem. Nearly one in 10 respondents said they fantasize because they hate their neighbors or neighborhood; 35 percent imagined an easier life in a house crammed with modern conveniences; and 30 percent saw such a retreat as a place to get away from it all.
For nearly a quarter of those polled, their dream house didn't have much to do with day-to-day living in a leisurely, less stressful style. It had to do with status - period.