You're as guilty of it as I am - curling up to watch your favorite HGTV show on the sofa, watching the design team come up with a direction for the space, and then they run into an inevitable issue during construction - right before the final space is ready to be revealed. Yet, the issue is resolved, the space is revealed, the clients are happy, and everything is done in 22 or 44 minutes flat, depending on the episode length.
As much as I love to watch these shows, I definitely have seen first hand how they have created unrealistic expectations for homeowners looking to complete a new build or renovation. If you want to know the real deal, keep reading - we're spilling all the tea today!
real work vs. 30 minute episodes
I don't think it's particularly intentional, but these shows are literally cramming a year's worth of work into a 30 minute show. It seems like fun throughout the process, but issues always come up. Budgets come in higher, the wrong vanity is delivered, the tile is incorrectly installed, the wrong color of stain was used for the kitchen cabinets...the list is long! The design process of a project has so many nuances and intricacies that just can't make it into a short TV episode.
The Rollercoaster of a Project
The natural phase of a project starts with peak excitement about the possibilities of a new space, and that sustains the client for awhile. That continues through the design process, but starts to plateau as timelines slow. If demo is involved, that is another point of excitement because things are visually changing and moving. Then we get into the very frustrating part with construction, delays, and budget concerns. Non-exciting things like electrical or plumbing are being worked on, but the designer and client are talking through finishes, materials, and keep moving through those decisions. Clients tend to lose steam here because you're not seeing the fruits of that installation labor, but electrical and plumbing have very high price tags associated with them. As this is happening, things will slow down as contractors are building cabinets and other things. The job site shows no visual progress, and it gets frustrating. All of those steps are realities of the job, but that definitely doesn't make for good television!
Sponsored Content vs. Realistic Budgets
Product placement is one of the most common TV practices, and that definitely applies to furnishings, appliances, and hard surfaces, as a few examples. It is very common for a suite of appliances for a new kitchen to be gifted for promotional content for that appliance company, and then have that same kitchen being touted as a $50,000 renovation. If you're paying a contractor, a designer, and installing high quality materials and products in a kitchen, you can't do it for $50,000 anymore. In that way, I don't appreciate that false advertising, because it sets an unrealistic expectation for a potential client, and can sour the process from the very beginning.
The Need for Content Vs. Being Satisfied
If you're in the online space at all, you know having fresh content reigns supreme these days. Because 'new and fresh' are the words of the day, networks and shows have a vested interest in proclaiming certain things out of style, and others as the new latest and greatest. But how unsustainable is that?? That means you will go perpetually unsatisfied with the work, time, and money you've invested into making your home beautiful on your terms! Landfills don't love it either.
Just because they say subway tile or brass finishes are out, doesn't mean it's true. This pattern of dismissing doesn't promote timeless design, or what you personally love to have around you. If you find yourself wanting to change a space, take a pause and ask if you are truly wanting a change for your own enjoyment, or being convinced that you need to spend money on new trends that you may only like for a fleeting moment?
Smoke and Mirrors
Years ago, a friend of mine and her family were on House Hunter. I asked her about the whole process of finding the house, and she told me they had purchased the house that was featured long before the show came along, and none of the other houses they showed were even for sale! That was the day my HGTV bubble burst, and that left me suspicious of what else wasn't as it seemed.
First and foremost, these shows exist for ENTERTAINMENT. They are not intended to be realistic at all, and if they were, they would be multiple, hours long documentaries. I can't say I don't still catch an episode or two, but reminding myself that it's as much entertainment as a comedy special or action movie helps with any frustration I may have with them.
Have you ever been caught up in the ease of the process on these shows? Did it affect your design process when it came time to actually start the project? I'm curious to hear - let us know in the comments!