By: Nava Brahe
Streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu have been knitted into the fabric of our daily lives to the point where we can now get our fill of remodeling inspiration from a binge-watch session of all manner of shows. This can be both a blessing and a curse since, for many of us, these shows are “aspirational” rather than “inspirational”. We watch as complicated and expensive renovations occur in a time-lapse world, with seemingly unlimited budgets. That’s certainly not reality if you’re living in a tiny condo with a mortgage and maintenance fees that don’t allow for much in the way of splurging.
That aspirational/inspirational dilemma got me thinking. What actually goes on behind the scenes of those staged renovations after the contractors and designers leave? As luck would have it, I came across an article in Vanity Fair that does a pretty good job of blowing the lid off the “reality” of those shows. Here’s some of what I learned:
Furniture is Usually Not Included
In the popular HGTV show, Home Again with the Fords, design siblings Leanne and Steve Ford work miracles in homes in their hometown of Pittsburgh. This is one of the more aspirational programs that showcases extensive renovations that end with lavish redecoration. In the article, Leanne confesses to the author that the furniture is usually staged since the homeowners spent all their money on structural work, with nothing left over for furniture and such. The decoration, therefore, is optional. Way to flush the fantasy.
Aspiration Has a Serious Downside
Even if you’re not a fan of HGTV or Marie Kondo, you must know who Chip and Joanna Gaines are. The Waco, TX-based couple’s Fixer Upper show has morphed into an entire new network, Magnolia, set to debut shortly. They’ve reached almost Martha Stewart-levels of recognition, with cookbooks, a magazine, and housewares sold online and in bricks-and-mortar locations.
Unfortunately, the Gainses caused a seismic shift in the Waco community, with the increase in home prices causing housing inequality, and unexpected gentrification. The couple is working with the local chapter of the NAACP and other groups to address the issues, but the problem has gone wide. Similar communities, such as Laurel, Miss., have experienced similar issues since the debut of Ben and Erin Napier’s Home Town show. The town is growing considerably, and the median home price, which used to be about $100,000, is set to rise exponentially.
Someone Has to Tell It Like It Is
One contractor, Jasmine Roth of Huntington Beach, Calif. is willing to put a more realistic spin on the aspirational quality of many of these shows. Her show, Help! I Wrecked My House, provides valuable insight into the trials and tribulations of home renovation, and gives the viewer a peek into the reality of things not always being smooth and easy-peasy.
“I think that shows do have a responsibility,” says Roth. “And we do try to show as much as we can. But there’s only so much that we can show, and at the end of the day some of the things that have to happen don’t make good TV. So we’re not going to include those, because you’d change the channel.” I don’t know about you, but I would keep watching. If I’m going to spend the money and live through the headaches, I want to be prepared.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying these shows are inherently bad. They make for great escapist viewing and can provide tons of useful ideas when it comes to decorating and remodeling. Just keep the acronym, “YMMV” (your mileage may vary) in mind when you watch.
Looking for a home remodeling contractor who tells it like it is? Contact us.