Eight Years Later – Is HGTV Still Misleading Us?

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Hi Everyone,

Many of you may recall a post I wrote eight years ago titled 12 Ways HGTV is Misleading Us.

Please don’t bother looking for it as it no longer exists. However,  this is an updated version, and I will be going back over most of what was discussed eight years ago.

 

Here’s what’s sort of funny.

 

As soon as I wrote the post in 2014, I stopped watching HGTV almost entirely. However, knowing I wanted to update the HGTV post, in the last few weeks, I’ve watched HGTV for at least 20 hours.

While I haven’t watched every show, I have watched several shows. These days, they tend to lump episodes of the same show together.

 

In 2014, this was my overall assessment of HGTV:

 

“HGTV is mindless entertainment and better than a martini…like a really good tranquilizer without any side effects; well, maybe some mild nausea on occasion.”

“HGTV EXISTS SOLELY FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES.”

 

Has the perception of HGTV changed eight years later?

 

Please keep reading to find out.

The shows that still exist eight years later that I watched are House Hunters, Love it or List it, and Property Brothers. And, Scott McGillivray has a new show about renovating vacation homes. But, this time, it also stars his wife.

 

Have the old HGTV shows changed?

 

In terms of format, there’s no change. They follow the same predictable formulas as before.

House Hunters features home buyers who are pretending to house hunt. In recent years it’s become common knowledge that the prospective buyers have already gone to contract on one of the houses. The rest is acting. Some are better actors than others.

Love It Or List It still stars Hillary Farr and David Visentin, who do not age and continue to bicker like an old married couple. However, they are not married; to each other, that is.

Hillary is an interior designer who works with a couple to renovate their home– and stay within their budget. Halfway into the reno, there is always a MAJOR problem that necessitates Hillary having to ask for more money. Or else they’ll have to forego something on their wish list.

 

David, a realtor, shows three homes in an attempt to get the couple to list their home and purchase a house he’s showing them.

 

In most episodes, the couple decides to love their home after Hilary has worked her magic on it. However, as viewers, like a rat in a lab experiment, know that once in a while, the couple will list their home. It works.

 

The Property Brothers are the property brothers. Charming, adorable, and formulaic. Everything they do looks the same. There’s nothing terrible about it, but nothing original, either.

 

As for Scott McGillivray, he’s so freaking gorgeous; I don’t care what he says or does. ;]

 

The Other HGTV shows I watched are:

 

Holmes Family Rescue – I watched an episode with a kitchen with acres of black cabinetry.

Buy it or Build it – I don’t remember too much about this one.

Hometown stars husband and wife Erin and Ben Napier, who live and restore homes in the small town of Laurel, Mississippi. They’re super cute and terrific on camera. She was a graphic designer, and he is a carpenter. I guess that qualifies them for the job.

Hometown Kickstart – This is an offshoot of Hometown. I watched one episode that starred Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent. Remember when I got to sit on a panel with Nate?

 

The duo showed up in a small town somewhere in New York State.

 

Once there, they renovated about six places, some retail and some residential. Nate and Jeremiah even got their hands dirty, moving heavy furniture. That is, until the director yelled, “Cut!”

Well, they’re busy guys, and I can attest that Nate is adorable and dripping with charm.

The Hometown shows, in particular, do have a poignant emotional appeal. The recipients of the design services need the help and usually have a down on their luck story, along with tears. The recipients get a twofer; group therapy and a renovation. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal. It’s a feel-good happy ending. The renovation recipients are thrilled and ever so grateful.

 

Never mind that six weeks is not enough time to do much. But, we can just overlook that minor detail.

 

However, the disturbing thing for me is that folks watching these shows don’t always understand that it’s impossible to do things that quickly. So, in that aspect, I think HGTV is still misleading the public. Of course, they can’t take nine months to complete a project.

 

My Lottery Dream Home with host David Bromstad. David has been the star of shows for at least a decade. He’s quite a character with his tats and sometimes odd clothing. However, I have to say David has the best voice. And, his warmth and concern for the people he’s working with feels 100% genuine.

 

My favorite show is Windy City Rehab starring Alison Victoria.

 

Alison is a young, pretty, petite, alpha-type woman specializing in contemporary styles. She infuses classic elements with unique features and those that are on-trend, like black kitchen cabinets. 

And, in all spaces, particularly the kitchen, we can see the sponsor’s product placement. Every kitchen I saw had G.E. Cafe appliances.

Her budgets are more realistic. However, a couple is undergoing a large 4-story (including basement with a new gym) FULL GUT. I’m estimating about 3,500 square foot renovation. Their budget is 150k.

 

Alison does concede that the budget is exceedingly tight.

 

No, it’s not just tight. It’s IMPOSSIBLE.

 

As in all HGTV renovation shows, there is always a stressful and expensive problem. In this episode, it’s a massive plumbing issue that will be $12k – 15k to fix. I don’t think so.

Fortunately, I didn’t see anything remotely frightening as the hot mess below. The image is from a show that aired about ten years ago.

 

This horrible mess was on an old HGTV show

Okay, it’s time to look at the 12 ways HGTV was misleading us back in 2014. Let’s see how things have changed, or not, in 2022.

 

  • Everyone loves and wants “OPEN CONCEPT” living.

 

Yes, this is still the prevailing desire of every buyer and renovator on HGTV. But, is it a good idea? I’m not talking about an open kitchen, eating area, and family room. That’s fine. But, in an old home that was meant to have separate rooms and walls are knocked down, I don’t recommend doing that most of the time. Remember this abomination?

 

In my experience, most folks want light and airy living spaces.

 

They want their small rooms to feel larger and their large rooms to feel cozier, but I’m not sure that most people want to live in only one room. Here’s an example in this post about a woman who was bemoaning her open concept home.

 

We often need to make MORE separation by making some overly large openings SMALLER!

 

Everyone loves granite countertops.

 

granite counters used to be all over HGTV

Blessedly, I did not see a speck of granite. In one episode of Love it or List It, I observed the demo of granite kitchen counters. Sweet. The replacement? I bet you can guess.

Yes, it’s quartz. Quartz is the new granite on HGTV. And, the designers often select one that looks like concrete.

Clearly, they are trying to diversify in some areas.

Although they did use quartz on HGTV back in 2014 and earlier, it was mostly confined to Candice Olson, who singlehandedly drove up sales of the manufactured material into the stratosphere.

 

By the way, what is Candice Olson doing these days?

 

I looked her up, and after more than a decade on HGTV, her last show was canceled in about 2016. I don’t think anything in particular happened. However, Candice has become wildly successful after her exposure on the network. My guess is that she was raising her family. That, plus the fact that being the star of one of these shows is grueling work. She most likely had enough.

I got to meet Candice in 2014. You can see us here.

 

Since 2014, I’ve met several designers who’ve worked on HGTV. (no names)

 

However, while grateful for the exposure, each of them was exhausted beyond belief. The nature of the production schedules and grueling long hours of filming takes the blame.

 

  • Everyone wants mixed stone and glass tile in this weirdly elongated psychotic brick pattern.

 

horrible glass tile used to appear on HGTV

Thank God this trend is in the rearview mirror. I have no idea why this gained any traction whatsoever. Is there a replacement? Oh yeah, there most definitely is.

 

cement tile shop BouquetIII
Yes, it’s some version of cement tile. Although, everything I saw was not the original encaustic cement tiles. But instead, porcelain or ceramic tiles with the design printed on them.

 

willows-rest-UK - bathroom encaustic cement floor - bathroom trends

willows-rest-UK

I think this type of tile is fantastic in this bathroom. Yes, I have heard that authentic encaustic cement can be slippery when wet. However, some say it’s fine.

 

Lindsey Buckingham Kitchen encaustic cement tiles via Architectural Digest

Lindsey Buckingham’s old home, via Architectural Digest. It sold in 2019 for 29.5 million dollars. I imagine the range is what put it up over 29 million.

 

Everyone wants a matched set of “stainless steel” appliances on HGTV.

 

It depends on the kitchen and if the appliances are high-end, like in the Buckingham kitchen. However, I now see more kitchens with panel fronts on the appliances. In addition, the high-end Cafe line manufactured by G.E. figures prominently in the rooms designed by Allison Victoria, as said earlier.

 

GE-cafe range- matte white appliances- Benjamin Moore True Green - 2042-10- KBIS 2019

The image above showing a Cafe range is one I took in 2019 at the kitchen and bath show (KBIS) in Las Vegas that year.

You can see the entire line of Cafe kitchen appliances.

What about the kitchen cabinets. No, I did not see any green on HGTV. Maybe there will be.

 

eight years from now. ;]

 

  • Everyone wants dark stained kitchen cabinets.

 

dark cabinets used to feature on HGTV but they're gone in 2022!

And thankfully, I saw none of this. The most common color for kitchen cabinets is black, followed by gray and white. But, many kitchens had a mix of finishes on the cabinets.

 

  • In 2014, HGTV’s philosophy was that almost every room could benefit from a “feature wall” or “accent wall” painted a different color.

 

We’ve discussed this issue before.

 

Purple-Accent-Walled-Living-Room typically found on HGTV

 

Again, this trend on HGTV has thankfully bitten the dust. However, not so fast. Most rooms are painted a light to medium gray color.

 

  • I heard repeatedly on HGTV in 2014 that dark walls make a room look smaller.

 

NO! they make the room look LARGER, albeit darker. Dark colors make the walls recede, just like black pants make your legs recede. I did not see this discussed this year. However, we did in this post.

 

  • You can renovate a kitchen, living, and dining area in only six weeks.

 

As mentioned early, no.

Ugh, sadly, this is still the situation. In most cases, they don’t give an exact timeline. However, they make it look like the entire process only takes a couple of months.

 

  • On HGTV, everyone ENTERTAINS like crazy and needs a large open concept room and yard to accommodate that.

 

Welcome to the era of Coronavirus. I did not hear much about entertaining on any of the shows.

 

  • You can fix your place up for resale with two-thousand dollars.

 

Yeesh. Everyone knows you can’t do jack with only 2 thousand dollars. That is unless you’re this lovely lady.

However, the producers finally got the message and pulled shows like Design on a Dime. Still, are the budgets on these shows realistic?

No, they’re not. And, of course, they are never paying for the services of the designers.

 

  • Everyone is ecstatically happy with the results.

 

Well, it’s TV. HGTV is a business. And, the sponsors are paying a lot of money. Of course, the people are happy. At least on camera, they are. However, I’ve heard through the grapevine that people are not always satisfied after their renovations. And, sometimes, they need to redo shoddy work.

 

Is HGTV still misleading us?

 

Are there ever any instances where one can glean some helpful information. Yes, there are.

 

Many of the designers are talented. And, I can see that the producers are trying to keep up with the times while still knowing that their core audience does not have a lot of disposable income. `

In that way, HGTV is not a total washout. I think the shows have improved.

Are you interested in being on HGTV? Here’s a link to casting calls for various shows.

Do any of you watch HGTV? If so, what are your favorite shows?

xo,

 

PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES!

 

8th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2021 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

73 Responses

  1. I just consider the HGTV shows mindless entertainment that I often go to to avoid more than thirty minutes of the news. I don’t believe too many people seriously think about copying the “designers” styles or advice given on the show.meant for entertainment. The shows are usually background noise when I read because I live a!one. I’ve found those shows unfortunately aren’t the worst on tv. Nor certainly the best.

  2. Really miss the old gardening shows — and Homes Across America plus shows like Design Remix for budget-minded ideas. Can’t stand the fake “angst” in many of the shows and so-called contests

  3. And double yes to Restored! Although California seems to have no lead paint and very cheap labor, so the budgets aren’t realistic for us East coasters even if they happen to be real.

  4. Yes to Restored! Such a great series and brought me to love lineoleum! And I have a mad crush on Leanne and Steve Ford.

  5. I want to know where the “G” for garden shows have gone. I miss seeing high quality gardening shows and they don’t seem to be anywhere these days. What happened?

  6. For a long time we didn’t have cable since we had busy lives and there was enough to watch on broadcast TV. However, whenever we visited my MIL I would spend as much time as I could watching HGTV. This was way back when Carol Duval and Design on a Dime were popular. Our daughter started asking to get cable and for a while we would jokingly tell her that, if we did, nothing would ever get done around the house because Mom (me) would not want to move from the TV.

  7. I also have to say that I still love our Blue Pearl granite 22 years after our house was built. It appears black until you notice subtle shimmers of blue and silver depending on the light. I also used antique white traditional cabinets and antique nickel hardware and I think it still looks timeless today. I remember the “cheapest” granite at that time was Baltic Brown, a dark brown background with tan blotches. It was everywhere 20 years ago!

  8. Laurel, my husband and I years ago used to watch Selling New York and Candice Olson. I used to LOVE seeing all the beautiful New York properties the family of realtors would show on Selling New York. And we really loved everything Candice Olson did. My husband always would say we could go away somewhere and let her do anything she wanted to our house and he would love it. I never watch HGTV now unless it’s on where I get my nails done. I cannot stand Love it or List it. All that bickering bothers me, even though I know it’s fake. Not entertaining.

  9. I had an acquaintance that I saw her on one of those Designer Challenges, much to my surprise at the time. Her design was very “off” from the homeowners request. She was so angry about that event. They had requested from her a plan, and intentionally gave her no information about what the client wanted. They set her up to be the lame designer who ignored the client’s needs, and didn’t tell her this was going to happen. Obviously that show had some major integrity issues.

  10. HGTV can be fun while multi-tasking on the computer. Let’s face it, not many viewers are glued to the TV and many of us fast-forward to the end often to be underwhelmed for the reveal. The good news is that sometimes there are a few smart design choices and HGTV gives us the opportunity to learn from design mistakes without having to live with them ourselves or spend our own money for something that will be out of style if it was ever in style in the first place! I always like the idea of incorporating historic elements in homes but does putting a few corbels, a buffet cabinet, armoire or period light fixtures (which are way overpriced and blow the budget before they are even reworked by the carpenter) really add that much character to what is essentially a new build? Spend a pretty penny on an antique piece of furniture only to paint it black and lose all the actual detail and retrofitting the build around it has to cost a pretty penny and getting the cabinet doors so they actually function and stay closed is not that easy! Also, renters do not care about those things, so to spend a lot of money on character details that will supposedly “appeal” to renters who will not only not appreciate or even take care of those old period touches is just plain silly IMO. Thanks for a fun post though Laurel!

  11. My “wasband” of many decades (I got that from you Laurel and I love it) is a builder/remodeling contractor. Many times around Halloween he would go look at a job only to discover that the people wanted a major kitchen remodel or a new bathroom added on usually by Christmas because they were hosting family for the holidays. He’d come home and say “What’s wrong with these people?” My answer was HGTV. I stopped watching years ago when I could no longer bear to hear the words “pops of color”.

  12. My pet peeve with HGTV (actually, one of many) is the bad grammar/misuse of words and expressions. On House Hunters, any small room is “claustrophobic” despite the fact that it has light filled windows. I’ve heard it used so often, it must be suggested by the producers. I once heard it used to describe a small back yard! Another is the use of “down fall” instead of “down side” to describe a negative aspect of a house. I once saw a realtor precede the buyers into the kitchen and announce “and now for the “coup de grace”. Poor buyers didn’t know this might be the last house they would ever see.

  13. Forgiven, Lauren! Lol! Also, I agree with your statement. Last year I was upgrading my home from everything Tuscan (somehow missed the gray trend while raising two daughters), and we had this gold speckled granite sink top in our main bathroom with “almond” toilet and tub fixtures. I wanted a white paint color for the bathroom walls, but for the life of me couldn’t figure out if I needed a cream, pink beige or taupe shade with all the business going on in the granite. My husband realized it all stuck out like a sore thumb in here and we replaced our tub and toilets with white ones and got a black quartz sink top to sit on top of my white vanity. Even when granite is pretty it can be hard to match paint colors which in my opinion is why black is the way to go.

  14. Love the taste level of Nate and Jeremiah – esp Rock the Block – love Erin & Ben…
    And would welcome Joe Ruggiero back in a heartbeat!
    But HGTV has made millions of people aware of design – that anyone can make changes and upgrade. However,costs & timelines are not realistic – and there probably should be a disclaimer at the end of every show.

  15. Oh, there have been a few times where I’ve had the chance to binge watch a show. I don’t have TV, so it’s always a special occasion to ogle design flicks. My favs are always contest shows. I like seeing the sweat and the mess and creativity under pressure. Do they have any contest shows anymore on HGTV? I heard they had to back off because they had fewer slots to give to the winners.

  16. I have seen a decent evolution on HGTV over the years. Designers like Nate & Jeremiah, Leanne Ford, Alison Victoria, Hilary Farr, and Jenny Marrs keep me coming back for more. Many times the budgets work because of the product placement. Or, for some shows, it’s known the staging is not a part of the budget. The Magnolia channel has some good shows, too. For the Love of Kitchens is about the deVOL kitchen company.

  17. I LOVE your blog and always learn new things from you. I truly appreciate your aesthetic and wish I could hire you but studying what you do and reading about your choices is the next best thing. I’ll admit to watching HGTV in the past with Candace Olson and a few others, but I was more interested in House and Garden and the old Veranda magazines. I’m also grateful for my longtime friend who was a wonderful designer. Unfortunately, she died last year but her aesthetic is present in my home as is yours. Thank you. xxoo

  18. Cynthia, I really, really wanted to say what you did.
    Thank you for saying it for me!

  19. I like anything with Leanne Ford (Restored by the Fords, Home Again with the Fords). She designs and her brother Steve builds. None of her designs are cookie cutter – always fresh and soulful. I also like anything with Nate Berkus (Nate and Jeremiah Save My House, Nate and Jeremiah Home Project) for similar reasons. Both teams were in design competitions on HGTV “Rock the Block” which I enjoyed – designers are given new build houses and compete for each part of the house as well as overall added value in the end.

  20. Laurel, there is 20 hours that you will never get back. Do I watch it? No, absolutely not, never, NYET! HGTV is just a vehicle for sales at Home Depot and Lowe’s. It’s an infomercial. There isn’t a single real designer on there, nor would a real designer be caught dead on HGTV. The ideas are god-awful. Tasteless, banal, big-box sheeple repetitiveness. It’s the anti-christ of design. More heinous crimes have been done to the homes of America thanks to HGTV than can even be imagined. I can’t say enough bad things about it. Beautiful design and period features ripped out, to be replaced with some pedestrian idea of decor that is boring and soulless. Fah!

  21. I always loved to watch Debbie Travis and Sarah Richardson, but they disappeared from HGTV long ago, and I don’t know where they went! I do like This Old House, but of course, that’s another network. My current favorite is Escape to the Chateau, (also on PBS). I love this family’s joie de vivre and adventurous spirit. It always makes me feel good to watch them, and I’m anxiously awaiting their next season.

  22. Laurel!

    Lots of comments on this post and I agree with many. I don’t watch it, although I have been stuck in a waiting room a time or two. I even ask for it to be turned off at the dentist. There are so many bad designs that we see over and over that came from those shows. When someone mentions, but I saw it on HGTV…well you know. That tile and glass tile, glad to hear it is over. Never understood it either. Many more, but trying to stop… XOXO

  23. Years ago, during an unhappy marriage, I got addicted to Law and Order and HGTV. I liked David Bromstad back then in his color show.
    After years of not watching I can’t stand David’s lottery show, the houses are so freaking ugly. My lovely new husband and I both occasionally like to watch International House Hunter, often very interesting, and the Napier’s. They are adorable, have good ideas, good intentions and such a great workshop!

  24. What happened to the Ballmers from Canada ? We miss them ! They kept it real and didn’t hide their being financially successful.

  25. I watched HGTV for many years, and learned a lot while being entertained. My favorite shows were about personal style in decor and using color and creativity – one with Thom Felicia basing a design on 3 of the owner’s items (not on HGTV); Secrets of a Stylist with Emily Henderson with her decor quiz and eclectic creativity; Designing for the Sexes which integrated husband’s and wife’s two conflicting styles; Designer’s Challenge comparing 3 different design plans; Small Space, Big Style which showed stylish people’s actual spaces. My favorite real estate shows were H.H.International and those episodes of H.H. where a historic house is purchased by first-time buyer(s) as well as other first time buyer shows. I gave up cable but watched Fixer Upper on Hulu, and appreciated the way Joanna could make an ugly, dated, and even run-down house more beautiful by tweaking the architecture. I can’t speak to the current shows, but I dislike open concept, hard edged modern styles, and sameness or lack of colors, which all seem to be the norm now. The many shows on flipping homes for sale seem especially bland and depressing to me.

  26. The only time I watch HGTV is when I’m in the dental chair and I’m watching the screen that is mounted on the ceiling. It’s a great distraction!

  27. I despise the HGTV-ification of American Decor. I will occasionally halfheartedly watch Home Town- they are so cute and really seem to care about their town. I bought Joanna Gaines’ book and hated it; her “style” is so repetitive. I miss Christopher Lowell, who inspired me to “marbellize” secondhand furniture. His technique was best viewed from a distance, but my technique has grown up since then. All in all, HGTV is best mot taken seriously, maybe in small doses when you’re home with a cold.

  28. In 2005 I worked for a small high end design firm. HGTV called and asked us to participate in their new show “Designers Challenge” narrated by Chris Harrison (before his ‘Batchelor’ fame). We were very excited and invested a ton of time and money in exchange for a national TV audience. Little did we know that the outcome was pre-ordained, as the ‘winner’ was politically tied to HGTV as a lobbyist who worked to get them headquartered in Knoxville. We were just used as ‘extras’ in a phony contest. HGTV has done much harm to legitimate designers and the whole industry, all in the name of ‘entertainment’.

  29. I miss Candice too! I haven’t watched HGTV for years. Too many real estate shows and everything looks the same. I’m addicted to UK House and Garden magazine’s YouTube channel though.

  30. I was an HGTV addict for quite awhile. The best shows seemed to have short runs. Love it or Leave It really annoyed me with the oops we don’t have enough money gambit!! At first I thought shows like this might up the style quotient of the country, but that was only at first.

    I enjoy remaking environments in a general sense, so the reveal was always the point, but the reveal is also so tightly cut that you cannot fully see anything.

    It is escapist which is a big reason I used to watch. I finally realized that ALL the shows were just one more way to turn Americans into endless consumers.

    I did like the Canadian hosts, and I like Nate and Jeremiah when I see them while channel surfing.

    HGTV pushes bad design, cheap products, and, most importantly, the commodification of everything as the one goal in life because it will bring you the ever elusive American brand of happiness.

    What I want is Americans to beautify their homes as a way to nurture themselves and others. Beauty feeds our soul.

  31. Hi Laurel,
    I remember when I first got cable many years ago & discovered HGTV. I was glued to the TV. Before that the only thing design related that was available was This Old House.
    I’m back to not having cable again. And I don’t miss HGTV at all. You’re right, it became so formulaic.

  32. I don’t watch HGTV and I stopped subscribing to their magazine as well. It was all about trends and not about true design. It was really a way for them to get you to be unhappy with what you have and go buy whatever they are showing. Most of the stuff they show is cheaply made and will fall apart and end up in our overflowing landfills. I have a friend who buys old couches at resale shops and has them recovered because they have real wood arms and not cardboard.

  33. Yeah…gave up long ago. It became a looney tune cartoon that the characters are running through scenes….a lamp and couch…a lamp and couch…a lamp a couch.

  34. I stopped watching HGTV when Joe Ruggiero’s Homes Across America and You’re Home with Kitty Bartholomew were no longer on it. Ruggiero was my favorite. The rest of the stuff is just boring and mundane. I never liked Candace Olson’s style…too ordinary.

  35. Like most of the commenters, I used to watch more HGTV than I do now. Candice Olson, Sarah Richardson, Christopher Lowell, Kenneth Brown, anything that Nate and Jeremiah do, there were some really talented designers that did beautiful work.

    In the very first year of fixer upper, I loved it because Joanna was introducing a new style that has since become so overdone by everyone that I hate it now. And I also watched it because Waco is just an hour away from me, and I couldn’t believe how they were presenting that town as a desirable destination, which it is not.

    I do enjoy Hometown now, with Erin, who has a degree in fine arts and a background in Home decorating, and Ben who is a craftsman, not a carpenter. But mostly I watch it not for the design, but because they truly are wanting to invigorate their small town that was dying. There are some beautiful old homes in that town, and I like how they honor the homes and just don’t go in and gut everything. They’ve been doing green kitchen cabinetry now for several years, mostly because Erin’s favorite color is green I believe. However, I’m not going to watch it for design ideas, I watch it because I enjoy them and what they are doing in the town.

    And I’ve never enjoyed Windy City rehab because of the drama queen that is Allison Victoria. And she certainly thinks a lot of herself.

    I miss John Giddings and Curb Appeal. As an architect, he had good ideas for the front facade and he is pretty to look at .

    I’ve never enjoyed the property brothers, are they still doing everything gray like they have for a hundred years?

    I blame HGTV for the horrid resurgence of cheaply made MCM crap that is in every store now.

  36. I have never had cable, so don’t watch HGTV on the regular, but do enjoy it when I get a chance in waiting rooms. I really dislike the way a big (supposedly unforseen) problem always crops up with tense negotiations for more money or leaving out something desirable. I mean….could we lose those segments?
    Right now we often catch Decked Out on our Quest channel. It’s a Canadian show, just decks, Same team everytime. What I LOVE about it is that there is no discussion about money -ever. I generally do other things in the middle portion, but pay attention to the planning and if course the big reveal! Nice the dream add well as steal ideas!

  37. Three houses ago we started our HGTV/DIY “hobby”. I think we watched a show called Color Splash and end up with the “Welcome to the Caribbean” house! Never try a color named “mango” in a small room. Now we read your blog like it’s the Bible. But love Nate and Jeremiah’s shows. My current gripe is too many of these shows take charming older homes and strip them of their heritage to replace it with this homogeneous “No-Design Design”… all gray and modern minimalism.

  38. The comments about Windy City Rehab star Alison are a little harsh, people. I think she’s incredibly talented and is a master at mixing antiques with modern living. I also think Home Town is sweet and Ben and Erin seem genuine. My favorite design couple is Nate and Jeremiah. They are both so charming and talented beyond measure.

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you for letting me know. On the episode I saw, the co-host was Scott’s wife, Sabrina. The show was about their own vacation home, so that makes sense. HGTV says she does appear with him sometimes.

  39. My favorite show by far is “RESTORED” with Brett Waterman. I think this is one of the few that do justice to gorgeous old homes and after years of watching decorating stuff, I still learn a lot in each episode, Bucko. We have watched every episode multiple times and signed petitions for Magnolia to PLEASE film more episode. Speaking of Magnolia, they have some great shows that are much more tasteful than HGTV. We love “The Craftsman” and “For the Love of Kitchens”. Also, does anyone remember “Interior Motives” with Christopher Lowell? Back in the day, this is where we all learned that we didn’t know jack about decorating – it was HGTV 101. Although it is a little dated now, his show on Youtube is still just as informative and you can still learn a lot of basic decorating techniques, terms and styles from him in the old episodes. I also loved “Designer’s Challenge” back in the old days because you got to see the room three ways and it was neat seeing all the ways it could go.

  40. Just had a similar discussion with my husband yesterday as we walked around our town passing several homes that have been on HGTV in the past few years. On some where the outside was “renovated” two years ago, the paint is peeling and they already look dilapidated. Also, we are familiar with the work of one of the subcontractors and would never use him due to quality concerns.

    My thoughts are that like many TV shows the producers are aiming for what appeals to the lowest common denominator, not high quality work, or good design. We are longtime fans of “This Old House” and I guess that’s our standard.

  41. Hometown is my favorite. Erin’s touch is great and I like the fact they just don’t start a project by tearing our walls.

    Love it or list it is predictable, but Hillary’s kitchens are always awesome.

    ALL OF THESE SHOWS NEED TO GET REAL. They don’t have TVs in their main living area. Seems snooty and out of touch to me.

  42. I tried to watch Hometown, but Erin is just the navy blue Joanna Gaines (and as nice as she is, haven’t we had enough?).
    Every. Single. Entryway is dark “like a cocoon”. I know, formulaic is the name of the game for the average Joe Schmoe.
    Thank God for you Laurel, you are anything but. No Hobby Lobby homes on this blog.

  43. Open-concept living – no, no, no. If I wanted to live full-time in a cottage/cabin, okay, but not everyday. I know people with these open-plans…if you drop in unexpectedly, all the toys, books, dirty dishes and yes, laundry is all over the place. I can actually shut my kitchen/family room doors and bring people into my living room without displaying what’s in the rest of the house.

  44. Agree totally with Allison Victoria. She’s a ___ and HGTV keeps bringing her back on various shows. Just Google her and lots of stuff comes up.

  45. I watched “For the Love of Kitchens” on the Magnolia Network (just because the TV was on while I was ironing), and discovered it was a show about deVOL kitchens, their craft and artisans, and a kitchen(s) they are involved with renovating. It was interesting to watch after reading about them on this blog.

  46. Hi Laurel,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful post! A few days ago I realized I hadn’t watched HGTV in years. It’s too much like work, and I was in your camp, that it was ugly and unrealistic. I’ll have to give it another watch!
    Michelle

  47. I like Hometown because they respect the history and appreciate the architecture of the buildings. The design is not usually open and the furnishings are cozy. I could be comfortable in one of their houses.

  48. I loved Sarah Richardson on HGTV but otherwise have not been able to stomach most if the formulaic, unrealistic and often simply bad taste of the HGTV shows. The only housing shows I watch now are Escape to the Country on Britbox and This Old House. Love Escape to the Country! It has been on British TV forever and is similar to Househunters but the guests do not necessarily “buy” the house in the end. Much more realistic and the homes in the English countryside are unique and beautiful. And regarding This Old House — I have gotten so much helpful info on building a home and selecting products. Both great shows!

  49. I used to love Candice Olsen, Sarah Richardson and Genevieve Gorder on HGTV. Also Vern Yip. Their work was classic and beautiful and I miss them all so much!
    Now, I’m looking forward to Jean Stoffer’s show being shown on Magnolia network.

  50. Absolute Black is a classic and never goes out of style IMHO. 😊 Very different from the brownish veined granite installed throughout the land for all of those “Tuscan” themed early 2000s homes.

    1. This is very true. Years ago we did it in a kitchen and it was beautiful. There are some other granites that look like marble!

  51. Yes the timelines are unrealistic, but so are the budgets. I am surprised you did not mention that. In so many cases they do a kitchen plus other rooms (ususally at least one bathroom) for what just a kitchen would cost. Not to mention they are fully furnishing and styling all these rooms (maybe they pull at the furniture at the end?) I mostly have stopped watching HGTV but kind of still like Rock the Block where various stars compete against each other. I would also the shows with Leanne Ford and Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent are worth the time because their aesthetics are definitely at a higher level as is their creativity!

    1. Hi Karen,

      I did mention it in the part about Alison Victoria and the 150k budget for a massive renovation. The kitchen alone, would be at least that much.

  52. I enjoy Hometown, No Demo Reno, From Fixer to Fabulous, and Nate & Jeremiah’s shows. I used to like watching Steve & Leanne Ford but I’m over that. Love It or List It just annoys me, LOL. I loved Candice Olson’s show when it was on. She’s Canadian so niceness is in her DNA.

    I think the shows are good for ideas but that’s all. Of course there’s no way renos go from start to finish in 6 weeks. I’ve been planning my own kitchen reno since last October! I like watching them to unwind after dinner while I crochet.

    I remember Erin Napier explaining what happens to the furnishings after the reveal. The homeowners’ budget usually does allow for lots of pieces they get to keep and the custom pieces Ben builds for each home (I would love that!) as well as the homeowners’ own furniture. They also source goods from their favorite local Laurel stores and the homeowners get a binder of everything alongside a special price if they decide they want to keep any of it. I appreciate that transparency.

    Of course, Nate & Jeremiah are “*aways* welcome to get their hands dirty and move stuff in my house around until the director says “cut’. 😄

  53. Let me be the first of I imagine many Chicagoans to complain about Windy City Rehab. That show has ruined many a Chicago street. Alison Victoria’s “updated facades” tend to be monstrosities in person. Several times I’ve been driving down a road when my eye has been caught by something incredibly ugly and out of place. I do a double take and realize it’s one of the Windy City Rehab homes. Worse, the homes are safety disasters. The city has, on more than one occasion, suspended the licenses of both Alison Victoria and the GC Donovan Eckhardt in the midst of shooting for shoddy work and multiple city violations. I believe one of Eckhardt’s suspensions was for a full year, which is unheard of. Eckhardt finally let his GC license expire. It also says something that the featured houses stay on the market forever, even in a hot housing market. Some of the houses featured on the show did not sell for two years or more. A huge percentage of the owners have sued Victoria and Eckhardt, as have numerous neighbors. In one of the most beautiful cities in the world, HGTV should be able to do better than this. It has really turned me off of the whole network.

  54. I totally agree with your assessments of HGTV. I do watch it for the entertainment value, and do like some of the designers but wouldn’t want some of them free reign in my home. Most of the renovations are repetitive and just too trendy. I live in a 100 year old home in New England and most of the trends do not apply to my home. I do enjoy reading your blog and seeing your comments. The problem is these days there is no individuality, I do not like common place I like to be unique and my home to reflect that.

  55. Laurel, I only follow your blog and one other and armed with the knowledge of your impeccable taste, I was able to renovate the top floor of my entire home, mostly with confidence!

    I am however, going to defend granite. Absolute black granite is gorgeous, but we ended up going with black pearl because the price was better, and it is mostly black. Would I have preferred the absolute black granite or even better black quartz? Absolutely, but it came down to buget and it was a huge step up from the Formica I’d always lived with. I did white shaker cabinets with white subway tile and grout and had a modern eased edge done on the black pearl granite. It is gorgeous! I’ll send you a pic if you’d like. 🙂

    For design shows, I like Unsellable Houses. It took us ten months to install LVP throughout our entire top level and do a kitchen renovation by ourselves. Also, the amount of money you know they spend on these shows is not doable for your average Jane and Joe, but I do get some design inspiration from watching them and go to my local TJ Maxx and HomeGoods stores to see what I can recreate.

    1. Please forgive me, Holly. I’m talking about the formerly ubiquitous speckled pinkish and black or brown and rust-type granites. Granite is a stone with immense variations. Some are beautiful and some are dreadful.

  56. In the old days, my favorite show was “Designing for the Sexes” with Michael Palin. (??)

  57. Great post, thank you. I used to watch years ago but pretty much never anymore. My favorite show of the past was Sarah Richardson. Loved that her program followed a particular project for realistically long periods of time. Candace Olson was also fun. Hope you’re enjoying this magnificent early June New England weather.

  58. You expressed all the things that bug me about the way HGTV has changed over the years. I began watching it in the very early days when they had Candice Olsen and Lynette Jennings and then that show where they would have 3 designers present a plan for renovating a space and the couple would choose one. Can’t recall the name of it. But when we began watching House Hunters The formula grew to be a joke because these young couples all wanted open concept, granite and stainless steel….and I thought does anyone ever buy a starter home and work their way up like we did? No they all want it all and right now. Ok rant over. Thanks for the laughs this morning

  59. I grew weary of HGTV, years ago. I did love Divine Design and, more recently, Renovation Island, for more reasons than the decorating. Reading is more important, to me. I will say that the best show, imho, was a show in the early years called, Homes Across America with host Joe Ruggiero. It was of peoples personal homes with personal style, albeit high end. That is where I get my inspiration. A house that is uniquely decorated with items that have meaning give it character. Thanks for this article. I thought I was alone, except for my contractor. 😊

  60. Thanks for your comments! I watched regularly for about five years. It took me that long to realize that it’s all about the personality of the designers. One show that does give you an idea of the timeline is Flip or Flop, where the renovations can go on for months and months. But I found the costs completely unrealistic: Buy a dump in LA for $800K and then complain when it costs $3K to replumb? It cost me that much to do my 1200 sq ft 1924 house. The costs for everything seem completely unrealistic and I assume that they don’t pay for appliances, etc. I have now gotten bored because even my favorites are all the same. And I liked Alison Victoria but I didn’t need to hear about her IVF struggles six times during an episode.

  61. HGTV got too boring for me years ago. Why? Because I no longer LEARNED anything about…well, about anything. And that’s what I watched for. And what I read Laurel Home for! Instead, it turned into reality TV. I don’t know; maybe it’s well done reality TV, but it’s a genre that doesn’t appeal to me.

  62. You were right on with “entertainment.” It was also a wholesome escape – no political ads, no swearing, no violence. When HGTV first began there was a lot more “G” and that is what I miss.

  63. Not me. Not interested in anything they offer except their various contests. I’ll happily take the money.

  64. Sorry for all the typos! I should never post a comment from my phone LOL!

  65. I was and HGTV junkie who now watches the show’s occasionally. Favorite is a HomeTown – The results are creative and I love their use of color. I used to LOVE Property Brothers and Live it or List it but their are no surprises on either of these two shows (formulaic as you said). I love anything Scott Macgillvary does and glad to see he’s back with a new show. I still miss Clive on Curb Appeal and wish a show focusing on the outside of the home would make a comeback. PS: I was on Trading Spaces many years ago – kitchen was redone. No complaints but $2500 rehab looks like a $2500 rehab. It was great fun though!

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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