As Seen On TV

As Seen On TV




Here’s how a home renovation happens on television: a designer or contractor visits a messy, outdated home and proposes elaborate, often out of your financial reach, changes. There is limited, if any, discussion, the amiable homeowners easily agree on said changes and are whisked off for a luxurious weekend trip out of town. There are a couple of five minute montages of construction (all materials on hand and all hands are on deck), perhaps a quick consult with a cosmetically enhanced decorator, approximately two commercial breaks and 30-45 minutes later, the homeowner comes home from Disneyland to find their house completely redone (or in some cases, nearly rebuilt from the ground up) to a swell of triumphant music and a lot of cheering.


There are a lot of shows about renovation on television right now and they all pretty much follow a similar formula, just as most of the shows about gangsters, meth dealers, prisoners, spaceships, politicians and hospital staff follow their own formulas. But while most people (I hope) do not actually expect their doctors to hash out their torrid romantic relationships while performing brain surgery, or their politicians to literally throw a nosy reporter in front of a speeding train, they find the idea of a house rehabbed in a day or two to be completely realistic.


Renovation shows may be “reality television,” but they’re no more plausible than shows about vampires or dragons. Your kitchen is not going to get totally rehabilitated before you get back from your cousin’s wedding, no matter what Ty Pennington or the various folks on network television may have you believe. For one thing, you don’t have a fleet of hotty-buffalicious construction around the clock, a whole set decoration department, a corporate big-box store sponsorship deal and a crew of editors cutting out all the hours of less interesting footage. For another, you probably don’t have the truckload of money to pay for all of that. And even if you did, movie magic being what it is, you probably wouldn’t be that happy with the end result.


A completely customized, perfectly constructed, artfully executed renovation worth the money you’d put into it simply could not be achieved in two days. So when clients ask why it will take six or even eight weeks when it took so-and-so on “Trading Spaces” four hours to do the same project, my first impulse is to roll my eyes and ask whether their family doctor looks anything like Patrick Dempsey. It’s great to live in a world with so many options for entertainment, but real world renovations seldom conform to a Hollywood standard.


Offscreen construction may take longer and feature muffin-topped designers and less attractive leading men, but the end result will be solid, beautiful and yours to be enjoyed for years to come as opposed to just another set for just another episode. Say Yes to the . . . realistic renovation schedule and know there will be some honey-less boo-boos along the way.


And though he may not be buffed and quaffed like the hosts of today, I think Bob Villa would probably agree.


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