home improvement shows on Netflix

Image Courtesy: Netflix’s The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes


Have you ever wondered why home improvement shows are so popular? Have you considered what professional designers think about Americans’ fascination with these TV shows and the impact the shows have on actual design projects?

Everyone assumes that since I am an interior designer, I stay glued to HGTV and other DIY shows. That is far from the truth. I barely have time to watch television these days with teaching part-time, moving into a new home and the twins graduating college! When I do have time to enjoy television, I give my mind a break from design and indulge in comedic sitcoms such as New Girl, Friends and Will and Grace. I do understand the fascination behind designer shows because home décor is very entertaining. I believe when you watch shows like Fixer Upper, Flip or Flop or Property Brothers to name a few, it starts turning your gears and you start to think about your home in ways that you never thought of before, which is great! We want to help you achieve your design goals.

The downfall of these shows is clients believing that design is easy and fast because they see Chip and Joanna remodel an entire five-bedroom house in the span of 30 minutes. That is far from the truth. Yes, we aim for perfection but like with other occupations, things are not always that simple.

bookshelf painted turquoise and white in home improvement shows

Décor by Pamela Hope Designs

1.) The clients are giving up their rights to choose what comes into their homes. The biggest difference between actual design versus what you see on television is the clients on TV are not able to select and approve items in their design plans. The clients talk to the famous designers for two minutes and will share their design goals. The designer will in turn show them different options, usually three, of how the home will be and the clients will have to select one of the designs presented. In the bigger picture, clients may think the rendering is exactly how they want their home, but if they took a few minutes to review it, they would start picking it apart. Maybe they don’t like the same bronze rectangular light pendants that are hung over every kitchen counter (you know the ones!) or maybe the client is not a fan of the rustic bar stools. While the clients may just accept a few things that they really don’t like for the 15 minutes of fame, as time goes on, the stools may start to bother them. These minor details make the design.

In contrast, as professional designers who work WITH our clients, we want clients to love your crystal or black or leather-bound knob cabinet hardware as much as you love your sofa and window treatments. Remember this is YOUR house and you should LOVE every detail of your home!

Bacco Chair from Design Within Reach

Photo Courtesy: Design Within Reach

2.) Quick Turn Around:
This is seldom really the case even though items seem to appear overnight on the design shows. Good design takes time, whether building, renovating or ordering a custom piece of furniture. And yes, the pandemic has caused huge delays in projects. With the shutdown and downsizing of various companies, there can be a significant delay on custom orders and shipping. We are currently in spring and are seeing orders that we recently placed now scheduled to ship in late fall. Before the pandemic custom pieces were often delivered in 6-12 weeks. Each item or piece of furniture, after being built or created, has to travel from its originating country to the United States. The couriers must deal with the challenges of the seas (apparently, there are lots of challenges from being on the sea according to our admin who was in the Navy) just to get the items safely to port. Then the items must be inspected for any illegal substances before being packed into trucks to head to the receiver. Then, the receiver will inspect the items one more time for damage. If there is damage, the receiver notifies the designers and we must go through the process of finding a replacement and going all the way back to step one.


But let’s say we get lucky and there is no damage. Hooray! We will schedule a delivery time with our clients, who will enjoy their new furniture! As you can see, this is a complicated process. The prior 12-week timeframe was when everyone was working at full capacity. Now working at half capacity, many entities have delivery timeframes that are 20-25 weeks and even longer if there is anything wrong with the items.

shipping issues are not featured in home improvement shows

Photo Courtesy: Chicago Sun Times and Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

home improvement shows limit the accessories that client can select

Image Courtesy: Roche Bobois

 3.) 100 percent availability: The stock of a certain item changes daily. On Monday, the lamps that your designer showed you are in stock. When you give your designer the green light to purchase the same lamps a month later, they are out of stock. Now we either must wait for the item to be back in stock, which could take anywhere from a few weeks to months, or head back to the starting board to reselect.

It is best to be open with your designer about any hesitations you may have. Whether the price is the issue, or not knowing if it will fit in the design scheme, please talk to us. We are here to help and take as much stress off you as soon as possible. A quick 10-minute phone call will help alleviate any hesitations that you may have and allow you and the designer to be on the same page!

Until next time, let your creative juices flow!

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