So, I’ve been a little distracted with personal stuff as of late and, frankly, had nothing to say to warrant a blog post. Although both of those things are still true, I’m going to write something down anyway.

Has anyone watched the show Property Brothers on HGTV? I think new episodes may air on Saturday nights, but I keep catching the back-to-back episodes that air at 11 pm and midnight. [I’ve had some trouble sleeping lately.] I really like the premise of the show — two guys (brothers) operate in tandem to get a family the house of their “dreams.” Ok, that premise sounds pretty lame. Let me try again. One of the brothers is a real estate agent of some sort and the other is a contractor/ carpenter/ designer/ handyman/ visionary. I’ll leave it to you to evaluate the more useful of the two. The family, the brothers’ clients, come to them dreaming big. I’m not sure in what city this show takes place, but it’s not Madison. Or any city in Wisconsin. The brothers show the family an amazing house; a house with all of the bells and whistles that makes the family swoon. The family is totally enamoured (and also either good actors or completely in the dark about the whole point of the show) and ready to move in. The catch! The house is way above their budget. What do I mean? Well, the perfect house that they now love is, say, $1.2 million whereas their budget hovers around a *paltry* $700k. Boo! What to do? Property brothers to the rescue! You see, they can find this family a run-down, trashed, diamond in the rough for under budget and then use the “savings” to renovate to get the kids their dream house afterall. Genius! Or, that’s the idea. The problem, from where I sit (or rather lay, as I am in bed at this point, trying to get comfortable and maneuver around Gracie, who has recently decided that her favorite spot to sleep is smack in the middle of the bed) is that this is not what happens. I keep watching the show, waiting for this promise to be realized, but alas, I keep waiting.

What really happens is the family is shown two pretty run-down, ridiculous houses that are, from my financial vantage point, crazy expensive. The houses are in almost comically bad shape. They look like a tornado blew through them right before squatters took over. In fact, in one episode last night, as the group was touring a potential house to buy, the group stumbled upon someone sleeping in one of the bedrooms. That was odd. Anyway, after viewing two of these houses, the family is given a choice, which seems to routinely look something like this: Buy House A for, say, $550k and have $150k to do this amazingly beautiful renovation that will completely change the house into a magazine-worthy abode. Or buy House B for about $650k, which will leave $50k to still do amazing work. In my admittedly limited views of the show, the family always opts for the more expensive home so that I’m instantly disappointed that the reno will be of a much smaller scale. I realize a $50k renovation still sounds substantial, but when compared to three times that much? No contest for me — I’d much rather see the grander plan come true. But, no dice. So, that’s the second major wrinkle in the show (the first for me, in case I wasn’t clear earlier, is that these folks are getting a run-down house for over a half of a million dollars. I know location is everything, but it’s hard for me to contemplate paying that much for a tornado-damaged pit).

And here comes Wrinkle 3. Brother Real Estate is not quite the magician the show could use. He invariably tells the family he thinks he can get the house for a price that is not insignificantly lower than the price the couple ends up forking over. Thus, that already smaller reno budget is reduced again. Boo.

So now we’re about half-way into the hour-long show and we have a crappy house that people have spent a lot of money on. At this point, the buyers need to decide how their going to cut corners. Brother Carpenter/Designer/Contractor has some of tricks up his sleeves here, but they really aren’t anything newsworthy (laminate instead of hardwood, cast-off tiles for the fireplace or bathroom, using the couple’s older furniture) so it’s not very interesting. In one of the episodes last night, the couple’s reno budget had trickled down to $30k, so they were faced with the choice of redoing the kitchen or redoing the “upstairs” of the house, which entailed remaking two kids’ rooms, a guest room and a smallish bathroom. They chose the latter and while the decorating was nice, it was just a few bedrooms and a bathroom. It’s not something that I would think of hiring people to spend a lot of money on. Especially if I could have a spectacular kitchen instead. I was, as I think is now clear, disappointed.

My overall assessment is this should be a much better show than it is. I worry I will continue to waste time on it in the hopes that someone, someday chooses House A and I get to see a top-to-bottom overhaul of a whole house. Dreamy sigh.


12 Responses to “Renovations”

  1. 1 Mary Lloyd September 16, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Have not seen it. Have not watched much of HGTV. Might try and catch it to see what I think.

  2. 2 kateandgracie September 16, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Goodness! I feel like I watch a million hours of HGTV a day.

  3. 3 Raoser September 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Do the families get mad? I mean they seem to get the shortest end of the stick possible!

    Real Estate McGee sounds sha-dy and his carpenter/ designer/ visionary brother doesn’t sound so great either. If they had you doing renovations the families would get a way more exciting home for their money!

    And I agree. Paying over 1/2 a million for something that’s been blown over by tornadoes sounds downright insane.

    Btw, I don’t even know if i have HGTV. Don’t be mad. I still watch so much network tv. I’m kind of a loser like that.

  4. 4 Kristin September 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    The only HGTV show I watch is House Hunters International. Hours and hours and hours of it, actually. I’ll check this one out!

  5. 5 kateandgracie September 19, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Wow! You don’t know if you have HGTV? And while House Hunters Int’l is great, what about Property Virgins and Divine Design and Sarah’s House? And, of course, HGTV Design Star? Oh boy. This is shocking information. I am trying to digest it. Divine Design and Sarah’s Anything are about the most amazing design shows ever. Though Room and Bath Crashers are pretty good, too. Oh! And I love Income Property. Love it. I don’t like Curb Appeal or Outdoor Room. And Designed to Sell kinda annoys me, too. And I never watch Holmes on Homes. Obviously, I watch a LOT of HGTV. There. The secret is out.

  6. 6 Kristin September 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Yeah, I’m not really into home makeover/design as a TV genre in general. Or in real life! See: my boring apartment. So I used to avoid HGTV like the plague, especially after a visit with my sister who watches it 24/7, literally. But then I discovered HHI. Maybe it will be a gateway, but I’m not so sure.

  7. 7 kateandgracie September 20, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Yeah, if you’re not into home design, I think you’re probably safe. HHI isn’t much of a gateway show, I don’t think, since it has about zero emphasis on design and is just cool to go to on open houses in international spots. And cool because you can pretend that maybe you, too, will someday be able to cruise around Paris’ arrondissements to find the perfect 200 square foot apartment. Sigh.

  8. 8 kateandgracie September 21, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Also, I don’t believe for a second your apartment is boring. Witness: Fee’s last apartment, which was beautifully appointed and included, at times, a squirrel, but also the most genius bookcase solution ever. Kristin’s *bookcase* would definitely have been something featured on the fancier HGTV shows.

  9. 9 Kristin September 21, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Oh thanks! About the squirrel I mean – ha! No, seriously, I’ve tried to recreate the books on the floor effect in my new place but it’s just not the same without the brick wall. Oh well. But they are definitely on the floor. And on the kitchen table and in the hallway and… 🙂

  10. 10 Terry September 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    While watching the Emmys I became aware of how much my TV watching has turned to HGTV, TLC’s What Not to Wear, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and perhaps 2 remaining chefs on the Food Network. Yikes. I haven’t seen Property Brothers–it sounds like it would be quite frustrating. Sort of like Flip this House–which continues to find flippers who don’t seem to be aware the bubble has burst–nor have they ever watched the show or they would know they need to follow Kirsten’s advice.

  11. 11 Jane Roe September 22, 2011 at 9:26 am

    I am just relieved to find out that I am not the only one addicted to HGTV and TLC’s What Not To Wear. The thing that always gets me about PB, are the comments of the couples looking at the disaster homes, “Ooh it’s pink or blue or green or whatever! Or “It’s dirty!” Hello, you’ve never heard of paint or cleaning? I do, however, really like the renovations done on Income Property. And the guy on Income Property is so easy on the eyes.

  12. 12 kateandgracie September 22, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Janey! I could not agree MORE. Income Property makes me *almost* want to become a landlord. Scott (Mr. Easy-on-the-Eyes – Jane does not exaggerate) is always telling people, “You know, I’m not a designer, but…” and I think, “Scott, you are one of the best designers on HGTV!” I really think his stuff is outstanding.

    And amen to the couples’ responses to the homes on PB. I can’t tell if they’re acting or not because being annoyed by the paint color in the bathroom seems so, well, HGTV-amateur.

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September 2011

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