Despite the housing crash and the Great Recession, TV viewers never seem to get tired of home design shows. Whether it’s the need for escapism or just the fun of checking out a new TV show, these home makeover programs, and their colorful designer stars, keep audiences tuning in.
The Property Brothers
Putting a family spin on the design show concept, HGTV began airing the The Property Brothers in 2011. The Scott brothers – Jonathan, a licensed contractor, and Drew, a real estate agent – try to convince potential homebuyers to purchase one of three extreme low-cost fixer-uppers. They make their case using computer graphics to demonstrate how their upgrades will meet the home buyers’ often extravagant needs and wants. Once a house is selected, the brothers then transform it into a dream home, usually on time and within budget.
Love It Or List It
Following a similar idea, but with a twist, HGTV began airing Love It or List It, a real estate/design show that asks unhappy homeowners whether they want to sell or renovate their houses. Married couple David Visentin, a realtor, and Hilary Farr, a designer, wage war with each other as Visentin tries to convince the homeowners to sell their house and Farr begins remodeling their house in hopes of convincing the owners to stay put. It’s a win-win for the guest couple because if they choose to sell, the renovations increase the their house’s resale value.
Top Chicago designer Meg Caswell won the sixth season of HGTV’s Design Star competition and then moved seamlessly into hosting her own new TV show, Great Rooms. Focusing on living rooms and kitchens, Caswell turns boring rooms into flashy, comfortable, state-of-the-art show rooms. Having studied criminology in college, Caswell uses her detective skills to help clients determine their design preferences. The result is a beautiful home that matches the owner’s personality with a mix of traditional and modern design elements.
Million Dollar Decorators
Bravo shines a light on the extravagant side of design with Million Dollar Decorators, a show that focuses on A-list celebrities and the eccentricities of glitzy Los Angeles. The soul of the series is its four award-winning star designers, all published authors in demand by celebrities and power brokers around the world. Named one of The Hollywood Reporter’s most-wanted decorators, Jeffrey Alan Marks is known for his fun and colorful design style. Former actress Kathryn Ireland, one of House Beautiful’s Top 100 Designers in the United States, promotes a family friendly, bohemian style. One of Architectural Digest’s top 100 interior designers in the world, Martyn Lawrence Bullard’s calling card is his sophisticated yet eclectic approach to design. Mary McDonald, also one of House Beautiful’s Top 100 Designers, brings old-world elegance to this show of big budgets and big personalities.
TLC Four Houses
Based on the same premise as its hit series, Four Weddings, TLC’s new TV show, Four Houses, brings good and bad taste together in a four-house design critique. In each episode, four homeowners tour each other’s houses, offering their unvarnished opinions about design and decor. Each participant rates each house, and in the end, the owner with the highest rated house wins $10,000 and a possible magazine spread in Better Homes and Gardens. This is a design show about voyeurism, drama and golden toilets.