Why HGTV is not Reality

As principal designer with McGaw & Company, Inc. – Residential Interiors Group last night I tuned into a new “Design” program on cable television.  I do this occasionally and admire the work of a few of the design projects completed and highlighted on television.

The problem I have with many of these programs is the lack of professionalism and actual planning shown during the show.  More importantly, the information of project budgets is at best misleading and at worse disingenuous.

On last nights’ design show the client had a $40,000 budget which included installing a new kitchen, refinishing all the wood floors downstairs and replacing all the wood floors upstairs.  Not so bad; that may work with a $40,000 budget if the kitchen doesn’t eat up the whole budget.

Conceptual Drawing of Proposed Built-in

Not done yet… the staircase which was not structurally sound was rebuilt and upgraded, the whole house was painted, wallpaper was installed in several areas and a minimum of 11 windows were covered with new and (expensive) window shades (needed for privacy).

Ok, as I started to count up the costs, I was becoming skeptical; not done yet the “design” team provided all the furniture (new and refinished) for the project.  Highly unlikely on a $40,000 budget.

But wait… let’s talk design staff and contractors; the costs of design and contractor services are normally not included in any of these shows.

The designers had a minimum of 4 staff employees and numerous contractors to complete this project.What was the cost of those services?  What products were donated at a reduced rate or given for free to acquire advertising?

Designers and contractors must make a profit to be in business.  Profit allows designers to spend endless hours of their time (much of it off the clock) to keep abreast of new trade technical and product upgrades to provide the highest and best design services available

.(If you as the home owner have tons of expertise and many hours of work available you may be able to pull off something similar on a very tight budget without design input or contractor support.)

Worse of all most of these shows do not account for the weeks of planning, installation, ordering materials and project management time that is necessary to complete a truly beautiful project.  I have friends of my clients who admire my work and want to know “How did the designer do this?  Everything works together so beautifully.”

My friend I tell you truthfully (and not in any specific order)…

–          Careful planning and cohesive design considerations

–          Many hours of thoughtful deliberation

–          Consultation with clients to gain insight

–          Client input and approvals

–          Attention to detail

–          Dedication and passion

–          Ethical and professional business standards

–          Research, Research and more Research

–          Years of training, classes, research & daily practice

And lastly and most importantly Talent.

Design Tip…

Everyone should have access to a beautiful home.  Just don’t be mislead by instant decorating utilizing very low budget figures.   The probability this scenario can be reproduced is highly unlikely for most homeowners.  In the final analysis, a realistic budget will prevent a disappointing outcome and better interior design that will provide years of enjoyment to you and your family.