Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

Home makeover TV shows have given curious viewers an inside look at the design process for decades—and all from the comfort of their sofas. While tackling a design project for TV and renovating a home off-screen both have their fair share of ups and downs, they don’t come with the same set of rules. For deeper insight into the realities of the home makeover show universe, we asked design stars—from your favorite shows, including Flip or Flop and Good Bones—what they love about working on TV and what they find challenging about it. From their passion for education and telling stories to dealing with unexpected constraints (it turns out, TV production can sometimes slow down a project!), get the scoop from widely beloved design stars below.

The Highlights of Design Projects for TV

Anne Cusack//Getty Images

Tarek El Moussa and Christina Hall starred in HGTV’s Flip or Flip from 2013 to 2022.

There’s a lot of love about pursuing your dream job while sharing it with the world through TV. For Flip or Flop alum Tarek El Moussa, a big part of the joy lies in the educational component—especially on his HGTV show Flipping 101. “I love sharing what I do with the world because I think it’s important for people to learn how to make money and how to get ahead in life because the traditional education system just doesn’t teach that,” El Moussa tells House Beautiful. “I feel like my show inspires. It teaches and motivates, and I know there’s countless people out there who have changed their lives through watching my shows.”


I’m a sucker for a before and after, even if it’s just hard work and grueling.

Revealing a complete project is another major part of the process that design TV stars adore. “I love seeing clients’ reactions on reveal days,” No Demo Reno star Jenn Todryk tells House Beautiful. She explains: “On my show, clients have no idea what they are getting design-wise. They don’t know colors or finishes. They know nothing, which makes reveal days so intense for everyone involved. Watching clients fall back in love with their homes is honestly the greatest feeling!”

hosts, chip and joanna gaines discuss construction progress, as seen on the hotel

Ruthie Martin

Joanna and Chip Gaines starred in HGTV’s Fixer Upper from 2013 to 2017. They’ve done spinoffs of the series on Magnolia Network, which they founded.

Magnolia Network founder and Fixer Upper alum Joanna Gaines’s favorite part of every project is also the big reveal moment. “I’m a sucker for a before and after, even if it’s just hard work and grueling,” Gaines told fellow interior designer Jeremiah Brent, who recently joined the cast of Queer Eye, during an episode of the Ideas of Order podcast. “…that vision of bringing something to life and telling a deeper story behind it is just something that I love so much.”

Brent agreed that the experience of showing clients the final result is unmatched. “There’s no way to describe what it feels like to just kind of walk somebody into a new life and to show them sometimes parts of themselves and a life they didn’t even imagine for themselves,” he said.

hgtv the nate and jeremiah home project

HGTV

Jeremiah Brent and Nate Berkus have starred in TLC’s Nate & Jeremiah By Design along with the HGTV shows Nate & Jeremiah: Save My Home and The Nate & Jeremiah Home Project.

As a network founder, Gaines also finds it fulfilling to share the stories of other experts in the home and lifestyle space who are passionate about the work they do. “We get to highlight other people’s amazing stories, and cheer them on,” she said.

Brent added: “It’s just a really beautiful exercise in humanity, these shows when they’re done the right way because, at the end of the day, everybody’s just looking for connection either with people or their home or their family.”

Fixer to Fabulous star Jenny Marrs feels the same way. “I love being able to share the stories of the families we work with,” she tells House Beautiful. “I always say a beautiful home should be a reflection of the people who live there, and I love being able to share that concept lived out through the show.”

mina starsiak hawk, host of hgtv's good bones risky business poses for a portrait

HGTV

Mina Starsiak Hawk starred in HGTV’s Good Bones from 2016 to 2023.

The opportunity to get creative while quickly turning around a project is what Good Bones alum Mina Starsiak Hawk loves about renovating homes on TV. “The thing I love the most is the challenge to always be creative and fresh and new because people watching the show want to feel inspired and excited, not bored by the same renovation every episode,” she tells House Beautiful. “I also really like the design install portion for TV. MJ [Coyle] and I thrive under pressure and really enjoy working to make a whole house come together in a week or less.”

The Challenges of Design Projects for TV

jenny and dave marrs

Courtesy of HGTV

Jenny and Dave Marrs star in HGTV’s Fixer to Fabulous, which premiered in 2019.

Throughout all TV production, timeline limits tend to be a common challenge. But how those affect certain home design shows varies. In El Moussa’s more than a decade of experience flipping homes on TV, he’s learned that production schedules “can sometimes slow your projects down a little bit.” But since he’s been doing it for so long now, production doesn’t slow down his work as much as it used to.

Gaines has also experienced slowdowns, specifically in construction, because of TV production. On the Ideas of Order podcast, she added that during the first couple of years working on Fixer Upper with her husband Chip, the duo was still trying to figure out their business. She explained: “When you have your own business, sometimes it’s a 24-hour thing. It just never shuts off. And then you put production into that. It’s just a complicated mix because it’s just hard to do both really well.”

Others point to the extreme difficulty of working within short timelines. “When we renovate a home in real life, it could take a year or more,” Marrs says. “When we renovate a home for TV, we typically only have anywhere from six to eight weeks.”

Naturally, completing a project that quickly involves a lot of preplanning. “All materials are ordered in advance and when plans change, we have to make changes quickly,” she adds. “It requires a lot of ‘putting out fires’ on a daily basis.”

jenn todryk in a kitchen

Lindsey Carpenter Photography

Jenn Todyrk stars in HGTV’s No Demo Reno, which premiered in 2021.

Todryk agrees that the hardest part of making over homes on TV is the tight timeline. “It has to be done quickly, which is a huge perk for the client,” she says. “We have a construction schedule that really can’t be strayed from due to production.”

While demanding, the strict deadlines mean clients benefit from quick home transformations. “It really holds the general contractors and their crews accountable,” Todryk says. “In projects that aren’t being televised, general contractors can postpone or delay things for different reasons. But with TV, that just really isn’t an option.”


It requires a lot of ‘putting out fires’ on a daily basis.

—Jenny Marrs


The production timeline adds another layer of pressure to what designers typically handle, which includes their own timeline, the contractor’s timeline, and the budget. “Time is money in every business and particularly in production,” Starsiak Hawk says. “So there is huge pressure to get the job wrapped up on time for the show, which often is the real deadline we’re working off of, not necessarily our own internal deadlines.”

The pressure goes beyond the production timeline. Todryk notes another challenge is “the pressure of not only hoping the client likes what I’ve done design-wise but also knowing that the entire world now also gets to weigh in on whether my designs were ‘good’ or not,” she says. “It definitely opens you up to a lot of opinions.”

From the fun moments to the tough obstacles, the best and hardest parts of designing a home on TV are a necessary part of the process. Starsiak Hawk adds, “A lot of the things I love are also the things that are challenging.”


Love knowing what your favorite stars are up to? Same. Let’s keep up with them together.


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