Guilty Pleasure TV: “Reality” Remodels

Guilty Pleasure: HGTV's The Property Brothers and Love It or List It

I know. I know! They’re all horribly staged. Only one of the houses they look at is *actually* for sale. The hiccups — the dry rot, the not-up-to-code electrical problems, the spats between the homeowners. They film multiple reactions and choices and decide later which one will air. Usually I end up yelling at the TV.

And yet I can’t help watching.

Sometime last summer, I got hopelessly addicted to Property Brothers and Love It or List It. As the daughter of an architect and wife of an architecture intern (he gets touchy about the proper labeling — he can’t call himself an true “architect” until he finishes all his licensing exams and internship hours), I mostly laugh at the cluelessness of the homebuyers or owners. Like, seriously, you live in a 120-year-old farmhouse and you really didn’t think you’d find outdated wiring or corroded pipes?

Since they almost never film them in California (Love It or List It is based in Canada, and I’m guessing there would be serious permitting issues for some of the remodels they do on Property Brothers – my God, in one episode they put an open spiral staircase in the living room! In a house with a toddler!), I also cry over the home prices. 5-bed, 3-bath with upgraded finishes and new hardwood floors, in a great neighborhood with a double garage and huge backyard for $500K? sob

And yet I can’t help watching.

Property Brothers & Love It or List It: Before and After Samples

Mostly I just like the last five minutes or so, when they finally show the finished product and all the before-and-after photos. Please, Jonathan, show us how you turn this awful 70s bachelor pad into a cozy breakfast nook! Hilary, turn a musty, gross basement into an awesome apartment for the couple’s college-age daughter! What will you do when rat droppings rain from the kitchen cabinets? Or when there’s a live gas line in the kitchen? Will they love the adjusted plan for the mudroom, or will that be the dealbreaker that makes them move?

Honestly, I wish they’d spend more time detailing *how* they’re completing some of the projects, instead of all the fake drama and bickering between the homeowners. Because Husband and I have a dream of one day buying a fixer-upper and…fixing it up. So I love seeing them take these awful houses and transforming them into amazing, efficient, modern spaces. These shows, in part, are how I learned that I love butcher block counters, hate subway tile (why? why? I cannot understand why people like this look), and have mixed feelings about open shelving in the kitchen.

And I get a little perverse pleasure from laughing at the dumbass who can’t understand why she can’t have a brand new master bath, finished basement, open concept main floor, and remodeled playroom for the kids for only $40,000.

I’m working on a drinking game for these shows. The first rule is drink every time they say “open concept.”

Do tell: What’s your guilty pleasure? What are your feelings about butcher block counters?

photo credit: all photos from, except the Hilary/David photo which is from here



4 thoughts on “Guilty Pleasure TV: “Reality” Remodels

  1. ‘Open concept’ drinking game! You’re a genius!
    Scott from ‘income property’ says that way to much too. But that’s my fave show at the moment. No one I know has basements in Australia so the idea of converting one to an apartment is so fascinating. Who wants to live underground even if you have an ‘open concept kitchen with island, ALL new appliances and Carrara fishtail splash back’. Actually for the splash back I probably would.

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