Design TV - Reality Check

"€œI watch all the HGTV, DIY and A&E shows about staging and decorating!"€  When this is one of the first things a client tells me when I meet them, I simultaneously cringe and feel relief at the same time.  I cringe because I know I will have to be the one to explain that the budgets on these programs are usually for materials, only, and in no way account for the cost of labor to make structural changes, the cost of painters, a plumber, landscapers, contractors or the stager or designer'€™s fee.  I usually have some €œ"undoing"€ to do before we can move forward.

I a€™m relieved when they tell me they like HGTV programming because they come to me ready to make change -€“ positive change.  And in the case of a staging client, they have (mostly) already accepted that they have to neutralize or update their home in order to market it to people who may not share their specific, personal decorating style.  I love it when we all agree that we will be styling/updating the home to suit a specific buyer-type we have pre-identified.  These smart sellers are the ones who do well, very well, when their home is finally ready for the market. 

As for my decorating clients - watching these programs has really helped them sort out what they like and don'€™t like.  They recount specific episodes that I can research, or we use online pin boards to collect ideas, inspiration and resources to make their vision a reality. Thanks to HGTV and the DIY channel, they can better articulate what their €œ"dream room€" vision is.  But the ultimate benefit has been that they tend to be excited, versus unnecesarily anxious, about the possible outcome. There is some sticker shock, thanks to reality design shows, but we work through it during the planning process, so there is no disappointment or budget overuns, later.

The Reality Check

Design programming exists purely for our entertainment.  Like every other television program, they are funded by commercial sponsors.  I aspire to get commercial sponsors to fund all my design projects, but that isn'€™t living in reality, is it?