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Interior Design blog

How You Can Watch HGTV like a Designer

by Suzanne M. Harvey


Yes I’ll admit it. I am an interior designer and I watch HGTV. And if I am honest I can get super judgy sitting on my couch.  I have been heard saying “I would never do that” or “that is awful! Who picked that”. There are also designs that I love and things that I want to try for my own clients. And I love seeing homes transformed that make their lives even better. I also understand that my clients are watching HGTV. And it’s my job to educate and inform them. So here are a few of my tips for how you can watch HGTV like a designer.

#1 Remember this project didn’t get done in the half hour time slot (or even in a few days)

These projects you see on TV takes weeks or months of planning,  coordinating contractors before they even start. Then the actual work gets done by a hug crew of trades working round the clock. So don’t get frustrated when your real life project takes longer than expected. 


#2 Know that the beautiful furniture and staging doesn’t stay…unless you buy it.  

The finished spaces on TV have all been staged by professionals. They look amazing and make you want to run out and buy ALL THE THINGS! You may be shocked to find out that all those pretty pieces are removed as soon as shooting is complete. Unless the homeowners pay for it. That is not included in the budget. While they get the most gorgeous new living room space they may be enjoying it from their college couch when the cameras are all gone.

#3 The ‘TV’ designer will use products that they get paid to use

While I don’t believe anyone in our industry would ever promote a bad product they will use the ones that benefit them. So when the designer suggests quartz countertops it is not that they are any better than granite or perform better. It is simply that they get paid to use the quartz product. 

#4 In real life you will go over budget and you will have to cut something 


This might be the one thing that makes me the most crazy about TV design. You will find unexpected costs that can wreak havoc on your budget. But it is so easy to just save money somewhere else to make it up. It sets unrealistic expectations to think it always turns out ok. So when you are watching just know that sometimes things get cut from a project because of these surprises.  

#5 Relax and Enjoy

Designs shows are supposed to be fun. After all it’s just TV and not reality. Take the good ideas and leave the rest. If you see a tile you love try it. If they use an appliance that you have dreaming of…check it out. And if you get stuck in real life hire a designer to help you!


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