Home-design shows prove good for a gander

By Debi Neville

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

They’re hooked on HGTV, Home and Garden Television. Maybe they won’t admit it, but many of the network’s 1.1 million prime-time viewers can name every show the 14-year-old home improvement network has spawned. The popular network has given birth to numerous decorating divas and has created a huge interest in prettying up the homes we live in.

"People are coming to me more knowledgeable, more educated," said Elaine Sheffrey, owner and designer with Active Interiors of Rochester. "They know what different styles are and have a strong opinion about which one they like."

Sheffrey attributes the knowledge and desire in great part to HGTV.


"Everyone wants their home to look like something out of a magazine. Watching the various programs gives them the inspiration to do something about it," said Sheffrey.

Getting a client’s home to look like what they want or imagine presents a big challenge. For the most part, television shows have ideal situations with a substantial budget.

"Many times, a homeowner will tell me they have a limited amount to spend, like under $100. That’s a big difference, from say $2,000, like the show," she said.

Melissa Whited from Melissa Whited Interiors, agrees that the concepts gleaned from HGTV and other decorating shows are great, but they forget one important factor.

"The shows will list where the money went, but nowhere do they include labor," said Whited. "Labor is usually the biggest part of a project."

However, the programs do emphasize that hiring a designer or decorator is valuable and may be more affordable than thought. Many people want help in choosing colors, materials and architectural design.

"Many people in our area are do-it-yourself types. They will seek out a professional for direction and design advice," Whited said.

With the change in the economy, home television programming has taken a turn towards remodeling, rather than buying a home to fix up and sell, which was the original focus of most shows.


It also steers people toward repairs and decorating in order to sell a home in a more competitive market. Local Realtors have said they may ask their sellers to watch a show like "Designed to Sell" for a couple of weeks. It breaks the ice for a conversation about what they need to do to put their home on the market.

Regardless of individual taste, the home-decorating and improvement shows entice thousands of viewers. Whether you enjoy seasonal decorating tips, craft ideas or want encouragement for a complete remodel, HGTV and other networks in the same genre bridge the gap between inspiration and solution for millions of fans.

Debi Neville is a Rochester freelance writer.

What To Read Next
Get Local