Interior designers reveal the 6 home-makeover shows you should watch and the 3 you can skip
Insider spoke to four interior designers and asked them about the home-renovation shows they love and the ones they don’t.
Some designers called out HGTV’s “Property Brothers” and DIY Network’s “Bargain Mansions” for sometimes being unrealistic.
Experts praised the PBS show “This Old House” and the HGTV series “Boise Boys.”
Home-renovation shows are a hit with many, even those who have no plans to redesign their abode.
But with so many series out there, it can be hard to narrow down which ones to watch next.
To help you do just that, Insider spoke to interior designers about the home-renovation shows everyone should watch and the ones you might want to skip.
Here’s what they said.
“Interior Motives” is one of the best design shows from the past few decades, according to one designer.
Interior designer Taylor DeBartola told Insider that “Interior Motives” is one of “the best home-renovation and interior-design shows of the late 1990s and early 2000s.”
The show first aired on the Discovery channel in the late 1990s and it stars interior decorator Christopher Lowell.
It was later replaced by “The Christopher Lowell Show,” which DeBartola also praised.
“These shows taught folks a lot of practical and actionable things they could do to improve their homes,” DeBartola said. “People brought their design challenges and he showed us how to solve them. He empowered people and he also made the whole idea of bringing on a designer seem approachable, even practical.”
HGTV’s “Boise Boys” received praise for being entertaining and having delightful hosts.
“Boise Boys” first aired on HGTV in 2017 and it features best friends Clint Robertson and Luke Caldwell on their home-reno adventures.
Suzan Wemlinger, principal designer at Suzan J Designs, told Insider she loves the different personalities of the show’s stars and she also appreciates the realistic aspects of the series.
“They have one of the most realistic budgets for their renovations that I’ve seen on a TV show. And they also show the somewhat typical back and forth of the opposing viewpoints between the contractor and the designer,” she told Insider.
She also praised the talent of the hosts, noting that many of their completed renovations are really unique.
“This Old House” is one of the longest-running home-renovation shows for a reason.
Kevin O’Connor hosts the PBS show “This Old House,” which follows home-renovation experts Norm Abram, Tom Silva, Richard Trethewey, and Roger Cook as they overhaul an entire home from start to finish.
The show debuted in 1979 and is still on the air nearly 40 seasons later. And Iantha Carley, owner of Iantha Carley Interiors in Silver Spring, Maryland, said there’s a reason why it’s still such a hit.
“[It features] realistic timelines and budgets, and it educates its viewers on process, product, and technology. No other show comes close,” she told Insider.
“Love It or List It” was applauded for its authenticity and uniqueness.
“Love It or List It,” which currently airs on HGTV, features interior designer Hilary Farr and real-estate agent David Visentin.
The show gives homeowners the option to renovate their home or sell it, with Farr and Visentin in competition to sway the homeowners to do what they think is best.
Wemlinger gave this show props for how realistic it seems to be, especially when it comes to budget and portraying what happens when unforeseen problems come up during demolition.
“Although most of these shows are not realistic when it comes to what it really costs to renovate a home, this one addresses the fact that the homeowner’s wish list usually outweighs their budget,” she said. “They are told by Hilary [Farr] that they will have to either select which items to take off the list, or add more funds to their investment. That’s real life.”
Wemlinger also told Insider that since the show’s crew must work to accommodate the homeowner’s specific needs each time, the final design of every home shows creativity and talent and is far from cookie-cutter.
“Divine Design” is no longer in production, but it’s still one of the best home-renovation shows you can watch, according to one designer.
On HGTV’s early-aughts show “Divine Design,” host Candice Olson uses her interior-design skills to revamp dreary spaces into functional and polished ones.
And Kesha Franklin, a designer at Halden Interiors, told Insider that even though it’s no longer in production, “Divine Design” is still the best home-renovation show out there.
“It addressed the homeowners’ issues regarding space and function but despite some clear limitations and obstacles the finished product always felt like a high-end, sophisticated, and luxe experience, which home-renovation shows now lack,” she said.
“Rehab Addict” earned props for how the host makes old homes look great.
On HGTV’s “Rehab Addict,” Nicole Curtis, the show’s host and lead renovator, buys and renovates old, historic homes in the US, helping to restore some of their original charm and character.
Wemlinger said this is one of her favorite home-renovation series because Curtis makes a point to “breathe new life into the home while keeping the original character intact and make it function better.”
She also told Insider that it’s “refreshing” to see an interior-design show where some of the old charm is left behind and not “replaced with new stuff.”
On the other hand, “Property Brothers” was called out for setting unrealistic expectations for its viewers.
The W Network-turned-HGTV show stars Andrew and Jonathan Scott, who help people find homes and fix them up.
DeBartola said he enjoys watching “Property Brothers,” but the series can make life more difficult for designers, contractors, realtors, and even those looking to renovate or flip a home.
As he told Insider, the show’s hosts are likable, but he has issues with the “unrealistic expectations” they set about real estate, home renovations, and the financing of those renovations.
“They allude to unrealistically tight time frames for renovations and cost estimations pulled straight from thin air,” he said. “They misinform people with regards to how buying a ‘fixer-upper’ works because unless you’re paying with cash, finding a house $100,000 under budget doesn’t create $100,000 of cash for you to renovate with.”
“Flip or Flop Vegas” was also dubbed “unrealistic.”
“Flip or Flop Vegas” is a spin-off of HGTV’s popular “Flip or Flop” series, and it stars Bristol and Aubrey Marunde, who flip homes in “one of the fastest-paced real estate markets in the country.”
And although the show is interesting to watch, one of the biggest problems Wemlinger has with “Flip or Flop Vegas” is the inaccurate budget estimations that the hosts provide.
“The hosts, Bristol and Aubrey, walk through a house that is in total shambles and, for example, will say that the total gut of a bathroom will cost $6,000, but proceed to use higher-end finishes … and still stay within the [super] low budget,” she explained.
DIY Network’s “Bargain Mansions” was also called out for some of its more unbelievable elements.
On “Bargain Mansions,” host Tamara Day buys spacious yet neglected homes in the Kansas City, Missouri, area for less than market value and restores them while also incorporating modern features.
Wemlinger said this is one of her least favorite shows because it is unrealistic and doesn’t feature the host working with clients or a team.
“It’s rare to see anyone working on the house other than the host Tamara [Day] and sometimes her father,” she told Insider. “With no team and little actual construction mess, the show gives the impression that the process isn’t quite as disruptive to the homeowner as it actually is, and that a team isn’t necessary.”
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