Commentary

Backsplash Backlash: Home Shows Need Renovation

Maybe the Gaineses are getting out just in time.

They're Chip and Joanna Gaines, the Texas twosome who are TV's reigning king and queen of the home-makeover space, and they are ending their ultra-popular HGTV show, “Fixer Upper.”

The show's upcoming fifth season, starting November 21, will be their last, HGTV confirmed on Thursday.

On the show, the two go on a renovation journey with homeowners who are fit to be tied about the condition of their homes.

But under the cheerful guidance of Chip and Joanna, all is made right in these homes from hell -- from the farmer's sinks in every kitchen to the pendant lights over the kitchen islands.

Each show's big moment takes place near the end when Chip and Joanna give the couple their first look at their made-over home.

Drinking game, anyone? Take a sip (or a whole shot) every time a homeowner exclaims “Oh, my gosh!” over what she sees. (For some reason, “Oh, my God!” is almost never heard.)

Sound innovative? Well, once upon a time it was, but these shows in which a pair of experts fix up someone's home and then reveal it to them later are all starting to look the same. And so are the renovations they are revealing.

These HGTV shows -- “Fixer Upper,” “The Property Brothers,” “Flip or Flop” and a slew of others -- seem to have created a generation of home buyers who expect a lot more out of the homes they tour for sale than older folks when they were their age.

When I was in my 20s, I was grateful for an apartment that didn't have mice. Today's 20-somethings, however -- as seen on HGTV's other hot property “House Hunters” -- want all the bells and whistles in their first homes.

Who hasn't rolled their eyes when these young couples walk into a house for sale and complain that the place hasn't been renovated since the ’90s?

To them, any kitchen or bathroom that has not been completely replaced in the last five years is hopelessly “dated.” Any house whose kitchen lacks granite countertops or stainless-steel appliances is not to be considered. (I hate to break it to them, but many ovens and refrigerators with the stainless steel look are really clad in aluminum. It’s not really steel.)

The home shows on HGTV have added all kinds of new words and phrases to the real-estate appraisal glossary.

I guess many of these terms have been in use for a long time, but I'm still not accustomed to hearing “great room” when people mean “living room.”

And when did we all get so fancy that we now refer to bathrooms connected to master bedrooms as “en suites”? Also, I wish someone would please explain to me the concept of a “bonus room.” Is this just a room that the architects forgot to finish or something?

The point is that all the homes on the HGTV renovation and home-buying shows have begun to look alike to me, especially the interiors.

The renovations all seem the same, and have me wondering when we will begin tiring of all the kitchen backsplashes with those thin horizontal tiles, and those ungainly faux barn doors on master bathrooms – excuse me, en suites.

I have a feeling the home-renovation shows are due for a little renovation of their own. Maybe the Gaineses decided to take a breather from television at this time for this very reason.

Maybe they'll go away for a while and put their minds to some new concepts and ways of thinking. Afterwards, maybe they will come back from their hiatus with a big reveal -- something new and not so dated.

2 comments about "Backsplash Backlash: Home Shows Need Renovation".
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  1. Will Stewart from SportsWar LLC, October 20, 2017 at 11:40 a.m.

    Good stuff as usual, Adam. Although I haven't read many articles about why Chip and Joanna quit, it appears it has a lot to do with the glare of the celebrity spotlight. They seem like down to earth people, but they have become tabloid fodder (or in the parlance of the Internet, "Taboola and Outbrain clickbait fodder").  I don't like linking to HuffPost, but .... https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/chip-and-joanna-gaines-never-wanted-to-be-tabloid-fodder_us_59e79d67e4b00905bdae48c1

  2. Michael Margolies from Michael Margolies Photography & Design, October 20, 2017 at 1:19 p.m.

    Its just you Adam, those terms have been around for decades. Perhaps its regional but my parents 50 years ago referred to great rooms and by the way a living room and a great room are not the same thing. My grandfather used to design and build houses (among other things) and he have floor plans with booth living rooms and great rooms back from the 1940s.

    Builders have been including bonus rooms forever. Its not a down market term for basic homes. The upper middle class and luxury home builders have put in bonus rooms for decades. A bonus room is not a bedroom, its often larger, most of the time does not have a closet and does not fall into the traditional base requirements. Its most often used as a game room, children play room, home office, studio, or man cave. Its a bonus because its not required for typical living spaces and up to you to define its purpose.

    Living rooms are in traditional houses where there were walls and often doors that separated the dining room, kitchen, living room, and sometimes family rooms. Homes with great rooms do not have separate rooms. There is not usually a family room and most of the time the dinning area is in a corner between the kitchen and the living space. Great rooms are for open floor plans, livings rooms are for closed floor plans.

    Will is correct, they are family focused and the Gaines have a bunch of other companies. They no longer need the TV show as a vehicle to promote and grow their design, building and furniture companies. 

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