Kitchen Dreams vs. Reality: How HGTV Impacts Real-World Kitchen Design

Home improvement entertainment is booming in part because home renovations have never been more popular. A Harvard University study predicts that home remodeling expenditures will skyrocket to a record $316 billion, hurdling past last year’s $296 billion. That’s all thanks to a tight housing market and a shortage of new homes.

Meanwhile, HGTV recently set records becoming the top-rated cable channel in prime time. That’s a meteoric rise for a channel that was 16th overall just six years ago.

How does all of that affect real-life kitchen projects? For some insight, we turned to Main Line Kitchen Design president, Paul McAlary.

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He heartily agreed that the array of titles in lifestyle magazines or websites reveals an epidemic: Viewers are addicted to home improvement shows.

Modern kitchen redesigned

His own Main Line Kitchen Design website resources draw more than 1,000 views a day and, yet, he and his team hear over and over “I could do that!” After all, on television, every hiccup, from faulty plumbing to unfortunately placed support beams can be resolved, usually by a hardworking team with vision and gumption.

The HGTV Effect

With HGTV, DIY and the growing number of home improvement channels, the home improvement business is seeing the impact. On one hand, watching renovations can acquaint home owners with the design and renovation process and make them better informed. On the other hand, there is so much misinformation on many shows that problems are also created. For example, Johanna Gaines from the show Fixer Upper turned what most kitchen designers and contractors refer to as beadboard into what she and many of our customers now call ‘shiplap’.

But when learning from a TV show or YouTube, it’s important to remember that, in the end, it’s entertainment. The timelines and costs serve the story, not reality (especially in reality TV). The shows emphasize dramatic problems (They never pulled the permit! They drilled into a load-bearing wall!) that professionals would lose their licenses over.

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Main Line kitchen improvement

And the projects often span kitchens to bathrooms to backyards, with the television hosts having universal expertise.

In the real world, designers and construction crews are much more specialized. And this is something that new design shows are taking into account. For example, the producers of DIY network’s Philly Revival hosted by Rachel Street are working on an upcoming show with McAlary and Main Line Kitchen Design.

When planning your own remodel, it is also helpful to use resources like Angie’s List, the BBB, Yelp and even search engines to see the reviews of contractors and designers to help customers navigate pretty crowded waters.

And check out specialized design sites that showcase more innovative options for your specific project. Main Line Kitchen Design’s blog on kitchen remodeling that covers everything kitchen (from basic budgeting to cabinetry trends) is so authoritative that it has been selected as one of the top 5 blogs on kitchen design in the world.

For a great show, look for drama. But for a great remodel, look for real expertise and information.

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Main Line Kitchen Design
19 Bala Ave #205
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

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