Thursday, May 3, 2007

Home Improvement Show Biz

We've all seen the show...A married couple from Akron or Boise have a room in their cal-de-sac nestled tract home that they "just never got around to".
The couple is looking for a zen adult getaway with a warm sense of elegant style that can be enjoyed by family and guests and last but not least...contains storage for all the kids toys that litter the room. All of this for under a thousand dollars.
Enter Phoebe and Chet, the designer and carpenter. Phoebe is known for her offbeat sense of style & color choice and faux painting skills. Chet is known for his svelte, tanned, shirtless torso and an endearing G-Rated sense of humor. These are the trustees of the Caldesac family's zen multipurpose paradise. ..for under a thousand dollars.
Thirty minutes pass by with little tension or effort. Chet finishes off the "meditation alter/toy chest" with a couple of knock-knock jokes. A series of camera dissolves gives us the anticipated "before & after". We almost forget the incident where Phoebe burned herself with the hot glue gun in an attempt to fasten grass from the lawn to the black & white photos of the children playing with puppies and turtles that now adorn the faux marble mantel.
The reveal is a tearful reunion of the Caldesac family and their new favorite room. She "loves it!" and weeps in appreciation. He likes that the colors aren't too crazy & they left his recliner in the room. A wonderful new space for the Caldesac family done in 30 minutes and all for under a thousand dollars, $938.46 to be exact. Really?....
I watch these shows and love them as a viewer, but rarely do I actually consider them believable as a designer and carpenter. The budget & time line for these shows are laughably unrealistic. Housebuilding, cabinetry and furniture fabrication fall into the easy category of summer camp boondoggle weaving. From my experience (with both boondoggle & cabinetry) construction is a bit more of an investment. The truth about Chet is that he probably makes between $5,000 & $10,000 an episode and has a fair amount of off camera help. There are people who specialize in buying & negotiating material prices and those who assist with the actual renovation tasks (painting, cutting, nailing,sanding,etc..) And that's not considering cameramen, electrics, catering,etc..
So the show about that room that cost $948.46 and was completed in 2 days actually took months to plan and had a budget of over a hundred thousand dollars all to make an "affordable DIY project".
I love watching home improvement shows. The ideas, the personalities and the drama are the real elements-but if I'm designing a home, a shelf, or a piece of furniture, I hope no one expects Phoebe or Chet. I don't have a production staff or a home in Malibu where I can cultivate my tan and all the latest knock-knock jokes.

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