Crying at a basic-cable home-makeover show is an American rite of passage. Viewers are served a wholesome-yet-struggling family having their dreams come true on a silver platter. Who wouldn’t have some emotions around that?
Over the past couple decades, these shows have captivated us. But one thing we don’t know is what happens to the families after the show airs. Is life as magical as the show made it out to be? Or are these families back where they started?
It’s a question Reddit user akumamatata8080 posed in the r/AskReddit subreddit. Apparently, there are more people with home makeover experiences than you’d think, with the post receiving more than 2,000 comments.
Here are 20 behind-the-scenes responses.
1. No… grout?
Plumbing and remodeling company I work for did plumbing for an HGTV show about 10 years ago. We did the hook ups for the new laundry room. The homeowners picked some fancy Moroccan tile for the floors at some upscale NYC boutique and the host of the show decided it would look better without grout…which went about as well as you’d expect.
Filming wrapped, and we were called back out a few weeks later to replace the fancy tile that immediately chipped and became dangerous with some boring tile. Had to sign NDAs, etc.
2. Did not hold up
My family was on a home renovation show when I was a kid, in the late 90s early 2000s. I think it was Changing Rooms or possibly another show by the same cast and producers. It was one of those shows where they do 3 rooms in the house and mine was one of the rooms they decorated. It looked so pretty, they decorated it to look like a fairy woodland with huge tree murals on the walls and a nights sky of stars hanging from the ceiling. But it held up really badly, all the murals on the wall peeled off and it looked bad pretty quickly. I had fun shooting the show though and it was a cool story to tell my friends at school.
3. Staples and tape
Friends were on a show a few years ago. It was super intense 3 weeks of filming and the redesign looked great on camera. In reality it was literally things stuck together with staples and tape. After the show my friend took 2 weeks off work to rebuild everything properly.
4. Back to where they started
It’s not a house, but a local place was on Bar Rescue a few years back. Overhauled the entire interior. I haven’t seen the episode of the actual show but the bar has softball fields at it. I went up and played softball during one their test runs. They renamed the place Boulder Lodge. About 9 months later they went back to the old name but kept most of the interior designs and food/menu. It’s still running and largely seems better than it was before the rescue.
5. Back to where they started Pt. 2
My sister’s master bedroom got a makeover on a “surprise your spouse” show. The designer was going for an “Arabian nights” romantic vibe but it ended up pretty weird looking with all the closets hidden behind yards of draped fabric. They took it all down and painted the room a neutral color within months. They also took the ceiling fan out and replaced it with a giant tree branch wired up with twinkling lights. Not too long afterwards half the lights went out and it was too hot in the room without the fan, so that got put back as well. On the bright side it didn’t cost them anything and was a fun experience, and they got a couple of new furniture pieces out of it but in the end they didn’t keep any of it the same.
6. A contestant couldn’t afford their own house
I work for one of the construction companies that was contracted to build the new house on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”. This was like 10+ years ago when the show was at the height of its popularity. Anyways, it was a huge nice house built for a widowed mother with several kids (father had recently died, hence why she was on the show…). Even though the house was “given” to her, she couldn’t afford it after a year or so (property tax, electricity, water, upkeep, etc…) and put it on the market. Simply owning a home of that size is very expensive and she couldn’t afford it.
7. No complaints over here
I was on Listed Sisters on HGTV about 3 years ago on Season 2. It’s been great. The quality of work held up and it is still pretty stylish. I moved so I Airbnb the house now and the HGTV aspect seems to sell it well. Nothing bad to say at all. HGTV chipped in for some repairs as well since my ceiling fell in during the reno.
8. Took out the charm
Restaurant impossible had a local restaurant/bar on there several years back. Originally, it was all dark wood with stained glass windows in the bar and big comfy chairs. They came in and painted everything white. The chairs are now cheap with no cushion. They took all the charm out of the place to make it look like all the cookie cutter new places.
9. This experience sounds hopeful
I volunteered on a site that was renovated by the show “School Pride” (which lasted one season). This show went into run-down public schools and renovated some of their spaces. Noble work, but the condition of the schools was shameful–should never have gotten that way in the first place.
For the project I helped with, they brought in a bunch of IKEA furniture for a student lounge. It looked cool and I am sure it helped their budget go farther, but I wasn’t sure if the stuff they chose would hold up real well to a bunch of high school students using it.
I have not been back to know how the school has fared since the renovation; I will be thrilled if someone shows up here from there, but any of the students that would have been there when it was new would have graduated by now.
10. Too unpractical
A family member of mine was on a DIY show called Turf Wars. They basically come in and remodel your and a neighbors backyard and then have a “vote” to see who wins the remodel. The show itself was pretty clear cut, they would come in and give a bunch of orders, take some “candid” shots of work being done and then hang around letting the owner and contracting crew do the work. The hosts were pretty friendly but just kind of gave orders. The voting though was kind of a joke. They had people from the neighborhood come and check out the backyards at different times and one of the yards was inspected in perfect conditions to let the decor shine with the other was just quickly given a walkthrough. Both of the yards honestly looked great but the winning house (neighbor, not family member) had been in the neighborhood for a few years while my family had recently moved in so weren’t well known. The problem was the neighbor had a really large centerpiece to their backyard remodel that was a little impractical for the smallish backyard they had, and there was hardly any covered sitting areas so if the weather wasn’t great (and it’s not that great haha) it wasn’t a comfortable area to sit around and either get baked by the sun or rained on.
Less than a year later the centerpiece was removed and the pond cemented over as it was too much upkeep and their backyard fell back to just a cement block, while my family still had the whole backyard setup there as it was much more practical. They kept it until they moved out about 3-4 years later, not sure if still around but would be surprised if it was removed at all.
11. A happy ending
My parents (and me, as a baby) were on a home renovation show called Makeover Wish. You would send in a heartfelt story and they would choose you and come renovate your house for you and leave it a complete surprise for you. About 6 or 7 years before I was born (I’m 15 now), one of my mother’s kidneys were failing. She was in the hospital constantly got extremely sick, and lost vision in both her eyes. My dad, being the hero he is, decided to donate one of his kidneys. Although it’s not too rare for people to donate kidneys nowadays, back then this was a huge deal and there’s been several news paper articles and news broadcasts about their story. My parents ended up winning the Makeover Wish renovation for our house. The episode is actually on YouTube. Search “Makeover Wish: The Donor” (I have a cameo in it). Apart from the master bedroom, everything is pretty much the same and we’ve lived here ever since, and I hope to for years to come.
12. Restaurant downgrade
A local restaurant was on one of those restaurant makeover shows. The show made them take their most popular item off the menu. They took a pretty good restaurant and made it kinda bad. Before the show they were decently busy, you could get a reservation same day during the week, but weekends was pretty busy. After the hype of the show died down you could walk in and get seated even on weekends.
13. Always consider property taxes
Extreme Makeover came to my town in like 2013-14, and did a demolition and new build of a house for my family friends. Luckily, they had the means to keep the house (property taxes went WAY up). It’s still a really nice house, and a few people I know have even gotten married there. The house held up super well.
14. Not to their liking
My brothers house was on one of these shows. The light fixtures and such that were in the house were hideous and they renovated to their liking but yeah…it wasn’t their taste 🙂
15. Months, not days
I did this ~15 years ago. Condo in LA.
Can’t remember the name of the show. They were advertising on Craigslist.
The quality of the renovations and furnishings was extremely subpar. They wanted to have everything done within 48 hours.
Years later, I’ve come to understand that remodels take months, not days.
We had to eventually redo everything.
16. A decade of hate
I was building a very energy efficient house and Renovation Nation did part of an episode about it. They made us out to be heroes for building green in what was then “a terrible neighborhood” while the camera panned over to my neighbor’s house across the street. He hated me for about ten years after that.
Honestly there is not much to look at when you build that way so I think the show was probably pretty boring. We did add solar panels recently and now the house produces as much energy as it uses.
17. Ended up going under
A local family from my community was on restaurant impossible. They ended up going under right after. They would have went out of business regardless so the renovations didn’t matter. I personally knew the family but never went to the restaurant it wasn’t my type of crowd. I do know they sold the restaurant with all the renovations and its under a new name. It seems to be thriving but I haven’t been back post covid to know if its still thriving.
This is gonna get buried but my dad is a contractor and so he decided to contact hgtv to see if they would be willing to film an episode on them so he could remodel his house for less money (because they pay for some of it) they said yes and my dad made us do all the work. We knocked the walls down, we fixed the plumbing (my dad and my brothers all know these kinds of things) and then when the film crew came they literally just filmed shots of the host screwing random nothings around the house with a fancy screwdriver and then left. My dad told us all to look super surprised during the big reveal even though we had literally built the house ourselves lol. They woman host person chose some major things herself. Like they wanted to give my dad a work out room, and she decided to paint it like this bright yet somehow still dark green. Then she wanted an accent wall in our living room, and my parents hated it because it was striped pattern which made the wall look uneven. It was crazy but I have some fun videos of me destroying my childhood home with a giant sledge hammer 🙂
19. See ya!
Was on a show called the Builders on the BBC in the mid nineties. They were building an extension on the back of our house but left for two weeks unexpectedly half way through construction. We couldn’t get in touch with the builders and the production crew were very cagey when we asked whether they knew where they were. Found out a few months later when the show aired that they had all buggered off to Tenerife together for a holiday without telling us. We hadn’t finished paying them by that point because they still had a few tiny bits and pieces to finish, the sort of things we could do ourselves if needs be but which they’d agreed to complete before we payed them the final payment. Long story short, we complained and told them not to come back and ended up getting a 1/3rd off the price we’d expected to pay for the extension.
20. A former intern spills
I interned for Extreme Makeover:Home Edition in the early 2000s. Yes, their taxes go through the roof. Tons of the families on it end up selling everything that was put in the house (computers, appliances, etc) to help pay the property taxes.
I worked on 2 houses on set, then they moved to other parts of CA and wouldn’t send a free intern there. The first one was in South Central. As we were putting out toys for the kids, someone mentioned that at the last house they did in south central, everything like what we were putting out was stolen almost immediately. The dad of that family also lost his job because of the mandatory vacation to Disneyland. He tried to work something out with both the production company and his job, but neither would budge. If they wanted the house makeover, he had to leave with his family do the show could get fun family vacation shots.
The other house was in a city about 2 hours outside of LA. The new house was HUGE (the family did have a lot of kids), and took up most of the lot. I can’t even imagine how much their taxes went up. A local band turned famous donated a bunch of merch to the kids, but they couldn’t show any of it on air because it didn’t benefit ABC, Disney or Sears. So every time a kid found something band related, “Oooooh [band] tickets!” they couldn’t use the footage. Wasn’t much to reveal after that. Oh, and one of the kids’ shared bedrooms was AWFUL. It was something like a country western/weird jungle split. Plus the show gave them an indoor basketball court, but some of the kids still had to share rooms, which did not make sense to me. The bedrooms all looked pretty cheaply done. I can’t imagine they held up.
It was an interesting experience. Lots of hidden downsides to those houses. But they really do everything in a week. And some of the designers were truly nice and wanted to help people.
You can view the entire post here.