Renovations: The difference between TV shows and real life

We all get that urge to get started on a reno after watching a dramatic, fast-paced renovation TV series – but how real is it? By Carly Flynn.

A lady was using a remote to open the TV
COLUMN Carly Flynn

I’ve got my weeknights all worked out. All locked and loaded once the kids are in bed, and they involve me on the couch not lifting a finger, save for switching between certain home and living channels on the remote.
I am addicted to renovation TV, and these shows have me perpetually hooked and itching to do more renovation myself.
Like no doubt many of you (hence your reading of this column), I am obsessed with home improvement, good design, injecting colour, and, repeat, renovating. These types of TV shows and magazines are aspirational, and inspirational; designed to motivate people like us.
If only I had a spare three or four months that I could afford to take time off life for. The allure of a potential six figure winner’s pay cheque on auction day would see me trading the couch for a bit of elbow jostling with other motivated DIYers to get to the front of the queue.
But I’m no fool. The shows that dominate my living room and fill up my MySky every night can sometimes make things appear just a tad too easy.
Well not in a day-to-day kind of way, I’m sure the contestants very quickly begrudge the on-site living conditions. I don’t want to live through a renovation where I have to do the bulk of the work myself during the dark depths of winter, with no walls or functioning bathroom, and nosey neighbours sticking their two cents in. But heck yes! I would like to be able to compete in DIY challenges in order to win money or product that helps my bottom line.
Most of all, I’d like to impose the set schedule on my own builder to save time over runs. “If that bathroom ain’t finished by Monday mate you’re a gonna!” Kicked off the renovation! And the watertight budget that HAS to be adhered to is something I’d very much like to learn to live by.
So for my most recent renovation plan, I have it all worked out. I have the plans for the new walk-in-wardrobe (note that’s top priority), the measurements for the new windows, the clever concealment ideas for more storage, the idea of demolishing a wall in one room and putting one up in another; all in the pursuit of changing the home’s function to fit the needs of a growing family.
A master bedroom with wallpaper and wooden floor
I dream of the wallpaper that will go in the master bedroom, the double basin in the ensuite, the cute little book nook and desk that will go in our daughters’ bedroom and the built-in-bed with storage underneath for countless trains, blocks and socks to go into our wee son’s room.
We’ve considered and planned the practical side of things too. These are the expensive bits, the boring bits, but they are the things that truly matter; that make the biggest improvements. The new insulation for warmth, the new double-glazed windows to block out the constant hum of passing traffic each morning and night; and the new heating system to keep the never-ending winter ills at bay.
This is all I think about in my spare time. Short of telling the bank manager, getting approval to borrow more, checking in with council, and booking the builder; it’s all sorted and all mapped out – in my head at least.
But the reality is, none of this is going to happen any time soon. Finding a builder, ordering windows, getting consent and all the other building blocks in order takes time.
Anyone that’s done any renovation knows the cost in time and money needs to be well thought through; not something you can easily rustle up in 12 short weeks.
Of course, there are a lot of things we don’t see in the aforementioned renovation shows – the boring bits, the tough bits, the disappointments, the set backs – but they do still give a kind of false sense of hope.
Of course the reality off the TV is that there are always costs over runs, and, sometimes (this can be even worse) time over runs.
In the real world there is no magic money tree or coffee cart to keep you going after 16 hours of painting white walls. Renovating is hard work. But rewarding all the same.
I just have to be reminded that these shows are designed to inspire me, and to aspire to, and that’s it. Let’s not let the realities of renovating get in the way of that.

You might be interested in reading: The importance of interior design.

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This column by Carly Flynn featured on page 024 in Issue 013 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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