Last year really beat me up. I still haven’t recovered. The work is a huge slog. We’re writing at about half the usual pace. I’m really tired creatively and have to take frequent breaks. It’s a terrible thing, because normally my brain processes things and chews through the next scene of the book while I knit or wash dishes, going about my day, so when I sit down before the computer, I already know where I’m going. Now there are days when I don’t think about the book at all. And I seem to have lost my ability to tolerate sharp turns in my entertainment.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the beautiful sparkle of Bridgertons and no force – hehe – in this Galaxy or any other could’ve kept me from Mandalorian. The extent of my Star Wars geekery can’t be overestimated. I love Star Wars, especially the Galactic Republic/Sith Empire in post Great Hyperspace War. But aside from Mandalorian, I can’t seem to handle any stress. Yet I still want to veg out in front of TV with my knitting and I can only take so much of Gordon’s True Crime kick. Joe Kenda has a new show on Discovery+ about other American detectives. We are watching it. My, my.
Enter the renovation shows. Guaranteed to be uplifting and low stress. Below are my three current favorites.
Dream Home Makeover
Dream Home Makeover features Shea and Syd McGee of Studio McGee and is available on Netflix. Shea and Syd are located in Utah. They have two lovely children and they seem like a very nice family. They met in college and worked typical white collar jobs, until Shea decided to start a design firm from scratch in 2013. In 2014 Syd quit his marketing job and joined her. They worked very hard and now they are a well-earned success story. Now they have 80 employees.
This is a show you watch to see how the other half lives. The price tags are high. Even a minor remodel runs around 150K. The anchor points of the show are million dollar homes with basically unlimited design budgets. While the designs are pretty, it’s not that difficult to furnish a beautiful house when you have no financial limit.
From the design point of view, Shea is a California version of Joanna Gates. No matter what Joanna Gaines gets, she turns it into a white farm house with open shelving and shiplap. One time she announced at the start of the episode that she would be renovating a mid century modern. Midcentury modern is known for its use rich earth-tones like browns and oranges with pops of brighter color here and there. I was like, “Okay, let’s see it.” You can see it, here. Spoiler: it’s a white house with open shelving. Okay, she did keep some woodwork and she did put a bright blue sofa into it, so I am probably being too harsh.
Like Joanna, Shea turns everything white. It’s that gleaming I-have-money version of white: white marble, white walls, white overpriced furniture.
This house pretty much exemplifies the show. Her houses are the gold standard of the current affluent design trends. I saw a house just like this one in Austin not too long ago, and when we sold our house north of Austin, we had done exactly what she does. We painted everything white. That house gleamed from top to bottom and it sold in two hours. A lot of this is driven by the clientele. Clients want standard finishes. At some point in another episode, Shea made a brave decision to use a white tile with slightly uneven edges vs the usual white tile and had to convince her client to trust her.
To be fair, Shea is completely self aware. She says things like “A pop of color. Oh, I hate that so much.” Syd kids her about her white obsession at least once per episode. And her gleaming palaces do feel light and bright. I don’t know how they would wear long term – that much white would show a lot of dirt – but people who live in those houses probably have robust maid service. 🙂
It’s a fun show to watch, but I reccomend watching one episode of that and then something else, because houses begin to blend.
And now we are going to make a 180 turn to Texas, where Ashley and Michael Cordray are renovating ruins on Galveston Island. The show is presented by Diy and is available on Discovery+ and Amazon, although it’s not prime so on Amazon you have to pay per episode. Have I mentioned how much I love Discovery+?
Galveston is a barrier island that lies south of Houston and is a premier destination for the Texas beachgoers, despite gray water and muddy looking sand. It’s a fun place. Kid 2 went there with her boyfriend for a weekend one time, and they rode horses on the beach, and went jet skiing, and had an awesome time.
While McGees are working with million dollar homes, Cordrays are working with this.
Galveston is historic, meaning it’s full of old houses with nifty architectural details that are barely standing. I would bulldoze down 2/3 of what’s on that show. Sometimes they buy houses for 30K and then they restore them into these adorable beach places. The couple tries to replicate original features like built-ins and staircases while still making the houses livable and modern. And then they sell them on the open market.
If you ever wanted to know what Texans are like, this is the show. They love their town, they watch their budget, the go to the beach, they have dogs, and they have zero fear about crawling under a teetering two hundred year old house to fix the plumbing. Also, their foreman owns an adorable Chihuahua names Frankie.
Very fun show. You can see some short clips of it here.
If you know where the quote “My colors are blush and bashful” comes from, this is the show for you. It’s set in Laurel, Mississippi, a small Southern town, and it is as sweet tea southern as it can get. You can watch it on HGTV, also available on Discovery +. I think the first season might be on Hulu.
The show features Ben and Erin Napier, who are trying to revive the historic district of their small town. They pretty much succeeded at this point. The show is a huge hit, so they have done for Laurel what Gaines’ (Gaineses?) done for Waco. To some extent. Waco is still the armpit of Texas. Fight me.
Unlike the previous show, each of the houses on the show is owned by someone and the Napiers renovate with specific clients in mind. Ben does a lot of construction and woodworking. He has a woodworking shop with hilarious signs in it like, “Measure once, cuss twice.” Erin is the main force behind the actual design. Erin is extremely flexible. If the client wants bright colors, they get bright colors. If they want white and grey, they get white and grey. If the client wants a kitchen and they have only a little money to spend, they get butcherblock counter tops. If they have more money to spend, they might get quartz or granite.
The prices are low. Some houses are so old, that they can be bought for about $50K. Click here and look at the Feathered Friend video. Hehe. Renovation budgets rarely exceed $200,000, and most are less than that. Floors are restored. Walls are recycled. Furniture is often custom made by Ben. They are very careful with people’s money. This video pretty standard for the show.
They seem like very nice people, too. There is a lot of humor in the show. On the latest episode I watched, Ben got a cowboy hat somewhere and it became the running joke through the episode. He was making bad cowboy puns and Erin laughed at them.
This is probably my favorite renovation show right now. It’s warm and uplifting, but it doesn’t attempt to exalt their hosts or their lifestyle. The Napiers don’t try to hold their family up as a standard to imitate. They just want to help their neighbors find a good affordable place to live.
And that’s my guilty pleasure. 🙂 What’s yours?