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The Problem with “Reality” Design Shows for Home Sellers

The Problem with Reality Design Shows for Home Sellers

Looking to sell your home? Have you gathered some inspiration from the designs shows on HGTV? If so, proceed with caution. While you might feel ready to paint your entire home with bold colors, add eye-popping accessories, and even knock out a wall or two for good measure, it’s easy to get carried away with the DIY bug. Homeowners on these programs make the process look simple to tackle and the finished product incredible. The reality behind these shows is often much more complicated and involves a professional crew and a lot of money.

Taking some cues from great designs isn’t a bad idea but keep in mind that reality TV never really shows the full “reality” of home improvements. Agents often see sellers run into speedbumps with these design show-inspired looks:



Poor Accessorizing

A homeowner sees a gorgeous living room on TV with a black and white theme. They go out and buy lots of small accessories for the bookshelf, new throw pillows, an entry rug, and frames for their photographs that are all black and white but the whole look doesn’t come together. That’s because home staging doesn’t mean adding to your home’s décor. The first step to successful staging should be removing all personal accessories. Once you have a neutral space, you can add in accessories for decoration but the number should be limited and the size should be big enough to make an impact from across the room. Filling a room with small knickknacks has the reverse effect and will only make your home feel cluttered and lacking an underlying design style.


Cheaply Executed

When deciding to change any structural elements in your home, it pays to invest in quality work and materials. By changing out your carpet for the lowest cost laminate flooring rather than investing in a higher quality real wood flooring, you will lose the return on your investment. The same rule applies on replacing appliances, fencing material, or wall installation/removals. Cutting costs here will be abundantly clear to a potential buyer and a red flag that more work still needs to be done, leaving you missing out on a great offer because of it.


Trendy Colors

Unless you just purchased the home for yourself and plan on living there for the foreseeable future, stick with neutral paint choices. Bold or trendy colors might seem great on TV but they do not appeal to everyone and there are a lot of variables that you must take into consideration when painting a bold color in your home; what does it look like in the day light, the evening, does it match your décor, will it require touch ups, does it go with the overall color palette of the rest of the home? Let your future buyer deal with all of these questions for themselves.


No Cohesion

Homeowners get the DIY bug and are ready to tackle a bathroom or kitchen but often overlook the rest of the house. This can leave one or two stand out rooms looking disparate from the rest of the home. If you are ready to take on the project of renovating a room, make sure that the final look is in line with the overall aesthetic you have in the rest of your home. If you are going for a full gut job, make sure to address the look in the rest of the house so it doesn’t feel disjointed.


Unrealistic Expectation of Profits

Just because you invested $50,000 in repairs and renovations does not mean that your home is now worth $50,000 more than when you started. Finishes are very personal so while you may love the new countertops and cabinetry, the new owners might have plans to tear them out immediately. Reality design shows give homeowners unrealistic expectation for what their homes will be worth once they do work on their homes. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t invest time and money to repair your home before selling it, but do so with the intention of getting your home move in ready.



It’s easy to get swept up in the fantasy of reality design programs but don’t forget that there is a lot going on behind the scenes that you a viewer never see. The less glamorous parts of home design and renovation are left out of the show because it doesn’t make for good TV. But those realities will be waiting for you when the cameras aren’t

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