The Best Design Takeaways From HGTV’s Top DIY Shows

HGTV has sparked a whole DIY industry that helps people update their homes with the latest design touches. But if you don’t feel like watching hours of home renovations and potential sales, here are the essential takeaways from the network’s most popular shows.

In the age of streaming and binging on your favorite shows, HGTV has figured out programming audiences can’t get enough of. Their most popular shows are the DIY adventures of Chip and Joanna Gaines on Fixer Upper, Erin and Ben Napier from Home Town, Hilary Farr and David Visentin on Love it or List it, and of course, The Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott whose original show was so popular, HGTV gave them a second.

Outside of the shows’ pure entertainment value and eternal happy endings, there are some valuable takeaways for anyone who wants to renovate, restore or simply update their home.

Fixer Upper

Before starting their hit show, Chip and Joanna Gaines were entrepreneurs. He had been flipping houses since college and Joanna had a housewares shop, then they decided to combine their talents for your viewing pleasure. And what talents they are. Here are some of the essential takeaways from Fixer Upper:

“The budget is the client.” Joanna has said this on the show and what she means is that once you have your budget, you need to stick to it. You might have to get creative, you might not get everything you want, but if you want to actually finish the project, you must find a way to stay within your means.

Work with what you got. To keep costs down and ensure you have enough contingency to cover any unexpected construction or renovation issues that arise, work with the natural elements of your house. Simple touches like shutters, paint and window boxes can make the front of any house stand out. Natural wood is a great way to warm up a modern design.

If your house is long and narrow, instead of widening the house, choose a design that works within that space. You’re not trying to create a new home; you’re trying to improve the existing one you have.

Home Town

Erin is a graphic designer by trade and Ben is a woodworker, and together, they restore homes in Erin’s hometown of Laurel, Mississippi. They find their clients’ homes to purchase at a discount and then renovate the homes to make them functional. Before you think the Napiers have magical, innate talents, you should know that Chip and Joanna Gaines have been their mentors since HGTV greenlighted Home Town. If you love what the Napier’s do with historic homes, here are the DIY takeaways:

Incorporate historical elements into the new design. Do you want to knock down an interior wall but there’s a fireplace in it? Keep the brick chimney and fireplace and create a room flow around it. Do you have original shiplap underneath the sheetrock? Use it! No need to install something new.

Repurpose elements you’re removing. Tables, chairs and coffee tables are just some examples of furniture you can make out of the wood you’re removing.

The Property Brothers

Jonathan and Drew Scott have been working different sides of the real estate industry for years. Drew’s the agent and Jonathan the contractor and in their original show, they help people buy homes and then renovate the space so that it meets all (or most) of the client’s needs.

In their spin-off show Property Brothers, Buying and Selling, the Scotts tell clients what updates they need to make to their current home in order for it to sell for top dollar, next they try to sell that home, and then they find the clients a new home to buy. Drew and Jonathan rarely mince words when telling clients exactly what needs to be done. Here are some nuggets of wisdom to take with you.

Create long lines of sight. If you can walk in the front door and see all the way to the backyard, it will make the house feel much bigger than it would if there were walls chopping the space into separate rooms.

Modernize your fixtures. You don’t always need to do a major kitchen remodel in order for the room to feel modern. Replacing dated light fixtures, cabinet and sink hardware, and updating the appliances can make the room feel fresh.

Replace a dated backsplash with white subway tile. Subway tile is very popular with buyers right now and a white backsplash will brighten the entire room.

Give buyer’s what they want. If you’re planning to sell your house, it’s important to brush up on current design trends. Buyers are more likely to pay top dollar for a house that’s been updated to their taste.

Love it or List it

In this HGTV show, Hilary Farr is a designer who renovates the clients’ homes in hopes that they’ll stay and “love it,” and David Visentin is the real estate agent that wants to find them a better home so they’ll move and “list it.” Love it or List it does a good job of telling clients how much value the renovations have added to their house, but viewers should note that Visentin never states how he arrives at the added value number, so it should be taken with a grain of salt.

Viewers should also be aware that buyers in different markets want different things. So you can’t assume you’ll get the same return on your investment as someone did on the show, even if the remodel is identical. What you can do, is take away these general tips:

Inspection first, plans second. Always have a contractor or home inspector tour your property before you make plans. They’ll have a better idea of the problems hidden in plain sight, and they’ll be able to guide you toward which improvements are doable within your budget.

Tackle the essential updates first. If you’re embarking on a major renovation project, make sure to take up the structural elements first. Your contractor could find issues that blow a hole in your budget and if you know them early, you can put a hold on the less necessary, “like to haves” until you have more money.

HGTV has ushered in a new era of DIY remodeling and renovating. It tackles the topic from multiple directions in multiple cities and if you’re considering an update for your home, you’re sure to find something in their programming that suits you. If you don’t feel like watching hours of TV, use our Cliff’s Notes as your guide to getting started.