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The Reality of Reality TV


I have admitted my addiction to HGTV home design shows before so you may be surprised to hear that since moving into our home almost 10 years ago, we've done almost no cosmetic work on the interior of the house.

Our home is cosy and comfortable.  Its a 1,300 square feet semi, with 600 square feet of finished basement space.  It works well for us...but it could work better.  Because of the insane cost of real estate in Toronto, its doubtful we will ever move, so utilizing every inch of space efficiently is important, especially because adding an addition really isn't an option. 

Built in 1998, some elements of the house are now starting to look dated...like the kitchen.  We've actually done a lot of work, but its mostly been functional/eco-friendly changes (new windows and doors, more efficient toilets, tankless hot water heater, etc.).

While it would be nice to have a more updated kitchen (I don't want to be those people who do nothing to their homes for 50 years until as blue haired folks shuffling around, we live in a place that looks like a museum!), our biggest concern is increasing the functionality of the home. 

The first owners put a wet bar in the basement, in what is Adam's study.  We don't use it, its a waste of space.  The basement carpet is old and gross, and since our gym is down there, Adam and I would like cushioned flooring appropriate for working out.  His study also doesn't have a proper door or wall (we don't know what the former owners were thinking!), and we would love to make it a 'real' room so it could also double as a guest bedroom).

 In the large kitchen, there is a whole empty wall which could have built ins to provide us with more storage.  Built ins in the living/dining room would also give us more storage and allow us to get rid of some of the bulkier furniture pieces.  Since I gave up on refinishing the old dining table we inherited, some new furniture is required too.

I am always trolling the HGTV website for opportunities to get a reno or makeover.  Its not that I want to be on television, its just that you are guaranteed the work will get done quickly, since it has to for the filming of the show, you are guaranteed to get great results, since its televised and they don't want mistakes publicized, and most of them will kick in additional funds to the project on top of what you put in.

So recently I discovered a new show, that I'd not seen, called The Expandables, which seemed like the perfect fit for us.  The show is all about creating more space/efficiency for people who cannot increase square footage.  I sent in an application almost immediately.

The next day I received a phone call that they wanted to 'audition' us for the show.  I was absolutely thrilled for about 2 minutes in to the conversation.  Then I realized what the reality of reality television is...

We had named a budget that they said on their website was the minimum, even though it was actually well beyond what we'd initially ended up spending.  The guy quickly told me they now believe that's not enough and asked how much more we had to spend.  Although he didn't name a number, based on his nonplussed reaction to my initial suggestion, I suspect they were looking for double our original budget at least.  Seriously? 

The other problem was that they'd done a bunch of basements for the series already, so they only wanted to do our kitchen.  I explained that we did want stuff done to the kitchen, but it didn't necessarily need to be dramatic, and he explained that for 'before' and 'after' shots on television, actually, it does.

The final problem was he told me we needed to make a decision immediately.  WTF?

While discussing it with Adam, I realized the whole thing was a terrible idea.  They wanted us to go way, way over budget, but only to make improvements to the kitchen.  We wouldn't get any work done at all on the basement.  The 'reality' is, that - and he even said this - this had nothing to do with what we really wanted or needed, but was all about creating good television.  Who needs it?  I bailed.

Instead, we are going with my sister-in-law's best friend who is a designer who works with a different HGTV show.  She has said she and her construction team can do all the improvements we want for WAY LESS THAN OUR ORIGINAL BUDGET.  Expandables, who needs 'em!

There is nothing real about reality television!

Have a happy, healthy weekend!

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