The No. 1 Thing That Makes ‘Fixer Upper’ and Other HGTV Shows Look Exactly the Same

If you’re like millions of other Americans, then you’ve probably tuned into HGTV at least once this year. In fact, for the first time in history, HGTV outpaced CNN in terms of viewers at the end of 2016.

The reason for this is simple. There’s something so comforting about watching a home makeover show — everything from the dismal “before” shots to the stunning big reveal “after” follows a very specific formula. Perhaps the most appealing aspect of these design shows is how everything gets resolved in the space of 30 minutes to an hour. And even though it’s been proven that home flipping shows are mostly fake, that’s still not enough to deter the fantasy.

If you’re an HGTV fan, then you might be wondering why reveal day looks almost the same on every single home renovation show. It’s because all the shows use these same elements over and over again.

1. Gray or white walls

Shiplap in a home on HGTV's 'Fixer Upper'

It’s all about gray and white. | HGTV

There are more than 50 shades of gray, but they all have one important thing in common: They’re predictable.

White with gray undertones. Gray with white undertones. No matter how designers compose their neutral room canvas, the result is always relentlessly safe. And safe can be boring.

A House Method trend study found that white and gray were overwhelmingly the most used wall colors for all the most popular HGTV shows. These light colors are great at making small spaces look bigger and providing a backdrop for art. But other than that, the gray thing is just hopelessly overdone.

Next: Joanna Gaines made this super popular.

2. Farmhouse chic

A kitchen on HGTV's 'Fixer Upper'

We can thank Joanna Gaines for this. | HGTV

We can pin a lot of trends on Joanna Gaines directly, and the whole farmhouse chic movement is one of them.

People have been captivated by country decor for decades. But the specific shiplap-clad version that Gaines peddles is somewhat new and extremely popular.

Naturally, every episode of Fixer Upper contains some elements of that signature farmhouse chic look and feel. But beyond that one show, country style has taken over the entire network, making appearances on many other popular home renovation shows.

Next: This is the most popular furniture design shows use.

3. Midcentury modern

Fixer Upper dining room

Midcentury details are back in style. | Magnolia Market

Don Draper would be so pleased.

It’s not that every piece of furniture on home renovation shows comes directly from West Elm — it just looks like it could. House Method found that almost a quarter of all design shows studied used furniture with rounded edges, a classic detail of midcentury modern furniture.

Any show that’s not using farmhouse finds will likely adopt a contemporary style, which is where midcentury modern furniture fits best.

Next: This color is only practical on TV.

4. White on white everything


It might not be practical, but it looks good. | HGTV

Many families on renovation shows get saddled with white furniture, white duvets, white walls, and even white carpets. It’s almost like these show designers have never encountered a Nutella-covered 3-year-old.

And while many shows don’t allow homeowners to keep the furniture (at least not without paying a premium), it still seems odd that this is the only color represented on so many popular HGTV shows. White couches might be practical for adults-only homes. But if you have muddy paws or hands in your house, a darker color is a lot less stressful.

Next: This wood treatment pops up on lots of shows.

5. Cerused wood

Square wall light on brown wood paneling

The wood grain appears white. | Tods0859/iStock/Getty Images

In case you’re not familiar, cerused (or limed) wood is finished so the grain of the wood appears white, giving an overall muted appearance. It’s kind of like whitewashing, and it fits into the neutral aesthetic that design show hosts favor.

House Method put it this way: “When it comes to what TV designers have been creating with home interiors in the last five years, it boils down to these basics: a contemporary design style anchored by white walls and accented with grays, muted colors, and cerused wood.”

Next: This finish won’t likely go out of style.

6. Black-finished metals

Joanna Gaines designs a home on HGTV's 'Fixer Upper'

Black is less likely to go out of style. | HGTV

The ’90s saw a proliferation of brass fixtures. In the ’10s, pewter made a comeback while oil-rubbed bronze had a cameo. Joanna Gaines eschews them both in favor of black metal finishes.

In a way, it’s brilliant — a classic black-and-white combination is less likely to go out of style as dramatically as shiny gold. But now that everyone’s copying Fixer Upper, more and more shows are choosing black fixtures rather than the popular finish of the moment.

Next: This cheap trend is everywhere.

7. White subway tile

White cabinets in a home on HGTV's 'Fixer Upper'

It’s a safe choice. | HGTV

Whether you opt for black, gray, or white grout, white subway tile is the safest backsplash, shower, or flooring option you can choose. That’s exactly why so many shows — from Fixer Upper to Rehab Addict — are notorious for using it in every kitchen and bathroom.

Next: Here’s one of the most elegant home design show trends.

8. Marble

Rustic italian style fixer upper

It’s a timeless material. | HGTV

Marble may be expensive, but it doesn’t tend to go out of style, which is one reason designers and home renovation show hosts love it so much.

Marble makes appearances on backsplashes, counters, flooring, furniture, and more. And it blends seamlessly with the white-and-gray neutral aesthetic that’s been dominating the home design show world for the past few years.

It’s not cheap. But because you won’t get stuck replacing it in a few years, the investment may be worth it.

Read more: The 15 Most Hated Decorating Trends That Need to Die

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