Pros Say ‘Love It or List It’ Is 1 of the Most Realistic HGTV Renovation Shows

Renovation reality shows on HGTV don’t typically depict the real world. The timelines are always way too quick, for one thing. It’s all enough to leave viewers expecting whole house renovations to take 2 weeks. Any designer will tell you that’s almost impossible.

HGTV mainstay Love It or List It has its fair share of deceptions. But there are a few elements that make this Canadian-based program a lot closer to reality than many other programs on the network. Here’s what Love It or List It gets right.

‘Love It or List It’ adds competition to reality renovation shows

Hilary Farr and David Visentin arrive for a TODAY show appearance in 2019
‘Love It or List It’ hosts David Visentin and Hilary Farr | Raymond Hall/GC Images

The long-running series Love It or List It pits real estate expert David Visentin against designer Hilary Farr. Visentin tries to get homeowners to find a new house while Farr redesigns their current property to help them fall in love with it again. At the end, show participants decide whether to love their home and stay there or sell it.

The series offers plenty of manufactured drama and exaggerated arguments, just like any reality show. However, it does score points for portraying some truths.

Designers like how the homeowners stick to budgets

Some shows make it seem like whole house renovations can be achieved without any regard for the budget. But on Love It or List It, Farr always stays within the homeowner’s budget and forces them to pick which projects to prioritize. These can change based on unexpected problems that pop up along the way.

“Although most of these shows are not realistic when it comes to what it really costs to renovate a home, this one addresses the fact that the homeowner’s wish list usually outweighs their budget,” designer Suzan Wemlinger told Insider. “They are told by Hilary [Farr] that they will have to either select which items to take off the list or add more funds to their investment. That’s real life.”

Often, homeowners are forced to increase their budgets to get what they want. And even then, they never get it all.

The designs on ‘Love It or List It’ don’t always look the same

One common complaint about HGTV makeover shows is how repetitive they all are. But that’s not the case on Love It or List It. Farr takes homeowner requests into consideration even when she disagrees with their ideas for layout and décor. That’s quite different from how some designers approach design on other HGTV favorites.

The result is a varied catalog of renovations that are closer to what an interior designer has to produce in their real job. So everyone sick of the modern farmhouse takeover on HGTV can have a small reprieve.

Problems often arise on ‘Love It or List It’

A smooth sailing renovation is almost nonexistent. Real designers appreciate Love It or List It because they highlight the inevitable issues during renovations that actual homeowners are likely to experience. Mold, structural problems, and outdated electrical are just a few of the snags likely to come up during an episode. And addressing these things properly always eats into the budget, just like it would in real life.

There is no perfect reality show. But Love It or List It combines true experiences plus entertainment to create a series that’s fun to watch and helps homeowners and prospective renovators learn a little something, too.

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