The 1 Thing ‘Windy City Rehab’ Always Leaves Out, According to Expert Renovators

 Most people are quite aware that not everything you see on television is accurate. For example, as much as people love watching House Hunters on HGTV, they must know that the home-buying process is much more stressful than it appears in a short half-hour segment. The same principle goes for home renovation shows, which sometimes make large-scale renovations look simple.

But it’s not just the renovation timeline that’s problematic for real renovators watching the show. In fact, several experts claim that shows like Windy City Rehab are misleading viewers and getting the details wrong. Here are the things they say aren’t real.

Alison Victoria
Alison Victoria | Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Viewers are falling in love with ‘Windy City Rehab’

For many HGTV fans, Windy City Rehab is doing a good job filling the Joanna Gaines-sized hole that opened in their hearts when Fixer Upper ended. The series follows Alison Victoria as she fixes up old homes in her hometown of Chicago. Fans appreciate her wit, her knowledge, and her desire to make everything beautiful. But not everything you see on the show Windy City Rehab depicts reality.

Architectural Digest’s trade publication AD Pro sat down with two real-life Chicago designers to discuss what’s real and what’s fiction on the popular HGTV show.

It makes designers appear more glamorous than they really are

While shows like Windy City Rehab might inspire more people to either seek out interior designers or pursue the profession themselves, the reality of an interior designer’s life is a lot less fun than it looks on television.

“It would be a very boring show if someone really showed what we did,” design expert Kristen Petro explained to AD Pro. “There are days that I’m excited that I finally get to design something or pick out tile or countertops, because the majority of my days are spent in front of the computer—filling out spreadsheets, pricing materials, and emailing clients, contractors, and vendors.”

While television makes it seem like designers spend their days ripping down walls and artfully arranging bookshelves, real-life renovation pros are much more likely to be sitting in front of a computer completing paperwork than doing that other fun stuff.

The timeline on ‘Windy City Rehab’ isn’t realistic

The most common complaint real working designers have about renovation shows is they make massive overhauls that may take months seem like they’re quick and easy.

An hour-long television show requires extensive editing and may accidentally give real homeowners unrealistic expectations about their own renovations. Plus, editing crews can crop out problems that arise during filming, which make people believe everything will always go to plan.

“The negative side is that the TV crews don’t show what goes into all of this,” Chicago-based designer Michael Del Piero said to AD Pro.

“They don’t show the frequency that things come in damaged, broken, or not as ordered. Claims have to be filled out and reordering has to happen. All people see on television is that you place an order and it just shows up—everything arrives and is loaded into the house and ready to go. I don’t think TV depicts all the decisions that pop up and require us to change course.”

More people are seeking out design professionals

But despite the complaints, the designers are ultimately glad that their profession is receiving the attention it deserves thanks to shows like Windy City Rehab. “I love that the design shows are happening, because it has allowed us to access a clientele that maybe wouldn’t have considered using an interior designer,” Del Pietro admitted.

Just don’t expect your renovation to go perfectly well if you do hire a designer!