Another HGTV Show To Drive Me Nuts

I’ve briefly mentioned elsewhere my frequent exasperation when watching “House Hunters.” I’m certainly not alone: though that show is completely addictive, the people featured on it often demonstrate a disturbing amount of materialism, laziness and entitlement.

But I just discovered the HGTV show “The High-Low Project” and though the premise is fine (re-creating an expensive room for less money), the way the show implements it vexes me to the point of writing this.

A couple meets with designer Sabrina Soto in her studio and they discuss the room they want to redecorate and a bit about what style they like. TANGENT: I don’t understand why people need a seating area in the bedroom. Isn’t that what living rooms are for? All this extra crap in bedrooms is causing an insomnia epidemic. If you want to watch a movie, do that in your living room! Tangent over.

So, Sabrina has the room redone in about 4 seconds to make the couple’s “dream” bedroom. The couple goes and sees their room and practically barf all over it, it’s so fabulous. I mean, from plain, boring room with possible clearance Pottery Barn furniture to the full-on J-Lo treatment. There are lots of shiny things. It looks sort of like a hotel room, but hopefully without semen all over the bedspread and curtains, like they always discover on CSI. Anyway, then the couple has to guess how much it all cost, which always has the potential to get pretty awkward. (This is also the funniest part of another HGTV treasure, “Property Virgins.”) The people on the episode I watch guess $30, 000 for a room that turns out to cost $46,000.

Next, they discuss their ACTUAL budget, which for these people is $6,500, which seems like a lot to me, but then I don’t really have anything shiny or any extraneous pillows because I learned long ago that a million pillows might be pretty, but they are a pain in my ass and end up piled up on the floor 99% of the time.

But then! Sabrina has to recreate the room within the couple’s budget.

But! But! The room is already set up! It’s all DONE. Like, an entire crew schlepped $46,000 worth of shit into their house and primed and patched and painted the walls and moldings and put everything together and arranged it and made the bed and fluffed pillows and hung pictures and drapery rods, and plugged stuff in and put vases of flowers and picture frames on the tables.


They don’t show the crew TAKING APART the $46,000 room. All they show is Sabrina and her assistants shopping for stuff that fits within the budget, carrying around pictures of the $46,000 room to try to match every single little thing in the room for a cheaper price.

All I want to know is: where is the $46,000 worth of stuff? Did the people get to sleep in their fancy bed at all? Were they even allowed to touch anything?

Next thing you know, Sabrina and her design associates, or assistants are all out shopping to recreate the room within the new budget. They don’t make it very clear where they are shopping; no lingering shots of the outsides of stores, no voice-overs explaining why they choose where to shop.

Sabrina finds nice, soft bedding that matches the expensive stuff in her pictures and the bedding saleslady schools us on how high thread counts can really be bullshit. I totally agree with this: my favorite sheets are always less than $50, less than 500 thread count, super soft and cozy and come from Target.

After they finish shopping all sorts of ambiguous vintage stores, they’re in the couple’s front yard, refinishing a table and rewiring a chandelier.

WHAT IS THE TIME FRAME FOR THIS? These people have five children. Where are they? Isn’t it dangerous to be rewiring lamps and spray painting chandeliers? I NEED MORE INFORMATION.

This is so frustrating! Is it just me? Can’t they just show pictures? Why do they actually have to set up the people’s entire room twice? It’s exhausting! What about narrow hallways? Stuff doesn’t always fit! Sometimes doors need to be removed from their hinges, sometimes paint gets scuffed. This is MADDENING.
Or maybe it’s fake? Maybe they are creating the expensive room in a studio and only re-creating it at the house? But that’s even more upsetting because it’s so fake, like how outraged we all were when we found out “House Hunters” was fake.

They should make a whole other show that is just the crew moving a small fortune’s worth of furniture and shit into people’s rooms, putting it together, then taking it all apart and moving it out. Really. That should be a show. They should let the crew pick music they want to play while they work and just let the whole show be the crew putting the room together while singing along to whatever music they play and audibly complaining about how fucking stupid it all is.

I miss “Dear Genevieve.” That was a fun, decorating show that had an obvious time-frame to put it all together. They showed the problems and how they fixed them. And they usually showed where they sourced furniture and accessories, so it wasn’t some deep, dark secret.


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