Friday, September 23, 2011

Another ecofrugal home show

Home-makeover shows, like the ones on HGTV, are one of my guilty pleasures. However, after a few episodes, I often find myself getting frustrated at how wasteful their approach to home design is. With a few exceptions (like my all-time favorite, Wasted Spaces), it seems like the only way they know to redo a room is to tear everything out, throw it away, and replace it with new stuff. Sometimes there's no mention at all of how much all that is costing—and even with shows like Bang for Your Buck, which is supposedly all about spending your money wisely, the families featured are often working with five- or even six-figure budgets for a single room. For most of us living in the real world, that's not merely unrealistic, it's outrageous.

So when I came across a few episodes on the A&E network site of a show called "100 Dollar Makeover," you can imagine how my ears pricked up. I watched the first episode, and it did not disappoint. This is a show where a team of three experts—a home organizer, a carpenter, and a designer—goes into a badly cluttered home and fixes the problem areas for just $100 per room. To stay within this ultra-slim budget, they use a variety of ecofrugal strategies, such as:
  • Building from scratch. The carpenter shows off his skills by designing and building a custom-made piece to fit the space for only the cost of the lumber.
  • Creative reuse. Furniture pieces that don't work in one space may find a new home and a new purpose in one of the other rooms. Not only that, but they go rummaging through the rest of the house to find other items they can use in building their custom pieces. (In the episode I watched, they scavenged medium-density fiberboard, vinyl-covered cushions that they recovered for their new seating area, and a set of twin sheets that they turned into a window treatment for the bedroom.)
  • Buying secondhand. Though they do make some items themselves, their three-day schedule doesn't allow them to construct everything from scratch, so some items get purchased from a big secondhand store (possibly a Habitat for Humanity ReStore or some local thrift shop). They even manage to talk the seller down on the price.
Another plus for this show is that all the members of the three-person team actually seem like real people—down-to-earth, humorous and occasionally a bit frazzled. Since many home shows have overly perky hosts with perfect teeth and made-for-TV personalities, who somehow manage always to sound like they're reading from a script even when they're ad-libbing, a show hosted by three regular humans is very refreshing.

The only down side: as far as I can tell, there are only three episodes on the A&E website. Maybe I can find a friend who gets A&E...
Post a Comment