Remodel or Restore

My husband and I have been watching a television program called “Property Brothers”. This program was originally produced for HGTV. That may tell you something right there. While we have found it interesting, even funny at times, I’ve also found it quite irritating and it can very quickly make my blood boil.

The premise of the show for those not familiar with it is this: A pair of twin brothers, one a realtor, one a construction guy, pick a couple that are looking for their ‘dream home’. They ask the couple what are their ‘must haves’, and the (realtor) twin proceeds to show them a home for sale that has every single thing on their list. Everything. You guessed it. The price tag is too high, usually by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Next scene you have the couple looking hang-dog and unhappy while the twin brothers convince them that all they need is to broaden their search into the realm of the ‘fixer-upper’. They show the pair several houses that are shockingly awful, in poor condition,  sometimes rather trashy too. The couple is appalled naturally—sometimes this is overplayed quite a bit—proclaiming they could never live in a house like this. Virtually all of the houses they show are vintage homes that have been mistreated and uncared for.

Fast forward and the couple narrows down their selection to two choices. Generally speaking they believe they are simply choosing the lesser of a mass of evils. When they have the two contenders, the prices are revealed, each of course under their budget, allowing for RENOVATIONS. Then the (construction) twin puts on a digital show, explaining how he can give the couple all (or most) of their

open concept image
Don’t do this to a vintage Home!

‘must haves’, including the most important thing: the ‘open concept’. (Knocking out walls, taking out beautiful period details). And bring the whole thing under—or just at—budget, with the renos.

Like I said it is sort of  entertaining. If you enjoy seeing an interesting old house being butchered and having its uniqueness brutally stripped away, cut out or painted over. An episode we just finished watching had the couple de jour being shown a modest Foursquare style home. It was typical of the Foursquare in every way. By the time they were finished, the interior looked like a 2016 condominium, right up to light fixtures and a completely exposed stair, no risers and each step carpet covered. The first floor was basically one room. No woodwork remained unpainted (what there was left of the original). The exterior still looked like a 1915-1920 Foursquare.

They were jubilant! So happy that what they had was new! That’s what they wanted, a new house. They wanted everything new, new appliances, new flooring, new tile, new light fixtures. Why didn’t the just buy a new house? Couldn’t they find something new(er) within their budget that could have been reno’d to suit them? They would have ended up with something even newer!

In another episode, the woman suggested they look at her granny’s house which was going to be sold since she had passed away. A very nice two story brick Georgian style, nice detailing, beautiful interior. I hated what they did to that house, but what really made me furious was in the kitchen. The walls and counters had original white tile with a narrow decorative black and white trim in a filigree design topped with solid black edge trim. Stunning! And they took sledge hammers to it in order to give the new home owners the ‘open concept‘ kitchen she wanted. I nearly wept. Also, at the beginning of the program the woman said absolutely NO to painting the gorgeous woodwork that was everywhere in her granny’s home. Well that didn’t last. Thankfully the staircase survived the paint, but all of the rest of the downstairs was covered in white paint.

If I sound upset—well yes, I am. I just don’t understand why in the world people do things like this to old homes. Why?? If you want all new, up to the minute lighting and engineered wood floors then for heaven’s sake, buy a new house! Leave the old ones to those of us who love them, cherish them and want desperately to save them.

Check out this contractor who specializes in restoring vintage homes – this is the way to upgrade a kitchen!


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