It must be said, I’m miserable about Fixer Upper being cancelled on HGTV! Johanna and Chip are two of my favourite design celebrities and even though I know that all things on TV can be contrived and conscripted, they seem to work well together and haven’t promoted their show on the premise of drama and client conflict like most design shows.
They actually have the perfect model where the client gets to come back after everything is done and they get to see a complete transformation which is where the magic before and after screen shots magically change back and forth in a Disney like flourish. These moments happened so rarely in my design career that I admit to loving the last 10 minutes of the show the most and revel in their shocked faces and tears.
A few times I was able to decorate and fully reveal to clients was during contests that we held, both were fundraisers for Big Brothers and Big Sisters where we sold tickets for room makeovers. They weren’t the six-week tear down projects that you see on TV and my crew was small but they were unbelievably fun! After the winning ticket was drawn I would visit the client and decide what room they wanted redone, I would take measurements and photos and then scuttle off to do my planning and ordering then would decide what dates we would invade their home for 3-4 days while we decorated.
It took a great deal of planning and convincing people to help or donate time and materials as I did the specs on what would be done in the rooms I had been assigned. I always had a small budget and would decide if that bought the winner furniture, flooring, window coverings or all of the above. There was a lot of favours called in from my contractor friends and the media was always on board to cover the event as it was for a worthy cause.
Once in the house I had a few days of exhausting work and very long hours. Everything had to be delivered at the right time in the right order and I had to lion tame most contracts (by that I mean bribe with coffee and donuts) as they literally worked on top of each other to get painting done, floors and lighting installed. It was a 5-ring circus and I think I would average 10 hours sleep over three days making sure each detail was perfect.
It would be nice to have TV cameras there at the end as I lovingly and serenely placed decorative items in the home like Johanna does, but I was sleep deprived and not pretty or serene in those last moments. I had just enough time to fix myself up before the homeowners walked in at their appointed time with all cameras pointed at them but the minute they walked in and I saw the tears and heard the gasps of joy my fatigue and stress melted like a snowman in July. The true shock on their faces and the looks of disbelief were worth every single second and felt just like those last moments of Fixer Upper; these have been true bright spots in my career as a designer.
Kim Wyse is a Central Alberta freelance designer. Find her on facebook at ‘Ask a Realtor/Ask a Designer’.