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What They Don’t Show You on HGTV: Interior Design Reality Check

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Interior design has become more well-known in mainstream society thanks in part to shows like The Property Brothers, Fixer Upper, and House Hunters.

While these shows are fun to watch (and believe me, interior designers watch these shows too!) and the end product is often impressive, the journey to complete an interior design project is far from what it is in the real world.

Today, we are discussing the three main differences between those reality TV shows we love so much and the reality of actually having a design team carry out a project for you. They are:

  1. Timeline

  2. Scope

  3. Budget

The Real Timeline of an Interior Design Project

creating a dream space takes more time than HGTV lets on

Wouldn’t it be nice to have an entire design team take over your house for 24 hours while you lounged at a hotel pool, and when you return – your new space would be ready for you?

It would be pretty incredible, but unfortunately, it isn’t practical in the real world. What these shows don’t show you is the months of preparation and work that have been completed to get to that point. And while we also work for months at a time on design projects, getting everything done in one day is not possible.

Juggling contractor schedules, trades, regular working hours, and personal lives makes it impossible to quickly carry out an entire renovation.

While we can’t get your renovation done in 24 hours, we will still be able to wow you with the results when it is complete – and we will allow you privacy while you explore your new home instead of having a camera in your face waiting for your reaction.

Our Suggestion:

We encourage clients to contact us 4-6 months before their desired start date. This gives us time to meet, define the project's scope, create a design plan and secure trades to do the work, prepare budgets, collect retainers and sign contracts.

Things to Know about Interior Design Project Scope

It is important to view your house as a whole when embarking on a renovation. While renovations can often be done in stages, it can save you time and money to have a whole house plan when you start out. 

On HGTV shows, they often leave out certain parts of the house entirely and viewers are expected to forget that they have bedrooms, bathrooms or entire floors that were not touched and, in some cases, not even usable.

Our Suggestion:

The scope is one of the main things we discuss during an Initial Design Consultation. It is the road map of work to be done.

your interior design project may have a different budget than those you see on TV

The scope of your project is dependent on many things, including but not limited to:

  1. Your Budget (Do you have $50,000 or $250,000?)

  2. Size of the home (Is your home 2000 sq ft or 7000 sq ft?)

  3. Lifestyle and Family Commitments (Do you have any major travel plans in the near future?)

  4. Time frame to complete the project (Do you have an event coming up that you want the renovation completed for?)

  5. Purpose of the renovation (Are you adding square footage? Creating more storage? Personalizing the space to your style?)

The Real Budget of an Interior Design Project

Interior design reality shows are far from realistic when it comes to budget. Here are some things to keep in mind while watching HGTV:

  1. House prices and renovation costs vary greatly from city to city and country to country. A $300,000 house in Texas could cost double or triple that in Edmonton.

  2. Many products are donated in exchange for product placement

  3. Labour is often volunteered or significantly discounted.

While we can’t promise free labour or donated products, we can ensure that our clients get access to amazing wholesale products at discounted prices.

Working with an interior designer in the real world also ensures that you will save money in the long run because of our expertise (fewer mistakes) and higher quality products (fewer replacements in the future).

Our Suggestion

We encourage our clients to come up with a rough budget prior to meeting us for an Initial Design Consultation. It can also be a good idea to look for the types of products you like to get an idea of what they may cost.

Giving you an HGTV-worthy space

While the real design process is very different from HGTV, we know that the end result is still just as magical – perhaps even more so! 

You will come home to a quiet, completely finished home that you can explore on your own. And don’t worry, we will be available to answer all your questions and walk through your new home with you after you’ve had a chance to soak it all in.

Questions about any part of this process? Ask us in the comments below for the inside scoop.

Get in touch with AMR Design

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments you may have!

Email us at or phone us at (587) 357-8959


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