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Places We Go : Television Land

True confession. Since I started binging on home remodeling shows, I could have built a house. I've watch almost every interior design show on HULU, YouTubeTV, Amazon Prime and Netflix since March, 2020. While I love our Chip&Joanna and Ben&Erin and Shea McGee, I heartily recommend you "travel" to other countries to see worldwide design. It will truly open your eyes. Here's some of my favorites.


Dream House - China

The most dramatic show I've watched is Dream Home, filmed in China. It's amazing to see how so many people can live in such tiny, bare basic spaces (with no heat, sometimes without any windows and many with an outdoor toilet) and how a remodel can literally change lives. Every multigenerational family was warm and loving and it was so sweet to see their lives improve.

The Beijing apartment above was built on a public pathway so everyone who lives in this 1920's derelict building travels through this apartment. Besides having no privacy, it's 43 square meters (463 square feet) and houses a family of 6. Two grandparents, two parents, a 3 year old and a newborn. The architect created private sleeping areas for each couple and opened a wall to flood the space with light. A kitchen and bath were also added but the pathway remains and is still used by all the tenants.

Grand Designs - UK

Host Kevin McCloud hosts probably the most popular home design show in the UK, running for 16 seasons. There's even a monthly magazine for his program. Kevin watches a project from beginning to end (sometimes taking many years), interacting with home owner, builder and architect. He is quick with praise and then says, "wondering If it would be better to..." It almost always is. I'm addicted.

My all-time favorite episode of any design show is on Grand Design. Season 15, episode Herne Hill. Built from an old Victorian dairy in London, it is a very small 2 bed house with amazing color, even in the gardens. It's the one home I could see myself living in right now - an oasis in bustling London.

Colors of blush and grey unite the entire interior.

Room to Improve, Ireland

Archictect Demot Bannon just wants to do the right thing but sometimes he can't help himself and changes details without owner and builder approval. That gets him into trouble but he is so lovable, he's always forgiven. He is a modernist to be sure, but his room additions and remodels are crisp and friendly, always taking into account window placement to take advantage of Ireland's beautiful rural views and the best sunlight. It's fun to watch the Irish at work - they have such great senses of humor. If you haven't watched, all 12 seasons are fun eye candy.

An addition to a semi-detached Irish home.

Dermot's additions follow the sun in grey Ireland.

In another house, Dermot adds a modern kitchen/snug. His open interior spaces are breathtaking.

The House that £100K Built, UK

Finding creative ways to make spectacular homes on a real budget ($139,000 US) is the theme of this British show. In the case above, the original plan was to clad the roof and the back wing in slate. When the budget didn't allow, the owners went for a slate wannabe on the roof. But how to distinguish the back wing? Architect Piers Taylor suggested a bright yellow paint that flows from the outside and down one side of an interior hall. Combined with the lush Irish green landscape, it's gorgeous.

This £100K home was built mainly with second hand materials. Sue even used a door out of a dumpster.

The Restoration Man, UK

Architect and UK heartthrob, George Clarke has hosted a zillion UK design shows shows including The Restoration Man, The Restoration Man Best Build, The Home Show and George Clarke's Amazing Spaces. Buildings, some listed (on the national historic register) are transformed by families (many doing their first build). The UK is very strict on what can be done to historic buildings, although many look like they'd cave in a strong wind. It's good to see they preserve their national treasures but the local housing authority often seems unreasonable. The stories are inspirational and I've got a slight crush on the host, George.

Farmhouse Facelift, Canada

Have you seen Farmhouse Facelift on HULU? Brand new, this show features a brother and sister duo who have a true love for bringing century old farm houses into modern, livable spaces. They grew up on a farm in Ontario and know that way of life. Most owners seem to have inherited their farms and one episode is about a 5th generation redoing his house. It's fun to watch what happens.

All farmhouses need a mud room. Farmhouse Facelift added a brick and board floor, especially good for Ontario's snowy winters. I love Kristine's choice of bold colors in every home.

So there you have it - my favorite design shows from around the world. I hope you have time to watch one of these as I think you'll find them intriguing. And if you have a minute, I'd love to know what you watching.(Please comment below).

And . . .

I still can't get over that cement foundations are poured in the dirt, without framing, in Ireland and theUK.

The idea of a "snug." A small room, usually with a wood burner or fireplace, used just to watch TV at night.

Terms like "off the peg" (we say "off the rack").

Our regular-size refrigerator is called an "American size." In other words, very big and unnecessary.

One thing I don't understand are those little round kitchen sinks. How can you wash anything in those?

Other UK home design show I've watched and recommend :

Best Laid Plans, UK

Building Dream Homes, UK

My Dream Derelict Home, UK

Nick Knowles : Original Home Restoration, UK

Project Restoration

Salvage Hunters

YourHome Made Perfect, UK

P.S. This year we cut the cord - no more satellite TV. Instead of cable, we have YouTube TV (which replaced DishTV). Also Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu. All of these costs less than our old DishTV and far more fun.

top photo : pinterest


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