US News & World Report

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By Margaret Loftus

Ever wish a SWAT team of designers and contractors would descend on your house and transform your circa 1979 kitchen into a showpiece fit for Emeril? With the recent explosion of home makeover television shows, your chances of getting a complimentary redo may be better than ever. From TLC’s Broken Homes to DIY’s Grounds for Improvement to HGTV’s Rip and Renew, they are all roving the country for material.

Most makeover shows film in one region at a time and put out a casting call through local media or at home-improvement centers. For comprehensive listings, visit the individual networks’ websites.


Each program has its own criteria. HGTV’s Save My Bath looks for particularly hideous bathrooms, like the one it featured with a mural of a forest painted on one wall. But networks admit the shows are more about people than the projects. “Personality does play a huge part,” says DIY General Manager Kathleen Finch. “We don’t want someone who’s going to be shy.” A compelling story helps. Your new husband’s children are moving in, and your appliances won’t cut it anymore. Your teenager is embarrassed because her bedroom still has a Care-Bears theme. “The back story is the whole premise,” explains Save My Bath host Krista Watterworth. But even if you’ve got a bad bathroom, an outgoing demeanor, and a tale of woe, competition can be stiff; Watterworth says her show gets 30 to 50 applications a day.

A leg up. But there are ways to stand out. After hearing that DIY was scouting the Philadelphia area for Project Paradise, a backyard makeover pilot, Lisa and Charles Barrett sent them a video about their hectic lives. Two young sons, they explained, left them little time for a vacation, which meant they deserved a paradise in their own backyard. Within weeks, the Barretts learned they had been chosen for the show, and after eight days of filming, their quarteracre backyard was landscaped with a hot tub, outdoor kitchen, and fire pit. Watterworth confirms that a video can give you a leg up.

Being a good sport is essential. The Barretts both took off from their jobs to help with the landscaping and had 15 to 20 people traipsing through their house every day. Then there was the extra tax bill to foot, but it was worth it, says Lisa. “We ended up with a $125,000 backyard.”

Read more: Try for a Free Home Makeover

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