5 Things That Home Design Shows Don't Always Tell You

BY: Christina Hansen


Woman relaxedIt's no mystery why we're obsessed with home design and renovations – just take a look at the shows we watch. If our TVs aren't set to HGTV or TLC, then it's the DIY Network. There's something inspiring about seeing rooms, and even entire homes, transformed with a little creativity and the right materials. But amid all the magical transformations, it's important to remember that since it is TV, there are often behind-the-scenes details that don't make it into the shows' 30 minute time slots.

Curious to know what you've been missing? CableOrganizer.com fills in the blanks with 5 basic makeover principles that home design shows don't always tell you.


  1. It's okay to use what you have.

    Cmon, admit it: one of your favorite aspects of HGTV is that you can live vicariously through other peoples' home redesigns without having to kiss a single penny goodbye. And we totally agree: there's nothing like watching a room full of clutter, ugly carpet and mismatched furniture be transformed into a scene from Pottery Barn or Ethan Allen. There's just one catch… it isn't cheap. And that brings us to lesson #1: using what you have.

    Always remember that you don't have to start from scratch. When it comes time for your own home makeover, save yourself some financial heartbreak by repurposing things that you already own into fresh, new treasures. Is that outmoded but still-comfortable floral loveseat making you cringe? Save 70% off the cost of a new one by disguising it with a modern slipcover and a few dramatic throw pillows. Have end tables with great lines but a 1992 finish? Take advantage of the new furniture friendly, primer-free spray paints on the market – just a couple of coats, and you'll hardly recognize them.

  2. Sometimes you just need to hire a pro.

    No matter how capable you are on the home design/remodeling front, unless you're a contractor, there are just some jobs that are better (and more safely) left to the professionals. Case in point: electrical and plumbing jobs.  Wires can be improperly connected, pipes can break, and you can end up getting hurt, spending a lot of money to fix mistakes, or both. If your project involves installing new lighting or replacing bathroom fixtures, don't risk injury or expensive re-dos; hire a reputable licensed contractor, and save your energy and expertise for other important things, like painting and laminate flooring installation.

  3. Cables don't hide themselves.

    Wiring Solution before and afterIt's not always what's in a room that makes it great – sometimes it's all about what isn't there. Shag carpet. Peeling wallpaper. Neon. But what about the missing things that you can't quite put your finger on – like cables? Think about it: whenever you see a really beautiful room on TV or in a magazine, you never see cords or wiring of any kind, and that's no coincidence. Cable management is a very important and deliberate aspect of design projects, but it's one of those steps that TV hosts always forget to mention.

    Organizing and hiding cables isn't hard to do – it just takes a little consideration and the right tools. Luckily, products like surface raceway, cord covers and the Home Theater Wiring Solution make it easy to route, organize and conceal exposed wires and power cords down walls, across floors, and even behind furniture. Now you see them, now you don't.

  4. Granite countertops may be hot, but they're not necessarily green.

    If increasing the green factor of your home is a top priority, then you might want to pass up the gleaming granite countertops you're always seeing on TV in favor of a more environmentally-friendly material. Considering the fact that quarrying and transporting granite requires a considerable amount of fossil fuels, and that granite quarries themselves can have a negative impact on the ecosystems surrounding them, it just makes sense to opt for recycled materials instead.

    Worried that the greener choices will leave you with a lackluster kitchen or less in your wallet? Don't be – many are comparable to granite in both price and beauty. The emerging favorites among homeowners include cast concrete and recycled glass, plastic, ceramic tile and composites, all of which contain high levels of post-consumer recycled content that oftentimes range between 70 and 95%. For a look that's similar to granite or terrazzo, try a composite that blends recycled glass or plastic with concrete or resin.

  5. Dimmer switches can save you money now, and increase home resale value later.

    DimmersOn home design shows, the focus is almost always on gorgeous new crystal or blown glass light fixtures, and never on the switches that actually operate them. That's a little disappointing, because you should know that your choice of wall switch not only has an impact on the overall look of a room, but can also help you save energy and increase your home's appeal to potential buyers.

    Dimmer switches have been around for decades, but lately they've been getting a makeover. Older knob-style dimmers are being phased out in favor of sleek paddle and slide designs, and you can find them in an eye-popping array of colors and finishes. They look great on your wall, are easy to use, and even help to cut utility costs by letting you tone down the brightness of your lights. And since anything green is a hot commodity, energy-saving dimmers can actually increase the resale value of your home.