Reality vs Real Life

     Home remodeling websites, magazines and TV shows have been both a blessing and a curse to the remodeling industry.  They pique homeowners’ interests in updating their bathrooms, kitchens, basements, etc., and the final projects are usually beautiful.  Unfortunately, the half hour or hour TV show often doesn’t show the real-life issues presented with remodeling projects due to editing for time constraints.

     TV shows and articles are a great place to explore ideas for your project, but sometimes they are simply not realistic in your home.  Your 5’x8’ bathroom is mostly likely not going to look like the 20’x20’ master bath project you saw online or on TV.  It is a great idea for homeowners to use these as resources to present contractors with design and functionality ideas, but your contractor will scale those to fit in your available space and/or budget.

     Project completion times mentioned on TV or in articles aren’t always indicative of the entire timeline.  While it may be stated the project will be or was completed in 6 or 8 weeks, that typically does not include real-life issues faced.  Especially on TV shows, they often have people working on the project 24/7.  Real-life contractors don’t typically have that luxury. A lot of things are also done “off camera” such as time allowed for financing to be secured, design of the project, permit approvals and subsequent inspections, selection/delivery of materials (especially custom or hard-to-find items) and sub contractor scheduling.  Also not taken into account is the lead time needed for a contractor to be available to start your project.  Your real-life contractor can indicate a realistic timeline when you meet with them.

     Many of the TV shows include significant homeowner involvement in the project.  Most contractors stay away from that, and not because it means they can charge more money.  Homeowners can cause more damage or project delays by taking on some of the project’s tasks  or not completing them in a timely manner which can throw off the timeline and/or budget of the project. It may also cause product or labor warranty issues down the line.  Let the contractor do the work and have it be their responsibility.

     Rooms in magazines and on TV shows are generally “staged” to look their best for editorial reasons.  Most use rented furniture and knick-knacks when the final project is photographed or revealed – not the homeowner’s actual items.  A room can look completely different with your existing couch or coffee table.  Your real-life contractor will consider your existing lifestyle and items when designing your project.

     Enjoy exploring the web, magazines and TV shows for your project ideas, but be open to the fact that your real-life project has many aspects that are not shown in magazines or TV. 


Based in Des Plaines, the Greater Chicagoland Chapter of NARI ( is a not-for-profit trade association founded in 1987. NARI of Greater Chicagoland is committed to providing homeowners with a resource of quality, reliable, and ethical contractors and suppliers and tips and ideas for their remodeling projects.  We provide our members with ongoing educational opportunities on the technical aspects of remodeling in addition to safety, business, code and legal issues.  If you have any questions about your project or want to find a reliable, ethical contractor, please visit us online at  or call at (847) 298-6212.