Skip to content

We Rate Kitchen Remodeling TV shows.

Reality shows can actually make our jobs as designers and renovators more difficult.

Some of their shows on kitchen renovations involve fantastic storylines, ridiculously low construction costs, and bad construction advice. I’ve watched numerous episodes of the kitchen remodeling shows below and rated them from 1 to 5 stars. Overall, the kitchen remodeling TV shows on HGTV are the least authentic and in some cases are more than just misleading. Is your favorite kitchen show on our list?

Kitchen Remodeling TV Shows are rated from 1 to 5 stars.

Flip or Flop             2 stars

Flip or Flop remodeling show

Tarek and Christina El Moussa two unsurprisingly photogenic California real estate speculators buy homes to resell. Remodeling costs on this show are ridiculously low even by Pennsylvania standards. Christina’s ‘vocal fry’ makes the show hard to watch.

This Old House                          5 Stars

This Old House Remodeling show

The show that started it all. While all the construction information is accurate the show isn’t intended to be cost effective renovation. Instead, the show has morphed over time into a showcase for new construction techniques and to give some interesting back story to remodeling and design. Because of this, I prefer the early episodes that were more about practical renovations and featured the granddaddy of the genre Bob Villa.

Rehab Addict                     2 Stars

Cover of Better Than New. Remodeling show

Nicole Curtis is an attractive former Hooters waitress with little construction or design experience beyond what she has gained from doing her show. Nichole hosts Rehab Addict a show about restoring historic homes. The show does not give any bad advice as far as I can tell. Historic homes can be so fascinating, it is a shame this show isn’t more engaging and that the designs aren’t more professional.

Property Brothers           3 Stars

Property Brothers Remodeling show

Twin brothers, Jonathan and Drew Scott and potential home buyers go through a formulaic process of pretending to select homes and designs. In reality houses and designs are all selected before the homeowners are found, and while everything about this show is staged the renovations and designs are creative and tasteful. Each episode also has unexpected problems arise that a real professional would know about in advance.

Fixer Upper                1 Star

Fixer Upper advertisement

Chip and Joanna Gaines renovate central Texas using a complete lack of realism. The show is as much a fantasy as are the walls that Chip crashes through that never have any studs in them. Finding space aliens would be easier than finding walls without framing. Watching this show if you know anything about remodeling or design is painful.

Kitchen Crashers              4 Stars

Kitchen Crashers. Kitchen remodeling show

While Alison Victoria’s show is completely staged, it doesn’t seem to be misleading. I’m guessing that Alison is only in the kitchen being renovated is when the cameras are rolling. While the design ideas are simpler and particularly inspired, they are also not bad, which is very refreshing. This show could actually be top notch with just a little more input from some real design professionals.

Hometime                             5 Stars

Hometime Great remodeling show

Dean Johnson has gone through a series of female co-hosts over the years but since 1986 the show has retained its realism and its simple straight forward explanations for how construction and renovations are done.

Kitchen Cousins        1 Star

Kitchen Cousins Kitchen Remodeling Show

HGTV’s cousins Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri are contractors that specialize in renovating kitchens. The show is accurate and is not misleading. However, these two contractors know absolutely nothing about kitchen design nor apparently do any of the show’s advisers. Nearly every kitchen they design breaks fundamental rules for well-designed kitchens.


I hope the reviews above have given everyone some food for thought. Please continue to enjoy these shows but keep in mind that they are entertainment and not reality…

…and of course…

Bon Appetit!


8 Replies to “We Rate Kitchen Remodeling TV shows.”

  1. Deborah Abernathy-Smith


    HGTV are now marketing Cabinets to Go. What do you think about their cabinets?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Deborah,
      No professional would order RTA cabinets for a project. Ordering cabinets through a dealer, even a Lowes or Home Depot, gives you professional help that everyone needs particularly people on these shows. Unfortunately, HGTV shows seldom get help from real professionals.

      When you buy RTA cabinetry, you are saving only a small amount of money and you have to put the cabinetry together yourself. You also have no outside company to process damages or warranty claims.

      1. Deborah Abernathy-Smith

        Thank you! Windy City Rehab promotes Cabinet to Go. I do not understand why, because the cabinets should be custom or semi-custom for the price the owners are paying for the renovation. HGTV Dream Home has Cabinets to go as their cabinets promotion. Cabinets to Go has an upscale line, but are they really quality?

  2. Bob

    Even the non-reno shows (like House Hunters) are wildly off in their renovation estimates. I always laugh when a potential buyer asks, “what would it cost to add a bathroom,” and the realtor says something like, “$10,000-$15,000.” To ADD a new bathroom? You’d be hard pressed to renovate an existing bathroom for $10,000 much less add a new one for under $50,000-$75,000. Gut-renovated kitchens on these shows are always, “$20,000,” which is also ridiculous except for the smallest spaces. And I won’t even get into how a 22-year old who just started his first job at a non-profit can afford an $850,000 house. It IS good for a chuckle though.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Bob,
      Everything you say is so true about pricing and plot lines. For me the most distressing part is how terrible the kitchen designs are. People watching the shows think that these kitchens are lovely because unfortunately they don’t know any better. The cabinetry on these shows is usually RTA because there is no planning and projects are organized poorly. What really drives me crazy is when these shows create style trends out of their incompetence. For example, the carpenters on the shows are only able to make box hoods because the cheap cabinet brands have no nice hoods to offer. And so these terrible box hoods become fashionable and are now requested by our customers.

  3. Jeff Grenz

    I watch these shows just for laughs.

    The budgets are usually unattainable fiction.

  4. Ross Mckibbon

    We are thinking about remodeling our six bedroom home this summer. I’m praying I can do a wonderful job.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Success in renovating a home requires the same thing as any other project. First doing the research to understand what’s involved in the project. And after researching deciding correctly what parts ot the work you are capable of doing yourself and what you will need to get professionals for. Fortunately we now have Youtube and the internet so you don’t necessarily have to go to the library. Spend at least 20% of the time it will take to do a project researching how to do it the way professionals do and planning it if you are planning on attempting the project yourself.
      Assuming you know how to do things you are not trained for is the most common mistake for amateurs and less competent professionals. Foe example most homeowners believe that they know how to paint or even wall paper. Foolishly they believe that there is little to know in these simpler renovation tasks. However there is a great deal to learn and not learning assures a very poor job. Professionals will often spend longer prepping the work area than actually painting or wallpapering.
      First find out what tools professionals use. Yes you may be doing a renovation yourself to save money, but if you aren’t using the tools needed to do the job well you will certainly fail. Tools won’t be expensive and will pay for themselves in the time you save. Learn how to repair and prep drywall, how to use a caulk gun, plaster, sand, prime, size for wallpaper. Follow the procedures laid out in detail on the videos you watch and the books or articles you read.
      For example one difference between a professionals work and an amateurs in painting is that a professional might use up to a case (12 tubes) of caulk prepping walls and trim work in an older home while an amatuer might use zero and not even own a caulk gun much less know how to use it. The difference in the finished product is staggering.
      As a kitchen designer I can assure you that designing a kitchen well is not possible without the help of an experienced and talented kitchen designer.
      Fortunately most cabinet dealers supply design help free of charge as it is incorporated into the cost of the cabinetry. Designing your kitchen yourself especially if you are an architect, engineer, real estate professional or contractor means you haven’t grasped the fundamental concept that you don’t know what you haven’t done professionally. The worst designs we see as kitchen designers ALWAYS come from these professions because they arrogantly assumed that they knew enough to design a kitchen and did little or no research. Smart professionals in these fields KNOW they need professional kitchen design help and that it is free and so collaborate with kitchen designers at the cabinet dealers they chose.
      Buying RTA cabinets or IKEA saves about 20% on cabinetry but you still must put cabinets together and you have no qualified professional kitchen designer to help you design, plan, and organize your kitchen renovation. This makes no sense but is all the rage. The best contractors, and architects would never buy RTA cabinetry so why do homeowners and less experienced pros assume this is a good idea. The answer is the IKEA effect a common delusion that effects most do-it-yourselfers.
      The fact that eminent researchers found that the majority of human beings would rate their first attempt at complex origami as better than a lifelong origami maker’s is telling. Most humans are delusional by nature. We see that in our politics, and in our every day life. The smartest person is always the person that admits they don’t know something and then does the research and gets the help they need.
      Because as humans we tend to delude ourselves, critical thinking and self evaluation are surprisingly important on any large scale renovation. IE knowing what you don’t know. I guarantee that if you are spending a great deal of time watching Fox news you are not the personality type that will embrace what you will most likely need to succeed.

Join the conversation