The dawn of home renovation shows gave way to a brand new era on television, drastically shaping pop culture and the way we perceive home makeovers today. But where did it all begin? As we settle into our couches, remote in hand, ready to get lost in the latest redesigns, have we ever stopped to think about the pioneer that started it all? Join us as we journey back in time to unveil the inception story of home renovation shows. A genre that not only proved globally influential but also revolutionized the concept of a ‘dream home’. This blog post will rewind the clock and take you for a trip down memory lane, revealing the first-ever home renovation show on television.
The Television Landscape Pre-Home Renovation Shows
Before the rise of home renovation shows, the television landscape was predominantly filled with sitcoms, reality shows, and news broadcasts. Television, to many, was a means of escaping reality or catching up on world events.
Home enthusiasts had to resort to books, magazines, showrooms, and personal encounters to find inspiration for their projects. Expert advice or visual walkthroughs for home renovations were scarce on mainstream small screen programming.
As such, the concept of sprucing up your household décor or dramatically enhancing your home’s utility and aesthetics through television was nearly unfathomable. This all changed with the inception of the home renovation show format, which transformed perceptions and brought a new dynamic to the world of television.
This fresh approach not only supplied practical lifestyle advice but also provided engaging entertainment, capturing the interest of wide-ranging demographics.
Birth of a Genre: ‘This Old House’ (1979)
It all began when ‘This Old House’ first aired on public television in 1979, sparking a trend that would later evolve into a thriving home renovation show industry. The show’s path-breaking approach, showing real world renovation projects over multiple episodes, was a novelty that captivated audiences.
It breathed life into the homes it featured, chronicling the essence of their constructions and embarking on a storytelling journey through their makeovers. The show’s host, Bob Vila, became a household name, popularizing the concept of do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvements.
The pioneering series paved the way for later shows like ‘Fixer Upper,’ ‘Property Brothers,’ and ‘House Hunters.’ It democratised home renovations and introduced viewers to a realm of possibilities within their own abodes. To this day, ‘This Old House’ remains the child that birthed the genre.
Debating the ‘First’: Other Early Renovation Shows
While it’s widely accepted that “This Old House” was the first home renovation show, there were other early pioneers in the genre that deserve mention.
Shows like “Bob Vila’s Home Again” also played a crucial role in shaping the renovation reality TV landscape. Expanding the horizon further, we ought not to forget about “The House Doctor,” an early 2000s British show that popularized the idea of ‘house staging’ for quick sales.
Moreover, “Hometime,” a home improvement show that started in the mid-80s, introduced audiences to project-oriented renovations. By focusing on actual construction rather than just before-and-after transformations, “Hometime” added a realistic touch to the genre.
Certainly, each of these shows have contributed significantly to the evolution of home renovation television we see today.
Overview: ‘This Old House’ Show Format
‘This Old House’ revolutionized the word of home improvement television shows. Striking a perfect balance between entertainment and education, it first aired in 1979 on PBS, making it the first-ever home renovation show.
Each episode centered around renovating older homes with historical significance, often incorporating innovative techniques and modern technology. The show embraced a documentary-style format, with host Bob Vila guiding viewers through the renovation process, from design choices to final reveal.
The uniqueness of ‘This Old House’ was its emphasis on a step-by-step, meticulous guide to home improvement, along with maintaining the historical integrity of the homes. The show brought the buzz and boom into home renovation, influencing not just homeowners but paving the way for numerous spin-offs and copycat home renovation shows.
Evolving with time, it still remains a beloved and genuine representation of home renovation on television.
Influence: Impact of ‘This Old House’ on Television
‘This Old House’ was pivotal in television history. The public was introduced to the concept of ‘home makeover shows‘ through it.
Opened in 1979, it triggered a wave of interest in DIY and renovation projects. Suddenly, viewers found the courage to roll their sleeves up and jump into their own projects.
Not only it inspired homeowners to think creatively, but it also redefined TV programming. Before ‘This Old House,’ home renovation was rarely showcased on TV. As the show garnered popularity, countless similar shows followed.
Essentially, ‘This Old House’ revolutionized the television world. It showed that content not traditionally considered ‘entertaining’ could captivate audiences, thus paving the way for DIY and home renovation broadcasting. Today, these programs are a television staple.
Let’s credit where it’s due: ‘This Old House’ was the trailblazer that reformed television, transforming the way we perceive home makeovers.
Popular Segments in ‘This Old House’
This Old House introduced millions of homeowners to the joys and pitfalls of home renovation. Some of the show’s most popular segments have included ‘ask this old house’, where experts answer viewer questions about everything from plaster to plumbing.
Other fan favorites include the on-site renovations, wherein the host and crew descend upon a fixer-upper and breathe new life into it. These segments showcased the craftsmanship of the crew and educated homeowners.
Potentially the most impactful segment, however, was ‘safety first’, which promoted responsible building practices and prepared viewers for potential hazards. Each segment played a crucial role in the show’s appeal, combining entertainment, education, and the gritty realism of a major renovation project.
Legacy: Subsequent Renovation Shows Inspired by TOH
The enduring legacy of This Old House (TOH) cannot be understated. Its premiere in 1979 not only gave birth to a whole new TV genre, but it also influenced a line of subsequent home renovation shows.
Trading Spaces, Fixer Upper, and Property Brothers are just a few examples that kept the sparks of TOH alive. These successors successfully incorporated TOH’s formula of combining entertainment with education, while featuring warm personalities to guide viewers through complex renovation processes.
The revolution of TOH was not limited to the US; Ground Force and Grand Designs blurred the international boundaries by inspiring homeowners across the globe. Its valuable impact still reverberates today, with present shows continuing to map out the blueprint laid down by TOH.
In tracing the lineage of home renovation shows, TOH unquestionably stands as the bold, incandescent root that fuels the genre’s growth.
Controversies Surrounding Early Home Renovation Shows
As exciting and innovative as early television home renovation shows were, they were not without controversy.
Many critics claimed these shows gave viewers unrealistic expectations about the speed, cost, and ease of home improvements. By condensing weeks of work into a tidy 30-minute episode, the reality of renovations was glossed over.
Additionally, there were disputes over the spontaneity of the “surprise reveals,” common in these early shows. Some insiders suggested that homeowners viewed their completed renovations before the cameras rolled.
Furthermore, concerns arose over the portrayal of professionals. In most cases, these television contractors executed jobs flawlessly in record time; something real-life contractors struggled to emulate, creating a gulf between on-screen fiction and real-life experience.
These controversies, however, did little to dampen the audience’s interest and only fed the burgeoning home renovation show genre.