The Truth About Home Improvement TV

There is nothing more satisfying than a good before and after. The smallest reading nook makeover can give you hope that anything is possible with a little elbow grease and creativity! There are some very talented writers, producers, designers, and art directors who make those makeovers come to life, and that’s no secret. I think the industry is pretty transparent about the fact that the people talking to the camera do not do all the work. Here is the truth about home improvement TV and how it can help your pets.

The Beauties in a 10-hour Day

There is one somewhat tricky part of home improvement TV that most people don’t know about – It’s actually a mix of a live performance and a renovation. Not in the sense of things being faked but that it typically has to be condensed into a timed event. You come up with all the plans in advance, choreograph how multiple teams will execute it, and then put it all together in one perfectly timed ten-hour day that ends with you shooting the big reveal at magic hour. One minute later and the entire day’s efforts will be in the dark.

Literally Watching Paint Dry

Paint projects are particularly tricky. Nothing is more painful than having a full crew on the clock watching paint dry. Have you seen the handheld dryers used at the hardware stores to dry the dab of color on the top of a newly mixed can of paint? They kind of look like hairdryers, but they are actually hardcore time-saving machines. If, for some reason, the paint does not dry on schedule, suddenly, everyone in the crew will be armed with a dryer in each hand. It is a sight to be seen.

How it Helps Your Pets

So here is the truth about home improvement TV. When the cameras are off, and these talented writers, producers, designers, and art directors go home, they are greeted by loving pets. Like all of them. Seriously, it is mind-boggling how many fur-parents work in this industry. (I even adopted my dog Scout from a Grip on set one day.) They work long hours, so dog-walkers and doggie daycare are involved, but behind that perfectly styled couch is someone with a little cat hair on their jeans, and they are full of creative home solutions for your pets.

So here are five tips from some of the Pro’s behind your favorite home improvement TV

Doggie Doorbell

Prevent accidents in the house by creating a doggie doorbell. It will quickly alert you and your family when they need to go outside. You can purchase them online or make a DIY version using bells and a rope from a craft store. Hang the bell on the doorknob of the entrance that leads outside. Teaching the dog to use it is rather simple. Follow these instructions from the AKC. Now, training your kids to open the door for the pup is a little trickier.

Brent Graber, Graberworks, Execuitve Producer, Lifestyle Programming

(fav credit: The Big Reveal)

What the Cat Dragged In

It’s a well-known fact that in my house, cats rule. My husband is the ultimate cat lover. Looking around my living room there is currently an igloo cat bed, a cardboard scratcher house, a bottlebrush scratching post, a corrugated cat scratcher lounge bed, an ice cream truck (that one I love), a Ferrari scratcher, and a bin full of toys. And that’s just one room. 

We’re about to embark on phase two of a remodel. My husband (and Charlie the cat) are in for a bit of a shock when I selectively reduce some cat accessories. She’s onto me though – anytime I say, “She hasn’t slept in the igloo lately; we should get rid of it” bam – she’s in it the next day. “I haven’t seen her play in the cardboard house in a while” bam – she’s in it. She’s like Alexa, listening in when we think she can’t hear us.  

This remodel is going to be a little tricky – last year we did the upstairs and she had free rein of the downstairs and backyard and didn’t seem scared (in fact she loved playing in all the plastic). But this year, it’s the downstairs and I think she’s going to be traumatized. We’re planning on giving her two stations – food and a litter box upstairs for when we go up for bed (and zip her in with us), and one in the garage when we’re out there hanging out in our makeshift kitchen and living room. Time will tell.

Charlie is a furniture scratcher. Has been since a kitten and we never really broke her of it (hence the obnoxious amount of scratchers). I’ve been trying to train her so that by the time new furniture comes, she’s out of the habit. We’ve tried Feliway, double sided tape, a squirt bottle, you name it – but she does it for attention, not to actually scratch. She’s very strategic – and I can actually tell which piece of furniture it is by the sound it makes. I come downstairs and she looks at me like, “Who me? Hey, while you’re down here, can I have a treat?”

Recently, I think we finally found something that works – packing tape. No joke, simple packing tape and she hasn’t scratched since. It’s not the prettiest to have packing tape around the base of all of your fine fabric furniture, but it’s certainly better than gaping holes. We just peeled the packing tape off a week ago (be careful when you do this) and so far so good!

She’ll probably read this and start scratching again.

Cindy Bertram, Writer Bertram Ink

(fav credit: Splashabilty, Ultimate Pools)

Pet Mudroom

If you are renovating and have space, create a pet mudroom to keep messes contained. A tile basin with a handheld showerhead makes bathing a breeze. Add hooks to the walls for leashes and towels and use baskets and bins to keep pets supplies out of sight.

No plans to renovate? Convert your bathroom with a mobile grooming station. Put towels and supplies for bathing into a cart with wheels. You will have everything you need in arm’s reach. After bathing your pet, you can roll the cart into the laundry room for easy clean-up.

Dara Canada, Designer and Producer Lifestyle Content

(fav credit: Being the Fur-mom of Thomas the Cat)

Space For Cats

One overlooked architectural feature that’s a win for cat-owners is deep window sills. Cats love a sill that’s 6-12″ deep positioned at window height so they can keep an eye on what’s happening outside. Even better, this is a feature that is great for resale because deep window sills also function as drink ledges or plant shelves. One caveat — spend a little time making sure the deeper sill looks supported. Some extra trim or woodwork below the sill — even a bracket for deeper shelves — will ensure your sill doesn’t look too flimsy.

Sara Martin, Owner and Architect, Open Door Architecture

(fav credit: Architect, HGTV’s 2017 Urban Oasis)

Mind The Claw

Outdoor fabric is a great idea for pets. Avoid textures the can catch on nails or claws.

Stay away from jute/fiber rugs if pets toenails are an issue or if potty training hasn’t gone well. I think many assume an indoor/outdoor rug would be great for pets but I find that dog hair is a little too difficult to vacuum off this material.

Grace Novinger, Producer, Lifestyle Programming

(fav credit: The Original Trading Spaces)

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