Coming up with a fresh real-estate show concept has become difficult 18 years after “Trading Spaces” debuted.
Bravo is trying something that does mildly break the mold and sounds reasonably audacious: Atlanta couples too busy or intimidated to buy their own house have a trio of experts do all the work for them and fix it up (hopefully) to their liking.
The show title? “Buying It Blind.” The six-episode season - all shot around metro Atlanta earlier this year - debuts Friday night at 8 p.m.
There are two big reveals. First, blindfolded couples are shown the house the experts picked for them before renovation. At end of the hour, they see the finished product.
Technically, the reality isn’t quite true to its “blind” title. The couples provide plenty of feedback concerning what they need and the experts - a realtor, a construction guru and a design consultant - try their best to give the couples everything they want within an assigned budget and time limitations.
"We have to ask a lot of the right questions, said Jen Metzger, the show's builder, an Atlanta native and Lovett School graduate. "People think they know what they want but also don't know what they want. That's where a team of experts comes in."
She wasn’t surprised so many Atlantans applied to this unproven idea, sight unseen.
“Many people don’t have vision or time” to properly purchase a home, she said. “At the end, they value what we’ve given to them.”
Atlanta realtor Anna Kilinski said the show went out of its way to ensure the experience didn't just feel authentic but actually was authentic. (There have been accusations of fakery on other real estate shows of this ilk.)
"The emotions and responses are real," Kilinski said.
Indeed, in the first episode, the disgust in the face of Lithonia resident and newly married Eric Hrabowski after he is shown a dismal-looking Roswell home for the first time looked genuine.
After seeing the brown-ish exterior, he immediately dropped his blindfold to the ground and walked away.
“How we doing?” Kilinski asked, a nervous twinge in her voice.
“Not so... eh... um,” Hrabowski said, grimacing. “Very disappointed. We’re supposed to be embarking on this new chapter of our lives and all I see is darkness and oppression.”
But a paint job can do wonders for a home with plenty of potential (and inexplicably, carpet in the master bathroom). Ultimately, with an $80,000 renovation budget, the experts were able to improve the kitchen and master bath, create a man cave for Hrabowski and even design a special "diva den" for Eric's wife Jennifer.
Atlanta designer Michel Smith Boyd gave their home an extra kick of bright color and style not typically seen on many other renovation shows.
‘My signature,” he said, “is definitely layered interiors. I love the idea of treating the foundations with great stains and rugs and wall coverings and special paint colors and drapes. That’s before I get to the furniture. I don’t want it to look like a showroom as much as a place you could actually live in.”
Boyd, a Midtown resident who moved to Atlanta in 1996 and has been designing for a dozen years, said “people under-estimate the value of design and how color can affect your mood and how a space plan can affect a room’s flow. I hope I over-delivered whatever I promised.”
He has been on Bravo before, helping former "Real Housewives of Atlanta" cast member Sheree Whitfield with her home, infamously dubbed "Chateau Sheree," which took years to finish.
“We share the same trainer,” he said. “I was just excited to be on Bravo. It’s one of those aspirational-type of networks. It’s cool to be part of this family.”
“Buying it Blind,” 8 p.m. Fridays, starting November 2, 2018 on Bravo
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.