Oh what a journey it’s been. In the year 2014, Taylor Swift ruled the world, despite the haters, LeBron James took his talents back to Northeast Ohio, despite the draw of South Beach, and Guardians of Galaxy ruled the boxed office, despite (or maybe because of) an 80s soundtrack of songs that weren’t even that great in the 80s. And trust us, we love songs from the 80s.
This is the time of year everybody puts together their bests and worsts, their rankings and tankings. We take 365 days and pick out a few newsworthy moments and a few pop culture experiences that really stand out. Every little niche is scrutinized. At Bellacor, our niche is home. But that’s a big niche, to be honest. Let’s delve deeper. What do you get when you mix pop culture with home and DIY? That’s right my friends, you get a little HGTV, a little DIY Network, and a whole lot of binge-watching from 2014. Programming alert: Select episodes from HGTV and DIY’s signature show are now available on Netflix for your binging pleasure.
Yes, we know there are home and home improvement shows all over, but to keep our list from becoming unwieldy (and make it home in time for the holidays), we had to make some cuts. You can’t see everything anyway. Here’s our list of the best of the best from the sister networks HGTV and DIY from 2014, in ascending order.
- Fixer Upper – Chip and Joanna Gaines (HGTV)
OK, first all, are we the only ones that get a younger Dennis Quaid vibe from Chip? Every time we see him, we picture him taking the mound in The Rookie. Anyway, this show premiered this year and we enjoy the playful banter between the married hosts. They seem to get along, as opposed to resorting to canned relationship drama some of the reality shows thrive on. The premise is to fix up nice but rundown homes in the better neighborhoods in Waco, Texas, and turn them into showstoppers. Maybe because it’s in Texas and land is plentiful, but it’s impressive the things these people can do on a fairly low budget. We especially liked the garden/greenhouse they built in the middle of one lucky couple’s home.
Chip and Joanna Gaines via HGTV.com
- The Vanilla Ice Project (DIY)
Come on, you knew we had to include this. It could have been an absolutely horrible program and we’d still pick this because it’s Vanilla Ice rehabbing houses. Let’s not lose sight of the symbolism here. This is Vanilla Ice rehabbing homes in an attempt to rehab his career. Last year he was working with the Amish. We’ll be honest and say we didn’t catch that one. The Amish connection seemed a little bit of a stretch. But Ice fixing up South Florida mansions, yes not far from “A1A Beach Front Avenue” is just too rich. Rob Van Winkle, that’s Ice’s real name in case you didn’t know, is a fairly likable fella. He’s clearly comfortable in front of the camera. The show isn’t bad. He may never sell 15 million albums again, but he can make your den look as Cool as Ice.
Vanilla Ice Project
- Property Brothers - Jonathan and Drew Scott and Flip and Flop – Tarek and Christina El Moussa
Sometimes we feel like the network should just rename itself Scott Brothers and Friends. These guys are on about 20 hours of the day. They even got a second show, Property Brothers at Home, in which they bro’d out their home in Las Vegas. But let’s get back to their main event. We like this show because it’s the ultimate bait and switch – and it gets people every time. “Look at this beautiful home. It has everything you could possibly want. Oh sorry, you can’t come close to affording that. But let us fix up a room or two for you.” Only two people as charming and affable as Drew and Scott could get away with this kind of trickery. Sometimes their constant teasing of each other wears thing, but the brotherly bond is undeniable, they do some pretty great home improvements and they seem to care more about their clients than most hosts.
Property Brothers Images via HGTV.com
On Flip or Flop, we see two realtors trying to make their way in the cold cruel world of housing flipping. Now that the housing market has, uh, flipped and is on a major upswing, the premise doesn’t quite work as well, but this couple’s dynamic makes the show very watchable. Christina always wants to get the nicest and best materials for the renovation. If it was up to Tarek, the house would be taped together and the walls would be made of cardboard. Christina usually wins these battles. Tarek exacts his revenge when it comes time to put the house back on the market. He always shoots high, while she wants to come in low. He seems to come out ahead and they usually get their price.
- House Hunters (HGTV)
This show has been on forever and it’s such a juggernaut that it’s split off in other directions with House Hunters International and House Hunters Renovation. It’s influenced shows such as Beachfront Bargain Hunt and scores of other in-the-market marvels. Since we started watching this show several years ago, we’ve read there are several tell-tale signs as to what house the couple will end up picking. But we enjoy seeing the different home styles and enjoy the little slices of the community the show takes great pains to show. We can visit Chapel Hill, Fort Collins, Nashville and many other far-flung locales without leaving the couch. We could do a list like this is 20 years and House Hunters will still be on it. Now if they’d just bring back Trading Spaces.
House Hunters in Green Bay, WI
- Rehab Addict – Nicole Curtis (DIY and HGTV)
OK, her show has filmed in an around the Twin Cities area, where Bellacor is based, so we might be a little biased. We felt her pain when the pipes burst in her home during the last frigid winter. We recognize some of those old homes and streets she works on. Still, the draw of Curtis is she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty and her show gives us an unvarnished view of a difficult process. Many of these shows make DIY look easy. If you’ve tried it yourself, you know it’s often anything but easy. Rehab Addict shows us that easy isn’t what she’s looking for. She wants it to be a difficult job, because that’s a challenge and the reward is that much greater – even if the reward isn’t always monetary.
Rehab Addict via HGTV.com
Rehab Addict is gentrification done right. It’s preservation moving forward. The show is a crossover sensation, airing on both networks. Check your local listings. Rehab Addict is our pick for the top show of the year.
By Doug Kaid – A magician of words. Follow him @dougkaid.