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Reality Realty: A pioneer in TV home improvement allays DIYers’ fears

Reality Reality | A pioneer in TV home improvement allays DIYers’ fears
Danny Lipford and daughter Chelsea Lipford Wolf support wary DIYers on their nationally syndicated TV show, “Today’s Homeowner.”
(Elizabeth M. Gelineau / Today’s Homeowner Media)

You won’t find many OMG reveals on “Today’s Homeowner,” a nationally syndicated TV and radio show, now in its 21st season. Instead of flashing high-octane personalities, go-to guy Danny Lipford and daughter Chelsea Lipford Wolf instill confidence in wary DIY homeowners.

Billed as the No. 1 syndicated home-improvement TV show in the country, Lipford’s program and extensive brand are a venerable mainstay in the genre. The reality renovation pioneer cranks out 22 episodes a year, many located in his native South.

Contractor Lipford previously served as the home-improvement expert for CBS’ “The Early Show” and the Weather Channel for more than a decade.

His current passion is building a new home for his family on the Fowl River south of Mobile, Ala. “I’m obsessed with it,” he said. “You have to be if you’re going to get the darn thing built.”

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Instead of large-scale renovations, your show focuses on weekend projects — optimal for leery DIYers.

“I just don’t know where to start” is what we hear. We pretty much insist that homeowners get in the middle of projects with us. They’re going to ask excellent questions that would pop into our audience’s minds: “Will they prime the wood? Use oil or latex paint?”

Our favorite contest you run is the “Win Danny & His Crew for a Day,” in which your team tackles a home’s infinite to-do list.

I think us coming in, in a comforting way, very much empowers people — with Chelsea certainly. “Hey, if she can do it, I’ll give it a try.” She’s a natural, just jumping into the middle of a demolition. She’s tenacious. She can get it done.

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House projects can be formidable and interminable. You’ve even said, “I should have done this years ago,” in terms of building your dream home.

Many times we’ll hear, “I’ve disliked this since we moved in,” and I ask, “How long have you been in this house?” They tell me, “Oh, 16 years.” It goes back to: “I don’t have the confidence to correct this. I don’t want to get involved in this thing and then get into trouble.”

Dream kitchens rule. But do homeowners sometimes overthink these spaces? How about a kitchen makeover that was rad, yet reasonable?

For an early 1960s ranch home, we removed an overhead cabinet that separated the kitchen from the dining area. We applied thin veneer around the [other cabinet] doors to convert them from smooth to a shaker style. We also put a granite finish on the laminate countertops and painted the cabinets. It was a grandma’s 56-year-old kitchen, and now it looks cool, edgy and modern. The total was just under $800.

What amps homeowners the most on your “Best New Products” segment?

Smart home devices — practical ones that solve problems and increase security. When you can simply plug in a module, plug a lamp into it and suddenly you’re controlling it with a phone app that costs nothing — people are flocking to that.

What’s your take on some of the unreal renovations featured on reality home-improvement shows?

The National Home Builders and the National Realtors associations have come out so strong against the non-realistic reality-type shows because they set up an expectation with the audience — also their customers. It causes a problem. We’ve got a stack of letters: “The reason you’re the only show that I watch is because I know you’re telling the truth.” We’re going to keep it real. If a mistake happens, we show the mistake.

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“Today’s Homeowner” airs Sundays on KTLA at 5 a.m. Past seasons can be viewed on TodaysHomeowner.com and Amazon Prime Video.

hotproperty@latimes.com


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