Be careful what you wish for!
I’m sure you’ve all watched shows on HGTV or DIY and, like me, you’ve probably wondered if the hosts know anything about building, if they know anything about flipping a house quick and cheap. Now here I am about to have my own show; it’s my turn, and suddenly I understand the challenges of TV land.
A Note from the Publisher:
The very first time I met Brent Hull—and it was years ago, he had this crazy dream of creating a television program. In fact, one time we toured the Gamble House together, took along a camera crew, and recorded a video for a pilot! Brent was really excited—like Christmas morning. Deep in his heart, he has always felt that he could make a difference, that if people would just listen to him, he could help folks recognize where we’ve gone wrong, help them see the difference between shoddy design and classically inspired architecture, between poor workmanship and true craftsmanship. His faith has never wavered; he continues to rail against wasting money on bigness when comfort and proportion matter most. Brent’s wish has come true. He has a television program starting
First of all, I have to confess that I have some serious anxiety as my show—Lonestar Restoration—is set to premier TONIGHT (click here for a preview)! And it’s not stage fright or opening night jitters that worry me.
I have seen behind the curtain. I’ve learned that there are a lot of competing messages and interests. The bottom line is I want to talk about craftsmanship and quality while the TV people want to make sure the show is entertaining. And you know what? I hate to admit it but they’re right. If folks aren’t entertained, then they won’t watch, they won’t listen, and they won’t learn.
I still don’t know what will be portrayed over the next 8 weeks. All the film has been shot, but the content of each program is really dependent on editing.
So as the drum roll starts—whether the show succeeds or not—I want to share with readers of TiC my four main goals for the show. At least you all will know what my intentions were.
First and most importantly, craftsmanship matters. Creating things with skill and expertise is becoming a lost art, and we have to save it. The way we built 100 years ago was much different than it is today. Simple hand skills, like the use of hand planes, knowing how to sharpen chisels and saws, how to frame a straight flat wall, etc. still have great value today. There is a movement in this country to get back to quality and artistry in our everyday lives. We see it in craft beers, coffee, clothing, and organic food. I am hoping that this show helps that spirit spill over into our industry; helps encourage a return to quality construction and fine craftsmanship.
Second, history matters. History and craftsmanship go hand in hand. History has taught me how to build. It has set the bar high. The craftsmanship and quality of historic homes encourages me to build better today. I hope that viewers are able to feel my genuine love for historic buildings. Old buildings have so much to teach us about the way we used to live. I want people to gain a new appreciation for the value of historic houses, especially compared to new McMansions.
Third, this is not a quick flip show. I want people to quit glamorizing shows that rip out all the good solid materials and replace it with stuff that won’t last, as if that is the best or only option. Demolition is not romanticized on our show. We feel that historic homes or buildings were built to be timeless and weave a tale of character, values, history and heart. This show is about restoration, about preservation, about building with care and respect.
Finally, what we build defines us; how we build matters. Using quality materials that are well-designed means that our houses will last longer. Craft and quality, I suspect, are part of the reason why Craig Flynn and Adrienne Kazarian, who operate WindsorOne, were so supportive in buying an historic house in Fort Worth, and that home is the project we restore on the show. Craig has done more than most manufacturers I know to support craftsmanship in America, and in that pursuit, he has never looked for profit. As a personal friend of mine, I know he is 110% genuine when it comes to caring about education in our industry. I bet he never sees a dime of profit from my show, but he understands the value of long-term relationships—whether with a customer, a friend, or an historic home.
I hope the folks at the History Channel succeed in making this show an entertaining success. I know I’ll be doing all I can to make that happen. Because if this show succeeds even in some small way, if we can help viewers appreciate quality instead of chasing price, if we’re able to convince future clients that the old ways were good ways, then maybe all of us will come out winners.
You’ll find more information about Lonestar Restoration, which premiers tonight on the History Channel website.