Going Yard

I currently live in an apartment and while I do harbor some visions of eventually buying a home someday, I’m pretty content to live in a domicile where someone else has to take care of all the maintenance and deal with all the snow that we get in Upstate New York. I never have to worry about what to do if something goes wrong other than picking up the phone; I’m so spoiled that the great maintenance team at my complex even snowblow around our individual cars to make it easier for us to get into them. It’s hard to walk away from a deal like that. I really can’t picture myself raking leaves or dealing with furnace issues.

Because I live in a rental property, I don’t tend to pay a lot of attention to shows on HGTV or DIY. Since I don’t own my apartment, I’m loathe to put much money into it. I probably could have painted when I moved in, but I didn’t really investigate what was permitted and now that all the furniture is moved in that seems like a tremendous hassle. Home improvement and decorating shows tend to put the emphasis on the home part, so I’m not their ideal target audience. A lot of what they propose simply wouldn’t work for an apartment where I’m kind of stuck with the carpet and the blinds. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – I don’t 100% trust my eye for aesthetics anyway – and the tradeoff of not having to worry about upkeep seems worth putting up with a general home décor style that might not perfectly match my personal preferences. Their house (or apartment), their rules. My cat Pumpkin is not so willing to live under these restraints, however, as he is a one man cat wrecking crew when it comes to the window treatments. He really hates vertical blinds, apparently.

So while I may not be a regular HGTV or DIY viewer, I can clearly make an exception if someone I know is featured on one of the programs. That is exactly what happened on the show Going Yard – my dear friends Chris and Joel were selected to have a backyard makeover of their home on Cape Cod. It was fairly fitting that they were the reason that I tuned into the DIY channel, since my limited experience with home improvements has been with Chris. When he and I were in grad school together, we used to routinely go stay at his parents’ house on the Cape. While the rest of our friends would meet us on the weekend, I’d go down early with Chris for some extra R&R – I was under the impression that stood for rest and relaxation, but it wound up partially meaning renovation and remodeling. Chris often had a number of tasks around the house to complete before everyone else arrived and I was the extra set of hands to help get things done. The tasks were never overwhelmingly onerous; our biggest project was to repaint one of the bedrooms and put up a border – a project that I kind of screwed up by picking out a crazy shade of pink for the walls. It looked OK in the can, but up on the walls it was a little overwhelming. To quote Steel Magnolias, the room looked “like it’s been hosed down with Pepto Bismol.” That’s somewhat ironic since I don’t even like the color pink. We did rock that border though – we did the whole room without using anything other than my eagle eye to make sure that it was straight, which in retrospect was kind of a ballsy thing to do. So while I might not have been the most effective helper, I was glad to assist in exchange for a few extra days of lounging on the beach and the rights to claim my bedroom before everyone else arrived.

Chris and Joel know way more about home improvements, having done several larger projects on their previous home. I haven’t yet had the chance to visit their Cape house and didn’t know a ton about the makeover that occurred on the show (other than some very general info), so I was excited to see my pals on TV as well as how the project turned out. Here’s their audition video:


It turned out that I had quite the wait, as their episode was filmed in 2012 and didn’t air until last week. I was actually almost a part of the show, as they generously invited me to be a part of the friends and family reveal. Unfortunately, I was already booked to be at the Mixtape Festival and for some reason the show’s production crew wasn’t willing to rearrange their schedule so I could participate. They clearly didn’t know who they were dealing with.

As far as home makeover shows go, this particular episode was completely drama free. The host, Chris Lambton, had a clear vision for the backyard which had previously been unusable because of bugs and overgrown woodlands and executed it without any problems. The weather cooperated and there were no issues of being over budget or unhappy homeowners. His team did their thing without incident and were able to transform the deck and yard into a more hospitable environment, complete with a swinging daybed, a fountain and a dog run for their dog Blake (insider info: Chris and Joel actually have two dogs, but only one is featured on the show. Poor Riley.)

I am especially fond of fountains, so I was impressed with that addition to the backyard. To minimize the presence of insects, the team used a natural remedy and planted flowers that naturally serve as repellants. My favorite touch was that they created a sign for the back yard that had the longitude and latitude of the location where Chris and Joel were married (an awesome wedding that I was fortunate enough to attend). It really did transform the back yard; I can certainly see Chris and Joel having backyard barbeques in that space. Unlike some design shows, I didn’t think that the results were too over the top or that they failed to reflect the styles of the homeowners. Chris and Joel are great dog parents, so it was nice that the new backyard design featured a place for their pups to roam. I also call dibs on chilling on that swinging daybed; that looked pretty cool, assuming that it is actually comfortable.


Because everything went so smoothly, I can’t say that other than the fact that my friends were featured that I found this show all that exciting. I was tickled to see them both on my TV, but when it got down to the more mundane parts of actually doing the backyard makeover I lost interest until they revealed the finished product. I know some people dig this stuff, but watching people dig up a yard or distress a table just isn’t riveting television to me. Since I’m not particularly interested in home renovation, I don’t care about the steps it takes to get to the ultimate outcome. Whenever Chris and Joel were on, I was obviously rapt, but otherwise it wasn’t all that exciting. It also turns out that I probably wouldn’t have made it on TV if I had been there, since the family were barely shown and I would have had to barrel over their moms to get the best chance to be featured (something that I’m not inherently opposed to, but I probably would have shown some restraint. Probably.)

Still, it was very cool to say that I know someone who has been featured on one of these shows; I always knew that one of my friends would wind up on a reality show, but this isn’t necessarily the route that I would have expected 🙂 I look forward to checking out the remodel in person (hint, hint) and seeing what has changed in the almost two years since this was filmed. I would also like to have a more in-depth (off the record) conversation with them about the process and how they ultimately feel about the results and the experience. I didn’t really pry for details until I saw the episode, since I wanted to be surprised, but now I’d be curious to hear how much input they actually had in the overall design. On the show, it appeared that Lambton pitched an idea and went with it but I’ll be interested to hear how much off camera discussion happened before the design plan was finalized. Maybe they had to give up complete control to be on the show; I’ll have to ask to get the real skinny.

If you are more into home improvement and landscaping than I am, you might really like Going Yard. Since this is the only episode I have watched (and most likely the only episode I will ever watch), I don’t know if things always go as smoothly as they did on this particular episode. If you are interested in catching Chris and Joel’s episode, worth watching just to see my awesome friends, the episode is called Woodlands Retreat and will re-air several times over the weekend on the DIY channel. I believe it is also available on demand on some cable providers. The program didn’t cause me to suddenly get excited about home improvement, but I am happy to see a good thing happen to good people.

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