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What’s it like to be on HGTV? A ‘House Hunter’ who landed in Beechview explains.

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Michelle Becker readily admits she’s obsessive about HGTV. So when she determined to purchase her first home in late 2013, she utilized not just for a mortgage but in addition for an opportunity to seem on one of many channel’s hottest exhibits, “House Hunters.”

The 22-year-old registered nurse, a Texas native, has an outgoing character and eye for design. She additionally helped her mom flip a number of homes whereas she was a highschool scholar in Hershey, Pa. She created a high-energy audition video and crossed her fingers that she would be chosen for the present, which follows potential residence consumers and their actual property brokers via three homes.

The producers stated “yes” to her seek for TV gold: an affordable fixer-upper. And it didn’t matter that the hunt was already over. Just two days after she closed on a three-story body home in Beechview, a movie crew arrived for 5 days of filming.

Four months later, her episode, “Twenty-Two Year Old Seeks Victorian Fixer-Upper in Pittsburgh” aired with a tantalizing tease: Would she chew off greater than she might chew? 

The reply would be a powerful “no.”  Her six-month renovation was so tasty that Ms. Becker was named a finalist in final yr’s Renovation Inspiration Contest, which is sponsored by Dollar Bank and judged by employees members of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Design Center. We will begin accepting on-line entries for this yr’s contest in December and the entry deadline is Jan. 29.

Ms. Becker entered the small residential challenge class (beneath $50,000) for her work on a 1926 Colonial-style home that had been minimize up into six characterless flats.  After buying it for $75,000, Ms. Becker was decided to return it to its unique format and to keep inside her finances by doing a lot of the grunt work herself.

Together with contractor John Hancock, she gave the outside a facelift and up to date the plumbing and electrical techniques. They additionally refinished the unique oak flooring, pulled down a dropped ceiling, eliminated partitions, put in a brand new farmhouse kitchen and revamped a grungy second-floor rest room. A small bed room was transformed right into a walk-in closet and a tiny again porch was changed with a deck for outside entertaining. 

Many of the updates, together with the kitchen cupboards and butcher-block counters, got here from IKEA. Ms. Becker additionally turned a well-known face at Construction Junction and Home Depot. That allowed her to focus her cash on the issues that “make a difference to the people who live here,” she says. Her splurges included an apron-front farmhouse sink she discovered on eBay and a deep clawfoot tub outfitted with copy fixtures. 

“It’s a dream,” she says. 

But sufficient about that. What was it like to be on a actuality present like “House Hunters”?

For starters, it can be a bit unreal. There was no means Ms. Becker and her then-boyfriend Dave might tour three homes, put in a suggestion and get a mortgage accredited in simply 5 days. Ms. Becker had already purchased the home when the TV crew arrived and she or he had already seen, and determined towards, a home in Regent Square as a result of it wanted an excessive amount of work. 

“Somebody was actually in the process of buying it when we were filming,” she says. 

And that home in Dormont? Her agent discovered it simply in time for the movie crew’s arrival. She appeared to like it a lot that her buddies have been sure she would select it when she sat down together with her boyfriend and mom at Slice on Broadway for the TV “decision.”

“It’s one of the craziest things my mother and I have ever done, and I think it fooled people,” she says. “It was just so much fun.”

While the present isn’t scripted per se, it is edited to create a storyline. For each constructive remark the couple made a few room or element, Ms. Becker says, they have been requested to additionally say one thing damaging, which made for some uncomfortable moments (and some disagreeable tweets) throughout a viewing social gathering when the present aired. 

“The first time you walk through the house, you say what you’d naturally say without any prompting,” says Ms. Becker. The second time, you go room by room, with the producer typically asking, ‘Can you be more dramatic?’” 

She was additionally somewhat anxious about how they would seem on movie (she had to do her personal hair and make-up). In the top, she’s fairly positive she got here off OK. Her former boyfriend, on the opposite hand, appeared “kind of mean” as a result of the editors included extra of his unfavorable feedback. 

Before filming, she had to cowl up any model names on home equipment and different gadgets with black electrical tape and take down any unique paintings so the producers wouldn’t have to search permission. (Ms. Becker painted the impressionistic panorama above the lounge mantel only a day earlier than filming.)

Overall, she says, the eight-hour days have been extremely enjoyable, and never simply because they have been paid $500. The native crew was as candy as they have been hilarious, and Ms. Becker got here to love the L.A. producer like a sister.  

When she was requested a yr later to movie a follow-up episode for “House Hunters: Where Are They Now?,” she instantly agreed.

“We just kind of hung out all day. It was much more relaxed.” 

Gretchen McKay: gmckay@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.



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