Editors’ Picks: 6 Best Design and Home Improvement Shows to Watch Now
- The World’s Most Extraordinary HomesThe World’s Most Extraordinary Homes
- Dream Home MakeoverDream Home Makeover
- Abstract: The Art of DesignAbstract: The Art of Design
- Selling SunsetSelling Sunset
- Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the LobbyAmazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby
- Interior Design MastersInterior Design Masters
- The Parisian AgencyThe Parisian Agency
Seeking a dose of design inspiration? Here are some of the best design and home improvement shows to stream—from Selling Sunset to The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes
Design documentaries have expanded and evolved over the years; these days, there's a wealth of binge-worthy shows displaying enviable properties and interiors with a side dose of nail-biting drama. There's something for everyone—whether you're seeking a show focused on home design, luxury real estate, architecture, decor advice, or everything else in between.
Here, we've asked the Tatler Homes editorial team to reveal their favourite must-watch design shows. With the extensive selection below, you'll have plenty of shows in your Netflix queue for weeks.
The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes
A stunning abode featured on The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)
The Soho House in Spain, featured on The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)
Chalk it up to that pent-up wanderlust, but one thing that really stood out to me was my capacity—and desire—to watch shows that feature calming views around the world. And this design documentary proved to be a fun and almost travelogue-like escape.
Helmed by architect Piers Taylor and actress and property enthusiast Caroline Quentin, the BBC-produced series The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes takes viewers to abodes around the world. I love the pair’s playful dynamic; Caroline openly gushes about each space in contrast to Taylor’s quiet admiration of the architectural and engineering feats that it took to turn dream concepts into actual homes. And it doesn’t hurt that most of these amazing abodes are situated in some very picturesque destinations, too!
As part of the journey, the hosts get to spend a night in these stylish havens to get a taste of what it’s like to live in these stunning spaces, so it’s easy to vicariously experience it all through them. Although it’s been a few years since its release in 2017, its appeal still endures; and I think we all wish to take our minds off the daily stressors.
— Hong Xinying, Managing Editor, Tatler Homes Singapore
Dream Home Makeover
Shea and Syd McGee, from Dream Home Makeover (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)
Dream Home Makeover showcases Studio McGee's signature rustic interior design style (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)
Featured on Dream Home Makeover, the renovated McGee home is bright and airy (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)
Design lovers or not, many of us hope to build a house from the ground up or at least renovate our current space someday. The last 18 months of the pandemic has left me scrutinising—and wanting to change—every nook and cranny of my apartment, and that’s why I was drawn to Dream Home Makeover on Netflix.
Makeover shows have a tried-and-tested format and Dream Home Makeover doesn’t deviate much from the formula. Each episode follows husband-and-wife Syd and Shea McGee of Studio McGee as they deal with their client’s various design dilemmas. The couple established their renovation business in 2014 and gained acclaim after Shea started documenting their own home redesign on Instagram. From there, they’ve grown their empire based in Salt Lake City in the US, and have retail stores, brand collaborations, books, and a 3 million-strong social media following.
What I love about the show is how relatable it is—they feature real people with real problems and different budgets. Projects range from a relatively simple kitchen renovation to a million-dollar home construction. Of course, there’s always some sort of a snag during the process, which ups the anticipation of the great reveal. If you’re looking for ideas (and courage) before embarking on your own renovation journey, Dream Home Makeover is an inspiring show that offers a peek into the creation of a Pinterest-worthy home that is full of warmth and personality.
— Kissa Castañeda, Editorial Director, Homes, Travel and Lists, Asia
Abstract: The Art of Design
Abstract: The Art of Design highlights several designers from a variety of disciplines (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)
A building designed by Bjarke Ingels featured on Abstract: The Art of Design (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)
As a design nerd, my pick is naturally Abstract: The Art of Design. But the superb production values and astute choice of designers make this series easily enjoyable even though you know absolutely nothing about design. The first season covers more obvious aspects of design like architecture, interior design and automotive design while the second delves into more esoteric topics like bio-architecture and digital product design.
Either way, I relished learning more about some of my design heroes like interior designer Ilse Crawford, architect Bjarke Ingels and typeface designer, Jonathan Hoefler and discovering the work of designers I had never heard of, like stage designer, Es Devlin and digital product designer, Ian Spalter.
Each episode has the designers largely tell their stories in their words so you’ll get to know their background, motivations and landmark work. This is neatly accompanied with commentary from experts, colleagues, and relatives, and some frankly seductive visuals. Design often gets overlooked as a creative endeavour because of its sheer ubiquity but this series does what Chef’s Table did, especially for some more obscure culinary heroes—and that can only be a good thing.
— Jennifer Choo, Editor-in-Chief, Tatler Homes Malaysia
The cast of Selling Sunset season two (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)
Davina Portratz showcasing a luxe property on Selling Sunset season two (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)
On paper, it might seem obvious why I’m such a fan of Selling Sunset. I did, after all, devour Laguna Beach, The Hills and The City—all 2000s reality TV drama staples that share the same executive producer as the Netflix overnight sensation.
You could attribute the show’s success to the similar formula it shares with its predecessors: it follows the trials and tribulations of a group of glamorous agents at Los Angeles (LA) real estate firm Oppenheim Group. But for me, the appeal is actually not the manufactured drama the show’s become known for. The real stars of the show are the luxury properties showcased—some of the finest homes the Sunset Strip and the Hollywood Hills have to offer.
From panoramas of infinity pools overlooking the city’s iconic skyline to envy-inducing shots of fully equipped chef’s kitchens, the enduring allure of LA real estate far outshines the catfights. A binge of Selling Sunset is a great way to switch off and ogle at incredible houses. So, what’s not to love?
— Andrea Lo, Editor, Tatler Homes Hong Kong
Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby
Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby is presented by journalist Giles Coren and chef Monica Galetti (Photo: Courtesy of BBC)
The Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador, as featured on Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby (Photo: Courtesy of Mashpi Lodge)
Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby is a British BBC documentary television series hosted by Giles Coren and Monica Galetti. It is, without a doubt, every editor’s dream to be able to travel and visit the most unique hotels around the world. What makes this show stand out, however, is that it explores the onsite operations—both front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house—looking not just at the tangible design but also the hospitality or service design. It’s great that they’re able to uncover touching stories beyond the surface along the way.
After watching two seasons of the show, I realised that I can’t wait for the pandemic to be over so that I can start planning vacations to experience these amazing hotels in person. Out of all the magnificent properties, I’m especially drawn to Giraffe Manor in Kenya (who doesn’t want to feed giraffes from their room?). From an architecture perspective, I would also love to stay at The Silo hotel in South Africa, which is designed by British architect Thomas Heatherwick. Lastly, to be able to go to Marlon Brando’s home in French Polynesia would be bliss—it’s a place that proves that nature is truly the best designer.
— Celia Liao, Editor, Tatler Homes Taiwan
Interior Design Masters
I’m not going to lie—the main reason I initially clicked on the first episode of BBC’s Interior Design Masters was to satiate my pandemic-induced reality show binge. But the nail-biting competition, charming British accents, and variety of creative design ideas definitely had me invested soon enough.
The format of Interior Design Masters follows the same vein as most competition-based reality shows: each week, a different challenge will have the contenders—in this case, 10 aspiring designers with varying experience and skillsets—rub shoulders and face off each other in a contest that will ultimately end with one eliminated from the pool of talent. Think the interior design cousin of The Great British Bake Off. Every episode presents a different client brief that takes place in either a commercial or residential setting. With the ultimate reward being a lucrative contract to redesign the lobby bar of one of London’s Dorsett hotels (and, of course, bragging rights), the competing cast have to prove their salt by conceiving and executing a design masterpiece while exhibiting their ability to perform under pressure.
The show makes for an easy watch and is perfect for those who are foraying into the world of home design shows. Of course, I did find myself rooting for certain contestants over others, but the variety of design styles and approaches to crafting various abodes and spaces were certainly eye-opening. With a lively cast, tricky challenges, and several sleek designs that come to life in spaces ranging from offices to hair salons, Interior Design Masters is definitely a must-watch.
—Cheryl Lai-Lim, Digital Writer, Tatler Homes Singapore