Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Hack My Home’ On Netflix, Where A Team Uses Tech And Creative Design To Redo A Space In People’s Homes (2024)

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Hack My Home

  • Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Hack My Home’ On Netflix, Where A Team Uses Tech And Creative Design To Redo A Space In People’s Homes (1)
  • Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Hack My Home’ On Netflix, Where A Team Uses Tech And Creative Design To Redo A Space In People’s Homes (2)

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Home renovation shows are addictive because they show transformations, whether those transformations are esthetic or practical in nature. But there are also things we wonder about as we watch them. A new Netflix renovation series involves engineering, tech, and creativity to maximize spaces. What’s left behind is remarkable. But watching it just makes us ask more questions.

HACK MY HOME: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

Opening Shot: We see a house then a living room with babies sleeping while someone types on his laptop. “The world is changing,” says a voice. “Families are spending more time at home, and people are running out of space.”

The Gist: In Hack My Home, four experts go to people’s homes and find a space to “hack” with design, creativity and tech that all is deployed to maximize space. Jessica Banks is the engineering expert, Mikel Welch is in charge of design, Brooks Atwood takes care of imagination and creativity, Ati Williams is in charge of construction.

All the homes are in the Atlanta area, because the quartet brainstorms their ideas at a “headquarters” where they can draw up and then fabricate parts of their designs.

In the first episode, they go to a house of Chuck and Melisa Westbrook, who have four sons ranging in age from 2 to 9. The boys are active, of course, and the living room is crammed with toys. There is a semi-finished basem*nt where the boys can play, but Chuck’s office space is there, and when he’s working there, he needs complete privacy, which sends the boys back upstairs.

The team agrees that the basem*nt needs to be framed out and completed, but they also want to maximize the space. So Ati comes up with built-in shelves that include a hidden door to a soundproofed office space. Mikel plans out an under-stairs nook for the boys to read in. Jessica consults with a former MIT classmate who has a system that will move walls back and forth; she uses the system to help create toy storage and convert the office space to a media room for Chuck and Melisa. Brooks creates a play wall with lighting and magnetic gears.

Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Hack My Home’ On Netflix, Where A Team Uses Tech And Creative Design To Redo A Space In People’s Homes (3)

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Hack My Home is in the vein of dozens of home renovation shows in the vein of Trading Spaces.

Our Take: The hacks that the Hack My Home team design are all pretty fun and, given how brief the episodes are, they’re explained well-enough for the average viewer to understand just what’s being done, even if the tech itself isn’t completely explained. But what we wonder is, by using all of this bleeding-edge tech, what will happen once the cameras leave the house.

One of the things that always makes us scratch our heads during renovation shows where one room or space is completely redone is that now the homeowners are left with one really modern, elegant room, but the rest of their house still looks like it did when the team got there. That’s what we saw with the Westbrooks’ home. It’s definitely lived in, and it seems like the family’s, uh, eclectic style (which reminds us of our own “throw things together in a room” esthetic) certainly clashes with their sleek, high-tech basem*nt. Imagine trying to sell a house like that; if we were touring it, we’d wonder why the basem*nt was so nice and the rest of the house was so ordinary.

The renovations are quite extensive and seem expensive, so we’re hoping that the producers flip for the vast majority of the costs. But we also wonder what might happen if, say, those moveable walls malfunction, getting stuck in an awkward position or moving back while someone is still behind it. Is there a safety switch? Is the mechanism under some sort of warranty? Just how much will the Westbrooks have to pay, say, a decade from now if the wall-moving mechanism breaks, the company who made it is out of business, and they have to search for someone to repair it?

The producers of renovation shows never, ever take that into account, and given how much new tech is being used in these designs, we really have to question the practicality of these renovations given that, you know, the homeowners have to actually live with it on a daily basis.

Sex and Skin: Design p*rn, but that’s about it.

Parting Shot: The family loves their new space, of course, and they all hug the designers.

Sleeper Star: We’ll give this to Brooks Atwood, because he reminds us of a cross between Mo Willems and Weird Al Yankovic.

Most Pilot-y Line: Ati cuts wood while being all dressed-up and camera-ready. Very practical. Mikel paints a lot of the playroom walls a nice honey color, only to cover it all up with light wood paneling. What was the point of painting the walls anything but white, then?

Our Call: STREAM IT. Because the experts are fun to watch and the design transformations are amazing, Hack My Home goes down easily. But we really would like to see a postscript showing the homeowners actually living with the hacks over a few months.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.

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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Hack My Home’ On Netflix, Where A Team Uses Tech And Creative Design To Redo A Space In People’s Homes (2024)
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