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Old Design Shows I Miss

May 15, 2012 by admin

I’ve been really enjoying HGTV’s Summer House this season, have you?  Samantha Pynn, Malcolm Patterson and Joel Bray are doing a great job showing us simple, beautiful decorating ideas, inspiring transformations, and clever tips and ideas each episode.  It’s what I like best in a decorating show – content and personality over cheesy ‘drama’ or a style that leans more towards a reality show.  I know other people love the drama, and TV networks have been using this to lure in new viewers who many not really care about design.  But as for me?  I long for the days when decorating/design and gardening shows taught and inspired.

Remember Lynette Jennings Homeworks?  I used to watch it on Life Network (Slice now, bah!) and could sing you the whole intro!  Actually I’m now sining ,”Life, don’t let it pass you by!” which was the jingle for Life Network.  Now Slice is all about Millionaire Matchmaker and Real Housewives. Oh man, how far we’ve fallen!

Check out this vintage clip of Lynette back in the day.  Amazing tube dress, amazing over the top traditional decorating – but all kidding aside, very informative.  Obviously it could do with a little fun, but I’m just amazed at the space they give to instructing the viewer.

Two other shows I loved were Sarah Richardson’s Room Service and Nik Manojlovich’s Savoir Faire.  These were both exceptional shows that really inspired me and gave me a start in this biz.  Each episode taught me so much, informed my personal style, and gave me so much inspiration and food for thought.  Ahhh…the good ol’ days….

And of course, we all know I grew up on Martha Stewart Living.  That show was a Sunday night ritual for me – I used to take notes sometimes!  I mean seriously, I was a sponge and filed all of that information away and I still use it today!  Now that’s a theme song I could sing for you!  That show ushered me into another world full of creativity and beauty and taught me through calm, clear lessons that I can’t imagine being without.

Martha’s shift from this type of show to her more recent talk show format (now ending) is evidence enough of the cultural shift.  One that I’m sad about and wish I could change.  But I’m glad we had these good old shows when we did and that I learned all I could.  Now will someone get to making more shows like this??? Updated obviously, looser, more fun, but based on a strong premise and featuring decorating and ideas over meltdowns???  I think Summer House is a great start – how about you?

Summer House (Sam Pynn & Joel Bray) Photo by Virginia MacDonald, via here.


  1. Barbara says:

    i have not yet seen Summer House but will have to check it out! I remember Lynnette Jennings! Oh how I used to love that show! A blast from the past! Yes, tv shows are going downhill at a rapid pace… more of anything from Sarah Richardson and shows like hers, and LESS of the reality housewives/dance moms/etc.!

  2. Jacqui says:

    Yes Summer House is an excellent show! Thanks for taking me down memory lane! I loved the Lynette Jennings show. Looking at it now I really appreciate the professionalism she brought. Thanks Michael

  3. Marsha Sefcik Interiors says:

    Michael, I miss those shows as well. I tuned in regularly and took lots of notes too. I have not seen Summer House- I no longer subscribe to Cable TV and part of it you touched on in your post and it is the quality of the programming that I no longer enjoyed. I will check to see if I can catch it online.

  4. Carol Ann says:

    the old shows were wonderful…Lynette Jennings…that was one amazing design show for its time.
    i have seen one show of the summer house, class act like all of sarah richardson’s shows
    i figure you will be next with your own show…i’d watch…x

  5. Lynne says:

    Well, when you start “The Michael Penney-Pinching Project” on HGTV, I’ll be there :-)

  6. Jesse Lee says:

    I remember watching savoir faire way back when and I loved the original martha. Summer house is great!!! Love Samantha Pynn!

  7. Allana says:

    I still remember watching Lynette Jennings talk about matching window treatments so the outside of your house is consistent. I loved her show!

    I also miss This Old House and Bob Villa’s Home Again, Saturday staples as a teenager. When my husband and I were first married and working on our first house my construction knowledge surprised him (“Honey, it depends on which way the joists are running”) thanks to those shows!

  8. margo says:

    I also loved Savoir Faire and the old Sarah’s Room Service, Samantha Pynn is a breath of fresh air, keeping it real much like Sarah used to be, I have also loved Peter Falico’s home to stay, I don’t watch to much HGTV or the Life network, I get most of my inspiration from Blogs and Magazines.
    The Michael Penney-Pinching Project sounds like a good idea to me.


  9. Deirdre says:

    I watched and loved every show you mentioned Michael! Thanks for the walk down memory lane. Summer House is hit or miss here in the US. Sometimes shown late Saturday afternoons, sometimes not. My new mission is to find dvds of all the older shows so I can watch them over and over!

  10. michelle defoe says:

    I’m really enjoying Summer House. She and Colin are so cute. Miss Room Service and Savoir Faire, wish they were easier to find. I think you need your own show too!

  11. Chickadee says:

    Room Service was my favourite program when a young mom with dreams of making our home beautiful. Savoir faire was also really good. Summer House is a lovely show – I love Samantha Pym’s decorating ideas.

  12. Beth says:

    How about you, Michael, was my first thought! One of these days, I hope.
    LOVE Lynne’s idea for naming your show.
    Re the marigolds,what a great idea in honor of your community. I’m sure the mayor will be pleased as will passers by.

  13. dwellingideas says:

    I hear you and agree 100%. In fact I say after almost all decorating shows I watch, “I wish they’d teach me something I don’t already know”. I have a love of decorating and design but I feel like there is always something new to learn…
    If it’s just fluff and recap I loose interest fast! I love Sarah and Tommy. Martha is always educational. Samantha is nice but she hasn’t taught me a thing…

  14. coolcat says:

    I thought those shows were wonderful. I would also add Lynda Reeves TV show to the list. She also informed the viewers about decorating and what was current.

  15. Suzanne says:

    When Sarah Richardson’s Room Service started I thought she was the most amazing breath of fresh air, so young, talented and articulate. Her shows continue to be good but my favourite is still her first. Samantha Pynn is wonderful also and I love her shows, including the new Summer House. What happened to last year’s version with Karen Sealy? She was great also but her version only lasted a year. When will Michael have his own show?

  16. Marsha Sefcik Interiors says:

    I just finished watching all of season 2 summer house. loved it! gosh, there sure is a lot of wood panelling in cottage country. loved all of the fabric stories too. thanks for the post!

  17. Jasmine says:

    You are SO right! I love the ‘old style’ decorating shows too. I remember when Lynette Jennings came on, everything else had to take a back seat-I loved that show, and it taught me so much! I haven’t seen Summer House ye, but I will look for it now. Thanks Michael!

  18. The programs you mentioned bring back such fond memories. I do miss them. I don’t watch a lot of what is left on HGTV in the US. Such a shame. Whatever happened to those folks?

    • From what I’ve heard Lynette Jennings went on to fame and fortune in the US (promo deals with Home Depot etc and lots of books), Nik is a popular event planner and food guru in Toronto, and Sarah – well she’s taken over the world! We’ll see what the execs at HGTV come up with next and keep our fingers crossed I guess!


  19. Maureen says:

    LOVED Lynette – I could never get enough of her here in the US – taped every show. Also liked Kitty Bartholomew and Christopher Lowell (when Lynette wasn’t on). You’re right — it’s the professionalism, information & sharing how to do it, that I loved. What I hate about the current “design” shows most, is the clowning (which is rarely funny) and the need to destroy things by bashing. It’s not green — habitat for humanity could resale most of what they put in dumpsters headed for the landfill. Sarah Richardson is one of the current designers I admire most — good design & info (though she likes to spend big bucks — Lynette was great at showing how to achieve good design for pennies, like the true design teacher that she was to us). Candice Olson is also a show designer I like, but she clowns a little too much. Both Sarah & Candice have formats that essentially are more like a design diary: the design & we get to see some of the before, during & after. BUT they don’t really teach the way Lynette, Kitty, & Christopher did — and you’ll never find tutorials; just after photos (like in a magazine),
    I’ll have to try to find Summer Home on line — it’s not shown on HGTV in the states (yet).
    Fame & fortune for Lynette — she certainly was sponsored and we embraced her with passion, but I’m not sure she really made a fortune. And she was famous & then suddenly she was gone and I kept wondering where she & her show had gone. I doubt if she was on tv for even 5 years. When she left,, there was a big hole in my day (watching her show during nap time was huge for me — adult “company” & learning & artistic food).

  20. Linda Hausen says:

    Lynette Jennings show expanded my knowledge about design and the use of old antiques and yard sale finds. What a wonderful teacher. I really miss her show. I hope her ongoing battle with breast cancer is going well. I do not watch HGTV at this time as the shows do not relate to my interests. I miss the old design shows!

  21. Carol Thomas says:

    I miss Kimberley Seldon and all the great Canadian designers that would appear on the Marilyn Denis show.

    • Liz says:

      I don’t like all the shows that have a time limit! And everyone is rushing, cutting corners to meet the “deadline”…real life is not like that! Why doesn’t HGTV look to the PAST and see what it was that made them successful? When HGTV fails, they’ll blame the internet, when they themselves have caused their own downfall! Loved all these golden oldies, Lynette, Nik, Kitty Bartholomew, etc. Those were such great shows! Today I could not name one TV host! They are all forgettable.

  22. Evelyn says:

    I agree with all the commits,I would like it if you had a show you would be great

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