Restoration Australia: an easy watch about heritage glow-ups or another coat of whitewash?

Photo: ABC

Originally published in The Guardian Australia, October 2020

Like a kind of Grand Designs with more trips to the library, Restoration Australia has returned for another season of genteel Victorian houses, crumbling cottages and rambling pastoral homesteads, and the brave (or foolish) homeowners working to rescue them.

Hosted by architect Stuart Harrison, it’s easily watchable, occasionally delightful television. We root for the country husband-and-wife teams who roll up their sleeves to give old beauties some TLC. We cringe when hubris or inexperience leads to baffling misses, like last season’s “stainless steel mesh cocoon”. We revel in millennial renter schadenfreude when unexpected structural issues start to bleed money, and nod knowingly at a well-restored wrought iron veranda (having learnt about the intricacies of “Italianate” motifs moments earlier).

But the limitations of its historical inquiry can sometimes prove frustrating.

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