The untold truth of HGTV’s Hidden Potential

HGTV’s Hidden Potential centers on builder and designer Jasmine Roth, who’s based in Huntington Beach, Calif. On the show, Roth revamps cookie-cutter suburban homes into custom-designed and custom-built dream homes that truly reflect the unique characters of their owners.

As explained by production company RTR Media’s website, Hidden Potential‘s Roth “is on a mission to make sure not all suburban homes look the same” as she “transforms builder-basic houses into custom dream homes by giving them features that stand out from the crowd.”

“There are so many reasons to love suburban living,” said Roth in a 2018 HGTV press release announcing the arrival of Hidden Potential. “But, sometimes, all the homes look identical. I’m on a mission to take these homes from cookie cutter to custom made.” With the show’s the first season attracting an impressive 10.8 million viewers, according to a 2019 press release, the network quickly renewed the series for a second season in 2019, so viewers could enjoy watching Roth continue to “revive bland SoCal homes with pops of personality, imaginative layouts and smart storage solutions.” 

This was Hidden Potential star Jasmine Roth's first build

HGTV’s Hidden Potential ultimately sprang from Jasmine Roth’s very first renovation, when she and husband Brett Roth worked on their first home. After buying their abode in Huntington Beach, Calif., they spent weekends working on the place, as noted by HGTV — in addition to renovating a separate investment property, all while maintaining their nine-to-five jobs. 

Jasmine Roth eventually concluded they weren’t making much headway. “Two years in, I realized we really knew nothing. I was spending all of my free time trying to get our house finished,” she told House BeautifulThis led her to quit her job in 2012 and focus on renovation full time. “I gave my notice and two weeks later I was in a hard hat on the construction site, and I never left,” she told HGTV. 

Roth’s since picked up lots of valuable knowledge from contractors. “I had to humble myself to say, ‘Look, I know nothing about this,’ and show them I’m genuinely interested in what they do,” Roth told House Beautiful. “At first, I think they were like, ‘Why is this girl on this job site? And why does she not know anything?'”

Before she got into building and design, Hidden Potential's Jasmine Roth was a realtor

While Jasmine Roth may have had to educate herself about designing and building homes, she wasn’t exactly new to home design. According to her LinkedIn profile, she spent a year as an agent with Northeastern Metro Realty in Boston while studying business, entrepreneurship, and new venture management at Northeastern University.

She subsequently worked in public relations, community outreach, and human resources before founding Built Custom Homes in 2012, with the company’s “unique approach to beach living and functional options for custom home design” ultimately leading her on a path to HGTV stardom on Hidden Potential. Throughout it all, Roth has been adamant about the importance of continually educating herself, something that comes across loud and clear in every episode of HGTV’s Hidden Potential.  

“When it comes down to it, it’s just about not being afraid and being humble,” she told HGTV. “You can’t go into something like this where you know nothing and pretend that you know anything.” She added, “It’s possible to learn if you let yourself be taught.”

Each Hidden Potential project is inspired by the homeowners' personalities

As Jasmine Roth wrote on her website’s FAQ, each Hidden Potential design “is customized for the homeowners’ individual lifestyles and tastes.” She noted, “Every person we work with is so unique, which makes it easy to come up with really unique, tailored designs for each home.” Of course, when designs attempt to capture a homeowner’s personality and quirks, things can get a little weird. “I just finished one yesterday that is a Tiki house,” she told Houston Chronicle. “The theme was ‘atomic Tiki.’ Very retro and very futuristic at the same time. It was so much fun!”

And while the homeowners are expected to step aside during the building phase so Roth and her team can take over the process, she cannot overemphasize the importance of getting at the heart of what homeowners want — even when they may not even know themselves. “I really get in there to help these homeowners ‘unstick’ themselves, to take that next step,” she told TV Insider, noting“I try to pick their brain as much as I can. I ask, ‘What do you not like?’ and that is the question people always know.”

Jasmine Roth's journey to HGTV's Hidden Potential started with a hashtag

Social media is utilized for a lot of purposes, but who knew “getting discovered by HGTV” could be one of them? Yet that’s precisely how Jasmine Roth wound up being cast for HGTV’s Hidden Potential when producers discovered her Built Custom Homes’ Instagram page, where she displayed her company’s projects using a variety of creative hashtags. “At first, I was just trying to share what I did and build a brand, and make it pretty, so people could do what I was doing,” she explained to House Beautiful. “I’d been posting pictures of one of my projects using #beachbuilds, and that’s how they found me,” she told the publication in 2018.

According to Roth, her extensive experience in social media has also provided her with excellent instincts for what works on television and what doesn’t. “Paint drying is not the most interesting thing,” she joked to TV Insider, “but I will say, a good shot of [exterior] paint on camera goes a long way for before and after.”

Hidden Potential's Jasmine Roth thought it was a "joke" when HGTV first contacted her

When Jasmine Roth quit her job and founded Built Custom Homes, she never dreamed it would be a launching pad to TV stardom. In fact, when HGTV producers first reached out to her, she thought she was being pranked. “When they contacted me, I thought it was a joke,” she told the Orange County Register. “They told me they wanted to set up a FaceTime with me and my mother-in-law, because at the time she was helping me a lot. I was like: ‘Betsy, brush your hair. We got an interview.'” 

The show was initially intended to focus on her beach builds, but that plan changed when producers discovered how long those projects took. “It’d be the most boring TV,” Roth told House Beautiful. “‘What do you do that doesn’t take two years?’ they asked me, so I told them about how I’d been working on my mother-in-law’s cottage, this boring, brown-beige stucco cottage, and we made it into a custom house.” This led to a change of direction to showcase her knack for transforming bland properties into dream homes.

What it's really like to film an episode of HGTV's Hidden Potential

What viewers see on HGTV’s Hidden Potential isn’t the whole story, and there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes.

In an interview with House Beautiful, Jasmine Roth revealed she spends six months out of each year working on Hidden Potential, filming six days a week, 12 hours a day. “It’s reality TV to the max. There are cameras in my car, cameras in my house, drones above me, cameras following me around,” she admitted. “I love it, though, because it’s just me living my life, and they’re capturing it.”

One thing that made life a bit easier was that all 13 episodes of the first season were filmed in Huntington Beach, Calif., meaning Roth didn’t have to do a ton of traveling during production and could sleep in her own bed every night. And with each project lasting between six and eight weeks, that allowed plenty of time for her to assess the needs and wants of the homeowners with whom she was working. “I try to get to know the families as much as I possibly can,” she added.

Who pays for the home makeovers on HGTV's Hidden Potential

On most home-improvement shows, the homeowners are expected to pay for at least some of the costs, and HGTV’s Hidden Potential is no exception. “Do the homeowners pay for the renovations?” Jasmine Roth shared on her website’s FAQ. “Yes, they do.”

However, as HGTV senior vice president and general manager Kathleen Finch told the Chicago Tribune in 2011, this isn’t necessarily the case for all of the network’s shows. “It runs the gamut,” she said. “In some shows, we come in and we pay for everything. In others we are following along on a regularly scheduled renovation anyway. In some cases, we share costs with the homeowner. There is no hard-and-fast rule.”

Even when the homeowners do foot the bill, they still receive an amazing deal. “You would probably never be able to renovate for the same price that we do on our shows because any time we get a wholesale price we pass those savings along to the homeowner,” Property Brothers’ Jonathan Scott told People of his series, adding, “They’d never be able to get it for that price if it wasn’t for the show.”

HGTV's Hidden Potential aims to change the "cookie-cutter" look of the suburbs

With a goal of transforming the suburbs of Huntington Beach, Calif. one house at a time, Roth believes the ideal Hidden Potential homeowner is “someone whose house looks, or feels, or is exactly like their neighbor’s house,” she told the Los Angeles Times. Creating the new look and feel of a home is something Roth takes “really seriously,” involving extensive consultations with the homeowners in order to determine what kind of changes will have the most impact on their lives. “Each of these families I treat like my own,” she explained.

The philosophy behind Hidden Potential, she added, is “about giving space purpose and discovering how a very specific family would like to be living in that home.” She continued, “No two families are the same; why should their houses be?”

She elaborated on that theme in an interview with Houston Chronicle. “In so many suburbs, the houses look the same — basic cookie-cutter design,” Roth explained. “Being able to be creative on behalf of my homeowners is just a blessing… and it’s challenging.” 

HGTV's Hidden Potential spawned a curated retail marketplace

The success of HGTV’s Hidden Potential has led to some other avenues for Jasmine Roth to demonstrate her talents beyond designing and building houses. “Having a TV show has opened a lot of doors,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “My goal is to just keep my head down and be open to whatever opportunities it brings.” 

One of these opportunities is The Shop by Jasmine Roth, which is described as “a curated online retail concept allowing access to sought-after designer housewares.” It’s a sort-of one-stop shop where Hidden Potential fans and aficionados of design and decor can benefit from her vast knowledge by having access to all her favorite things under one big umbrella, ranging from pottery to rugs to lighting to furniture and all stops in between. Roth noted, “I know what it’s like to have no clue how to decorate a room, and I think I can help.”

Jasmine Roth will always choose function over design on HGTV's Hidden Potential

When it comes to the debate on form vs. function in home design, Jasmine Roth sees no gray area. “I’m definitely more of a functional designer,” she told House Beautiful regarding her role on HGTV’s Hidden Potential. “My focus is more, ‘Does the house work for the family? What will they do with their stroller? Where will the toys go?'”

A home should not only look great, she believes, but it also needs to be livable. “Why not have your house be fun, playful and happy?” she asked. “If it works for the family, I’m going to do it.”

Her designs, she told the Los Angeles Times, are “all dictated by the families” and “what their family is all about,” although, once she’s finished her consultations, the homeowners are out of the picture for the next six to eight weeks. “They’re not allowed to even drive by,” Roth added. “When they come back and see their house they are actually seeing it for the first time since being demoed. You only get so many surprises in your life as an adult. This is kind of creating one of those moments.

This is why viewers don't see Jasmine Roth's husband on HGTV's Hidden Potential

Many viewers of HGTV’s Hidden Potential wonder why Jasmine Roth isn’t partnered on the show with her husband, Brett Roth, and she has a very simple answer. “The first question I always get is, ‘So when did you and your husband start the business?’ We both have the same degrees, but we have totally separate careers,” Jasmine Roth told the Orange County Register of her hubby, who has no involvement in Built Custom Homes. “He can wax a snowboard and cook a mean rack of ribs, but other than that he is not handy.”

This is not to say that producers didn’t try to get Jasmine Roth’s husband involved. She revealed that the original concept for the show was for a husband-and-wife duo in the vein of Fixer Upper‘s Chip and Joanna Gaines. “Early on, I think [the producers] were trying to fit us into that kind of prior mold of other shows where they do follow that storyline, and it just didn’t really work,” Roth told Country Living. “He’s running a business — a big business — and I’m doing my own thing.”

Jasmine Roth's top tip to unleash your home's hidden potential

In Jasmine Roth’s experience, she recommends homeowners looking to add value, function, and beauty to their homes avoid flashy design trends and aim for making changes that will have more staying power. “My big, overarching advice would be don’t try to be on-trend,” Roth told Think Realty. “Buyers see right through that. Rather, think of a timeless design, something that is functional. Add elements to a property so a buyer can walk in and immediately see how it’s going to work for them.”

Durability is also a factor, and she cautions homeowners to set aside their preconceived notions when it comes to certain materials, such as vinyl flooring. “I’ve been using a lot of luxury vinyl right now for my flooring,” she explained. “I think people hear ‘vinyl flooring’ and they cringe. But vinyl has come a long, long way. I’ve put a piece of luxury vinyl and a piece of engineered hardwood next to one another for my most discerning client and they can’t tell the difference.”

HGTV's Hidden Potential renovations are fast tracked

Not only do the families selected for a Hidden Potential makeover enjoy the benefit of Jasmine Roth’s considerable talents at transforming boring, bland properties into distinctive abodes loaded with character and charm, but they also experience a fast-tracked renovation that zooms by considerably faster than a non-televised project. “They’re also getting that renovation done in six weeks, which is huge,” Roth told the Los Angeles Times. “At a minimum these projects would take six to seven months. We have it so dialed in.”

However, Roth also explained to the Los Angeles Times that it’s important not to go overboard by making the homes so distinctive that a house no longer fits in with the rest of the properties on the block. “I see that all the time, and my goal is never to be that house,” the HGTV star added. “Each design is custom for the family, and it’s also custom for the neighborhood. I literally sit out front on the curb and take in the surroundings, the way everything flows together. Just trying to make a house look different is never the answer.”

How HGTV's Hidden Potential led Jasmine Roth to be dubbed a Brady Bunch kid

Her Hidden Potential expertise led Jasmine Roth to be among the HGTV personalities tapped to participate in a special celebrating one of TV’s most beloved sitcoms, The Brady Bunch. When the Los Angeles home used in exterior shots for the show came on the market, HGTV purchased it and launched A Very Brady Renovation, teaming up the actors who played the Brady kids with HGTV stars to renovate the home’s interior to replicate the Brady Bunch set.

“It was cool to see it through the Brady kids’ eyes,” she told MediaVillage. “I got to take them through the spaces I’d worked on, which they’d also worked on, but I’d kick them out before they were completed so I could finish them. Opening that front door… [that] was such an incredible experience… that experience was so special.”

The Brady Bunch stars so enjoyed working with Roth that they decided to make her an honorary member of their TV family. “It’s official!” she added. “When the Brady kids tell you you are now the seventh Brady, it feels really good!”

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