The Cross House

My TV Fantasy

About once a year I get contacted by a production company. Would I be interested in having the restoration of the Cross House become a TV show?

My first thought: Sure!

My second thought: Hell no!

The second thought is generated by two things:

  1. I know a couple who actually worked with a production crew. The crew spent months filming the young couple and the restoration of their big old house. This caused massive disruption to the family but they were excited. We are going to be on TV! Then late one night they received a call from the production company, causally stating: Never-mind. That was it. The show and all their work was never going to be on TV. The couple felt massively abused. And I took this to heart.
  2. TV shows like things fast. You know, the Nicole Curtis effect: Go in like gangbusters and wrap everything up in a season. But the restoration of the Cross House is glacial. And I think this is good. This glacial approach, and cautious study, has led to amazing discoveries which would NEVER have happened with a gangbuster approach.

Reason #1 scares me. Reason #2 seems to disqualify the Cross House for a TV show. This guy is working too slow!

So, I never respond to production company inquiries.

This does not mean though that I would not love doing a TV show, and I sometimes fantasize about what kind of show I would like to do.

Wanna meet my fantasy?



Yep, this would be the name of the show. It’s simple and easy to remember. It relates directly to this blog. The word restoration is in the title, and the name of the host. Again, easy.

Because the restoration of the Cross House is glacial, it does not seem feasible that a camera crew could affordably follow me around every hour that I am working on the house, or Justin or Scott or the burly heating/cooling guys. I mean, a lot of hours working on the house are quite dull with moments of WOW interspersed. These latter moments really are WOW but it would take a lot of money and a very patient film crew to capture such moments on video.

So, I do not envision the show being 100% about the Cross House. Rather, I see Restoring Ross being divided into specific adventures. Like this:



These episodes would focus on the Cross House. What fabulous new things has been finished/installed? What fabulous new discoveries has been made?

I also envision a back-in-time approach. These segments would feature still images of past work, with me narrating. This might sound dull but remember the Ken Burns mini-series about the Civil War? All the people are long dead. So, still images and letters were used, with the camera panning in to create movement, while a narrator spoke. It was riveting.

Above all, episodes would focus continually on preservation rather than renovation. Too often these words are used interchangeably but they have vastly different meanings. Preservation is to, well, preserve. To protect what is there. Renovation is to alter something. To change what is there. This is the approach make famous (infamous?) by This Old House, which is the antithesis of preservation. I am continually astonished by how hostile This Old House is to the old in houses.

I suspect that most people who buy an old house opt for renovation rather than restoration simply because they know little about the latter. So, instead of learning how to restore damaged paster walls, they gut their house to the studs and install sheetrock because this is what they know. And this is what every How To show on TV advocates.



Restoring Ross would travel to other buildings which have been beautifully restored, such as…


this. And…


this. And…


…OMG, this.




This is, of course, the blog which the fabulous Kelly created. With her permission (please say yes, Kelly!), I would love to visit homes Kelly has featured, such as…


this. And…


this. And…


this. And…




Well, you get the idea. How cool would it be to visit such houses? WAY COOL, man!!!!!!!! I think viewers would LOVE these visits!

Every realtor I have ever worked with has told me that I am THE most fun person to show a house to. “You are SO enthusiastic! You see SO many interesting features which I never noticed! You are SO good at seeing past the problems and envisioning what could be!”

Yes, when I visit a fabulous old house I am the polar opposite of…subtle.



The show would visit, for example, Scott Hoefer, who is restoring the stained-glass in the Cross House. I think viewers would enjoy seeing how this work is done and the dramatic before/after images.



I follow a number of old house blogs. All these bloggers are also restoring a house…glacially. So, it would be fun to check in once a season with…


Balintore Castle. And…


…the young young young Chad and his adventures with a Philadelphia row house. And…


…the young young young Matt and his 1889 house. And…


…Victoria Elizabeth Barnes (and beleaguered husband, Paul). I love the tagline on Victoria’s blog: Dictator. Procrastinator. Hoarder. And…


…JC. This young guy is friggin’ awesome. He restores houses. Brilliantly and carefully. He restores old clocks. He is a cabinetmaker. And an upholsterer. Geez. The guy is superhuman. I want to marry him, and hugely enjoy his every new blog post. And…


…Carla and Tom blow my mind with the work they have done on their house. And..


…Amy and Doug, with great enthusiasm and élan, are restoring their big old house. And…


…Megan and her 1886 house. The house was brutalized and she and her husband are bringing it back to life. And…


…Daniel, who has been blogging since he was in college. God love ’em. And…


…Eric, who isn’t actually restoring a house right now. But Eric, whom I have known for decades, is a delicious full-blown curmudgeon and he blogs about architecture. Or, rather, he bitches about architecture. LOVE IT. I think viewers would enjoy annual visits with this highly intelligent and articulate and crabby man. And…


…Judy and Peter, who purchased a shockingly derelict castle in Wales and have dedicated their lives to its restoration. You would, understandably, think they were rich. But…but…and this is what is so amazing…they have done the miraculous on $1.98 budget. Seriously. Really. I am not kidding. As such, you will also understand why I just want to KISS Judy and Peter; my admiration for what they have accomplished makes my heart burst. Judy also wrote a book about their extraordinary adventure. BUY IT! You will not be disappointed.


There are other bloggers I enjoy but these should give you the idea.

Of course, it is not likely that the show’s budget could afford jaunts to Scotland and Wales to visit castles being restored (sigh) but the same Civil War mini-series approach could be used, showing images and having the blogger narrate.

Well, ’tis be late now but this is my fantasy TV show about restoration.

Would you enjoy such a show?



47 Responses to My TV Fantasy

  1. In a heartbeat! Although your travels would take you away from the Cross house, it would also give you a life …away from the Cross House! How fun and interesting the exploring of other houses would be through the eyes of Ross! I say why not. Nothing to lose, everything to gain, and if it doesn’t work out or causes more stress than anticipate, walk away (get that in your contract though). Also make sure that any reruns, youtube sales, mini Cross House snow globes… whatever…. you get a cut of.

  2. I would!

    And thank you for these tips on blogs, some are new to me 🙂

    Let me show you one that was not on your list.

    • You brat! The link you provided? Now I have spent HOURS looking through posts! I had to go all the way to the beginning, 2013! I ain’t got no time for this!

      (I am awestruck by the work to this 1820 Georgian home in Ireland!)

      • Well you deserve it, you bastard! I stayed awake for more then 24 hours reading YOUR blog from beginning to end when I found it. So there! 😀

  3. Wow, it’s every old house nuts dream!!! The Crap on HGTV now is terrible.

    I think you are too good for HGTV so you would have to go on another channel!

    The downside is we would read garbage about you in the tabloids because that’s what they do to anyone on TV!

  4. Of COURSE we would watch it! And, this is the exact same situation for us – we’ve been contacted multiple times, and no one seems to think a detailed show about the history of a house – and how to restore it correctly, while teaching techniques – would be a hit. I fervently disagree. The main reason I’d love a show like this is to encourage other people that restoring a house like this is within their grasp. I want it to be less terrifying, and more exciting!

    After I did a long, glorious, detailed, too-slow show on my house, wanna know the second series spin-off (when I win the lottery)? I’ve always wanted to do a show, and call it “Flip it Back.” Where I go into a house that’s had all of the character taken out, been painted grey on white on beige on greige, and put only old features back in. That would be MY FAVORITE.

  5. They have a restoration show on BBC. It incorporates Ross-isms & ideas but it is not glacial Cross House restoration. I think PBS meets Old House Dreams meets Restoration Ross..Zounds!!! All of Restoration Ross ideas would be the framework.

    As usual, brilliant Ross!!! I think the history and 1999 before pix to Bob & his late wife to Ross in 2014 all what was before Ross. Then take stages 1st grant and milestones; 2nd grant & milestones, etc — just show stages of progress & the after. However u want to break down progress. Astonishing!! It is dizzying!

    I think something like that would be edifying & amazing!! Collaboration between Restoration Ross and an audiovisual person w IT & photographic talents.????

  6. I would love to see a show that you have described. Ross, you were made for TV!

    You have an abundance of energy, you’re so knowledgeable, your enthusiasm is contagious, and you sure do have the endless gift of gab!

  7. I absolutely would watch such a show! Next time they contact you, you should respond with your concept and concerns. You never know – they might actually listen! I’m sure it would be a hit, making money for you and them and, quite frankly, you would be doing a public service, given all the “mis-education” out there. Also, it would be a great Ross legacy to leave the world!

  8. Hi Ross!! Just bought the ‘castle’ book. Can’t wait.

    I have an idea….whaddya think?? How about…YOU make the videos as you go along, glacially(sp?).

    Take yer time….set up camera on tri-pod….little vid here, little there. Slowly, in any free time you have, start putting together old historic photos, your pics from your blog. (don’t forget the carriage house). Don’t be in a hurry and sometime later, perhaps a network would BUY your ‘documentary’ and it’ll appear as an 8-hour mini-series on HGTV. And if that doesn’t happen, you’ll at least have an extraordinary DVD to sell.

  9. This might make me want to watch television again!

    Old row homes are fascinating to me, because they are so very rare where I live. The link to Chad’s page took me Balintore Castle, so I tracked him down myself:

    Thanks for all of the great blog suggestions, Ross!

  10. I would love to see your show! Sounds like it would be about all the things I am interested in but won’t be dong myself! Fantastic! When is it coming on? LOL

  11. I’ve stopped watching most cable shows, my new favorite shows are found on YouTube! All you need is a good camera with microphone and some other odds/ends to shoot a show. If I lived closer, I’d be your camera gal/producer/scout! Maybe you could become a YouTube star?

    • That is a really good point! Then you could set your own schedule and have complete control over the show.

  12. you could just create your own YouTube channel and do short 5 min segments yourself, it would be a hit. Post whenever you can and I am sure we will all subscribe.

    • Great idea! Newbie question – how does a person earn money from that. Is i when a video is picked up by a sponsor who places those annoying ads ahead of the video?

  13. I’m pretty sure we would subscribe and follow a Youtube Channel from Ross! We’re so in love with this blog, this house & its history and Ross’ tales telling!

    Thanks for the list of blogs Ross, i’m following most of them, and many others that aren’t in your list (even some of expats from US or UK living and restoring in France). I’m addicted!

  14. Ross all your fault, destroyed my phone data plan (again) with all the good house porn links lol

    I think you should do a web series if you want to do anything, you would be in control of topic content and duration. Production would be less involved than a full out series, Done at your pace, Shoot it with a go pro and have some fun with it. Just a thought for a future “Ross” production.

    In any case, hope this finds you well. Happy Memorial Day !!

  15. Thank you for the awesome blog list. I don’t think Carla and Tom’s link is working…it takes me to 1923 Foursquare. I love your blog and appreciate all your hard work,both the restoration and the documentation!

  16. That would be a fabulous show, Ross! I agree with the others that HGTV has become same o, same o. A continuing show with other places showing how to restore would be great!

  17. I’m late to this party, but I’m grateful to you, Ross, for exposing me to all these fabulous blogs through your fabulous blog. One of my favorites is, a young couple in Alexandria, VA restoring their row house, and more recently a foursquare as well.

  18. TV world, if you’re reading this, MAKE THIS SHOW! Ross’s dream concept sounds pretty much like my dream binge watch.

  19. Ross you are a bad bad man, throwing out all these links! Now when my insomnia does finally allow me a good night’s sleep I will fight it looking over all these new beauties. I would definitely watch your show I loved your phone interview it was fantastic in fact I’ve had a few people listen to it and then directed them here. There is one other home that I am watching it being brought back to life on facebook. It’s in VA it’s Selma you can find it by looking up Selma Mansion Rebirth. Your Cross House has so much more quirkiness and sweat-quity you are doing it with your own 2 hands it’s much more a hands on labor of love for you. I just love the uniqueness and the little Mysteries that you have solve along the way of the Cross house.

  20. First off, I would watch your show. Whenever I am not getting a blog fix.

    I am seeing this and last 40 entries by accident. I started following from start towards end but jumped to the end to see where you were and what was being restored. Must have missed a chunk in the middle.

    It is like I quit smoking and suddenly found an unopened carton…

    Oh, back to your show.

    Too bad you couldn’t film some of the afters while you show the befores. Guest posts by others could show how you can make historic homes come back to life and show beauty doesn’t have to come out of big box store. It may show companies that there is a market for vintage style. You could start with some of the homes right in Emporia.

    Maybe realtors may see that a home doesn’t need to be open concept and updated before they will list it. Maybe when the TV shows how desirable vintage homes are owners will stop gutting good work and value it.

Leave a Response

Your email address will NEVER be made public or shared, and you may use a screen name if you wish.