Neighbors of HGTV’s ‘Barbie Dreamhouse’ Call Project a ‘Huge Nightmare’

Cast of "Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge"

Heavy/HGTV Cast of HGTV's "Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge"

Although HGTV’s special “Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge” series finished its four-episode run in mid-August 2023, those who live in the suburban Los Angeles neighborhood where the network transformed a two-story home into a fanciful life-sized dollhouse won’t soon forget the “huge nightmare” it created for them.

On August 17, The Ringer published interviews with multiple residents of Santa Clarita’s Sand Canyon neighborhood who revealed how upsetting it was for them to live for months with the show’s construction and TV crews on their typically-quiet street.

“It was just a huge nightmare,” one resident told the outlet. “Nobody was happy that this was going to happen on our street.”

Former Homeowner Was ‘Sick to My Stomach’ When She Realized What Would Happen to Her House

After living for 25 years and raising her kids on Michael Crest Drive, Nancy Radomski decided to downsize and move to the East Coast, she told The Ringer, which reported that the neighborhood “is among the city’s most exclusive,” lined with well-maintained homes of well-to-do families.

Not wanting to create any kind of disruption for her neighbors, Radomski said she didn’t let her realtor hold open houses for prospective buyers in order to avoid crowding the quiet, narrow street with parked cars. Homes on the block often sell for twice as much as Santa Clarita’s average home price of $760,000. Built in 1997, her home sold in January for $1.75 million according to the online listing, but she didn’t realize at the time that HGTV was the buyer, she said.

When two men scheduled a tour with her realtor, Radomski said she thought it was “odd” that they kept whispering to each other as they viewed her home. They then scheduled a second visit, she said, and showed up with “a caravan” of 15 people carrying notebooks and cameras.

Though she was unsure what was happening, she accepted their offer of $1.75 million. She didn’t know until the final paperwork came through in January, Radomski told The Ringer, that the two men who’d initially visited the house were Dwight D. Smith and Michael Agbabian, co-presidents of Mission Control Media, a TV company that would soon oversee the filming of “Barbie Dreamhouse Makeover,” the first series they ever worked on for HGTV.

Radomski didn’t know what show they were working on until a neighbor looked up the permits that Mission Control had already pulled, which included the name of the show on them and the company’s plans to transform her family house into a real-life replica of Barbie’s dreamhouse.

Too late to do anything about it, Radomski said, “I was sick to my stomach.”

Neighbors Describe Renovations as a Major Hassle for Home, Which is Still on the Market

Within weeks of purchasing the Radomski’s home and renting another nearby property for cast and crew to work, representatives from Mission Control went door-to-door on the block to inform neighbors about the massive project, The Ringer reported.

Benjamin Helquist, a lawyer who lives with his family on the street, found that even though he and his neighbors weren’t happy, it wasn’t illegal for the TV show to turn one of the street’s homes into such a spectacle.

“You have protections from your own house being filmed or your person being filmed,” he said. “But as long as they’re focusing their cameras on the house that they purchased, then that’s permitted, by and large.”

Renovations inside and out, from turning the indoor staircase hot pink to placing a giant toy handle on top of the roof just like Barbie’s iconic dreamhouses have, took about three months, with most of the renovation work handled by construction crews who were there daily, per The Ringer.

When any of the 16 competing HGTV stars were flown in to film, neighbors said the street was closed to traffic, with a police squad car monitoring activity. Mission Control also hired a private security firm to observe the home 24-hours a day from a parked SUV, making sure no one took photos of the house in progress.

Multiple residents who signed non-disclosure agreements anonymously told The Ringer that they were not paid for the inconvenience, but regularly put up with restrictions — like not being able to mow while they were filming or having a giant crane moving in and out. But they said Mission Control promised that after filming was over, the over-the-top house would be restored to blend in with the neighborhood again.

“We never intended to come into some neighborhood and put up some house that was garish and leave it,” Smith of Mission Control told The Ringer. “That would have been, I think, sort of disrespectful to the people in this neighborhood. And I also think it’s not really a home that was intended for someone to live there in terms of the way it was done on the Barbie show.”

With the show complete, the home has been returned to more neutral colors inside and out, and the removal of the giant front yard flamingos, the living room pet elevator and the hot pink staircase. The five-bedroom, five-bathroom home was posted for sale on July 16 for $2,049,995, but the price has since been dropped to $1,999,995.

Meanwhile, “Barbie’s Dreamhouse Challenge” was a big hit for HGTV, with the network reporting that the series attracted over 12 million viewers.

In a statement, Loren Ruch, HGTV’s Head of Content, said, “‘Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge’ helped us attract younger viewers to HGTV, lifting the network’s overall ratings by 15 percent over year-ago numbers. The enthusiasm of Barbie fans, as well as the additional interest in our series sparked by the success of the Warner Bros. Pictures film, helped drive double and triple-digit ratings growth among our most important demos.”

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