Loving and Listing in Vancouver

We chat with Jillian Harris and Todd Talbot about what makes Vancouver the perfect setting for the show and to debate whether you should stay (reno) or go (sell)

Credit: Courtesy of W Network

Jillian Harris and Todd Talbot, co-hosts of Love It or List It Vancouver, share real estate and reno tips

Drama? Romance? Comedy? It’s hard to nail down the genre of Love It or List It Vancouver, since the TV show, just like any partnership, can be a roller coaster of emotions.

In every episode, it’s a battle of wills between interior designer Jillian Harris (yes, the former TV Bachelorette), who does her utmost to rekindle the homeowners’ love for their abode through design, and realtor Todd Talbot, who tries to woo them away from their dysfunctional home and into a more desirable space. Whether you’re on Team Harris or Team Talbot, you can never predict whether the homeowners will “love it” or “list it” in the end, but one thing is for sure: sparks will fly.

Although neither Talbot nor Harris calls Vancouver home full-time (see where Jillian hangs out in Kelowna and where Todd plays in Lions Bay), the co-hosts still have mad love for the city’s diverse neighbourhoods in which they shoot the show, now in its second season.

“I think this city is one of the unspoken reasons why the show is so successful. It’s kind of the third character,” says Vancouver-born Talbot. For someone who has travelled extensively during his 25-year acting career, Talbot says that it’s Vancouver’s striking good looks, architecture and character that enthralls viewers from across Canada.

Harris agrees, noting the show is practically a tourism endorsement. And that suits her just fine. Shooting the show in such a spectacular city lets her work on location in an industry she loves, while staying close to her family in B.C. and Alberta.

“When you’ve lived someplace else and you come back here, you realize it’s a pretty amazing place,” says Talbot, noting that Vancouver doesn’t have the vibe and maturity of world-class cities such as London – yet. “It’s still a really young city,” he says.

Right now, the wild child is getting by on charm and beauty, but it’s the changing neighbourhoods, such as Marpole and New Westminster, with their diverse mix of age groups, ethnicities and unvarnished character, that interest Talbot. Especially since skyrocketing real estate prices make owning a detached house an out-of-reach dream for many families. He references a recent episode of Love It or List It in which a family struggles to find an ideal home on Vancouver’s West Side, despite having a multimillion- dollar budget. “For 2.2 million, you should be able to buy your dream home – or two!” he says.

But it makes for great TV. “The real estate market is so insane and I think that makes it more interesting to watch,” says Harris, who lives in Kerrisdale when shooting, and commutes to the Kelowna house she shares with her partner when she’s not. One of her favourite episodes of Love It or List It Vancouver features a young couple who purchased a character home and embarked on a massive renovation. “It was so stressful and it turned out so beautiful,” says Harris. “It really reminded me of the experience I just went through with my own house.”

Harris and Talbot may even play a big role in shaping Vancouver’s neighbourhoods by matchmaking families with functional homes, whether they stay in their renovated space or pull up stakes. There will always be some drama, but if Harris and Talbot have their way, the outcome will be true love.

Watch Love It or List It Monday nights at 10 p.m. on W Network.

Click through above for Jillian’s 5 reasons for staying and Todd’s 5 reasons for selling

Behind the scenes of our cover shoot with Jillian Harris and Todd Talbot

Credit: Adam Blasberg

Stay or Pull up Stakes?

focus on function

JILL: Renovate to truly make the space your own, says Harris. “If you can picture your house working for you with a reno, then stay.”

TODD: Having kids precipitates most moves, says Talbot. When your home stops functioning for your family, it’s time to find more room.


size matters

JILL: In some neighbourhoods, it can be hard to find a house with a small footprint, says Harris. Don’t buy more than you need; renovate a right-sized space.

TODD: People get attached to their homes, but for many empty-nesters, it doesn’t make sense being burdened with the upkeep of a big home.


reno return

JILL: Spend your reno dollars wisely, says Harris, so you’ll get the most out of your investment. For example, a basement reno is a smart idea for a growing family that can make the most of this newfound space.

TODD: “If you throw enough money at it, you can fix almost any problem,” says Talbot, “but at some point it doesn’t make financial sense.”


lifestyle + location

JILL: “My heart is really happy in Kelowna,” says Harris. “I fell in love with the location.” Renovating a home there was an affordable choice that allows her to be close to her family.

TODD: “You can’t renovate your location,” says Talbot. Some people move to find a quieter vibe; others move to a neighbourhood that has more going on.



JILL: Renovate if you plan to stay put and can enjoy your upgrade, says Harris – but don’t break the bank on things you don’t necessarily want or need with the thought that you’ll cashin eventually if you sell.

TODD: Is it time to cash out? When you liquidate your investment, you can spend that hard-earned cash on other things.


Click to get Jillian’s design secrets