It’s June, so for the next few months, I plan on spending a lot of time indoors, where there’s air conditioning, the wifi works, and the sun cannot damage my perfectly moisturized skin. When I struggle to get to sleep at night after long, luxuriously lazy days of lounging, I’ll do what I always do: binge YouTube, combing through trending videos to appease my persistent, morbid curiosity for the dystopic, sometimes dangerous brand of celebrity the platform creates. Eventually I’ll land on Mr. Kate, the home renovation channel run by my favorite corny-yet-endearing couple. Together, they tackle the multi-million dollar disaster homes of 20-something YouTubers and manage to make them less tragic... all while almost giving the social media personalities the appearance of taste. Mr. Kate will feature the cast of various reality TV shows, too, such as Katie Maloney-Schwartz and Tom Schwartz from Vanderpump Rules. That episode is actually how I learned of Mr. Kate in the first place, and it’s why I’m recommending them to you now.
There is only one thing to watch on YouTube this summer, and it’s this:
Mr. Kate is the pink-haired interior designer Kate Albrecht and her husband Joey Zehr, the furniture builder, heavy lifter, and drummer in the short-lived power pop-rock group The Click Five. (“Just The Girl” kinda still goes.) Together, they make over individual rooms for celebs, subscribers, and fans they call “Creative Weirdos,” which is where their earnestness goes too far, but hey, their results are undeniable. Before getting down and dirty and helping transform bedrooms and kitchens for their loyal viewers, they ask them for their aesthetic—based on a quiz on their website, which allows you to streamline your tastes into a few words. It’s insanely helpful. (Turns out, I’m 20 percent mid-century modern, 20 percent farmhouse/rustic, 10 percent industrial, 10 percent whimsical, 10 percent minimalist, 10 percent modern and 10 percent bohemian. No wonder my apartment is a mess.)
Most of their renovations never exceed $300 in a single room, and they also use items already found in the space. In that way, they avoid being aspirational in an HGTV-Chip-and-Joanna-Gaines-Property-Brothers way and instead, offer up simple decor hacks, where hacks are defined by “chic, easy ways to transform IKEA furniture” and “canvas art.”
At moments, Mr. Kate opts for an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition sentimentality, making over a tween’s bedroom who just lost her teenage sister to cancer, or completely renovating a tiny converted garage into a livable space for a family of three. In those moments, the show is actually impactful—and its thirty minute duration doesn’t hit you over the head with forced emotional manipulation the way traditional television might, and has historically. Kate will cry, but it’s likely you were prepared for that inevitability, anyway.
When my colleague Rich Juzwiak reviewed the Snapchat show Vivian, he wrote that even though he recommended the series, “clearly no one needs it. You can watch it or not watch it and your life will remain unchanged. It’s potato-chip theater, all empty calories that it takes major restraint not to inhale in one sitting. It is reality TV taken to an absurd extreme of nothingness for a culture teeming with people to whom ‘nothing matters lol.’” The same could be said for, well, all successful YouTube creators—BeauTubers, generic influencers, pranksters and their ilk—but the beauty of Mr. Kate is that they’re an exception to the rule. It’s as if their channel has found a unique balance between home design, reality television, and tutorials; it’s not particularly intelligent, but you absolutely can and probably will learn something from it. With the right tools, limited disposable income, and the ability to follow their instruction, nothing matters, lol, but now you have a beautiful gallery wall. What could be better?