Want to tackle some household projects, but need a little inspiration?

The recently released HGTV Shelf digital magazine app may be just the kick in the tool-belt that you need.

HGTV is well-known for their expertise when it comes to things like home improvement, decorating and DIY. With a successful cable TV network which launched in 1994 as well as a number of sister networks (owned by its parent company Scripps Networks Interactive) like the DIY Network, the Food Network, as well as a website and a print magazine, they have a wealth of experience in these areas. So when it comes to DIY and decorating tips, it is pretty safe to say that they know what they are talking about. I have been an HGTV network fan for years, with Extreme Homes and Dream Builders being their first shows that really hooked me into the network and now I’m admittedly a bit of a House Hunters, Property Virgins and Holmes on Holmes junkie. So needless to say, I was excited to check out a new app from the network.

Upon downloading HGTV’s free Shelf app, you are presented with the four currently available issues of content, ready to download. They are the HGTV Color Guide and Closet Cases issues (which are free), and the Fast Fixes and Dream Decks and Patios issues, which will cost you 99¢ each.

With the wealth of existing content already available in other forms among HGTV’s various media outlets, I was curious if the new app was merely a fresh way to repurpose existing information already available elsewhere, or if the content in each of the 99¢ issues of HGTV Shelf would be exclusive to the new app. Good News…the folks at HGTV told me that “the content that is part of the initial app launch [HGTV Color Guide, Closet Cases and Fast Fixes] includes existing material from HGTV’s network of web sites. Future issues will feature new original content specific to the topic of each issue.”

New issues will be launched monthly, along with seasonal and specialty issues. While the team at HGTV are “continuing to explore subscriptions within the app”, for now the app will stick with an a la carte model, allowing readers to purchase only the issues they want and topics that interest them.

HGTV was kind enough to provide me with details on some of the upcoming issues for HGTV Shelf, but please note that I’ve been told these are subject to change.

  • Dream Decks and Patios – helps homeowners plan their next big deck or patio construction project with photos, videos and tips from the experts. (This issue was just recently released)
  • Kitchen Design Guide – provides inspiration for the look of kitchen countertops, cabinets, flooring and other design elements with inspirational photos and articles.
  • Small Space Style – offers projects and tips on how to get the most out of small rooms, closets and nooks with how-to articles and photos.
  • Fall Living – provides décor and entertainment tips to help homeowners transition from the warm summer days into a cozy space for cooler weather.
  • Fast Fixes : Dining Rooms – provides how-to articles on simple and quick projects to help spruce up any dining space.
  • Holiday Décor and Entertaining – provides tips, how-to ideas and inspiration to make the most of upcoming celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and other early Winter holidays.
  • Home Styles – packs photos and articles illustrating 16 different home styles found across the United States. This mega-issue also features information about the history of each style and how the styles have influenced design beyond home architecture.

As you can see, there is a nice variety of content being published in the coming months. Since there are currently some free issues and some paid ones, I was curious how HGTV went about determining which issues to give away for free and which to charge 99¢ for. In other words, if I paid for an issue, would it contain noticeably more content than one of the free ones?

“We are able to offer a selection of free content for HGTV Shelf, like the Color Guide—it’s our largest issue to date. The original content, however, requires additional time and resources for the editorial team to create it for our fans, hence the charge. Whether it’s free or paid, we know our visitors love looking though photo galleries and browsing for inspiration and HGTV Shelf offers that resource for fans every month.

The paid content packages offer more original content that you can’t find elsewhere. One example of a larger and more in-depth package is the Home Styles issue for December. It will be a “mega-issue,” which includes photos and articles illustrating 16 different home styles found across the United States and information about the history of each style and how the styles influenced design beyond home architecture.”

I have to say that the polish on the issues is impressive (especially on the third gen iPad), it feels like you are reading a partially interactive print issue of a glossy home / design magazine that you might browse through at the book store or at your local home improvement store. Navigating issues is easy, with intuitive swipe gestures, animations, and tappable areas.

Each issue contains a decent amount of content for your 99¢, but don’t expect a full print magazine’s worth of content for that low price. If I had to take a guess, I’d say each issue equates to an average of about a 30+ screens-worth, with a lot more images than actual text. The photos are crisp, clear and inviting, and each issue contains an extensive gallery to both illustrate and inspire. Though I haven’t put any to the test just yet, the steps for the included DIY projects seemed fairly simple and straight forward.

In a couple of weeks I plan on installing closet organizers into both my daughter’s closets while they are away on a visit to Grandma & Grandpa’s house (shhh it’s a secret). So I was really excited to check out the free issue, HGTV Closet Cases. Aside from the HGTV name, this was one of the things that initially drew me to the HGTV Shelf app. HGTV Closet Cases is broken down into a number of sections including a really useful set of tips on what to consider when designing your dream closet, common clutter culprits, space-saving advice and five easy ideas for kids’ closets. Bingo! There is also a HUGE gallery of images of all sorts of designs to help me get my creative juices flowing.

Really the only annoying issue I’ve had with the app thus far, is that my issues keep disappearing from my iPad, forcing me to re-download them. Since the issues range in size from 250 MB to 400 MB, and there is no way background the task (if you leave the app, the download pauses), nor queue multiple issues to automatically download sequentially, it means you could be in for a good deal of thumb twiddling while you are waiting to get the content.

In Conclusion

If you are a HGTV fan, then odds are you have probably already downloaded HGTV Shelf, so I may be preaching to the choir. However, if not and you are into decorating or remodeling shows, reading home or lifestyle magazines or are a wannabe DIY-er, but don’t know where to start, then you should definitely check out this free app. It is filled with great tips, photos and ideas to help jump-start your next project. With a couple of really nice freebies and paid issues individually priced at just 99¢ each, you can pick and chose exactly which content you want to purchase. No level necessary, install HGTV Shelf on your iPad today.