There’s no place like home. If anyone can attest to the veracity of that statement, it’s Hilary Farr of the hit HGTV show, Love it or List it. The international home designer addresses her clients’ needs and uses her keen sense of style, as well as her budget savvy skills to successfully renovate homes. Her co-host and real estate agent, David Visentin, encourages families to embark on a fresh start by moving into a new house. While David sees problems with the client’s current home, Hilary sees potential. The friendly rivalry between the hosts keeps audience entertained as they anxiously await for the homeowners to reveal whether they have fallen in love with their home all over again and decide to stay or they opt to reside elsewhere.
Hilary will be appearing at the “Spring into Style” party at Art Van Furniture in Novi tonight at 6 p.m.
The Toronto native took some time from her hectic schedule for a Q&A session with StyleLine.
Q: How did you begin your career as an interior designer?
A: I was in LA and decorated my own home in a very English way…Antiques, lots of garden designs in chintz and heavy drapes. I mixed that with California chic style of very relaxed informal seating. It was a bit different and led to me being asked to do the same for friends and eventually, to a small business.
When I moved to Canada, I adapted that California chic/informal style to homes here. It was interesting since the climate and lifestyle was completely opposite to California. But I adapted the style to work with the cold weather: different light, grey skies, plus the scale was different. With Victorian architecture, came different proportions. Toronto liked it! I was dressing my own houses I was flipping to sell, and that led to a client base of homeowners who had liked what they saw when they viewed the homes, and the buyers of my homes wanting me to re-create the look for them when they moved in. Along with that were real estate agents, asking me to dress homes they were listing. That was when I decided to make it a full-time career.
Q: How did the concept of the show “Love It or List It” formulate?
A: That was the brainchild of our producers at Big Coat Productions.
Q: What and who inspires your design aesthetic?
A: I am inspired by new things all the time. When I say new…it often is something old that I see anew and want to integrate into design.
For example, when I was browsing in an antique bookstore recently, I was struck by the flyleaf, with its colours of oil paint swirling on the paper. I have been working with that in another application ever since.
I am inspired by memories of places I have visited in the world, and by other designers. So often I see what they have done and can't imagine why I didn't think of that! Barbara Barry is one of my favourites.
Q: Do you have a favorite episode?
A: I have a favourite episode based upon the challenge seeming to be insurmountable and yet we pulled it off. Look for the episode with Sandra who insisted I find a spot for her deceased mother’s old fur coats!
Q: What is the biggest design catastrophe that you have ever encountered on the show?
A: We have had a leak that was huge and wouldn't stop. Everything we did worked for a day, and then another leak would appear. Horrible!
Q: Describe your relationship on and off camera with your co-host, David Visentin?
A: David and I are best friends who are polar opposites in all things, except we are both very competitive. We laugh a lot, and really enjoy working together, but what you see on the show is pretty much us. We were on a plane together and a man in the seat beside us begged to be moved because we were so annoying: laughing and bickering and being generally the way we just are! A lot of people think we are married.
Q: What interior design trends are you most excited about this spring?
A: I am not a follower of trends in my design in any conscious way, but I am loving the botanicals and the way they are seeping into obvious areas such as textiles and accent pieces but also humorous pieces, such as stag head mounted on a wall covered in embroidered flowers. I love the strong neutrals – tone on tone – in different finishes. Lacquer is big; it’s so interesting how it bounces the light creating a luminous feel. A wall in the same colour that is matte absorbs the light and textiles, and tiles add texture. I love that look! The same colour, such as a deep plum, takes on different hues only because of how the colour bounces or absorbs light.
Q: What advice would you give to homeowners with a limited budget who want to update/transform a room in their house?
A: Oh dear. It’s so difficult to answer. Everyone has different challenges in their homes. But of course the first thing to consider is paint. It is an instant face-lift, and can update the look with new colours and fresh trim. Floors would be next, the largest area of your home apart from walls and ceilings. If you want to get rid of old carpet – and you should get rid of old carpet – but are on a tight budget, consider laminate. It's come a long way and is fabulous. The other material that has come into its own for those on a budget where hardwood isn't an option is vinyl flooring. Never thought I'd say that, but I am really impressed with the new ones I've seen come on the market.
Q: What do you think is the correlation between fashion and interior design?
A: The idea of fashion being a reflection of how people are feeling and how the economy is doing seems to hold true. I think it's an obvious connection people are either a bit depressed and need cheering up, or are feeling completely optimistic. A lipstick by Chanel will cheer you up and not break the bank. A pillow in a great colour or design will do the same. If you look at what was on the runway for spring with every designer from Valentino to Zara was showing pretty prints of flowers in pastels and bright colours, which has also hit the home decor market. I like to believe we are seeking a different value system and want to get back to nature and give Mother Nature a big fat hug! Perhaps it's escapism from the sometimes-grim reality of life on earth? But it's also just plain pretty, and pretty is always in style, in the home and in clothing.
Q: What’s next for Hilary Farr?
A: I have a line of bedding coming out on The Shopping Channel in Canada May 15th, followed in September by a much larger and very sumptuous collection of bedding, luxurious sheets, and draperies, also on The Shopping Channel. I am excited; it's quite unique. Meanwhile, lots more episodes of Love it or List it to look forward to.
For more on Hilary, visit www.hilaryfarrdesign.com.