I’m sure by now all you design buffs out there have watched or at least heard of the multitude of design and home décor shows seen on HGTV or similar networks. It’s pretty safe to say that design has taken over the airways in some regards — you can’t flip a channel without catching a glimpse of Ty, Samantha, Colin and Justin, Steven and Chris, Candace, or Sarah and Tommy … and if none of these names ring a bell, it’s probably because you don’t own a television!
There are loads of shows out there that depict the workings of designers/decorators/stylists — some of them inspiring, some of them a little daunting, depending on your own tastes, likes, and dislikes. Some might argue that the principle argument of design is after all, a matter of personal reflection and opinion. I can’t help but mention, however, that there are indeed realistic and "made-for-TV" shows on the airways right now, no matter what your style may be.
I’ll admit, it's somewhat sheepishly entertaining to watch a horrified couple stare in disbelief at walls that have been tarred and feathered, or at carpet that’s been painted. As viewers we've sometimes watched in wonder and incredulity: what were they thinking!? I have to admit though, no matter how funny or entertaining some of these types of shows may be, in no way do they realistically depict the true nature or workings of an interior designer or design team professionals. I’m not one to name names, but I think by now you can single out a few shows, or at least a few episodes, where some, or all of the above mentioned has left a gut-wrenching feeling in the pits of your stomachs.
There are a few great examples on TV right now that do, however, illustrate exactly how the design process works, and what an interior designer or design team does throughout the duration of a project. Love them or lump them, the Designer Guys (Chris Hyndman and Steven Sabados), who now have a daily talk show called Steven & Chris on CBC, are not only humorous and engaging to watch, their method of approach remains focused on the client’s own needs and requirements from start to finish. Meshing classic and contemporary elements in most of their spaces, these guys know exactly how to style a room. Having met them both at a home show in Calgary, it's nice to know they are just as quirky and entertaining in person as they are on TV!
Candice Olson, Canadian mega-mogul for The W Network, and often featured in House and Home Magazine, has a great show at the moment called Candice Tells All featuring the transformations from average to gorgeous and sometimes classically quirky rooms and spaces. Not only does she show her trades people hard at work, she spills the tips and secrets designers use to make their spaces such a success!
My personal favorite — known well throughout the design circuit — Sarah's House, and Sarah 101 is a hip and urban alternative to tired and predictable design. Sarah Richardson, principle designer of Sarah Richardson Design in Toronto, is the highlight of this show, along with her young and talented design team (who doesn't love Tommy and his one-line zingers?) A semi-reality show where cameras follow the ups and downs of the firm’s design projects, viewers are finally introduced to the ‘real world’ of design. Client meetings, client research, conceptual schematics, trades people, site visits, project revisions — as viewers we feel like we’re a part of the process. Both of these show an insider’s view into the inner workings of a busy urban interior design firm — with some talent, smarts, drama, and delight all wrapped up in one. Check out Sarah's House and Sarah 101 at at hgtv.ca/sarahshouse, and hgtv.ca/sarah101
Whether you’re truly passionate about design, or just enjoy the variety on TV from time to time, just know the difference between where to find good design, and simply made-for-TV entertainment!
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 28, 2012