Genevieve Gorder From HGTV’s Design Star Interview On Renovating Her House On TV


Genevieve Gorder is best known for her turn as HGTV Design Star judge and from her own series Dear Genevieve. Now starring in a new show, Genevieve’s Renovation, the tables have been turned and the designer’s home is on the wrecking block. Real Style talked to Genevieve about adding smart elements to her home and how it felt to be on the receiving end of a home makeover. See what she had to say.

Real Style: What are some of the benefits of having a smart home?

Genevieve Gorder: I think the first place to start is really in your pocket, with your smartphone and using this as the control pad for your life, whether that’s your climate, it’s your lighting, it’s your speakers and sound system. With Sunrun especially, it’s also about energy. We can’t not take advantage of solar energy at this point in time. It’s almost a little irresponsible, because it is so easy now. You know, it really wasn’t accessible for everybody who didn’t have a bunch of change in their pocket. Now, it’s been made accessible to the masses, just like design. I think that that’s a really beautiful thing. That definitely needs to be talked about more.

Real Style: If we could only choose one way to make our home smart, which way do you think is the best?

Genevieve: It’s a personal preference, depending on where they live and how they live. For myself, I think it was a smart television that I engaged with first. But I would say, having done everything in my home now, that I would definitely start with my phone and the climate and then work my way towards the TV because it felt really overwhelming to me. It felt like my TV was smarter than me! I think we all have to take that moment, like we do when a new computer operating system is introduced. Take three months, take three hours, so it lasts many years and works for you better for many years. I think that the big piece of advice is just taking the time to educate yourself.

Real Style: How did it feel to be on the other side of your show for Genevieve’s Renovation?

Genevieve:  It sucked. I had GC’s, I had camera guys, I had five million subcontractors in there. My house is the “hangout house”,  it’s my showroom. To have it completely destroyed for so long and not having my nest, I really realized a lot about myself. A: how little I really need. I don’t need that much stuff. B: how much my whole social stratosphere is connected to this hub that I have created and everyone sees it as this “hub” of hangout And then C: letting go. People would be spilling Doritos, and not getting stuff done, or falling through my floor into the other person’s apartment through their ceiling and being like “oh, whatever!” Emotionally it was a real roller coaster and I’m really glad to show the process of design, because so often it’s just the befores and afters. Never do you see what the interior designer goes through, because there’s so much to cover. It’s so big. But we attempted to do that in this, it’s more of a documentary on doing this, the realness, the costs, the pitfalls, the ugliness, the imperfections (which I like the best).

GG croppedReal Style: “Documentary” makes it seem very personal!

Genevieve: It is.  After a year and a half, I was ready to not have people over.  I was ready to just be alone with my daughter and my house for a long while, and just hear quiet because I hadn’t heard it in so long.

Real Style: Is that the part you were least looking forward to, when you had the renovation ongoing? The lack of privacy?

Genevieve: Yeah, and having my work control my private life. That was hard. It was really hard and stressful, and things don’t get done on TV time in Manhattan. There was a lot of waiting; it was a really interesting exercise. I’m glad I did it in retrospect, but would I ever do it again? No way.

Real Style: What kind of changes did you make that you think people can learn from or apply to their own renovations at home?

Genevieve: I think it’s about some of the most important pieces in my house are pieces from my family that were not significant at all in their lives, but I had memory to, so there was great sentiment. Feeling like it was okay to alter them in a way that they became very useful and relevant now. For me, that was just about putting black oil paint on old wooden things. You know, there’s guilt to attach to it. When you really are using it, as they would have wanted you to anyways, it’s really good. Your house has soul.

Real Style: What sort of design or decorating mistake do people make and how can they avoid it?

Genevieve:  You think you’re going down the wrong road or you’ve taken the wrong turn, and then you quickly have to think on your feet to remedy it and it becomes something completely unexpected and beautiful. I think not letting yourself have mistakes is the biggest mistake. Also, I think thinking that design is a competition, because it’s not.

Real Style: Okay. How about in terms of behind the scenes? What happens behind the scenes of a design show that the audience doesn’t get to see?

Genevieve: Well, we’re all very close, because it’s probably the hardest genre of television that there is. I think that we all talk like sailors behind the cameras! I think there’s a closeness to the work culture because you’re so revealing at work. Everyone behind the scenes does that as well, and you have to trust yourself to make it work.  What don’t you see? How hard it is, that’s what you don’t really see. It’s really, really hard- and it’s like the best job in the world.

Real Style: What’s something that your fans and audience would be surprised to learn about you?

Genevieve: Like a secret superpower? I’ll tell you what! Here are three little things. I’m bilingual, I worked for Prince, and I’m a classically trained violinist.

Real Style: What can audiences expect to see in the future if you have any upcoming projects with HGTV?

Genevieve: I’m actually shooting a big special in Hawaii next month for a surprise recipient who I can’t mention right now, but it is on a very high level of respect that we are going to do this person’s home. That will be airing simultaneously on the Cooking Channel, Food Network, HGTV all on the same day at the same time. I don’t have the time at the moment, but I think it will be sometime early this fall. I’ll be starting a new series this fall, which is to be determined what the name is as of yet, and then I’ll be going to the White House again this winter. So that, and then I launch two ships in October with Royal Caribbean, which is so exciting, designing ships, and then a rug collection this fall. A lot launching, I’ve been incubating for a while. And then there’s the show!


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