It’s safe to say that over the course of many hours spent watching HGTV shows, we’ve all probably shared the same thought: “I wish ______ could design my home!” As it turns out, they probably can! Before they’re given a program on the TV network and beamed into your house via the silver screen, many HGTV stars start out as regular small business owners, offering their design services to everyday clients. And even after they’ve found TV fame, many continue to work on private projects away from the cameras.
Curious how to book an HGTV design personality for your own project? Here are three options that vary in budget and scale, depending on your needs.
If You Want to Commission a Full Project
We’ll come right out and say it—if you’re looking to hire an HGTV designer to do a big project for you, it won’t be cheap. You’re paying not only for the designer’s services, but also for their high-value brand. But say you do have a big budget, where do you begin? It’s really as simple as googling the designer’s studio, finding a contact email or phone number, and asking if they’re taking new clients.
One big-name designer who’s currently open for clients is Nate Berkus, through his firm Nate Berkus Associates, which he co-leads with designer Lauren Buxbaum Gordon. Once you reach out, be prepared to bare your soul. “The best interiors are always ones that are deeply personal, so you really need to get to know the person, or family first in order to design a space that truly reflects who they are and what they care about,” says Berkus.
But don’t worry about what you’re going to say—he’ll help guide you along the way. “We provide a very detailed questionnaire to prospective clients to get to know them better. What’s in their wardrobe? Where do they travel? How do they like to live? In essence, who are they, and what’s important to them?” says Berkus. “A client’s Instagram or Pinterest page is also a font of info, both to see what they gravitate towards aesthetic-wise and also to learn more about their personality.”
If You Want a One-Off Consultation
Say you’re seeking some top-level professional design advice, but you don’t necessarily want to (or have the budget to) hire a designer for a full-scale project. A new platform called The Expert offers just that. Through The Expert, you can book video consultations with design-world superstars, including some familiar faces from your favorite TV shows.
HGTV star Leanne Ford joined the platform during the pandemic, when in-person meetings became an impossibility. Previously, she had been attempting to virtually offer design advice via Cameo, a platform where fans can buy video shoutouts from their favorite celebrities. “People would send me pictures, and then I would just give them a minute or two of ‘move this here’ or ‘try this,’” says Ford. “It was so fun, but it was a little bit too short, like two minutes. You can't really crank out a lot.”
So when fellow designer Jake Arnold alerted her to The Expert (Paloma Contreras, Brigette Romanek, Brian Paquette, and Heidi Caillier are among the other design talents on the platform), she was thrilled to join. “For 30 minutes or an hour, you can connect with a designer and ask them all the questions,” says Ford. “It's much cheaper than having a designer come to your house. We just kind of give you a cheat sheet to think of blueprints differently, or to think of layouts or colors differently. Sometimes all you need is an hour to get rolling in the right direction.” Ford's consultations start at $750 for 25 minutes.
New designers are added to the platform all the time, and many, including Leanne, plan to keep at it even when the pandemic ends.
If You Want to Be on TV
Some HGTV stars are only available for projects for their TV shows, so if you’re looking for their services, you’ll have to be cast in a future season. Conveniently, the network makes it pretty easy to find its casting calls: just visit HGTV.com/shows/be-on-hgtv. You’ll see all the shows that are looking for participants, plus the qualifications you’ll need for each show, such as geographic location and budget. If you’re selected, just be prepared to face the ugly truth—TV shows aren’t all that they seem. For instance, some programs require you to be pretty far along in your real estate hunt, even if the TV show makes it seem like you’re starting from scratch.
Typically, it’s the extra-busy TV stars whose services are only available through their shows, including Jonathan and Drew Scott (better known as the Property Brothers) and former HGTV darlings Chip and Joanna Gaines (who put out a casting call for the new season of Fixer Upper on their upcoming Magnolia Network last summer). You’ll have to be willing to move to the Waco area if you want to be on the show, though—the couple only works locally.
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