An HGTV Worthy Home: Making a Home Camera-Ready and Livable
Felicia Smith Gulick and Travis Gulick film the pilot episode of HGTV’s Former Glory. (Photo courtesy of Travis Gulick )
Former Glory focused on Gulick & Co. restoring a classic New England home. (Photo courtesy of Travis Gulick )
Several homes in the area have been featured on HGTV, but what makes a home HGTV ready? We asked local contractors, real estate agents, and interior designers who have had firsthand experience with the process of being featured on an HGTV production.
Realtor Vicky Welch worked with a Stamford couple looking to relocate to a Branford home with water views on Beachfront Bargain Hunt, while Rose Ciardiello was featured on Beach Hunters.
Gulick & Co., a renovation contractor in Madison, was featured on Former Glory as a husband and wife team restoring classic New England homes. Two years ago, a producer contacted Travis Gulick about the possibility of featuring the company.
"When I told her my wife [Felicia Smith Gulick] was an interior designer, that really spurred things because they love the husband-wife thing," says Travis Gulick.
Now that the producer was interested, it was time for the couple to show they had what it takes to appear on camera. They were tasked with taking iPhone videos of each other at different job sites, talking about projects. The company edited the Gulicks' clips to submit to a production company, which then proposed a show to HGTV.
Once the Gulicks were chosen for the pilot, Travis was surprised at how many more decisions still had to be made. They not only had to find buyers who wanted to quickly renovate a house, but the buyers had to be "relatable." Gulick also noted that many people think HGTV is footing the bill, but the clients have to have the funds for the renovation, as well.
"The only time HGTV will pay is if they want a certain feature included in the design," says Gulick, whose favorite part of the process was learning how a TV program is made and learning to be in front of a camera. "You're working while talking about what you're doing. I've got a Sawzall in my hand and making a cut while talking, but not looking at the camera. It got easier as time went by."
The couple worked with camera crews for 12 weeks and the entire process was made into 22 minutes of footage for Former Glory. Gulick custom-built a variety of different pieces for the house during the renovation.
"The biggest thing they [HGTV] want is a wow factor—bringing a '70s kitchen to the modern age and opening it up," says Gulick. "Bathrooms and kitchens are a big thing. They want that great before and after."
While the renovations are a huge piece of transforming the house, the staging plays a big role, as well. Throughout the renovation process, Felicia Gulick was busy creating an inviting interior design to be featured (see sidebar for Felicia Gulick's tips on making a home HGTV ready).
"The craziest part is the last day when you're there all day doing all of the finishing touches," says Gulick. "It was amazing to see it all come together and then to see ourselves on TV."
The process was slightly different for Ciardiello of William Raveis Real Estate. The casting producer with HGTV and Warm Springs Productions reached out to see if Ciardiello had a client looking for a home for less than $1.5 million. Once the client was chosen, they got to work with production crews flying in for the filming.
"I had a very positive experience on set and working with the entire HGTV crew," says Ciardiello. "I helped lend my expertise about the region and real estate to the team and very much enjoyed taking my client to various homes, looking for her dream beach house."
Ciardiello and her client—along with the production crew—then had some long days of filming and visiting homes. The client was looking for a home on the water or within walking distance with an open floor plan, a "great kitchen space," and something that "didn't need much work."
"The show highlighted what was important to her in a home and how we worked together to find it as I always do with my clients," says Ciardiello. "Overall, it was a pleasure and, most importantly, I am thrilled that my client found the beach home of her dreams."
Tips on Making Your Home HGTV Ready
-Felicia Smith Gulick of Gulick & Co.
Edit: Be ruthless with decluttering. The best way to see a tired room's potential is to take all the competing clutter out and start fresh. Once you've cleaned out all the extras, bring in only what is needed to make the room function, then layer from there. Shelves look best when only 75 percent full. Surfaces look best when kept clear except for a few well-placed accent pieces.
Think in Multiples: A single candlestick looks lonely, but joined by non-matching multiples, they become an eye-catching collection. Unique objects can also be grouped to tell a story—a piece of driftwood with a jar of seashells or an antique kitchen scale with different size canning jars. When grouping objects together, play with different heights and sizes to create an interesting dynamic that keeps the eye moving.
Small Details, Big Impact: Changing the hardware on kitchen cabinets or dressers is an easy cost-effective update, but have you thought about other swap outs? Switching out brass door knobs for matte black levers instantly reads modern farmhouse. Switching out the old wood-framed medicine cabinet for a similar-sized slim-framed version is an easy afternoon update. Pendant lights, chandeliers, and ceiling-mounted light fixtures can all be swapped out and updated, often by watching a quick YouTube tutorial or a quick visit from a local handyman. Endless options for inexpensive door hardware, bathroom mirrors, light fixtures, and more can be found on websites like Houzz, Build.com, or Wayfair.
Banish Branding: All the different products we bring into our homes create visual chaos. Decant anything that will be on display daily. Liquid soap, cotton balls, and Q-tips make a cute bathroom display when contained in simple glass jars and pumps. Sugar, flour, and coffee in matching canisters make kitchen countertops look pulled together.
Go Vintage: An antique or vintage piece can give a room character. Think big and outside the box when shopping for a statement piece. Local glass suppliers can cut pieces of glass to fit, turning an old factory mold or machine base into a new coffee table. Old card catalogues or luggage trunks can be turned into tv stands. Ladders and baskets can be used to hold blankets and occupy wall space like a piece of art. Old maps or magazine advertisements framed in multiples create a fun feature wall for a fraction of the price.
Be Cohesive: Today's open floor plans mean design decisions need to flow from room to room. Paint colors should all complement each other with similar undertones, trim color, and accent. Think a neutral palette of crisp white, soft gray, navy, and a pop of yellow or a warm palette of rich wood, creams, and earth tones. Finishes on hardware and light fixtures should also be considered—antique brass pairs well with matte black; shiny chrome needs equally bright tones to keep it from feeling jarring.
Call the Pros: If design isn't your strength or you've lived in your home so long you can't imagine it any other way, a design build contractor can give you the confidence to create the home of your dreams. Details you often overlook, like replacing that outdated oak spindle banister, can make as big an impact as new kitchen countertops. Telling your designer or contractor what you need and how you use the space can help them build custom solutions that fit you and your home, often in ways you never thought possible.
Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .