British-born and bred Hilary Farr has brought her love for “Quiet Design” across the pond to HGTV’s hit show “Love It or List It.” Her friendly banter with co-host David Visentin keeps audience entertained while they enjoy watching Hilary use her design prowess to transform hopeless spaces into attractive, functional rooms. In the end, clients are able to see their home with a fresh pair of eyes and make the decision to stay or to reside elsewhere.
I’m honored to have the privilege of interviewing Hilary because there was much more I wanted to know about the woman behind the design. For inquiring minds, like myself, I hope you enjoy this piece and become inspired by British-design royalty.
Erika Ward: Who were your early influences?
Hilary Farr: The British. They have an eccentric and endless range of architecture that requires an equally unique design savvy. The English countryside, the large country homes, the castles, the gritty areas of London, the small houses and the huge ones. I understood how colour would help lift your spirits in the endlessly grey and damp climate. I learned how to work with space that was limited, or fill space that was huge. England formed my love of, “Quiet Design”. The understated, eclectic look is still the most satisfying to me.
My mother was a big influence. She worked with antique buyers at Liberties of London and she dragged me off to auction houses and estate sales in grand old homes. By osmosis, I learned about texture, patina, and scale as items were discarded or accepted.
England formed my love of, “Quiet Design”. The understated, eclectic look is still the most satisfying to me.
EW: Tell us a bit about your educational background.
HF: I studied art and theatre. I never expected design to be a career.
HF: Research and read. Take the time to discover ideas that are new to you. Listen to advice and new ideas, but don’t get talked into design that you don’t absolutely love. If it doesn’t excite you, or doesn’t work with your lifestyle you will not be happy in your home. Never, ever design your home based upon a trend.
EW: If you could live in any period of time for its interior design, what would it be?
HF: 1960’s.It was a new age. Everything was changing. Fabulous design, new lifestyle and The Womens’ Liberation Movement was starting. Female influence was taking hold.
EW: For those who don’t have the high-end budget, what advice can you give when designing on a limited budget?
HF: If your home needs some TLC, refinish or upgrade worn or ugly floors and paint walls and trim. These are DIY jobs that will transform your home and can be designed around any budget.
EW: Has concern for the economy influenced your style and design?
HF: Yes, to a degree. Times are uncertain and homeowners want to know that they are getting the best bang for their buck in terms of value for future resale. That mindset makes them less likely to think of their house as a long term commitment and that means I do far less big scale personalized design.
EW: Which rooms do you enjoy designing the most?
HF: Master Bedrooms. AKA The Sanctuary. Really important after doing battle out there all day. And for stressed out couples, a sexy place to recapture some romance that can get lost in the hurly burly of jobs and kids.
HF: Accepting that the client has the last word. When I know I have found the perfect set of lamps or table, or chair or colour for the wall, but the client just doesn’t see it, I resist having to compromise knowing it won’t be quite as perfect. However, the easiest thing for me is understanding what my clients want. So part A of this question doesn’t happen too often.
EW: What are some of your favorite finishing touches in a room?
HF: Lamps and fresh flowers
When I am not designing, I am …
Spending time in my own home with my pets and fixing or updating something long neglected.
Homeowners telling me they will never ever leave the perfect home I have created for them. (they truly believe it at the time!)
Looking forward to…
Creating a line of home decor products. Terence Coman, who was a big influence, says his ambition was “to produce useful things at a price most people could afford.” That is what I aspire to.