Well, maybe “bred” isn’t exactly the word, but I was so pleased to see that Tyler Wisler, who made his name as an HGTV Star and continues to be a popular TV decorating personality, first studied at American University and Marymount University before heading to the New York School of Interior Design. He’ll be appearing this Friday at the Home + Remodeling Show.
“Marymount, as well as American, as well as New York School of Interior Design all taught me that design is subjective. There are no real rules to it… It’s about the creation of spaces that speak to the owners. My time at Marymount was just such fun! It was a while ago, so my memory is fuzzy, but I just remember having conversations with professors about selling your designs and believing in them. That’s what it’s about. Confidence in your projects!” Wisler wrote to me in a Q&A.
Here are more of his thoughts:
What do you think of DC’s design scene?
I’m blown away with the shops, the new buildings, new architectural features… It’s quite beautiful! My husband and I are so impressed every time we visit, sparking that conversation of “maybe we should move back”… I originally left because I didn’t honestly think my aesthetic as a designer was a good fit with the traditional way DC used to be, but cruising through Logan Circle or Thomas Circle has me rethinking everything!
How is decorating for TV different than “in real life”?
Wait, what?!… There’s a difference? You mean TV isn’t real?!… Say it ain’t so! Hehe! The camera is an amazing thing. It’s shows the viewers only what it wants to show you. Things look perfect because who wants to see a production hiccup? Well unless the show is on BRAVO, then you live for that…
The biggest thing is, people need to keep in mind that there are teams working nonstop to accomplish these projects in ridiculously impossible time frames. Also, the DIY aspects of the show are always fun and inspiring, but really for entertainment purposes. I’m all for a great DIY project on accessories, or art, but DIY’ing a piece of furniture gets into another realm of difficulty. Just keep that in mind if you’re seriously considering it.
Most of us don’t have unlimited budgets, so when we’re trying to decide what to purchase for our homes, what are things you should definitely splurge on, and which items can you pinch pennies for?
I think you should spend money on the things that are most used. Your sofa, your mattress, your desk chair… You want these items to last you! As cliche as it sounds, with home items, most of the time you really do get what you pay for. Things you can save a few dollars on are accessories and art. Pillows, table top decor, even lamps can be purchased relatively inexpensively and give you a great aesthetic, and if it breaks, or you grow tired of can be switched out easily.
Where are your favorite home-goods shops?
I don’t go to many brick and mortar home good places anymore, with sites like Wayfair around… Although I do have to say one of my favorite sites is actually Etsy! I love scrolling through all the one-of-a-kind hand crafted goods. It’s actually the first place that I go to nowadays for lighting and decorative hardware. The sellers are eager and talented artisans who really love their craft and take such pride in their original works. I love it!
What’s your best shopping score from your travels?
I don’t know whether this is considered part of my travels, but back in the early 90’s I lived in Manhattan, and back then the Chelsea area used to have the most amazing outdoor flea markets, in large open parking lots. They were chocked full of curiosities and the most amazing salvage pieces. One of the walking trips there, my now-husband and I found a cool pressed tin and wood steamer trunk. I think we paid like 35 bucks or something, but 23 years later, that trunk is in our living room, storing extra throw blankets. That is what I think a score is… Something that stands the test of time, and all these years later, we still love it!
Of all your TV appearances, what’s been your most memorable decorating/renovation project?
I have to say the most recent makeover project I did for NBC’s “George to the Rescue” was a really touching one. This young couple got married, he was a contractor, she was teacher, and shortly after tying the knot, she was diagnosed with ALS. Much to their surprise, almost immediately following the diagnosis, she discovered she was also pregnant. That was almost four years ago. The disease has been progressing, and their modest home was just not as accessible as it could be for someone living in a wheelchair with a small child. The GTTR team came in to renovate their bathroom, because this posed the biggest obstacle for the family’s everyday functioning. But of course, in true TV form, we went in and not only gave them a new barrier-free bathroom, but also a renovated kitchen and transformed bedroom for their daughter. It was a really emotional reveal. They still text me, showing me pictures of them using the new spaces and appliances, and will drop me random notes saying “Thank You.” That’s what really makes everything worth it… You can watch the entire episode here.
Who is your design icon and why?
There are quite a few people I look up to for various reasons… I know you’re probably not referring to fashion, but this has to be said. I think Tom Ford is just a master of style and fashion design. If I could dress and smell like him everyday, it would be a dream… A really really really expensive dream! Hehe! But in terms of interior design, I really think Nate Berkus has hit a home run. He has managed to be that guy who on a day-to-day basis designs for the luxury market, but he also appeals to the everyday consumer with his affordable product lines. He is a genius! There are very few designers who have been able to straddle both worlds seamlessly… Big props to him!
Tyler will be on stage at the home show at 3 pm and 6 pm on Friday, so in case you’re not working for Inauguration Day and get weary of the television, head on out to Chantilly and see him speak! The hours in show information is right here.
In the meantime, here’s a little teaser of the type of work he’s done on TV: