After spending so much time at home over the last few months, there are two things we can all pretty much agree on. First, that the importance of living in a space you love can't be underestimated. And second: neither can the importance of good TV.
Which is precisely why we're so excited about the premier of HGTV's new series "Build Me Up." The show, which premiers July 22 at 9 p.m. ET, follows designer Orlando Soria as he helps clients navigate big life transitions with the power of design. It promises to help us all understand how our environment affects our mindset, with plenty of heartwarming breakthroughs and jaw-dropping design transformations along the way.
Intrigued? We caught up with Soria about the show's must-see moments, his take on how design affects our mood, and the decorating mistakes that make him cringe, below.
- Looking for more must-see TV? Check out our pick of the best Netflix series to watch in July.
What's "Build Me Up" all about?
'Build Me Up' is all about something very near and dear to my heart - using interior design to help people improve their lives. Each week on this show, we meet different homeowners going through some type of life transition. These life challenges run the gamut from a single mom whose only son is going off to college, to a father of two who builds an addition to his house so his kids' grandma can move in, to a woman who lost her husband to cancer less than a year ago, trying to pick up the pieces and make a beautiful home for her two young children.
This show is about helping these people through their challenges, starting at home. The design process starts with me figuring out what their needs are - practically and emotionally - and implementing them in their spaces. By the end you'll see their demeanors change because they can really see a new lease on life ahead of them.
The show has an element of design therapy to it. How do you think the atmosphere we live in plays into the way we feel?
I always tell clients that showing care for their space is a way of showing care for themselves and care for the other people in their lives. When your home is in disarray, it's hard to feel at peace with life. And when there are remnants of a past life, whether that be an ex-spouse or someone who passed away, it can be really hard to move on.
On an episode this season, we see a woman who remodeled her bathroom to make it wheelchair accessible for her husband who was struggling with cancer to come home to from the hospital. Unfortunately, he was never able to make it, he passed away before he could use the bathroom she'd ripped apart quickly to accommodate him. So every day when she looked at that torn up bathroom, she'd see that missed experience, that bit of hope she'd had that dissolved into nothing. Facilitating changing that space for her made a world of difference - she no longer had to have that visual reminder of loss staring back at her every morning. You'll see a lot of stories like this on 'Build Me Up,' from heartfelt to humorous, as I help multiple homeowners navigate a way forward using interior design as a starting point.
What's the moment from this season that stands out most in your head? The one we should all be watching and waiting for?
The special one-hour episode of 'Build Me Up,' featuring Corie really sticks in my mind, though each homeowner occupies a space in my mind and heart forever after we shoot - it's a very personal and intense experience for both of us.
Corie and her husband moved into their home eight years ago and had all sorts of plans for it - they wanted to open up the kitchen, to renovate the bathrooms, to paint their two little girls' rooms. But soon after her husband fell ill, was diagnosed with brain cancer, and the subsequent seven years were spent in and out of hospitals.
When we did our reveal and showed her the spaces, it was a bittersweet experience - these were the changes and updates she so dearly wanted to do with her husband while he was alive. So while her joy at her new spaces was palpable, I could also feel this sense of sadness that he hadn't survived to see it. These emotional experiences on the show are real and I hope people feel that. And that episode really sticks out for me as one where I helped someone do something she couldn't do herself because she was still too entrenched in her grief. I'm making it sound depressing, it's really not. There's a lot of laughter and joy in that episode, all the result of the healing you're watching unfold.
What decorating mistakes do you often see that make a room feel "blah"?
One mistake I see a lot is clients who buy furniture that is way too large for a room in order to make it feel luxe and grand. In fact, it does quite the opposite. Buying a sofa that's too big will just make the room feel small.
Instead, if you have a small space, choose furniture that is lower to the ground and more appropriately scaled for the size of home you have. If you need help figuring this out, buy brown craft paper and cut out the footprint of different furniture so you can see how it will fit in the space.
Another common mistake comes when people paint dark spaces light colors thinking that will make it look brighter. In fact, it does just the opposite. It just makes the room feel shadowy and dark. A good rule of thumb is to paint rooms that get a lot of natural light in lighter, less saturated colors and to paint rooms that get less natural light in darker hues to emphasize their moody, romantic vibe.
Since "Build Me Up" is all about creating homes that feel good, if there were a recipe to creating a home with great energy, what would it be?
My goal is always to create a space that looks like the client designed it themselves but did a perfect job on. I want my spaces to tell the story of who the client is, to represent their style and tell the world who they are (or want to be).
The homes on 'Build Me Up' are all so different, each one designed to represent the homeowner, not me. So the first thing I think a home needs is personality: photos, mementos from travel, objects found at flea markets, art by artists they care about, things that make the home feel "real."
Second, I think a home needs to be organized and set up properly. If a house is cluttered or laid out in an awkward way it won't feel right to be in it. This is where I come in - not everyone is great at spatial planning.
And finally, never underestimate the power of lighting. Have as many windows as possible (and don't close drapes unnecessarily, let the light shine in). And invest in lamps and lower level lighting. Recessed lighting is nice, but having light at a lower level makes a room feel cozier and more romantic. This is achieved with tabletop lamps and wall sconces. Lighting makes a world of difference and is one of the most oft-overlooked design elements that can make or break a space.
"Build Me Up" premiers tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET on HGTV.