You turn on the TV to that reality show on home decorating, and immerse yourself in a whirlwind of (someone else’s) hammering, speed shopping, plastering and putting on the finishing touches.
And just one hour later, the room is completely finished!
How do they do it? Wouldn’t it be lovely if your own decorating and renovating projects went so smoothly and quickly?
Well, welcome to the home-decorating version of instant gratification, says interior designer Krista Watterworth, 40, who freelance-designs for TV production companies (right now, her shows include DIY Network’s Vanilla Ice Project, a redo of the rapper’s Wellington investment property, and a new Food Network show, Restaurant Impossible, on restaurant-renovation projects).
In her regular (off TV) business, it takes a year or two to design a home from start to finish, she said. “But for TV, you see it as a mess one day, and the next day, it’s completely redone. There’s something really fun about that.”
For a bathroom, for instance, tearing it out and putting it all back together again takes about 10 days, and the only way to make that happen is in pre-production and ordering — ready-to-go, ready-to-install.
She brings her computer with her when she’s doing a show and all her AutoCAD designs. And she has a big crew. That helps.
“For my next show, I’m laying out flooring, 1,700 square feet of it in two days. You can just imagine.”
All of that super-speed designing and renovating, and she has to look good with that power drill while keeping her own home in order. Watterworth lives in a townhome in Admiral’s Cove, with her husband, Eric Alterman, a start-up social-media networking pro who commutes to work in Manhattan, and their children, Griffon, 2, and Skylar, their brand-new baby.
How does she do it? Her background certainly provided a good basis, she said.
Growing up in an Italian family, she applied to home decor what she learned from her mother’s expert cooking. When she talked about what she does to a room, it’s all about recipes. And she honed her skills by studying at the Parsons School of Design, followed by earning a master’s degree at The Actors Studio. Then, while she pursued a modeling career, she kept at her decorating, by staging and styling rooms for parties and entertaining.
Those were the perfect ingredients for a career as a TV interior designer. “I really combine the things I love. The vitality of camera work – the real time of it, even though we are taping, I love that, and I love homes. Each room has character, and that ties into acting.
Since the whole premise of home and garden shows is based on the idea that everyone loves to look inside someone else’s home, here’s a peak into Watterworth’s family home in Admiral’s Cove. It had been her husband’s bachelor pad, and before that, it was her in-laws’ good-weather getaway.
“A lot of people want to work with what they’ve got – I had an entire show about that, Splurge and Save,” she said. “It was all about maybe buying one good piece, refurbishing old furniture and designing around what you already have rather than fighting it.”
So, she took that tack in this home, which, she believes her family will soon outgrow.
“The leather couch was my husband’s, and I think it looks like it came out of a gentlemen’s club or a law firm, but I worked with it and chose the wood colors in the kitchen based on that — cabinets with rosewood finishes and rubbed bronze hardware. They have a Mediterranean feel, but they go with what we have.
“My husband also had the rustic farm table and the Oriental rugs. They are really beautiful and have a traditional feeling, so I used them, but softened it, adding the wrought-iron console and art of the Manhattan Bridge. We decided to keep the house neutral, and not go to contemporary.”
Which is exactly opposite to advice she gives to people wanting to stage an investment home, where going contemporary is the key.
That’s what she did with the million-dollar Wellington home she staged for Vanilla Ice, with a $7,000 budget for furniture and accessories from Pier 1 Imports.
“We carefully chose items that were modern, and didn’t go global tribal. We wanted a clean and simple look, so that anyone with any style taste could envision living there. But it had to be warm and comfortable, too.”
And here’s another tip. For those, like Watterworth, who have growing families and will need a bigger house fairly soon, open up your floor plan, she advised.
“We had a traditional sunroom with sliding doors. I enclosed it, putting the sliders on the outer wall and carried the Saturnia marble floor out, and I closed off a portion of the living room to make another bedroom. I took the wall down between the living room and the kitchen, too.
“People want open-concept living. That’s how we live today. We don’t wear suits and hats anymore. The 1950s and ‘60s were more formal with closed-off rooms. Now, it’s open and you create spaces in the larger room defined by purpose – ‘Here’s where we sit. Read. Eat.’”
And although Watterworth’s husband and in-laws have enjoyed Palm Beach County for years, Watterworth is just now getting into it.
“If I had my druthers, I’d live in Boca next to my sister-in-law, so she could babysit,” she said. “But I love it here. It’s close to the beach. I love Jupiter. It’s quiet and family-oriented and my husband and I have made great friends here.”