This year’s Fall Home and Leisure Show will feature beloved HGTV personality, Tommy Smythe.
Best known for his role as designer associate to Sarah Richardson of Room Service, Design Inc, Sarah’s House, Sarah’s Cottage, Sarah 101 and Real Potential, Tommy brings years of impeccable
style and design experience to the Main Stage October 4 and 5th at Evergreen Park TEC Centre.
Debbie Reid, {Previous} Fall Home and Leisure Show Manager, and Tommy Smythe recently caught up by phone.
Here is their conversation:
DR: Let me tell you a bit about our show. The Fall Home and Leisure Show is in its second year. I want to build a home show that brings an entertainment component to the Trade Show environment. We have a large main stage and I want to showcase local talent as much as possible – because we have a lot of it in our region. You are the first feature designer we have hosted at the Fall Home and Leisure Show and we look forward to having you share your experiences with us!

DR: How did you get started?

TS: I have for a very long time, since I was a little kid, been interested in design. My Grandmother was an interior designer for over 40 years. I grew up in a creative, fluctuating, and ever changing environment. [As a young adult] I had a job as a waiter that paid really well and I could afford to travel and live a good lifestyle. I started purchasing things and decorated a 3rd floor apartment in a home owned by a co-worker. Friends started asking design advice and it sparked an interest in me and launched me into the world of interior design. I wanted to seek out an old fashioned approach [to my education] – more of an apprenticeship – and so I took a position at a reputable design house on Young Street, frequented by top Canadian Designers. I got career advice from well-known designers like Brian Gluckstein and Ray Staples. Lots of wonderful people in the business came in to the store all the time. It was a rich and enriching time for me and my career.

DR: How did you and Sarah meet?

TS: Sarah and I had known each other previously and our careers started to have similar trajectories. Sarah had asked me to work with her on her TV show Room Service when one of her creative assistants left the program. Then Sarah had a maverick and ingenious concept of pulling back the curtains on her design shop and the wildly popular Design Inc. was launched. I did well on camera on that show and really fell into a
TV career. Now we are in 54 countries with four or five series.

DR: You use antiques in an interesting way in your work. What are some tricks and tips?

TS: One of my missions in my career overall is to teach people who are younger, or who are my contemporaries, how to live in a modern way with antiques. I know I get ribbing for that from Sarah on the show for gravitating towards the most expensive things. My eye is trained towards the best quality thing in the room. It takes longer to make and materials are of a superior quality so yes, that piece comes at a higher price. What I try to teach people is don’t go for the cheaper version or knock off versions; be patient enough to have the best you can afford. There is an old proverb that says ‘buy the best and you only cry once.’ It’s not that difficult to mix antiques furnishing with contemporary furnishings. We try showing people how to make their home as personal, and as reflective of their tastes as they can. Style comes with knowing yourself. Who you are, where you come from, and where you want to go. It’s learning how to express that outwardly. In your clothes, in your home, everywhere.

DR: When you are working with heirloom pieces, do you recommend altering the piece, and if so, does it affect the value of the piece?
TS: The value of the piece for me is really personal. You value it for reasons that are sentimental. If it’s an heirloom piece that is not currently working for you in your home, then yes alter it! Maybe use a more current
fabric, or frame it, or put it in another room with another function. Everything from atea towel, to a push pin, to an armoire can
be reimagined. If it doesn’t work with your design concept, but has strong memories attached to it, think of other ways to make it work in your space. Repurpose it.

DR: Good quality stands the test of time.
TS: Yeah, but not all sentimental pieces are of good quality! If you have something of sentimental value but not of good quality, something given to you by someone who is no longer with us, say, that’s when up cycling or embellishing it comes in. That’s when I might say, okay, let’s lacquer it and make it red!

DR: Renovating is a big deal. What kind of advice can you give families to help them cope with the changing environment that comes with a renovation?
TS: I don’t make any bones about it. It’s a nightmare. I always talk about this with my clients, and will talk about it in my presentation at your show, about the triangle of expectations. But I also have some controversial ideas about family vis a vis decorating. People say they can’t have nice things because they have children. I disagree. Growing up I was surrounded by nice things, when my sister and I were four and six our living room had white sofas in it. You need to teach your children boundaries. Every great leader should be loved and feared in equal measures – and my mother was a great leader. We loved her, yet she scared the hell out of us. And so we were taught to respect things.

DR: Well Tommy, we have an action packed weekend planned for you October 4 and 5th.
TS: I will be coming to Grande Prairie straight from New York. And I am looking forward to the discussion when I am in your city about how to inject personality and style into new build homes. It takes a long time for a home to feel lived in. Times for the trees to establish, time for the gardens to take hold. What I often refer to as the seasoning or patina of your home. I love going to places in Canada I’ve not been to before and I look forward to visiting Grande Prairie.

Tommy Smythe will be appearing LIVE on stage at the Grande Prairie Fall Home and Leisure Show:
Friday, October 4, 2013 7pm
Saturday, October 5, 2013 12pm

2017-07-09T02:12:44+00:00 April 28th, 2013|At The Show, Celebrity Guests|