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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Design By 5: Housewears Chats with HGTV's Tommy Smythe

I had a great time chatting with the fourth designer in our Design By 5 series - HGTV's Tommy Smythe, the witty and stylish sidekick for Sarah Richardson on 'Design Inc.', 'Sarah's House', and currently on 'Sarah's Cottage'. Tommy may be slight in stature, but his personality is super sized! As for his design style, he calls himself a maximalist rather than a minimalist. He was happy to give us his perspective on home improvement, and how can you not adore those smiling eyes and perfect (freshly bleached, he told us) pearly whites?

photo courtesy HGTV
Beyond his television work, Tommy is a regular contributor to Canadian House and Home and Style at Home magazine, and he's travelling around the country making appearances. He was the featured designer at the London Home and Garden Show last weekend. At the Opening Night Party at IDS09, we discussed home renovation and the colours he's gravitating to as of late. Design is in Tommy's blood; his grandmother Dorothea was a designer, and his sister Christie Smythe is co-owner of 'Smythe Les Vestes', a chic line of womens' jackets carried by high end department stores such as Holt Renfrew, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale's.

Smythe Equestrian Jacket courtesy Luxe Label

And now, the interview:

Housewears: As you know Tommy, the HRTC (Home Renovation Tax Credit) is an incentive provided to Canadian homeowners until February 2010, allowing savings of up to $1350 for a $10,000 home renovation. Where in a home do you feel people should invest that money to create a 'wow' factor?

Tommy: That's a really great question. I would say kitchens and bathrooms are a great place to invest in, and for both of these, rather than concentrating on up high or down low, I would focus on the mid-line areas, from eye level to waist level because we notice these areas and interact with them most.

Housewears: So, give me some examples of what you would change in an existing kitchen.

Tommy: Definitely kitchen countertops is a good area, even an island top, all of those working areas, backsplashes are a great way to add detail, even faucets, sinks, are areas you would be looking at and interacting with on a daily basis, so a perfect place to add interest.

Carrera marble tile kitchen via Cote de Texas

Simple subway tile and an art niche creates huge interest in this kitchen.

Oval stainless tiles via Apartment Therapy

Photos above and below courtesy of HGTV

photos above and below courtesy of Apartment Therapy

Glass tile goes vertical! courtesy Building Stone Magazine

Housewears: So we also want to know what colours and paint chips you really like right now.

Tommy: Well, one would definitely be green, a deep rich green. It's very regal.

Housewears: So you mean an emerald green?

Tommy: I would call it Yves St. Laurent green, it's stunning. And another colour I love is a battleship gray. It's a great neutral.

Ugly Betty's Becki Newton in green YSL for collection 2009

YSL green shoes via Shoewawa

YSL's Ombre 5 Eyeshadow

Housewears: So the battleship gray would be considered a light gray?

Tommy: Think of a pair of sweatpants. The gray of a sweatshirt. That's a great colour that
works well with so many other colours, and it's so sweats!

Ralph Lauren's Thoroughbred Paint in TH04 'Sweatshirt Gray'

Photo courtesy of These grays look cozy!

Thanks so much, Tommy, for your great ideas! Your energy is infectious, Sarah is so wise to have such a great counterpart! This week, Housewears is hooked on Tommy! Check out Hooked on Houses to see what others are hooked on this week.

We're going to take a break from interviews, so stay tuned for next week's post on colour!!!


  1. Great interview! I've seen his work everywhere and had no idea who the genius was behind it. Thank you for showcasing him :)


  2. He has great ideas! I am going to go read the other interviews now. Well done!

    Please stop by my blog. I am hosting a 200th post giveaway.

  3. Love the interview, thanks!! Tommy is hilarious -- he's so much fun to watch on TV :-)

    I'm happy to know that all the changes we're planning for our kitchen are the same ones Tommy suggested :-)

    I love the narrow rectangular glass tiles installed vertically instead of horizontally. I saw that done on an episode of My Big Amazing Renovation. There's also a glass tile line called Icestix that are shown installed vertically on their web site:

    Not sure sure about dark green but I LOVE gray!!

    Kelly @ DesignTies


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