HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse (host of Carter Can, Million Dollar Rooms and Red, Hot & Green) has a new book out for homeowners who want to tackle their home design challenges (with practicality, style and a bit of environmental responsibility). Carter’s Way hit bookshelves just yesterday.
Carter knows how intimidating home design can be. With his upbeat “you can do it” attitude, he shows readers how to create budget-conscious design elements that they can implement with basic tools and a little DIY experience. His mission is to bring people’s imaginations to life when it comes to home design.
In Carter’s Way, he decodes the principles of design, using specific examples and stunning photography. He also teaches readers how to be environmentally responsible by using green products wherever possible — without adding huge costs or hassle to the project. Each chapter covers a different area of the house, acknowledging the diversity of layouts in today’s homes.
I spoke to Carter this week about his book and while I had him, I asked a few other questions as well. Here’s what he had to say.
DH: You talk about “The Million Dollar Perspective” in your book — that if you take on never-before completed tasks with a mindset of ‘If offered a million dollars to do this, I will find a way to do it’ — you’ll be certain to find a way to do the project. But how does a person come to the conclusion that they can’t do it themselves — that they really need to hire out a project?
CO: Some projects are better left to professionals. Unless you have a vast amount of experience with the two, I would leave plumbing and electrical to plumbers and electricians. However, my philosophy can even work with these as well. You can figure out how to handle electrical and plumbing, but you’ll need to do your homework, your research and be a professional’s understudy for a while.
DH: You are not a formally trained designer. How do you see that as impacting your design style? Do you feel you have some advantages over those who are formally trained?
CO: Everything I know about design has been self-taught. Because I didn’t have the background, I was able to see design from a different light. I knew that if I wanted to stay relevant, I had to get in the design space. I had to figure it out on my own.
I was on enough television shows as a carpenter to where I thought, ‘I can do this!’ When I was on Trading Spaces, I worked on a daily basis with different designers. Being a builder by trade, I know how to figure things out and make things work. The same applied for me in the design world. Trading Spaces had 14 designers — I dealt with constant changes. And, they each had different methods/styles/ways of doing things. I was able to absorb it all. Surprisingly, if you take enough notes — you start to learn a vast array of styles.
When it comes to design, my strong suit is dealing with homeowners. I don’t come to the table with a traditional or contemporary mindset. I come with a ‘What does this homeowner want?’ point-of-view.
DH: I like it when you say that just because you have money, that doesn’t mean you have style — that you’ve seen some incredibly ugly million-dollar rooms. Is there a common mistake that you see people making when they design a room (that transcends money)?
CO: Ha! Oh yes. People look at their banking account and think they have to spend all of what’s there on their home. Instead, they should look at the details of their project — what it is exactly that they want to recreate. Instead of being realistic and analyzing the details of space, they just make the decision to change the space. Homeowners need to understand, money can’t fix everything. They need to appreciate their space and go from there. What are the dead spaces? Does the room have a good flow? I constantly see it. People have a lot of money and they decide to scrap everything. Oftentimes, it’s just not necessary.
DH: What do you see as the single, most common “missed opportunity” in home design?
CO: It is most definitely spacial arrangement. Homeowners overlook it altogether. They try to stuff too many things in one space. There’s not good flow in the room. Spacial arrangement is one of the first things you should consider. Just because you see and love a sofa doesn’t mean you should buy it.
You’ve been in a room where you immediately know something is not right. It’s an instantaneous feeling you have. The furniture is too big — things are too crammed together. Your furnishings must be in balance with the room and each other. They all have to work together.
DH: What part of home design do you see as the best place to save a little money — and, on the flip side, where do you see that people should splurge?
CO: If you buy a $2 paintbrush, you’re going to get a $2 paint job. If you want things to last (furniture, appliances, cabinetry), you’re going to need to spend a bit more. But, items like throw pillows, fabrics — you don’t have to spend a ton of money. Those tastes will change over time (maybe even annually). Also, you can save on flooring! Flooring can be cheap! Nowadays, engineered wood flooring (I’m not talking about laminate) looks just as good as hardwood.
DH: My favorite part of your book are these “Carter’s Law,” no-nonsense boxes with real-world advice and tips. Can you give me your top “Carter’s Law” project for fall? What should folks be doing this time of year?
CO: It’s October! It’s fall! The holidays are upon us. This is the perfect time to focus on your front door and your front porch. Make yours stand out from the rest of the neighborhood with wreaths, cornucopias — whatever you want. Show your neighbors how much style you possess.
To enter for a chance to win one of two copies of Carter’s Way, signed by Carter Oosterhouse, leave a comment below. Just answer our question. Are you ready? Here you go: How do you go about styling (decorating) your home?
You may only comment once to be considered, and you don’t have to purchase anything to win; a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Odds depend on total number of entries. Void where prohibited by law. Only open to legal residents of 50 U.S., D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 years of age to win. All entries (comments) must be entered between 10:00 a.m. ET on October 3, 2012 and 5:00 p.m. ET on October 10, 2012. Subject to full official rules. By leaving a comment on the blog, you acknowledge your acceptance to the Official Rules. ARV of prize: $24.95. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a HGTV, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37932.