Learning from HGTV’s John Gidding
H.J. Martin Interior Designer Valerie Greetan recently attended Surfaces, the industry’s leading floor covering event, in Las Vegas. She brought back some great ideas to share with H.J. Martin clients, but she also had the unique opportunity to listen to John Gidding, an HGTV television personality who has appeared on “Design to Sell” and “Curb Appeal.”
After years of watching John on HGTV, I have always been a huge fan of his work and style. With architecture degrees from both Yale and Harvard, John is more than just a television personality. This background showed through in his presentation, where he gave us some insider tips on drawing and architectural perspective. He also shared some quick design tips:
- You can transform your home’s exterior by taking the focus off the automobile/driveway and putting it on the front walk.
- Little things can make a big difference, like unique, high-quality home numbers. Plastic stick-ons are a huge John Gidding “no-no,” and I would have to agree.
- Your approach shouldn’t be about spending a lot of money. Instead, focus on finding creative alternatives that give the look of more expensive options.
He talked about what is real and fake on television, the selection process for featured homeowners, how the budgeting works and what happens if they go over budget.
His biggest insight? While most of us love to daydream about having professionals come in and redo our house, yard or décor, it also means that the homeowner must completely give up control. At that point, the network is the designer’s customer, not the homeowner. As John said, “If the network wants green and you like blue, you better learn to like green.” Being a featured homeowner means you have to put your faith in the hands of HGTV.
He also talked about product placement and advertising on his shows. While John couldn’t speak for all shows, he said that if the product is not right for his show, he will not use it, even if it’s being provided for free. As a designer I can relate to that. There are many times in this industry where there is a lot of fluff out on products.
At H.J. Martin our business model is different than most floor covering operations. Sure, we inventory products to bring added value to our builder and remodel customers so we can bring upscale looks in more affordable price ranges, but our business is not about driving inventory at consumers. It’s about finding the best look, and the best product for that particular client, whether it’s in stock or not.
It’s our job to present the facts, the options and our expert design advice. However it’s the customer’s choice on what they fall in love with and want in their home. We want to sell the experience, the concept of what his or her space could be and to give our customers as many tools as we can, not just sell floors. After listening to John’s approach and how similar it is to the H.J. Martin business model, I feel we are certainly aligned as leaders in the industry.