There are certain homes that exhibit so much personality, you feel like you know who lives there as soon as you walk in the door. One such home is designer and television personality Genevieve Gorder’s, a tiny 1850’s New York apartment that she lovingly restored for her and her daughter. Genevieve chronicles the renovation process on her new hit HGTV show Genevieve’s Renovation, one of many TV appearances since her stint as a designer on TLC’s Trading Spaces.
House & Home caught up with the bubbly and vivacious designer at the Samsung Home Innovation Showroom in Toronto to get her tips on adding character to your space. Read on for a look inside her character-filled home.
Before coming up with a design concept, Genevieve gets clients to hone in on their personal style with a series of questions. “It’s a lot of communication before we get to picking ‘I want pink’ and ‘I want a plant,’” says Genevieve. “I get them to think about how to connect the visual to the emotion of their life.” For example, think about what colors make you happy. Genevieve is attracted to warm hues, like red and gold, which are sprinkled throughout her home.
Genevieve likes to let happy memories from childhood influence her design choices. “I think it’s a lot about your childhood – where you grew up and what that looked like, both in nature and in your home,” says Genevieve. In her space, simple white walls, black window frames and cozy throws represent Genevieve’s Scandinavian background.
Decorate with items that have sentimental value or have a story behind them, like family heirlooms and vintage pieces from your travels. “I have a really large print of a ship that my great-grandmother came to America from Croatia on. That is a huge deal for me. It’s almost like a portal for everybody from the past to come though,” says Genevieve.
Genevieve avoids anything too matchy-matchy. “We tend to want to buy clean sets of things and call it done, but life isn’t a clean moment. It’s about how we combine things. There should be a little bit of old and a little bit of new,” she says. In Genevieve’s living room, an old apothecary cabinet plays off the modern, moody paint color on the walls.
Genevieve’s formula for making a space feel balanced? “New always needs old, black always needs white and the curve always needs the straight line,” she says. In her kitchen, glossy lacquer cabinets are offset by brass globe pendants and weathered herringbone floors for a dynamic mix of old and new.
“Soul is something that you can’t just buy. I like pieces that tell a story of where I’m from. I’m drawn to certain pieces for a reason,” says Genevieve. In her daughter Bebelle’s bedroom, the bed frame — a family heirloom that Genevieve painted black — and a handmade swing bring depth to the space.
“Everyone has that moment when they see something think ‘I wish I would have gotten that.’ That’s the moment you connected to an object.” Genevieve’s favorite piece in her home? “I love my big chunky beads from all over the world. I like to lay and lump them under the stairs or off a fireplace or on a bed post,” she says.
“Home trends are just like fashion trends – you can’t believe all the hype otherwise you look like a sucker. I adhere softly to a lot of trends and the ones that speak deeply to me, I’ll dive right in,” she says. Genevieve chose exotic tiles in the bathroom that, although trendy, also appeal to her innate love of marigold and pattern.