In an exclusive interview, Hilary Farr speaks Like it or list it, his own home, COVID-19, and his fun relationship with co-star David Visentin.
Like it or list it is a hit on HGTV, helping couples and families find a home that meets their individual growing needs. Couples who are divided in their decisions to sell their home or renovate their existing homes seek help from Farr and Visentin. Visentin takes couples in search of homes, while Farr leads his design team in turning homes into dream homes. At the end of each episode, the couple choose whether they want to stay in their house or put it on the market. Will they “like it or register it”?
One of the funniest aspects of the show, aside from Farr’s design skills, is the joke between Farr and Visentin. Speaking with Farr, Heavy asked him what she liked most about teasing Visentin. Farr joked, “Well David is such an easy target. I mean, pick anything and I’ll tease him about it. One of the things is the Italian hand clapping, when his hands and arms are flying all over the place, like he’s going to take off at any moment. He’s one of them for sure. The other is that it is quite the motor mouth. He really is.
Eric Eremita, one of Farr’s other co-stars, contracted COVID-19, as reported by Deadline, and he was in a New York City hospital battling the disease for three weeks. Eremita is known as the entrepreneur on Like it or list it. Eremita said he was on a ventilator for two weeks and was lucky to be alive.
For more on Farr, his backstage confronts Like it or list it, the effect of COVID-19 on set, and some of Farr’s design challenges, read on for our interview.
Heavy: Hi, Hilaire. How are you?
Farr: I’m fine. Thank you. I’m currently heading to Raleigh to start where we left off with the shoot Like it or list it.
Heavy: Oh, has the COVID pandemic affected the filming of the series a lot?
Farr: Absolutely, it is. We were filming in Raleigh and our last day of filming was March 17 (2020). Then we packed our bags and went to their various locations. In my case, it was Toronto, which is my home. We couldn’t film, nobody was. It was just closed everywhere. In June, we started remote filming specials. Now we pick up where we left off, with the real deal. More from a distance.
Heavy: Okay, that’s good. Now that you’re back in show mode, what are the most common requests you get when renovating people’s homes?
Farr: Quite often it starts with an open concept floor plan. Very often this is a request from young owners with young children who want to be able to be in the kitchen and have a clear view of the children so that they can multitask. It’s also a way of life that works very well these days. Although in the days of COVID now, I think people might want to put their walls back. Also, the other thing is being able to give people an expanded, not just updated, kitchen space and rework the function of that main floor.
Heavy: I know you’ve had some interesting and unique requests from the show’s owners. I think I remember a room dedicated to cats on one of the episodes.
Farr: Oh yes! It was a start. I remember that one… You see, I don’t consider the requests strange because they have absolute meaning for the owners of their homes. So that’s a perfectly reasonable request. We had tough requests on the show but not eccentric.
Not on the show, in my own design world with a client, we had come to the final choices of finishing materials, which was the carpet in this extremely expensive renovation. It was well over $ 1.5 million in renovations. She handed me a small bag and said, “So this is the cat food that my little cats get. She had a lot of them. “I need a rug that matches the color because they throw up a lot.” As a cat owner, that sounded perfectly reasonable to me, but it was odd. (Farr laughs.)
Heavy: So, at the end of each show, a couple decides to stay in their house or sell. Watching the show, I find a lot of them stick around, but has anyone ever changed their decision after filming?
Farr: Oh this is interesting! Well, very recently, while filming our specials recently, we asked ourselves this same question. Did those who loved him stay? I wonder. If you log in, you will get the answer to that one.
Heavy: How do you find so many design ideas on the show? It just seems like your ideas never end.
Farr: If you really analyze the designs you see, once you’ve decided on the floor plan… While many on-air designers would like to say that’s all their work, it isn’t and it wouldn’t be. not in my own studio in Toronto. There is a huge team of very talented people working on these houses that we do. And, in my particular universe, incredibly talented designers …
Homeowners very often ask for the same thing over and over again. We then put our heads together and figured out how we can find the best way to give them what they want, but with a little twist, something a little different. Very often, in fact, we repeat the concepts of many models. It’s their execution that makes them feel different. We adapt them to each owner.
Heavy: You mentioned how so many people love the open concept concept and you respond to the owner’s style. What is your personal style when it comes to your own home.
Farr: in fact I made a house tour with Hoda and Jenna not so long ago and it’s posted on my instagram. It’s from my first floor of my house in Toronto. It’s an interesting design because it works great in the world of COVID by chance. I like the concept of an open plan, but I also like the idea of being able to close these spaces. So my solution is not to open fully but to make very large openings and then use pocket doors. So you just have a really big opening, with absolute connection between the spaces when the doors are retracted into the walls.
This is how my house works and it flows. It’s all one until I choose to close the doors and can have my little space.
Like it or list it Airs at 9 p.m. ET on HGTV, with repeat episodes airing throughout the week.
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