Thom Filicia was already a well-respected interior designer when he vaulted to fame as a star of Bravo’s hit show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” which ran from 2003-2007, and he has continued to be a go-to star of design shows on HGTV and the Style network. The Emmy Award winner and author visited Charlotte recently as he prepared to launch an expansion of his furniture line, made by North Carolina-based Vanguard Furniture (the line is available at High Cotton Home, 2137 South Boulevard, and The Furniture Connector, 2905 Griffith Street). The expanded line will debut at this month’s High Point Market.Filicia, who has been named one of House Beautiful's Top 100 Designers and one of House & Garden's Top 50 International Tastemakers, took some time to speak with SouthPark Magazine about his design philosophies and some of his upcoming projects.
Q. What’s going on with your TV projects?
I’m still on the Style network shows “Dress My Nest” and “Tacky House,” which are still airing. I just moved to HGTV and did an episode of “Design Star.” I’m working on two new shows with HGTV with a development deal. We’re shooting a holiday special in L.A. and other things will come together soon.
Q. What can we expect to see happening with your furniture line?
We’re calling it the new American. It’s all of these classic silhouettes, but with a fresh, modern twist. They are timely and timeless at the same time. This October at High Point we have about 27 new pieces we’re introducing (on top of) 70 pieces that have been available.
Q. You became famous on a TV show aimed at redecorating for men. Would you describe your aesthetic as masculine?
No. The shows are not really derivative of what I do as a designer. “Dress My Nest” was for women, “Tacky House” was for people who had really tacky houses, one of my new shows is probably going to be about celebrities. TV is fun and interesting, a great medium to work in, a great way to speak about design and speak to many people and have fun with it, which I love, but it doesn’t direct where the design is going.
My sensibility tends to be clean and crisp, a bit restrained, and that can sometimes be thought of as masculine, but I have my moments of getting a little bit more decorative or flavorful or fun. So I think it has a nice balance. It would make sense in a traditional home or modern home. I think it makes sense for women who like clean, crisp lines and for men who think design is important.
Q. If someone wants to redecorate their home and they don’t really know where to start, what should they be thinking about?
The first question to ask yourself is the way you live, how you use your home, the way you entertain, what your home life is about – if it’s kids and family, or entertaining, or if your home is your refuge from work. Everyone’s home takes on a different personality and a different point of view based on the use of the home.
The home should tell the story of the person who lives there, and you should be able to walk in and figure out who these people are. Your interior – it’s important that it be an honest reflection of who you are and your lifestyle, because if it is then you’ll utilize it and enjoy it, and it will have a soul to it and come alive. It won’t just be this backdrop; it will be a pivotal part of your experience.
Q. What one thing you see people do in their homes drives you nuts because it’s tacky?
One thing that is unfortunate, and I would say leans toward tacky, is designing rooms that you are incapable of using. When people decorate a space that is not an honest reflection of who they are and therefore they are afraid to go in there or let anyone use it, it becomes a museum. And I think you’re cheating yourself out of the enjoyment and the fruit of your labor.
Designing your home and creating a space you love is really important for a lot of people and I certainly enjoy that, but I also think every scratch you put off your floor, every dinner party that takes a little bit of the finish off your dining table, every birthday party that takes the finish off your countertops, is actually what makes your home a real place. It’d be like if you could preserve your clothes and keep them in perfect condition, after a few years, you wouldn’t want to wear them anymore. When you design your home, you should choose things you’ll love the rest of your life, but you should also be excited a few years down the road about maybe choosing a different chair fabric or a new sofa pillow.
I always explain to people, if you put so much effort into trying to preserve things, you won’t enjoy them, and the amount of money you spend preserving them you could have actually put into reupholstering and doing something fresh and new to get you happy and excited about it again. If you love to design your home and enjoy your space, it’s kind of like a love affair. You’ve got to keep things fresh – that’s the reason people have date night, you know?
It’s nice when the weather changes and your bedding changes, the holidays come and you look at your home differently, you travel and bring something back into your home. All of that activity keeps it fresh and alive. I think there’s a big difference between an interior that has a soul and an interior that feels decorated. I love the idea of people enjoying the art of decorating, but I think it’s more important that they just enjoy their home.