Girl We Love: Casey Noble
Posted by Katie Ostoich on May 17, 2012 at 5:23 PM
We had the chance to sit down this week with Casey Noble, an amazing interior designer and host of HGTV’s Design on a Dime to chat about how she got to where she is and the lessons she learned along the way. Read our interview with the fabulous Casey!
1. Many of our readers may recognize you from several shows on HGTV. In fact, you got your start on TV on the show Design Star. How did you come across such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?
It was a friend of a friend situation.My friend and business partner heard from her friend (follow me) that there was an open casting call for Design Star Season 5. At the time, I owned a company with two other designers, and we’d just launched an online service that was intended to take custom interior design to the masses. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any way of reaching the masses. So when we heard about the show, we knew it was a great opportunity for some much-needed exposure to an audience we coveted. However, we also heard that over 10,000 designers apply.So, let me just say, we didn’t spend too much time on our application video. (May that thing never resurface.)
The following week, to our surprise, we were interviewed on the phone, then in person, and then I got the call to go to New York to be on the show. Whoo-hooo! Or, at least, it should’ve been whoo-hooo! Instead, it was actually more like whooooo-okaaaay. Participating in the show meant I’d be gone for up to six weeks, which was not ideal for our young company. But I was no fool – This was too good of an opportunity to pass up. So, I left for NYC to compete on the show, and the rest is history.
2. Before you started designing on TV, you worked for design firms and even started your own company. How did you get started in interior design?
I’ve always been a designer. I studied computer graphics in college, and worked as a web designer for two years. But by then, after sitting at a computer for years, my eyes had almost permanently crossed. Not a good look. So when I moved to LA in 2002, I made the decision to go back to school for interior design. I immediately quit my job as a graphics artist, got a new job at a residential interior design firm (making copies), and applied to FIDM’s interior design program.
Following graduation a year later, my career took off. This is partly due to luck, but mostly due to some seriously serious determination and hard work. My husband used to say I worked the hours of an investment banker with none of the perks. (Whatever those are – Money? Hookers?) But the design world is very competitive – specifically the type of design I did: luxury hospitality design. So I knew if I wanted a long lasting, successful career, I had to work hard. So I did.
I worked for some of the most established firms on high-profile projects for the next six years, focused on the US and Asia. However, when the recession hit the travel industry hard in 2009, and so many hotel development projects were put on hold, I was left counting paperclips at my desk. Which is only good for 2 to 3 days of enjoyment, max. So, I connected with two of my former associates, and we decided that because we all of a sudden had the time, it was the perfect time to launch our own company. And our company had some very big successes, early on. We all three came from well-known, reputable firms, and we brought some of our clients with us. We also launched an online brand (see above), so from the start, we were fortunate, and we stayed busy.
Enter Design Star. I confess: things changed for me when I took that little trip into TV land. I had a blast. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my work as a hospitality designer, but I’d been doing that for years and this was something new and different. It was creatively challenging and crazy fun. And even though I didn’t win Design Star, I stayed until the final three contestants, which meant I was on every episode. So, by the time it was over, my relationship with HGTV was pretty strong. Six months later, when they decided to reinvent the Design On A Dime brand, and launch a new series, they contacted me. And I – of course – said hell yes.
3. After appearing on Design Star, you are now the host of Design on a Dime. It seems like the dream job to us!!! Did you haveany doubts about taking the offer to host the show? Has being on TV changed your life in a good and/or bad way?
For a short time, I did have a hard time making the decision to officially become a TV designer and host. I had a company that I had poured my heart into, and the idea of leaving that for something that might be short-lived was crazy, right?? (There are no guarantees in television programming.) However, it was a simple conversation with a mentor that helped me gain perspective. He said to me, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, you idiot.” Or maybe that last part was implied. But he reminded me that I wasn’t going to forget how to design, and that I could always come back to it if the tv gig was short-lived or long-lived or whatever. I should take the chance and take the job. So I did. And I never regretted it.
My life now is pretty different. I still work long hours some days, but my job has changed entirely. I’m working on homes, for one, and not hotels. Second, Design On A Dime is about budget-friendly projects and ideas, and my days are spent in the trenches, doing projects and getting my hands dirty. Like, paint-on-my-shirt, dirt under-my-nails, ripped-jeans dirty. Also, my job now is to inform and inspire. So, I have to communicate my ideas to everyone watching. While I’m working. Which is kinda like patting yourself on the head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. Sometimes it takes a few tries.
Aside from all of that – don’t let me fool you – there are some serious perks that come along with the new job. Like I get my hair and makeup done every day. And I ride around in town cars, like a gangster. AND I get to do crazy fun stuff when we’re not shooting, like be in The Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. So, just to be clear, I’m not complaining. I’m bragging. (Shameless.)
4. Is designing for TV different from your regular design practice? If yes, how so?
Yes, it’s different! Holy cow, is it different. Of course, the design principals are the same, but consider that standing in between my design and my audience is an entire line-up of cameras, computers, and television screens. Which basically means it’s hard to control – and I always have to consider what these machines do to my rooms and try to adjust accordingly. For instance, the camera doesn’t appreciate texture like the human eye, so my work for TV has to be much higher in contrast than normal. Also, colors often read more muted on TV, so I have to dial it up in person. Lastly, the camera has a very narrow point of view. So, despite that a person experiences a room as a whole, the camera doesn’t. I have to consider each view the camera is going to capture, and make sure each view looks interesting and finished. No wall must go un-designed! Tricky.
5. What are your top three budget-friendly tips for women decorating their first home?
- Paint is cheap, but color can make a new house yourhome. So paint! And remember to swatch a least a few colors in each room before making final selections. You’ll thank me when you see that what you thought was your favorite color doesn’t work. (It happens to me all the time.)
- Take advantage of flea markets, consignment stores, and websites like Etsy for furniture and accessory shopping. Vintage and handmade items are super chic right now, and they are also (often) super affordable. Mix them in with more modern pieces for a collected, editorial look.
- Try to use what you already have. Even if it means painting or slip covering pieces – You can save a lot of money repurposing.
- When all else fails, buy fresh flowers.
6. I know you’ve seen them! What are some of the biggest decorating mistakes people make? Have you seen any true horror stories?
Two words: accent walls. Please, please, do not attempt an accent wall unless you are a professional. Painting one wall in a room a different color is a crazy trend that caught on years ago, that – in reality – most of the time only serves to make a room feel disjointed and at odds with itself. Please! Say no to accent walls.
Oh, and men alwayshang art to high. Silly. A good rule of thumb: when hanging art above a piece of furniture, keep the bottom edge around 4-5” above the top of the console or sofa back, etc. If the piece is hanging by itself, the center should be at about eye-level – 5’ to 5 ½’ above the floor.
7. We’d all love to spend a fortune on our furniture and accessories for the home, but we’re girls on a budget. What are the items you should invest in for the home?
I believe in new upholstery. Tables, (wood) chairs, area rugs, all of these items are perfect candidates for vintage or used furniture. However, when it comes to upholstered chairs and sofas and headboards, I value having the piece of mind that each piece is clean and new and doesn’t have any crazy history I don’t know about. Like my college roommate.
Also, do yourself a favor and invest in a quality mattress and boxspring and quality bedding. A good night’s sleep will change your life, every single day.
8. What’s a typical day like?
During a shoot week, my day starts basically the night before.JI get up at 4:45am, and drag myself to the gym. (Yes. Drag.) About an hour later, I get in my car and drive to set, which is at a different location in LA every week. Once on set at 7am, I’m supposed to go straight to hair and make up, but most days Livia (makeup artist) finds me devouring a bagel at the craft services table around 7:30am. Craft services, if you don’t already know, is a cruel buffet of tasty snacks, which tempts me all day long on set. (I have learned a few things about myself at craft services. For instance, I don’t like hot strawberries, but I love mini Twix bars.)
After breakfast, I try to sit still for Livia in hair and make up. She dolls me up, I change into my work clothes, and then as soon as the audio guy (or gal) sticks a mic to my shirt, we’re ready to roll. For the next eight or so hours I work with my design and construction team on projects and installation while the cameras and production crew follow me around. I’m not sure I’ll ever totally get used to that.
After we wrap, around 5 or 6pm, I usually do some accessory shopping on my way home. (I like to have about a million accessories on hand for when I’m styling a room. You never know what’s going to work in a room until you’re in there!) Then, I’m home by around 9pm, I eat a late dinner, and I fall into bed, face first.
Unless it’s Saturday. And then it’s basically, I sleep.
9. What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment?
Simply staying committed to myself and the goals I set, so many years ago. There have been many days when it would’ve been so much easier to sit on the sofa, watch Pretty Woman, and eat Cheetos. But what would I have now? Except bigger thighs and a catalog of great movie quotes…But I can always do that later.
10. We can only imagine how busy you are, so how do you balance your work and personal life (ie: friends, husband, etc.)
Okay, yeeeaaaahh. Personal time. You got me. I don’t do the best job of balancing all of those things, but what can I say? I’m a work in progress. Luckily, I have a very supportive husband with a really flexible, work-from-home job, so we grab time together whenever we can. And we make sure to plan weekends away whenever possible.
As far as time with the girls, I’m very lucky to work with a few women that I call very good friends. So, I’m lucky I get my fix at work. (Don’t tell my boss that we’re gossiping on the job.) And my weekends are mine. I used to work weekends – consistently. But with more experience comes the knowledge that whatever I don’t get to by Friday will be waiting for me on Monday. Whether I like it or not.
11.Since you're constantly getting your hands dirty, yet have to look good for TV, what's your beauty regimen like? Any tips you can give us on how to have flawless skin too?
Oh geez - No kidding, up until about a year ago, I had a very very sad routine that included no more than a bar of Dove soap and a bottle of Lubriderm. However, as I inch further and further into my 30s, I’m understanding how important good skin care is. (Am I too late??) Here’s my new approach: every day, I wash morning and night with a mild face soap, followed by a light face moisturizer with an SPF. Once a week, I exfoliate and I try to schedule a basic facial every other month or so. My favorite skin care line is Kate Sommerville, but it’s a littlepricey, so I ask for gift cards when my bday rolls around. Oh! Very important: whatever I do to my face, I do to my neck and chest. That skin is all very similar and is usually exposed to the same amount of sun and pollution. Yuk.
12. Where do you look for your inspiration? Who are your role models?
Travel. There is nothing more inspiring than stepping out of my every day world and into a new environment. It wakes me up in every way.
There are so many designers I admire! To name a few: Kelly Wearstler for her impeccable taste and eye for treasure, Jonathan Adler for his playful approach and his smart marketing, Yabu Pushelburg for their ability to infuse drama and elegance into a space at the same time (not always easy), David Collins! because his are designs I wish I created myself, and Graft for pushing the envelope and challenging the way we experience our environments.
13. What is your favorite quote or “little life lesson?”
“Never fear being vulgar, just boring.” - Diana Vreeland
14. What are your favorite hotspots? (ie: vacation spots, cities, restaurants, stores, whatever)
Vacation: Miami Beach at The Delano, with a dinner at Casa Tua
City: Hong Kong. It’s the perfect East meets West with amazing shopping.
Brunch in LA: BLD for the pancakes. Duh.
Stores: Any store in Las Vegas. You have to admit, they’re mostly gorgeous. (Crystals has a few gems.)