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POP INTERVIEW: “HGTV Design Star” Winner Meg Caswell’s Latest Chapter

Meg Caswell’s success hasn’t stopped with winning HGTV Design Star season 6. The host of Meg’s Great Rooms is up to big tasks as usual with her next show, HGTV Home Makeover, premiering on March 23.



Meg Caswell’s success hasn’t stopped with winning HGTV Design Star season 6. The host of Meg’s Great Rooms is up to big tasks as usual with her next show, HGTV Home Makeover, premiering on March 23.

Meg Caswell of HGTV's Meg's Great Rooms.

I was so excited to interview you because everyone from Illinois is naturally outrageously good looking, fun and unbelievably talented like the two of us. OK, I kid, I kid…halfway. What about local architecture and means of life inspires you within your home decor style? Our part of the country has a rich history. It’s the best place ever.
I totally agree Chicagoans are the best people to live with and we live in the greatest city in the country! Chicago is considered the Mecca of architecture. Growing up surrounded by beautiful design definitely defined my taste level. Going to the Art Institute of Chicago for school gave me first-hand access to breathtaking design that Chicago is known for. Even now, I joke about giving my own private Chicago city tours; I’m fascinated by our great city!

Growing up in homes that were professionally decorated and visiting Palm Beach, FL a lot on vacations helped me understand what a completed space should look like, even as a kid. The Florida trips really rubbed off on me; I think the vibrant preppy mix from that region really reflects my own person style. I call it “Preppy Palm Beach Chic.” I am always redesigning and trying new color combos because I get excited about something new, whether its a new fabric or a rug… I just want to try it out! Thank goodness my husband is extremely patient with all my design changes.

Can you believe you actually won, not just competed in but *WON*, a reality TV show on a big cable network like HGTV? The odds of doing that are like winning the lottery and a date with George Clooney in the same day. Wow!
Looking back now I see what a huge life changing event that time was. I knew nothing was ever going to be the same, but I didn’t really understand at the time where it would take me — there were so many unknowns after experiencing something that public. I had talked about having my own TV show for years— Oh yea I believe in dreaming big – and now to finally have the opportunity, wow is right! My dreams came true… It’s the best thing that had ever happened to me! Well, then the next best thing happened to me… I got engaged 4 days later! I guess you can say I was having a good week! Ha!

One episode on your show “Meg’s Great Rooms” was called “Teeny Tiny Room.” What is your advice for people working on small rooms or studio apartments? You did a great job.
Thank you! I learned early in my design education how to think of surfaces differently. I recommend to anyone with a small, or even an awkward space, to ask himself or herself: “what else can this space accomplish?” You need to look past the obvious and try to see how a space can play double duty! For example how can a bench be used not only for sitting but also for storage and as a step stool to reach upper cabinets? (Or what about the side of that cabinet, it could flip up and become extra workspace as a temporary desk when needed). In the TINY house challenge I even hung pots upside down from the ceiling so they wouldn’t take up precious counter space.

Your portfolio features a room you call bohemian inspired. What can people do if, say, a man likes bohemian style but is a bit serious of a guy and he doesn’t want to overdo it?
Bohemian style is more of a carefree design. Bohemian incorporates a lot of different design styles and elements into one. If you don’t want to over do it, try and stay within two main colors (design speak: colorways), which will help tie together all the different elements together.

Are you ever inspired indirectly by unexpected people like famous artists or movies?
I’m inspired by everything around me, which includes fashion, music and good cinematography in movies. When I see a well-designed movie set or a period-piece movie I get really excited to start a new project that reflects that same perfection. Set design teaches designers how to really take it ‘all the way!’ Every detail in a movie helps tell the story, and as interior designers our job is to help our clients tell their story. We are opening up our client on a whole new level, and every detail should reflect their personal story.

Your powder room portfolio sample has pink wallpaper. I’m curious, with so much people tell me about houses having a harder time reselling with unique wallpapers, why do you use it? Wallpaper to begin with, which builders and house flippers I know from Illinois hate removing, and a girly color like that? Not that there is anything wrong with your choice; it looks great. Just wondering why you took a risk like that for a portfolio!
Well you may be surprised to learn that this particular house you refer too just sold as a pocket listing (never fully went on the market)… for the asking price… in CASH! (over a $1.5 million) One of the things the new owners loved, loved, LOVED was all the wallpaper I put in the house. The pink Nina Campbell bathroom paper, the printed Philip Jefferies grass cloth in the dining room… and to seal the deal they coveted the huge damask print grass cloth in the nursery! I personally think if a space is designed well, the house will sell well, too! *PS I have dozens of design projects I need to update my portfolio with, I just never seem to find the time!

On the other end of the color spectrum, your baby room for some clients uses super dark colors found in office buildings. It’s almost Japanese-corporate. I have not seen anything like it before. What kind of person would be attracted to a room like this? A single dad who doesn’t want a feminine baby room? Really, I mean it, lots of trendy single dads exist!
Some clients really want something different. This one, in particular, lives in a loft with a very worldly look and a mixture of colors and patterns. She wanted a serene baby’s room. What you can’t see in the picture is the happy, orange accent color. She also knew that eventually the baby’s ‘things’ (toys, clothes, etc.) would eventually add so much color and chaos to the room that she wanted it to be a neutral space.

Meg Caswell 1

If someone wants to work with an amazingly creative interior designer like yourself, and he or she knows what they do not want but not what they want, how do you work with that person in order to prevent him or her from being furious with the final result? It is like saying, “I am THE Angelina Jolie going to the Oscars. I like soft, pink dresses,” and some pricey couture house comes along and makes you look like a frizzy pink poodle. You don’t mean “pink poodle.” You said “pink dresses!” But you don’t know what style of pink dress you actually want, you know?
I have to be a good designer and an even better listener, not to mention I have to ask A LOT of questions!!! What really helps is showing my clients images of styles and pieces I’m suggesting. I normally make sure this type of client sees everything before they buy it! I also stay away from creating super-custom pieces that have never been made before because if it arrives and that piece doesn’t look like what they thought it would they are then stuck with it because it can’t be returned! And, believe it or not, I tap into my criminology background and profile each of my clients (Design CSI… it really works!) I pay attention to their clothing choices, car choices, etc. This really helps me understand their personal style.

You use a lot of red. Why do you like this color so much?
I actually do not like red for myself. I design for my clients taste and wants. I guess a lot of them have liked red… I prefer coral myself!

Have you ever made your own furniture or artwork for clients?
Yes I love designing furniture and having it made! Chicago has some of the best craftsman in the country and I love putting their skills to use. I should actually start documenting them for my own furniture line.. Thanks for the idea!

I feel horrifically uncomfortable having anything used or antique. How can I get that same look without actually using antiques? I want to live it up just like Cole Porter, like that “I am this really grouchy old stock trading man puffing off a cigar” decor you see at nice hotel condos in big cities and old NYC co-ops, when I get my first of many grand properties I want to own myself. Who knows when that would be at this rate, but as Disney’s “Cinderella” sings, a dream is a wish your heart makes.
I’m with you on dreaming BIG! I’m living my life’s dream right now being on TV and doing what I love! I’m sure your dreams will come true and you will own several properties and villas ’round the globe… But when you do, you must call me to decorate ALL of them!! I can create the look you want with all new pieces! There are soooo many techniques these days that artisan have come up with to make new look old!! New leather can be distressed; you can add a patina to metal to take off the shine; the list goes on and on! You just need to know where to look and hire a good designer.. hint hint…Right now I’m actually designing a kitchen that looks like it was built in the 1920s in France! You just need to look at the details of what makes it authentically old and find the right craftsman to recreate it! DETAILS… DETAILS!

You’re so pretty in your wedding pictures. How much is your husband Randy involved with your life in home decor and now, TV?
Awwww, you are soooo sweet! I loved every part of my wedding day! I was so excited to get married I almost forgot to put make up on! My husband Randy grew up working in his family’s TV/movie industry business in Wilmington, North Carolina. So many movies are shot there that its lovingly called the east coast Hollywood. When I film my shows, he is a huge help to the production crew. He understands all the behind the scenes stuff that goes on and can even be found fixing equipment when it breaks or helping my carpenters build my designs. Some of my greatest design moments on Meg’s Great Rooms have even come from Randy! He is very creative and when I’m stuck sometimes I’ll brain storm with him and he really helps me find the best solution! I have truly found my life partner! He comes with me on my ‘inspiration vacations’ that was recently documented in a special called America’s Best Kept Secrets on HGTV. My fans have gotten to know Randy and they are all hoping to see a lot more of him! His nickname is Handsome Ransom; of course I’m biased and agree with them!

Please tell us everything about how we can hear about you this year!
I recently just completed America’s Most Embarrassing Living Room contest that was featured in the HGTV magazine (Jan/Feb issue) as well as America’s Best Kept Secrets where I went to some truly unique places in San Francisco, Austin, TX, and of course Chicago! Coming up on March 23rd my newest show, HGTV Home Makeover, will air at 6/5 CT and that same night I will be helping Dina Manzo (of HGTV’s Dina’s Party and formally Housewives of New Jersey) host her charity’s Lady Bug Bash at the Chicago Cultural Center (talk about amazing architecture!). I will be auctioned off live with a $5,000 gift certificate to Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams. The event is mostly sold out but there are a few regular tickets available! I hope to see all my Chicagoan fans come out and support this amazing charity! I’m also working on some new TV projects that I can’t exactly share just yet! Follow me on Facebook and Twitter and I’ll post what’s next as soon as I can! I always respond personally and answer all the design questions people send my way!


What’s Brian Tryin’? The Crispy Sandwich Maker by Apod!



This weekend I tried out a new product that’s been crowdsourcing on IndieGogo. (The link is here.)

It’s called a Crispy Sandwich Maker, made by Apod.

I always love trying out a new gadget, so it was fun to see how this one would play out.  What makes this one a bit different than most sandwich makers is that this only requires just one single slice of bread to make a compact, easy to eat snack that can be sweet or savory. It can be used over a gas stove flame, or, with caution, a campfire, although the design’s arm length better lends itself to a smaller flame like a home kitchen stove.

Because I love a s’more, I decided to do an interpretation of that using  nutella spread and marshmallow spread. My friend John and I were happily making these little sandwiches in the kitchen while I friends taste tested the results along the way.

While the product description says that it requires no oil, we did decide to butter the bread to give a nice brown color to the sandwich, although it could easily be done without it.

The results of the nutella and marshmallow spread crispy sandwiches were consistent and delicious. After about two minutes per side, sandwiches were golden brown and the inside filling was oozy and delicious.

Then it was on to make a savory snack in the form of a crispy ham and cheese with dijon. Again, about two minutes on each side over the flame was just enough to brown the bread and warm up the savory fillings.

This was a fun gadget to play with, and the results were delicious. All in all, everyone gave the results a thumbs up!

To be part of this indiegogo campaign, visit this link!

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Get The Look! A Buyer’s Guide To Brian Balthazar’s Philadelphia Home Redesign



As the world was forced to spend more time at home, Brian Balthazar found himself in a position where he had sold a house before the lockdown and had to find a new one.

“We sold our home with all the furniture in it, so not only did we find ourselves struggling to find a new place, once we found one we didn’t have any furniture to put in it.”

And so, Brian and partner Dennis got resourceful, turning to refurbishing and buying store floor models. They were inspired to make bold, fun choices in color and style when they started shopping around for wallpaper.

Below is the segment as it appeared on the Today Show, and further down, a rundown of where you can find the pieces or ones with a similar look!


Let’s start with the Dining Room!

Move the slider dividing the image to see all of the before or all of the after!

Brian saysThe dining room was the first space we wanted to do. I haven’t had a true dining room since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted a big table for dinner parties! There were no tables within the price range we wanted, so we found a floor model at one of our favorite go-to stores, Arhaus. We easily saved 75 percent on this table by getting the one that they weren’t going to carry anymore. The chairs are from Wayfair.  On each side of the fireplace (not seen in the photo, but visible in the Today Show video) are two black tall lanterns flanking the fireplace. I got them at Target. I can’t currently find them on their app, but similar versions pop up every year. Get thee to Homegoods! Homegoods and Homesense (same parent company) are my go-to spots for home accessories for virtually every room in the house. You never know what you’re going to find, which is part of the fun.

But let’s focus on the real WOW element to this room – the wallpaper! This pattern is called Bellewood, by RebelWalls.   As you will soon see, I’m sort of obsessed with their patterns. To me, this room is magical with the added whimsy of this forest pattern. (They also have a more muted version with grays and even one with blues.) I also love that by hanging the paper from the chair rail up, you almost get the feeling that you’re standing on a balcony overlooking the forest. I surrounded the whole room with this paper, which I love, but you could easily add the same magical feeling by just doing one feature wall. Their website shows how it can translate to a bedroom or office. You might be intimidated by hanging wallpaper but don’t be! This pattern has so much going on that it really looks perfect when it goes up!



Brian says: The guest bedroom is on the top floor of the house, so it’s got roof lines on two sides that make it a tricky space to navigate if you’re not careful. The planning of this space alone resulted in a few bonked heads. On the upside, the wall where the bed goes is tall, so it was an obvious place to create some visual pop. Again, the wallpaper takes the spotlight.  Called “Nude Roses,” also by RebelWalls, I love this design. Floral wallpaper was ‘big’ in popularity back in the 1920s when this house was built, but the patterns at that time were smaller, repeated more often, and were often really bold in color. This interpretation is so fun to me! Gone are the small roses in favor of oversized blooms, and the bold colors are more subdued pink and gray hues, with touches of dark green and creamy whites.

While roses can inherently feel feminine, the plaid bedding (30 dollars for a queen set from Target) are a surprising complement that keeps everything from feeling a little stereotypical. The side tables are mismatched – partly because we didn’t want to go too “matchy=matchy” – but also to save some money – the one on the left side (hard to catch here) was from West Elm. Normally $199, we got it for half off as the floor model. The one on the right we found in the trash. It was perfectly fine, clearly someone had just gotten tired of it! Nothing some disinfectant can’t fix. That gave us some extra money to spend – To reduce the softeness we went with industrial lamps and edison bulbs. The lamps  are called “Ginyard,” from Wayfair. The headboard was on sale at Arhaus. The dark gray takes balances out the pink hues well. The pillows are from Target and Homegoods.

For the 360 degree view of this room, watch the Instagram reel below!  You’ll see the dresser, on sale for $599 from Arhaus, a lamp from Homegoods, and mobiles from Amazon which we fashioned into a ‘piece of art’ that keeps you from hitting your head on the angled wall opposite the bed. Watch the video to check it out!


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A post shared by Brian Balthazar (@brianbalthazar)



Brian says: The idea for the basement game room was to create a space that feels like a lounge you might find if you went out with friends. When you go into this basement it definitely feels like you’ve gone someplace unique! Believe it or not, I found out the Today Show had invited me to to record my house tour just a few days in advance, and so we turned around this spot in just THREE days! There was literally no pool table at the time, (although it had already been scheduled to come on Friday, the wallpaper came on Saturday, (as well as the floor tiles!) and by Sunday we were covered in paint and glue and drinking wine to celebrate it’s completion! I recorded the final video that Monday.

Some people might not think to take a bright basement and make it dark, but that was our first instinct. Clubs are dark and moody, and we wanted this to feel like that. We painted the walls Wrought Iron by Benjamin Moore, which is a very dark gray that seems to take on different hues based on where you paint it and the light that shines on it. We painted the ceiling black. This was Thursday night! Then Friday the pool table came. The floor tiles (“Tweed Indeed” in black by Flor) hadn’t arrived until the next day, so when they did arrive I meticulously trimmed four tiles to fit around the pool table legs so it looks like they were there the whole time. I had ordered the pool table online weeks before from and by sheer coincidence it was scheduled to arrive in time for me to shoot the redesign. This was the second time I have ordered a pool table from them (which was initially scary because you’re not even seeing it beforehand!) but it always arrives in perfect condition to your specific selections. I love that the felt jet black and keeps things dark and moody. In the time that has passed since this photo was taken, I’ve added more of the carpet tiles to make the carpeted floor area darker and bigger.

But once again, the wall mural steals the show in a marvelous way! This mural is called “A Priori” from Rebelwalls, and is inspired by The Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power, a famous fresco by Italian artist Pietro da Cortona. Fitting, because this house is Italian in style on the outside. You can’t see it from this photo but the wallpaper runs up part of the ceiling as well. It truly gives the room a wow factor when you enter it. The lamps are from Homegoods, (we’ve since added some industrial floor lamps for extra mood lighting) and the piano was something we brought with us. The bar tables are from Amazon ($72 each) and the stools we brought with us – they were discards from someone who didn’t like their original bright colors and thought they were dated! We covered them ourselves with gray plaid fabric and they’re better than they were new!


So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed the rooms and find something you like!

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Well Sh-t, Leslie Jordan Has Shared Three Videos Of Himself Dancing In One Week And They’re All Perfect



Doing much better now, Leslie.

If you’ve never believed that “good things come in small packages” then you’ve never seen Leslie Jordan’s instagram. The 4’11” actor known for his iconic roles in shows like Will & Grace and American Horror Story has recently developed a whole new fanbase who loves him for his viral Instagram videos. Usually starting each video by greeting fans with “Well shit, how y’all doing?”, viewers have grown to anticipate Jordan’s hilarious recounting of stories from his time in show biz or growing up in the south. This week, however, the Tennessee native has shared 3 videos of himself dancing within 5 days and honestly it’s precisely what we all need right now.

The first video was posted on August 12th and shows Jordan taking part of the “Git up and dance challenge” which swept the internet about a year ago. Even though he is a little late, the video is still perfection.

On August 13th, Jordan does a dance to “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from Hairspray a with special guest dance partner Katie Couric!

Finally, on August 15th, Jordan does an epic “tootsie roll” and challenges Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills star, Lisa Rinna, to do the tootsie roll herself. Of course Rinna commented with a big “ON IT ❤️😂.” Who could say no to the viral star?!?

The moral of the story here is that the world is going through some tough times right now but maybe, even for a few seconds, we could all feel better if we’d just dance it out. Thanks for the inspo Leslie Jordan!

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