Lauren Makk of Home Girl Next Door: 5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Spark joy by making your home YOUR OWN. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone say they didn’t want to hang a picture or paint a wall because of this or that… usually it’s because they are afraid to make a design mistake, or because of some resale myth. Nothing that is done , can’t be undone, so just LIVE FOR TODAY and hang that picture sis — ESPECIALLY if it brings you happiness! No “trend” could ever be more powerful than the things that you love and are inspired by… so Live, Laugh, Love yourself to into greatness!!!
As part of my series on the “5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Makk.
Nashville, TN based Interior Designer, DIY Expert, and Television Host, Lauren Makk has captured the hearts and attention of fans near and far with her budget friendly approach to luxury DIY and re-design. You may know Lauren from her time spent on multiple design shows across many networks including TLC’s Emmy Award winning Trading Spaces, A&E’s Drill Team as well as co-host on ABC’s FABLife, but now she is re-introducing herself and taking the design world by storm. Shattering the mold of those stuffy designers, Lauren is known to shake things up by spilling her best budget — friendly design tricks, tips, and hacks, as well as her luxury DIY projects. Aiming to elevate and change the stereotype of DIY’s past, Makk insists she’s more accurately an “Interior RE-Designer”- as she specializes in re-imagining and re-purposing common every day materials in sophisticated and breathtaking new ways.
Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I always say: Whitney was born to sing, Jordan was born to jump, and Lauren was born to DESIGN! :) But in all honesty, that is the truth: one of my earliest memories is being at a sitters house and moving the decorative pillows on her bed to the ”right spots” — It’s just something that is IN me.
Growing up my mom was an amazing maker. She just had an incredible knack for turning nothing into something — and could make it magic. I watched her as she made all our decorations, created all our home decor, sewed all clothes, made all our costumes, and almost single-handedly remodeled our entire house!
During High School, I was really into graffiti and wanted to be a street artist. My plan was to sell my souped up Honda that I had built, and back pack through Europe painting murals with some exchange students I had met. My mom wasn’t having any of that, and insisted I go to college. I knew I’d have to like a major if I were going to study it, and so I blended my love of art with my love of building — mixed it with innate talent — and here we are!!!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I think the most BEAUTIFUL story I have is how I went from being an Interior Designer, to being an Interior Designer on TV!
Picture it: Southern California, 2006. I was working as a lead designer for an award-winning model home merchandising firm responsible for all the model homes in new communities built by the biggest names in the home building industry. Our firm was designing and overseeing the installations on over 180 model homes a year… and then the housing bubble popped.
After the second round of layoffs, I knew I was next, and I clearly recall sitting in my car at lunch on the first phone I ever had internet on: my trusty Sidekick (am I dating myself?). I scrolled to craigslist.com and typed in “Interior Design”. The first thing that popped up was an ad for an audition for a “Trading Spaces-like show” and I figured, “why not”? I took my little portfolio with pictures of my model homes on down and I KNEW I had found my thing in that first audition.
And guess what? It turned out to BE ‘Trading Spaces’, and I GOT THE GIG!!!!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I always say “ there’s a thin line between Do — It — Yourself and “Screw — It- Yourself”, and boy have I learned THAT lesson the hard way!
One of my cringiest moments is when I took on a paint job for some extra money during college. It was for a young family who had just bought a house and they asked me if I would paint their cabinets for them cheaper than a quote they had. I agreed, and I enlisted their help in painting them with me. We got to work early that day — carefully removing and prepping the cabinet doors outside. By the time the sun was straight overhead in the hot California sun, we got to work painting. By the third stroke I realized how goopy, slimy, stringy the paint had become under the high noon sun, and I learned in that moment that I’m not a painter! Haha
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
2023 is looking to be a great year! I’ve got some exciting things in the works over at HGTV, AND I’m working on my passion: elevating the DIY and craft lane. Gone are the days of popsicle sticks and school glue — this is re-design for the grown and sexy!
I have always known my PURPOSE, here on earth, was to inspire, empower, and then dare people to live the life of their dreams, no matter their budget. I mean, I love a luxe look, but I’m also a bargain shopper — so my champagne eye is always looking for ways to create, or in some cases, re-create things to achieve that sophisticated style…for less! I am so passionate about creating fresh new content that speaks to folks like me, and who are eager to live a life in sustainable style! With all that’s going on in the world — I think it’s right on time.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My first boss, back in my model home days always said “the last 10% is the hardest part”. Back then, we would design and manage the customizing of these huge, beautiful, EXPENSIVE homes from conception through completion, and there were so many important details to take into account. We would spend months preparing for them and only had one week to install multiple properties at a time. She would always remind us that none of the months of prior planning would mean anything if that last 10%- taking off all the tags, wiping off all the stickers, fluffing those pillows just right — wasn’t executed perfectly. She was right. It’s always the last 10 pounds we have to lose after losing 40, those last 10 minutes of a long car ride, those last 10 steps up a hill… The last 10% is always the part where you’re tested most, but it’s also where the magic happens. I live for that part.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you get to where you are? Can you tell us a story about that?
I hope this doesn’t sound intense, but I am a manifestation of my ancestors dreams, there’s no doubt about it. As an African American woman form The South, I come from a loooooong line
of women who, let’s just say, “took care of all matters of the home” — even if it were other people’s houses. My grandmother cleaned houses as a kid and put herself through college. Her mother cleaned houses to help raise their family of 14, and her mother was an enslaved in her own fathers home. The list goes on and on. The experiences, wisdom, and lessons in caring for the home and making somethin’ outta nothin’ is instilled in me -and what I know fuels my talents.
Thank you for that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I’m giving some cost-free ideas, or what I like to call “Free 99 Design” advice here — cause I want this to be inclusionary measures that EVERYBODY can use to spark joy in their homes!
- Spark joy by making your bed each morning! I find that a thankful and grateful heart is one of the keys to life, and I believe in taking time to express that to The Universe. As a busy mom, I love a 2-for-1 special chore, and while I make up my bed, I pray, express gratitude, and to center myself for the day. the result is a beautiful space in my home — and the bonus is pulling back and climbing into those freshly tucked sheets each night! Now that I think about it, it’s a 3-for-1 special! :)
- Spark joy by having something living among you. Don’t worry, I’m just talking about something green! :) Whether it’s plants, flowers, a branches off your backyard tree — having something green in your space instantly livens it up. Finding species you can feel empowered to keep alive is a great way to feel successful — and the curiosity and learning which ones suit you is always fun. I especially like to get my kids involved in taking care of our plants, which teaches science and nurturing skills too. Joy all around!
- Spark joy by reimagining your stuff! How many of us could look at a picture of ourselves in our grandmothers living room over the years, and the only thing changing about the room is the size of you in it? I make a point to move things around in my house FIRST, before I either buy something new, or give something away. I love how yesterday’s entry bench is now todays new coffee table!
- Spark joy by having a tidy space! There’s nothing nicer than a clean space, am I right? It feels refreshing, promising, like you can really get something done! I really find that things with lids help me keep my space manageable when it’s time to tame my space. Cleaning up the living room? Remotes to the cute box on the coffee table, toys in the wicker chest, and blankets in the ottoman! Managing a mess is really about having the right place to put all of it.
- Spark joy by making your home YOUR OWN. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone say they didn’t want to hang a picture or paint a wall because of this or that… usually it’s because they are afraid to make a design mistake, or because of some resale myth. Nothing that is done , can’t be undone, so just LIVE FOR TODAY and hang that picture sis — ESPECIALLY if it brings you happiness! No “trend” could ever be more powerful than the things that you love and are inspired by… so Live, Laugh, Love yourself to into greatness!!!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I’d say voting. Voting is probably the easiest way to make the most amount of good to the most amount of people, but voting needs to break up with its PR rep. Every single person is affected when the right (or wrong) leaders are chosen, and every single election is important — not just the big ones. Voting is my favorite exercise!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them :-)
Do I have to choose just ONE? I would DIE to have breakfast with Oprah, who has and always will be my dearest best friend in my head. I actually have dreams about hanging with her sometimes (that’s not weird, is it? Lol) — I am just so grateful for all she has taught me on how to be a HUMAN. I’d also have to have Dolly there too; cause I just can’t get enough of each and every bit of her! And I gotta have my girls Michelle O, Lizzo, and Miss Jackson if ya nasty in attendance to round out the party!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!