Colin and Justin catch up with Sabrina Smelko, ahead of the launch of her new HGTV design show
It’s certainly telling that, whenever we appear at home events, store openings or book signings, one of the first things people do is pull out pictures of half baked rooms, thereafter asking for our advice. Yup, it seems there’s always an appetite for home improvement shows, such is the need for assistance encountered as we travel the country.
Which is great news, all things considered, for any self respecting designer or stylist, not least Sabrina Smelko, co host of brand new decor shuttle $ave My Reno which has its HGTV premiere, at 10pm, on April 5th.
With a wide and varied pedigree (the 26 year old creative maven has a BAA in Illustration and served, for a time, as an editor with revered blog Design Sponge) Sabrina is well positioned to tackle stylistic affray in whichever form it manifests.
It was during her tenure, indeed, at Design Sponge that Sabrina came to our attention whilst featuring one of our cottage reno’s as part of her editorial remit. We were immediately taken by her affable, friendly manner, and by her ability to detail the elements of our Cabin Pressure project that would best interest her readers and our own Cottage Life TV audience.
We later worked together, again, during Game of Homes (W Network, 2016) when Sabrina impressed everyone with her ability to offer well rounded and practical appraisals of homes being reno’d during the competition series. It was abundantly clear to all concerned that Sabrina was a talent to watch and a design star on the vertiginous ascent.
So we, like many others, were thrilled when Sabrina wowed producers, at the time creating the exciting new show she now fronts. We caught up with our old pal earlier this week to get the skinny on the exciting project.
In the show, Sabrina is teamed with savvy HGTV contractor Sebastian Clovis and, together, their mission is to rescue cash-strapped homeowners by delivering dream schemes. “$ave My Reno”, she explains, “is about teamwork and clever solutions that give people the rooms they’ve always wanted at a price they can afford. It’s been so rewarding to shoot.”
So her move into TV has been fun? “It took a little getting used to, but it’s been amazing. I’ve always loved performing: in school plays and then in theatre camp each summer.” Pausing, for a moment, she adds, “But it’s a whole different ball game when combined with the realities of a home reno’. It’s been challenging and exhilarating to say the least.”
Throughout the series, budget is always paramount, whichever room is being ‘saved’. The show, indeed, makes an episodic virtue of this by putting everyone to work and hunting for salvaged goods to up-cycle. It’s all about creativity, and appraising space before deciding how best it can all be re imagined.
“Watching the real estate sector soar,” suggests Sabrina, “it’s becoming harder to buy property, let alone shell out to transform it thereafter. Our goal is to give people the house they love. Watching homeowners invested in and taking pride in the process makes me so happy”. We love Sabrina’s wisdom. For her this isn’t just a spin on the home reno’ format, it’s her chance – along with Sebastian and their team – to make a real difference.
“Sebastian’s so energetic and his passion is contagious. It was great to go through the process with someone who has such sound TV experience. I think we make a great team!”
And how did Sabrina feel watching homeowners respond at ‘reveal’ time? We imagine there were some great reactions? “There were lots of tears. We all became close working together. That said, some couldn’t wait for us to leave so they could throw a party, while others popped champagne for the team before we left. ”
And there’s more: for viewers who like their TV reveals multi angled, HGTV.ca have maxed up the experience. Following each ep’, the online portal showcases dramatic 360 degree reveals, navigable in a similar way to Google Maps. This adds great ‘value’, as we see it, whilst allowing viewers to scrutinize every last detail. “No pressure, then, to have got it right!” smiles the new host as she prepares to head on out.
Wrapping up, we wish Sabrina the best ahead of her exciting new show. “Sebastian and I”, she concludes, “became completely absorbed by each project, and if the audience has even half as much fun watching as we did making the show, we’ll have done our job. I’m so excited!”
Save My Reno premiers April 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV Canada