How To Decorate Like A TV Show Set Designer

Courtney Cachet on set

Courtney Cachet on set

A large portion of my time is devoted to home makeovers on television. From The Bachelorette’s, JP & Ashley’s first New York pad to a tricked out Man Cave on VH1, I’ve done it.
What a lot of people don’t know is that I am also a TV set designer, and for three seasons styled the three sets on the daily lifestyle program, The Better Show. As I finished taping a segment the other day, I got to thinking about how simple principles from set design could help people decorate with more ease. Oh, you’re not a professional? It doesn’t matter. Stop drooling over glossy, touched up photos on someone else’s pin board-Dreamy Spaces I Love-and start working on your own fabulous little space. The key is to start.

How Much Money Do You Have?

TV productions are sticklers for budgets. For some reason, the budget is almost never enough for what you need to do. Sound familiar? Smaller amounts of money breed creativity you swore you never had. Whether your budget is slightly depressing or you’re a total baller, makes less of a difference than you think. The important thing is to be realistic about how much cash you have and operate accordingly. Can’t afford that totally amazing mid-century desk from that slick showroom? Dig a little deeper. Hit up consignment shops, eBay, flea markets and Craigslist “free” section. FYI-I decorated almost the entire set at Better TV using items from Home Goods.

Need For Speed

For us, time is money. But if you don’t move quickly, it’ll never get done. By planning well, you can bang out a fabulous room in a three day weekend. Lingering over the perfect shade of white paint or a particular pillow is not going to make your home that much prettier. I promise. I have news for’s never about the paint color or the pillow. But, I’m not a shrink. I’m just here to make your home look fierce. Seriously, I’m not saying to approach your decorating project like an episode of Supermarket Sweep. Rather, just make a goal and stick to it. You’ll be more focused and in the end, much happier.

All In The Details

Most TV sets have a couple of couches I would never put in my house-or yours. They’re big, stiff, sort of plain and usually some variation of beige. But, we manage to doctor them up with pillows and area rugs. Most sets also have shelves or book cases to create a “homey” feeling. These are also meticulously styled with books that give a pop of color and/or fill an awkward space. There are vases of flowers, pitchers of water, mugs of coffee. Nothing is there without thinking about it. There’s no clutter, either. Taking that approach in your home can work wonders, keeping in mind you actually live there.

Built To Last

Imagine if you had 40 guests in your living room, dining room and kitchen six days a week. Now imagine how your quickly your home would look beat up as a result of that. Well, that’s the life of a set. Cameramen, sound guys, producers, guests and a multitude of other assorted people are in that “room” every single day. Rugs need to withstand the traffic, fabrics need to be durable and well cared for and shiny surfaces? Yeah, not so much. They show finger prints and scratches and glare, oh my! Wood and other flat materials are usually a better choice when your goal is longevity.

Places, please!

If there’s a large orchid plant on set, I can guarantee it is never on a shelf behind a couch. Why? Because nobody wants an A-List celebrity getting interviewed looking like he has flowers growing out of his head! There will never be anything distracting hanging, sitting or placed anywhere near an interview set. It makes an interesting point for your own home, as well. Be aware of an object’s placement. When in doubt, take a photo with your phone and see how it looks on camera. The camera never lies. If it looks a little meh, it usually is.

Make It Fantastic

Nobody wants to tune in to a show with a ho hum set, right? Why would anyone want to linger in a room that wasn’t at the very least, pleasant? Even if you’re not living in your Dream Home just yet, that shouldn’t matter. Fantastic comes in many forms, starting with color. Color is fantastic. Lighting is, as well. Quality-even in the smallest doses-is, too. Depending on what’s important to you, go with what you love. Just try and give it your best shot.

In the end, the best spaces to drool over are the ones you actually live in.

Check your local TV listings for more of celebrity designer, Courtney Cachet’s design tips, gift guides and stylish ideas. You can catch her frequent appearances nationwide on TV and online, where she dishes out all the latest in all things fab for your home and lifestyle! Keep up with her on or Facebook and join the conversation!

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