KBB - March 2013 - (Page 72)
Behind the Magic
A Q&A with Kelli Kaufer, of Kelli Kaufer Designs
Kelli Kaufer first became involved with HGTV 10 years ago as a designer for
“Decorating Cents.”When that ended,she was asked by Edelman Productions
to lend her expertise to the popular “Curb Appeal” and “Sweat Equity.” Since
then, her TV work has expanded to encompass several DIY programs, such
as “I Hate My Kitchen,”“I Hate My Bath,”“BATHtastic!” and the one-hour special
“Dinner and a Kitchen.” She noted, “I’ve done about 125 shows and have
eight that air a week” (number of kitchen makeovers: 40; bathrooms: 60). In
her free time, Kaufer maintains her own practice, established before her TV
career, and likes to get her hands dirty with building and remodeling her own
home. She has also launched the Kelli Kaufer Tile Collection of backpainted
glass tiles. Not familiar with Kaufer’s name? Here’s why.
What is the biggest misconception about what you do?
Most people don’t think there’s a designer behind the scenes. Whenever
I tell people what I do, they say,“Really? They have a designer who does all
that? It’s not the host?” People always think the host does everything.
How long do these projects take?
They take about a month. They start with a pre-design meeting, where
the contractors, the producers, the homeowners and I sit down and look
at the space. Then I do research on new and innovative products that you
don’t see in the market and usually put together a full design plan in about
a week. The research is done online because the products can’t already
be in a showroom. Some are, but we try to reach manufacturers that are
just getting ready to launch something on the market. Demolition and
shooting probably start two weeks after that. So the time from the first day
of shooting to the last is one month.
How many people actually work on the projects?
The homeowners participate as much as they can. Whatever they can’t
do, we use our contractors, who have electricians, plumbers and staff and
usually don’t appear on camera. Because we have guidelines we have to
follow, the projects need to be at a certain stage by the next shoot date,
which is usually five days later. Typically, the homeowners can’t put up a
wall or do the electrical in that time span, so we’ll bring in our crew to do it.
What are the major challenges of what you do?
Trying to find unique and different products. When you’re doing a
bathroom, there’s only so much different tile you can use. It’s like: What else
can you do to a shower? Plus, a lot of products can’t be sent to you. I have
to decide within an hour if we want to use a product or not.There’s an entire
Last Word.indd 72
crew that works on calling these manufacturers to make sure they have the
products in stock and to make sure it ships. It’s not like the regular design
process where you can go to the showroom and see, touch and feel the
product. Often we have to decide if it’s going to work or not when we see it
online. It is a challenge. A lot of designers may think, “I can’t do that.”
Does the fact that some products look better on TV than others affect
Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. For example, when I
design a modern kitchen that is sleek and uses a lot of white, it may look
good but I have to consider how it will appear on camera. Some colors
can come off a little too vibrant on TV. A lot of white just doesn’t show off
very well on camera. Many of the shows now are shot in high-def so it’s less
of a challenge to talk, for example, about a surface with small details.
How does the budgeting work on these projects?
The homeowners do give us a budget. We tell them it has to be at least
$10,000 for a kitchen remodel, which is very cheap. But the products we
feature on the show are donated. The homeowners may have to pay for
shipping or taxes at the end of the year.
If $10,000 is the starting budget, what is the average?
People typically pay $10,000 to $20,000 for a kitchen; bath projects
cost anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000. The majority of that cost goes to our
contractors for labor. For participating in the show, the production company
gives the homeowners my design for free and $4,000 after we’re done filming.
Are there size limitations for the projects?
The bath can’t be too small because we need a camera guy, a sound
guy, a B-roll guy, the host and the homeowners for filming. That’s six people
in the bathroom, so it can’t be a 6 x 6 or an 8 x 8. But we’ve done kitchens of
all sizes. Because we’ve opened up walls and things, they do end up being
larger but we haven’t done a huge kitchen. Probably the biggest island
we’ve done is about 10 to 12 ft.
Have you ever been called in after a show has aired to tweak a project?
Never have. I’ve been asked by homeowners to come back and help with
other rooms. n
For the complete interview, go to www.kbbonline.com/Kaufer.
March 2013 / www.kbbonline.com / The Official Sponsor of KBIS www.kbis.com
2/13/13 4:17 PM
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of KBB - March 2013
KBB - March 2013
Show Director’s Note
KBIS Special Section
Design Feature: Beach Formal
Design Feature: Luxury in the Large
2013 Brand Preference Study
KBB - March 2013