Picture this. It’s late, far past your bedtime. But after listening to your dog yelping to be let out, you finally put on your sweatpants and take him out for a walk. As you walk him down the streets of your neighborhood, you notice the lights on in one of the houses you pass by. You stop, and as you watch your dog sniff their mailbox, you get the sudden urge to peek inside and see what the family who lives there is up to.
You feel a mix of emotions. Curiosity about the lives of the people behind the doors, together with guilt since you know you wouldn’t want someone to do the same to you. If any of this is familiar, don’t feel too bad; it’s human nature to be interested in the personal lives of others, be they your neighbors, the same barista who makes your coffee every morning, or your favorite TV hosts, such as the many talented ones gracing the screen on HGTV.
HGTV was created in 1994 and it has since become one of the most popular channels on television and it even over took CNN as the third most-watched channel. The acronym for the channel stands for Home & Garden Television, which is the area of focus for its different shows.
The channel is a homeowner’s paradise, with renovation shows, house hunting shows and shows about multi-million dollar homes. Not only are the shows entertaining but they also give the viewer inspiration for their own homes and decorating ideas. Many of the shows instruct audiences how to do these “at home” projects by themselves and remain on budget. This can give homeowners the motivation and inspiration they need to turn their home into a customized sanctuary.
The shows have created some big names in the home renovation and decorating world. Huge franchises have been created by the channel and particular HGTV stars have became world famous. However, some of the HGTV hosts and designers who appeared in the very first shows on the channel have been forgotten and disappeared into HGTV history.
In this article we look back at the original HGTV stars and discuss their old shows as well as discover what they have been doing since their programs went off the air. Some of these stars are multi-millionaires who are constantly in the spotlight while others have taken their HGTV earrings and retired to a life of seclusion or even switched careers entirely! Read on to find out their amazing stories.
Kristan Cunningham on HGTV
While HGTV does have a lot of shows about houses the average person could never afford, they also have done shows for viewers on a budget. One such show was Design on a Dime which was hosted by the savvy Kristan Cunningham. She hosted the show for an entertaining 10 seasons where she offered her savvy tips and tricks to make a room look completely custom on a budget. For example, in one episode she suggests buying plastic plant holders and spray painting them to give them a modern and custom look.
Kristan Cunningham today
Kristan began hosting Design on a Dime in 2003 and in 2012 she left to appear regularly on The Rachael Ray Show. She also got her own show on the OWN network called Super Saver Showdown. This was a competition show here two teams went head to head to plan a party and the team that saved the most won $10,000. However, that show only lasted for a year and Kristan went on to focus on her own work and she is now running a design studio alongside her husband Scott.
Suzanne Whang on HGTV
House Hunters is a show that follows couples and families on their search for the perfect home. From 1999 until 2007, Suzanne Whang was the face of the reality show. In every episode. The potential home buyers take a tour of three houses led by Whang and at the end of the process they have to decide which house works best for their budget and lifestyle. The show had some controversy when a former participant revealed that the show isn’t really a reality show as the participants have to already own the house that gets picked at the end.
Suzanne Whang today
Although the show was called out for not being totally honest, it didn’t bother viewers too much as it is still on the air today. However, Whang stopped hosting the show in 2007 and left in order to focus on her acting career and she landed roles in shows such as The Secret Life of the American Teenager and General Hospital. She is still acting today but when she’s not auditioning for acting roles, Whang works as a storyteller in Los Angeles.
Chris Harrison on HGTV
Will you accept this rose? Before Chris Harrison was matching guys and girls up in a television competition, he was hosting Designer’s Challenge on HGTV. The competition show pit three designers against each other to make home designs for a homeowner and the homeowner has to choose which room they like best at the end of the episode. Harrison narrated the show and provided the voiceovers which prepared him for his next major hosting gig.
Chris Harrison today
Chris hosted the HGTV show back in 1999 and a couple years later in 2002, Harrison began hosting the reality show The Bachelor where one single man choose a wife from a group of around 30 women. The show has been extremely successful and is in its 22nd season. It now has various spin-offs such as The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise. Harrison started from humble beginnings on HGTV and he is now worth around $15 million.
Matt Fox and Shari Hiller on HGTV
Shari Hiller and Matt Fox hold a record on HGTV as they hosted the first show ever on the channel! The show called Room by Room aired starting way back in 1994 and lasted for 14 years. They hold even more records as not only were they the channel’s first hosts but they also had the longest running show about decorating with more than 350 episodes. The show was quite groundbreaking in television history as it was the first show to depict designers decorating real people’s homes.
Matt and Shari Hiller today
Matt and Shari had immense success with Room by Room but after 14 years on HGTV they decided it was time to retire as the show’s hosts. After a 4 year break from the show, they got another show called Around the House with Matt and Shari in 2010. That show aired on PBS but it only lasted for two seasons. Since then, Matt and Shari have authored two books called Great Weekend Projects and Real Decorating for Real People.
Genevieve Gorder on HGTV
Genevieve Gorder is one of HGTV’s biggest stars and she got her start on the hit series, Trading Spaces as one of the original designers. However, it was her own show called Dear Genevieve that catapulted her into HGTV fame. In this show, Genevieve uses her design talents and helps homeowners who have written to her asking for help designing a room or area in their house. The show aired for three seasons from 2009 until 2012 but Genevieve worked for the network until 2014 as a judge on the show Design Star.
Genevieve Gorder today
Gemvieve now resides in New York City with her daughter and runs a design company where she works on textiles, rugs and a line of furniture and decor for children.. She is also a regular contributor on The Rachael Ray Show and she also advocates against global poverty with the organization Oxfam. From 2006 until 2013, Gorder was married to Tyler Harcott who is a Canadian actor and television host who has hosted shows such as Miss America: Countdown to the Crown.
Carol Duvall on HGTV
One of the first shows to air on HGTV was The Carol Duvall Show, which aired from 1994 until 2005. The show revolved around Carol teaching her viewers how to do basic arts and crafts. The show also featured interviews with various artists and showed footage of them doing work in their studios. The Carol Duvall Show was cancelled and after a lot of backlash from fans, it was picked up on the DIY Network where it aired until 2009.
Carol Duvall today
Although Duvall’s show ran for over a decade, it was revealed that HGTV canceled it in an attempt to reach a young audience. Duvall has since chosen to stay off the screen since the show ended and she is now focusing on traveling and writing. Recently, HGTV visited Carol at her lakeside home and saw her craft room. Duvall filmed a craft project for the network and it can be viewed on the HGTV website.
Sandra Rinomato on HGTV
Sandra Rinomato is a Toronto based real estate agent who hosted Property Virgins on HGTV from 2006 until 2011. As the name gives away, the show follows the experiences of first time property owners. The show began in Rinomato hometown but expanded to other cities including San Diego, Miami and Boston. In 2012, Rinomato hosted another show called Buy Herself where female participant set out to buy homes on their own, however, it only lasted one year.
Sandra Rinomato today
Nowadays, Rinomato is back to working as a real estate agent in Toronto and she has her own real estate company called Sandra Rinomato Realty Inc. and according to her website she has assisted in selling more than $200,000,000 worth of property. In 2008, Rinomato wrote a book called Realty Check: The Real Scoop on Real Estate and she also periodically appears as a real estate expert on television on programs such as CNN, The Nate Berkus Show, The View and Marilyn Dennis.
Candice Olson on HGTV
Candice Olson is another Canadian native who appeared on HGTV on the renovation show Divine Design. The show focused on homes with design dilemmas that needed to be corrected for example, a cluttered basement being used as a storage unit would be turned into a relaxing getaway space for the homeowner by Candice and her design team. Throughout the process, Candice explains her design techniques such as the fact that she does not like matching furniture sets.
Candice Olson today
After the show was cancelled in 2011, the top Canadian designer focused on her own brand of home products called the Candice Olson Collection. In 2011, she also got her own show called Candice Tells All where she explores a major principle of design in every episode. In addition to her two television shows, Olson has published two books one of which is called Candice Olson: Kitchen & Bathrooms. Candice is married to builder, Jurij Sennecke and the couple have two children.
Emily Henderson on HGTV
After winning HGTV’s Design Star, a reality competition show where participants compete for a chance to get their own show, Emily Henderson landed her own show on the network called Secrets from a Stylist in which she styles rooms layer by layer. The show helps homeowner design a room based on their own, personalized style with help from Emily. Prior to getting her own show, Henderson was an LA based stylist for more than ten years.
Emily Henderson today
The show ended in 2012 and Henderson now has her own LA based design company and works as a home style expert.. In addition to this, Emily wrote her own book called STYLED and she has her own blog where she offers home styling tips and DIY ideas. She is also Target’s home spokesperson and she gives advice to Target shoppers on the store’s website. Henderson has one son and a newborn daughter with her Broadway actor turned real estate agent husband, Brian Henderson.
Kitty Bartholomew on HGTV
Kitty Bartholomew had a self titled show on HGTV from the mid 90s’ until the early 2000s called Kitty Bartholomew: You’re Home. The upbeat host redecorated rooms along with the help of professional designers such as one artist who she brought into show her audience how to hand paint animal prints on furniture. The designs she discussed were easy enough to be done by the viewers at home and they didn’t break the bank.
Kitty Bartholomew today
After the show ended, Bartholomew decided that she wanted to stay out of the spotlight and she turned to the written word instead of speaking and offering design tips on television. She has published two books about decorating called Kitty Bartholomew’s Decorating Style and Designer Knitting With Kitty Bartholomew. In 2009 Kitty’s Santa Monica home complete with English gardens and a detached guest house was put up for sale for almost $3 million.
Paul James on HGTV
Unlike most of the other HGTV stars who are comfortable inside decorating houses, Paul James is known as the master gardener. He was the writer, creator and host of the show Gardening by the Yard which started in 1996 and ended in 2009 after a long run. James was such a master at gardening that most of the episodes of the show were actually filmed in his own backyard! He said that when he got his own show he, “Decided to make it as real as possible.”
Paul James today
James has had quite a varied career as he first earned a degree in botany and plant pathology and went onto own a corporate communications company before landing his own show. Since then, James has altogether disappeared from the spotlight and even took down his social media and website. James now spends his time relaxing in Tulsa, Oklahoma in his garden. When he’s not using his green thumb, James is either playing guitar, fishing or practicing Taekwondo.
Chris Madden on HGTV
Chris Madden is a well-known designer from New York who became one of the first four hosts on HGTV with her show Interiors by Design. The Fashion Institute of Technology graduate hosted the show from 1995 until 2003 and began working on her business when it ended. At the time she was on television, Madden was also a successful author who had penned 15 lifestyle, cooking and design books.
Chris Madden today
Since appearing on HGTV, Madden has become a business mogul. She developed a multi-million dollar line of furniture products through partnerships with companies such us Bassett Furniture and JC Penny. She also became a spokesperson for JC Penny as well as their design expert. In 2010, Madden returned to her college roots and became a member of the Board of Trustees and her alma matter where she served until 2015. In 2015 she released a new design book called The Soul of a House – Decorating with Warmth, Style and Comfort.
Michael Payne is a British interior designer who hosted Designing for the Sexes on HGTV, a show about married couples who had vastly different tastes and were arguing about how to decorate their house. Payne would visit each property and create a design that would satisfy both of the spouses. In one episode, the wife wants a lot of color in the living room while the husband wants a more neutral palette. In the end, Michael comes up with a beautiful compromise.
Michael Payne today
After the show ended in 2003, the designer published a book called Let’s Ask Michael. Nowadays, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife where he owns an interior design business. Payne has designed a series of furniture lines and he often speaks at home expos. In Addition to his love for designing, Payne is an avid marathon runner who has run numerous 10k runs and seven marathons. He also enjoys doing yoga and cycling.
Joan Steffend on HGTV
Joan Steffend was the bubbly host of the budget friendly HGTV show, Decorating Cents. The premise of this who was that each room could only be decorated using $500. Joan would often turn one man’s trash into another man’s treasure with her unique design abilities and her expertise in budgeting. In one episode Steffand transforms a narrow New York brownstone room just by rearranging the furniture! The show had immense success with more than 400 episodes.
Joan Steffend today
After the show ended, however, Joan decided to abandoned her design career and go down a spiritual path to become an author and “peace seeker.” Steffend has written two books about finding inner peace called Peace in Peace Out and And She Sparked. On her website, Joan explains that after promoting her books she discovered her love for public speaking which is what she does for a living now. Steffend speaks to groups of all sizes about how to show kindness to yourself and others.