Wednesday, March 24, 2010



Fifteen minutes of fame can come from almost anywhere - mine came from an old linoleum floor!

Well, not exactly...

For quite a few years, I had a run as an  "on-air, guest design consultant and/or decorative artist" (the producers never could make up their mind what I was) on HGTV, appearing mostly on "Your Home With Kitty Bartholomew."  I had met Kitty some years before when she was the designer on ABC's "Home Show" show (the predecessor of "The View") where my husband was the head writer and where I also made a couple of on-air 'design' appearances.  So,when she moved to HGTV after the "Home Show" was canceled, I followed. 

Most designers on HGTV are unpaid, the network argument being that the publicity is payment enough, but since I also structured and wrote my segments, I got a pittance.  And I mean pittance... barely enough to buy a pair of shoes at Payless.  But, it was fun and I loved doing it, especially if one of my TV/film writing projects ended up in 'turn-around' (translation: rejected after a long option period).  I liked being on location, staging the set for my 'shoot' and mixing it up w/ my producer, Kitty and  the crew.  My least favorite thing was the 'on-camera' part... I was nervous and often felt inarticulate.  But as I got more comfortable talking to the camera, the more I was on.

I even ended up getting fan mail.  Really.  Me!  Fan mail!  (Well, actually, it was mostly Fan Email.)  Even from guys in prison!  Though they never asked me for advice re: decorating their cells which was sad because there are so many things one can do w/ a one room apartment, even a teeny, tiny one.

But there was more...

One time I was in LAX picking up a friend flying in from New York and a woman came over to me and asked me for my autograph.  I thought she had mistaken me for someone else, but when I asked her who she thought I was, she answered w/o hesitation, "Ilona from HGTV."  She was from Cleveland!  What a hoot.  Another time I was by myself having a hot dog at one of those picnic tables in Costco, when a family of four sat down at a neighboring table and just stared at me... the whole time I was eating my dog.  It was rather disconcerting, so when I was finished I went over to them and asked, "Can I help you?"  The woman was so embarrassed, she turned away, but her husband asked me if I was on TV.  My immediate reply, of course, was no.  I really wasn't "on" TV.  But he continued...  "Don't you paint and decorate rooms?" It was then I realized that this family had recognized me from HGTV.

Kitty's show was eventually canceled a few years ago and along w/ it my fifteen minutes of fame.  I don't regret those fifteen minutes, but I'm glad it never grew to a half-hour.  I don't like people watching me eat.

However, because some of my segments lingered on the HGTV website, I continued to get emails long after my shows stopped running on the network.  One frequent request my 'fans' asked was the step-by-step directions for painting an old linoleum/vinyl floor... something I had demonstated on Kitty's show (this segment may still be up on the HGTV website w/ pix).

Sadly, I have no 'still' pictures to include... but for those who want a DIY way to redo an old and dated kitchen or bathroom linoleum/vinyl floor w/o breaking the bank .. here goes:

1.  After cleaning your floor's surface, paint one or two coats of water-based Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Zinser, interior/exterior Primer Sealer, Stain Killer paint (or other primer your paint store recommends). I recommend this product because I've gotten great results.  It’s an incredible primer that makes the surface porous, allowing paint to adhere to it - just follow the easy directions.

2. Choose the color you want to paint the floor, then go for it using any brand of indoor/outdoor water-based flat paint. Use flat paint to keep the floor porous for your design. Wait 24 hours.  If you aren't painting a design on your floor, any good deck/cement paint will work as well.

3. Paint your design or picture onto the floor. Some simple ways to create a design are with stencils, stencil stamps, dripping different color paints on the floor a la Jackson Pollock, have the kids do drawings (or hand and footprints), stamp or print your favorite sayings or poems, etc. I use my artist water-based acrylic paint, but if you have old indoor and/or outdoor water-based paint you want to use up, by all means. I also use permanent pens.

4. After the design is dry (I’d wait another 24 hours), you need to seal it with polyurethane or varathane. I prefer Varathane Elite Diamond Finish as it is water-based, doesn’t really smell, doesn’t yellow and dries fast. Do at least 3 to 4 coats initially, then once a year or so, touch it up with another coat. Whether you choose a satin, semi-gloss or high-gloss finish doesn’t matter.

FYI:  If you use oil-based paint, you must continue to use oil-based paint for you design and chose a polyurethane or varathane that can be used over oil-based paint.

And two little hints... always work toward a doorway (so you can get out of the room) and if your floor is big or you need to use it daily like I did my kitchen, do a section at a time, if possible.

The most important thing is to use your imagination and have fun.

I'm not going to be painting a floor in the next week or so, but I will be having fun.   Richard and I are off to Sonoma/Napa wine country.  I'll tell you all about it when I return.


Norrth said...

I sure hope HGTV pays now, given how much money the network must make.

Susan said...

Fabulous. Now if you could just tell me what to do with my saltillo glazed kitchen tile that I tried painting with model paint, but it's wearing off. Time for a new kitchen floor, I guess.

ilona saari said...

Susan, all paint is going to wear - whether it's on a wall, floor or tile - and, of course, will always need repainting. It's still cheaper than replacing a floor or tile.;o) Paint is damn cheap. My instructions are basically the same for cermanic tile (which I've also done) -- so give it a try... and Norrth, HGTV makes money, but it's not like other cable networks ie: TNT, Lifetime, etc. And even if they did make that kind of profit, they're not about to share the wealth since Scripps which owns many of these 'boutique' cable networks and, monopolies have never been known to be 'sharing' kind of folks

Alexandra said...

It is so cool that you were on HGTV! We watch the morning & evening news, and HGTV live. Everything else is netflix.

I'm heading over to now to check out some of your old segments. Any suggestions?

ilona saari said...

Hi Alexandra... Been away sipping wine in Sonoma - gorgeous country - amazing wineries. To answer your question about HGTV - they've revamped the website and most of my old segments seem to be gone unless you hunt for them. I really have no suggestions re: which ones might interest you - but have fun searching for ideas on HGTV no matter whose they are.