WHO: John Gidding
WHERE: HGTV’s host of ‘‘Curb Appeal: The Block’’ will speak on ‘‘Creating Curb Appeal’’ at the 2012 Boston Flower & Garden Show at the Seaport World Trade Center on March 16 at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Visit www.bostonflowershow.com for ticket information.
Lurking among the blooms at next week’s Boston Flower & Garden Show will be HGTV’s John Gidding, host of “Curb Appeal: The Block.’’ He’ll be offering advice on how to make pale green thumbs a richer shade of kelly green. But Gidding, a Harvard grad and expert in interior and exterior design, took a circuitous path to becoming one of the most visible faces on HGTV. In fact, he never planned to enter the world of design.
“I graduated with a degree in architecture and tried to start my own firm,’’ he says. “But no one is going to hire some whippersnapper just out of school. So I ended up taking whatever jobs I could get. And interior design jobs were the only jobs I could get for a long time.’’
Gidding graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Design with a master’s in architecture. Meanwhile, he was getting noticed for his good looks as well. As an undergrad at Yale, he was voted one of the school’s most beautiful people. The Improper Bostonian named him one of its 50 most eligible bachelors in 2002. As a grad student at Harvard he modeled for Armani, Hugo Boss, and Gucci. He even appeared on the covers of romance novels. Even now, a Google search of Gidding reveals that the most popular search term alongside his name is “shirtless.’’
But his career interest was not in his own aesthetics, but the aesthetics of his surroundings. Given his stint as a model and his love of design, it was only a matter of time that he ended up in front of the camera. At HGTV, he hosted the interior decor show “Designed to Sell,’’ and when that show ended, he started on “Curb Appeal: The Block.’’ The show gussies up the porches, flower beds, and facades of tired-looking homes.
“ ‘Curb Appeal: The Block’ was completely circumstantial,’’ Gidding says. “At one point after graduation I was hired by a landscape architecture firm. HGTV said, ‘Hey, you used to work for a landscape architecture firm, why don’t you do this show?’ ’’
Gidding was hesitant at first. In a previous incarnation, “Curb Appeal’’ was based around a homeowner’s interest rather than what made sense for the house. As a result, a ranch house in Idaho would be made to look like a New Orleans home because its owners had visited that city during Mardi Gras. “I told them that it wasn’t my kind of show, but to their credit, HGTV let me focus on the architecture and what works for the house and the neighborhood,’’ he says.
Gidding will be at the Flower & Garden Show on March 16 to give pointers on gardening makeovers. We caught up with him by phone to get advice on getting your home ready for spring.
Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes that people make when working on the exterior of their home?
A. I think trends should be avoided when it comes to exterior design. A lot of people will say “This color is super trendy this year, so I’m going to use it.’’ But exteriors are not about trends. They’re all about architecture and context.
It’s easy to make mistakes with shutters. They need to be an architectural feature on the house. They shouldn’t be this ultra decorative, bright adornment. I’ll usually keep it natural, black, white, or cream.
Another mistake people make is that they’ll install a wood door, even though the door is recessed within a portico or deep inside a porch. A wood door is fantastic if the sun hits it or if it’s in a bright area and you can see the tone. It’s not worth spending that kind of money if you’re not going to see it. Otherwise it’s like a dark stain on your facade. If you have a recessed door, it should be a highly visible color.
Q. If someone is stumped for house colors, what should they do?
‘Trends should be avoided when it comes to exterior design. . . . Exteriors are not about trends. They’re all about architecture and context.’
A. For house colors, never pick from swatches. Go out and get sample pots and paint them on your house. See what they look like in the sun and shade. The number one mistake people make is that they never paint because they’re so worried about color choice. But if you paint a bunch of different colors on your house, it will look like a clown house, and you’ll end up painting over it very soon.
Q. We’re not exactly in growing season in Massachusetts. Is there anything people can do now to get ready for gardening?
A. This is the time to prepare. This is when you buy seeds in bulk because you can find the best selection. It’s also a good time to prune. If you want your shrubbery to bloom gorgeous, gorgeous flowers, you should prune in cold months. This is especially true with fruit trees.Christopher Muther can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther.