HGTV's Urban Oasis, airing on Monday, August 10, will showcase the reimagination of an Asheville, NC, bungalow overseen by designer Brian Patrick Flynn. Flynn shared with EAL about the challenges of taking over the reins from previous designers Vern Yip and Lindsay Pumpa, and transforming the show's first non-luxury highrise home.
Tell us about the look and feel of the residence.
Think of a cozy, little bungalow with great bones and classic lines right smack in the middle of a wooded urban neighborhood filled with super-creative people with super-adorable babies, pets and yard chickens, eco-friendly cars and vegetable gardens. And then imagine dozens of cafés and microbreweries only four blocks away. This is that place.
How did you approach it differently than previous “Urban Oasis” designers, among them Lindsay Pumpa and Vern Yip?
This is fantastic question, and the answer is cut and dry: Lindsay and Vern's properties were in luxury, high-rise buildings. This year marks the first time that the “Urban Oasis” property is an actual freestanding house in an urban, pedestrian setting, plus it's a remodel instead of new construction. So while their amazing spaces lent themselves to modern aesthetics honoring incredible city views, the HGTV “Urban Oasis” 2015 is more cozy, eclectic and neighborhood-focused.
What were the challenges of designing a bungalow?
Bungalows aren’t necessarily known for being the roomiest of homes, so they can be a bit tough to furnish, both practically and decoratively. The architects and general contractor who headed up the renovation did a killer job at making the house feel way larger than it actually is, so they made my job a lot easier. Overall, bungalows can be a bit dark, so there's that, but in our case we had amazing new windows and skylights added which made it bright and airy.
What were the challenges and benefits of designing in Asheville, NC?
Asheville is known for its community of artists, so that was a massive help in adding a touch of the vernacular to each room. I shopped for all of the major furnishings online, something I plan to do more often because it's so efficient.
What local touches did you add to the house? Did you have a particular resident in mind?
I accented most of the rooms with folk art; it's a great juxtaposition to the more streamlined, classic furniture, rugs and lighting elements I used. Overall, I picture a couple of creative people who spend their weekends hiking and window-shopping downtown living in the house, and that's really reflected in how it's decorated.
What was HGTV's mandate in regard to must-have design elements?
HGTV really likes each year's “Urban Oasis” location to have a strong use of reclaimed and recycled materials in its design both inside and out, and we did that in Asheville. The kitchen island and the mudroom both have standout features made from the house's original hardwood floors and its interior wall framing.
You're known for high-end interior design and using almost all custom pieces; how do you make that style work with a TV audience that's interested in a more practical, attainable look?
Regardless of budget, I think the key to great design is all about the proper mix of original art, comfortable upholstery, versatile pieces, old and new touches, and a clever use of materials. So even while I’m using retail items bought online rather than through trade-only showrooms and I’m covering entire kitchen or bathroom walls in $.49 subway tile instead of imported materials, the end result is very similar; it’s just about the proper edit.