Genevieve Gorder seems to be living her best life.
“I don’t know how I’ve gotten this lucky to fall into the right timing,” says the 45-year-old interior designer and television personality. With sell your house fast jacksonville brand collaborations, a new husband and lead roles on some of television’s most beloved design series, her reality is better than anything she could have dreamed as a performance-loving youth growing up in Minneapolis.
Gorder jokingly refers to herself as “some kind of design octopus,” having crafted everything from wallpaper to an award-winning gin bottle. She moved to New York in the mid-1990s to work at MTV as a graphic designer (“It paid meagerly, but I had the coolest, most glamorous life ever,” she says) and to pursue a visual arts degree. “I’ve done just about every kind of design possible, and I continue to diversify so I don’t get bored,” she explains. “Being nimble is key.”
Gorder cut her teeth on graphics projects, so when TLC approached her about being on a new show after they saw her Tanqueray gin bottle design, she wasn’t sure what to expect. “There was no design TV before “Trading Spaces.” We had “This Old House” and Martha (Stewart), but we didn’t have room transformation and interiors (shows).” She took a leap of faith — and a serious career shift — and became one of the eight original designers to tackle renovation projects when “Trading Spaces” launched in 2000, joining other now-household names like Hildi Santo-Tomas and Vern Yip.
The risk paid off, and Gorder quickly became a recognizable face in the design world.
“It was all about the right timing with the right people,” she says of the move that gave her even more confidence about following her intuition.
She loved that filming the show allowed her to travel and not be chained to a desk. “Being incredibly extroverted didn’t hurt me. (In some jobs) people can punish you for that,” Gorder recalls. “I found an industry where (my personality) was embraced and celebrated because it was completely authentic.”
Since “Trading Spaces,” she’s gone on to appear on shows including Bravo’s “Best Room Wins” and HGTV’s “Dear Genevieve” and served as a judge on HGTV’s “Design Star.” In 2014, she opened her home in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood to “Genevieve’s Renovation,” where she updated and expanded the light-filled apartment she shares with her daughter, Bebelle.
In 2018, Gorder tied the knot with furniture and interior designer Christian Dunbar in an intimate desert ceremony in Morocco.
While the pair have much in common, blending two very different styles presented some challenges.
“It was so hard!” Gorder recalls with a laugh, adding that she loves global, ancient pieces, while Dunbar is drawn to midcentury Italian and American designs.
“Practicing what I preach, you need other styles to have contrast and show off what you love. We had to meet somewhere in the middle.”
In 2019, Gorder hosted “Stay Here,” a Netflix series in which she and real estate expert Peter Lorimer helped VRBO and Airbnb owners redecorate and market their properties. In an example of life imitating art, Gorder and Dunbar converted Dunbar’s former home in Savannah, Ga., into a short-term rental, a project they hope to repeat in other cities.
Taking the Side Road
Gorder’s success has come from her philosophy of trusting life’s timing and embracing opportunities as they come, even if they seem to be detours. “You don’t know where the road will lead. If you focus too intently you’ll never see the side roads, and sometimes they are even more beautiful.”
Case in point: One of her most enjoyable projects in recent years has been designing interiors for the video game Vineyard Valley with developer Jam City. “It was so wildly fun to stretch and flex differently,” she says, noting the serendipity that she’s been an avid video game player for much of her life.
While she’s fashioned products fans might expect — a line of rugs with Capel, wallpaper for Tempaper, children’s furnishings with The Land of Nod — Gorder doesn’t limit herself. So, when Scotties approached her to collaborate, she jumped at the chance.
“Tissue boxes are notoriously unattractive,” she says. “I thought, ‘let’s do this. Let’s make tissue boxes sexy.’”
She created eight winter-themed designs — including birch bark, cable knit and an art deco pattern — that could seamlessly blend with a variety of décors.
On a personal note, Gorder has recently opened up about her health challenges.
Though she’s struggled for years with Lyme disease and Hashimoto’s disease, she says, “I didn’t want to reveal those things in the beginning because I didn’t know enough about (them) myself.”
In typical Gorder fashion, even dealing with health issues has provided opportunities for professional growth. While she typically has boundless energy, exhaustion sometimes takes over, necessitating self-care activities like a midday nap.
“I’ve learned to listen to my body. I think it’s made me a much better designer because I understand home in yet another way when home truly has to be a cradle,” she says. “I get when your senses are so weary that everything hurts. It’s made me more sensitive.”
Whether she’s creating functional décor, traveling the world for inspiration, spending time with family or bringing her distinct brand of optimism to television screens, Genevieve Gorder is on a mission to make the world a more beautiful, more interesting place. And, she’s starting with her own best life, designing as she goes.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Genevieve Gorder lands in a good space after a leap of faith