Pattern Players: Heather Fox on Designing, Working, and Filming a TV Show With Your Spouse
Heather Fox was made for TV. With her bubbly personality, bold designs, and successful Minnesota-based business she runs with husband, Brad, we were delighted—though not at all surprised!—to learn that HGTV wanted to shoot a pilot with her. And when we found out that a couple of our wallpapers would also be sharing the small screen with Heather, we were over the moon!
Heather's company, Fox Homes, offers homebuyers the whole package—real estate, design, and construction all in one place. Along with Brad, Heather helps clients discover, purchase, and renovate their very own fixer uppers so each and every person she works with has the opportunity to create and live in the home of their dreams. From organic modern to clean and comfy, and everything in between, Heather's work is design-forward yet approachable, and always feels like home. We caught up with Heather about her show, Stay or Sell?, what it's like working with her husband, and all things pattern and hygge.
Hygge & West: Tell us a little bit about your design and real estate company, Fox Homes, and how it came to be. What tips and advice do you have for working with your spouse and marrying two different points of view and aesthetics?
Heather Fox: My husband, Brad, and I started in real estate 14 years ago and had a hard time finding a company that matched our creativity. Truthfully, real estate can be the opposite of creative—contract writing, negotiation, etc., so very early on we decided we needed to start our own company in order to foster that creativity. We now do "normal" real estate, helping our buyers and sellers, but even in those somewhat standard situations, we can help our clients see the best potential in each home. Our main focus these last few years is helping people find their own fixer upper in order to create spaces they love with our help and guidance—sometimes that's a small project and sometimes it's a full rebuild. We coordinate everything—finding the home, gathering all bids, financing, plans, design selections, and the actual construction/renovation.
It's been constant evolution—from Fox Realty to our Fox Design to now working on our own construction company, which will complete the trio. That's business, I think—the only constant is change!
People often ask us what it's like working with your spouse. We're lucky that we work really well together, but it hasn't been without its growing pains. First step was determining what our strengths are. I lead with my heart and Brad leads with a spreadsheet. It's a good combo and we balance each other out. Of course we disagree from time to time, but overall we trust each other and there is a give and take. Luckily, even with those spreadsheets, Brad is a big risk-taker like me, so we say yes to what sounds good and figure it out (even when people think we're crazy). I feel like that's the biggest secret of all business owners—we all seem to be figuring it out as we go!
H&W: Hygge & West has deep ties to Minneapolis and its creative community. What is it like working in the Twin Cities, and what makes this area so unique?
HF: The Twin Cities are AMAZING! We couldn't love living here more. It's full of creative people and also people who love taking care of each other. I think we truly have a "community over competition" vibe here. I also find the Minneapolis creative community to be super connected and so happy to share their wisdom—we are constantly overwhelmed with them helping us and lifting us up. It fills my heart with happiness!!
H&W: We loved the HGTV pilot of your new show, Stay or Sell? How fun! How did that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity come about?
HF: Thank you! We actually watched it for the first time with the rest of the world and were happy with how it all came together. There were parts we were sad were edited out, but overall, we loved watching the four-month process happen in 42 minutes. We were able to feature nine local creative companies and individuals, which felt so rewarding!
It happened due to a lot of luck to be honest! The powers at HGTV had put out a call for "talent" in the Midwest and a production company reached out after finding us online to see if we were interested. We thought they were kidding at first, but it didn't take long for us to say yes.
We were lucky to partner with the best production company and doors just kept opening... from a Skype call to a sizzle reel to a full pilot episode. The door is still open for a full series, but we know nothing yet. We're just having fun with it while it's here and no matter what happens, we feel so lucky to have had this opportunity. We were naive about how much work it would be and how much competition there is in the TV industry, but I feel like that helped us just be ourselves and not take any of it too seriously.
H&W: How is designing a home for TV different than the real-life design process? Any tips you learned while filming that translate to off-screen design?
HF: Honestly, overall the design was quite similar to what we would do in a normal project of ours. We love big and bold designs. We've used just about every color for cabinetry in different homes, so using green like in the pilot wasn't a stretch for us. I think you should be inspired by your home everyday!
My biggest takeaway from seeing this home translate to the small screen is what a huge difference art makes! Local art and thrifted accessories tell a different story than anything big box and usually keep you on budget. If you're local to Minneapolis, head to First Thursday at the Northrop King or the MCAD Art Sale to find a unique piece of art whatever your budget is. Like wallpaper, art can completely transform a space!
H&W: You used our Cities Toile in Ebony in an office space you created for a home in your pilot and Daydream in Blush for a nursery. What did those patterns bring to those particular spaces, and how do you work with pattern in general?
HF: I think one of the biggest comments we get about the show is the wallpaper in the office—Cities Toile. It completely changed that room! It's bold without being too much. The thin gold pattern throughout and the detailed city drawings are so stunning. It was a no-brainer paired with the Danish credenza from Golden Age Design. The green plants were the perfect pop. I want to use that wallpaper everywhere!
I've been dreaming of using Daydream for years! The blush colorway was the perfect option for baby girl's nursery. I knew the homeowners wanted something soft and peaceful and I feel like it was the perfect option. It also will grow with her for years to come. I also love the florals from Rifle Paper Co., but couldn't get past those dreamy birds!
I think wallpaper is the best way to make a huge impact without making a huge change! One wall can make you feel like you have a whole new space. And no doubt everyone will comment and notice. I have Pineapple in Ebony in my foyer and every single person who walks in my home comments and smiles... and usually snaps a photo too. I LOVE that!
H&W: You also used the nursery in a gender reveal for the couple on your show—what was it like to use design and pattern to create such a special moment for that couple?
HF: It still makes me smile when I think of it. I can't believe they let me know the gender of their baby and design the entire nursery without any input. I knew they were having a girl for a full six weeks before they did! I also knew how much it would mean to Liza to have a second daughter since she's so close to her twin sister. It was such a sweet moment and I'm overjoyed for them! It was a blast to design—total simplicity with fun pops and the Daydream wallpaper making the real statement. I color-matched the other walls with the blush to make it feel extra custom.
H&W: Hygge is a Danish concept the celebrates simple joys and small pleasures. What brings hygge to your world?
HF: Good design, color, art, sunshine, a walk around the lake, but most of all my two boys, Graham and Wesley... especially when they hold hands.