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Lights, camera, design

TV show features Eldorado remodel

By Heather Wood
published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Real Estate section
Sunday, December 16, 2007

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An upcoming episode of the popular, long-running HGTV show Designers' Challenge will feature a remodel in the home of longtime Santa Feans Fred and Barbara Raznick.

The show, produced in Hollywood, Calif., by Pie Town Productions, "has been on for over five years and more than 200 episodes," according to associate producer Richard Wells. This installment, filmed in 2005, was first aired Dec. 3. It will be shown again Dec. 31.

This is not the first time the City Different and its interior designers have been featured on Designers' Challenge -- but it might be the last. The show has highlighted Santa Fe-area homes in previous episodes, Wells said, but no new episodes -- in any city -- are in production.

Raznick, a Realtor with Sotheby's International Realty, and his wife, Barbara, began considering a remodel about three years ago.

"We were in the process of wanting to redo our great room," Raznick said.

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"We'd talked to contractors to get ideas to improve our living space." Then the couple got hooked on Designers' Challenge, he said, because it gave them a lot of different ideas for materials, appliances and so on.

"I was reading The New Mexican one morning and read that the show was coming to Santa Fe and they were looking for a house," Raznick said. He showed the ad to his wife.

"Barbara called them," he said. "They liked the rapport with her. So they asked us to take pictures of our house. Several months went by, and then they called. We got picked."

The Raznicks have lived in their home in the original solar community of Eldorado since 1978.

"We wanted more energy-efficient appliances, and to make sure that everything was done in an environmentally sensitive way," Raznick said. "We raised the kids in this house, and we wanted to gut the great room."

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Selecting a designer

Every episode of Designers' Challenge features a homeowner's desired interior design project, ranging from bathroom upgrades to bedroom remodels to new media rooms. A tape with an initial interview of the homeowners and their proposed project is sent to three area designers selected by Pie Town. The designers typically receive no payment for working on the televised projects.

For the Santa Fe episode, the producers selected Lisa Samuel, owner of Samuel Design Group; Daryl Stanton, former owner of Casa Natura, who has since relocated to New Zealand; and Heather Van Luchene, owner of HVL Interiors, for the challenge.

"I was familiar with the show," said Samuel, who was contacted by the show in January 2005. "They sent a video to review the challenge and see if I was interested. I had a week to decide." She knew it would be a fun project, she said, as well as a challenge because of the clients' environmental sensitivities.

Photo by Luis Sánchez Saturno, The New Mexican
The great room of Fred and Barbara Raznick's living room after the redesign set up by HGTV's Designers' Challenge. Photo by Luis Sánchez Saturno, The New Mexican
The great room of Fred and Barbara Raznick's living room after the redesign set up by HGTV's Designers' Challenge. "We wanted more energy-efficient appliances," Fred Raznick said, "and to make sure that everything was done in an environmentally sensitive way."

Designers' Challenge

Episode DSC-1604 Dec. 31, 8:30 a.m. MT Project: Environmentally friendly Great Room

Eldorado homeowners Fred and Barbara Raznick's entire home was built for energy efficiency, which is perfect for these committed environmentalists.
Now, they're ready to decorate their great room and kitchen. They want to replace the huge furniture in the great room with toxic-free pieces and update the kitchen's countertops, cabinets and appliances.

Courtesy photo
Lisa Samuel, owner of Samuel Design Group, won the design challenge. Courtesy photo, The New Mexican
Lisa Samuel, owner of Samuel Design Group, won the design challenge.
"I wanted ... people to know that they may be challenged with health issues, but they don't have to have a white canvas house with hemp and cotton all over," she said.

"I wanted ... people to know that they may be challenged with health issues, but they don't have to have a white canvas house with hemp and cotton all over," she said.

Van Luchene agreed to participate because, she said, she thinks Designers' Challenge gives the most realistic picture of the design process. She, too, was interested in the homeowners' desire for a healthy house.

"The biggest challenge," Van Luchene said, "was to make sure everything fit into the budget ... healthy products cost more.

It made me think twice about what I put in all my clients' homes. If it's feasible, I (now) try to steer them to those alternatives."

Each designer viewed the original tape, then met with the Raznicks for a personal interview to learn more about the couple and their lifestyle. They followed up by presenting material samples and story-boards to the homeowners to illustrate their proposed design solutions. Then it was up to the homeowners to select the design that best suited them.

After the presentations, the Raznicks had just one week to select a designer. "All three had their strengths. It was a very difficult decision," Raznick said.

What made them choose Samuel?

According to Raznick, it was "Lisa's furniture designs, the design of the couches and how open it was. We wanted to stay with the Northern New Mexico look. Lisa really understood it ... she's a native Santa Fean."

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Photo by Luis Sánchez Saturno, The New Mexican
Fred Raznick is pleased by their involvement with HGTV's Designers' Challenge. Photo by Luis Sánchez Saturno, The New Mexican
"We're very grateful we got to do it," Fred Raznick said of Designers' Challenge. "It turned out beautifully."

An understanding design

Samuel believes her design won because she was able to understand what made the Raznick's home -- and its Santa Fe location -- special to them. "I was able to make a lot of storage without it looking cluttered," she said. She also selected handcrafted furniture that had been finished with BioShield stains. (BioShield Healthy Living Store is a Santa Fe company that manufacturers environmentally sensitive paints and stains.) "The most challenging part," Samuel said, "was the brick floor. There weren't a lot of opportunities to make the floor more comfortable without a huge expense. I provided chemical-free wool area rugs, and a wonderful gel technology flooring -- Chef's Pro Gel Mat -- in the kitchen."

The kitchen upgrade also featured burl wood sandstone for the kitchen counter-tops and backsplash. "You just don't see that everywhere," she said.

Samuel also featured layers of lighting.

"I did a huge rectangular drop-down two-circuit tech track lighting with beautiful hand-blown glass pendants. The rest of the lights on the track could be turned on separately for task lighting."

As for the filming, Samuel noted, "It was a little nerve-wracking when you're not used to being on camera. So many hours go into the production ... and the number of takes. And the skill required to film something like that."

That's show business

The remodel began in June 2005, with the final filming planned for the beginning of August. "We thought we'd have it done in 60 days. Needless to say, there were delays," Raznick said.

The last shoot didn't occur until the beginning of October. The couple had made arrangements to be out of the house during the remodel, "... but not for that long," he said. "So we set up a one-burner cook top, put an old fridge in one of the bedrooms. That's the nature of the animal.

You don't know what you're going to run into."

Raznick pointed out that he now has a "... better appreciation for what people in the film industry have to go through, and the amount of film they shot for 20 minutes of airtime.

"We're very grateful we got to do it," he said. "It turned out beautifully."


Heather Wood is a freelance writer who writes regularly for the Santa Fe New Mexican. She can be reached through her website at www.HeatherWoodFreelance.com.

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