Whether you are looking to make the most of small spaces, live green, or create a sexy bedroom, Blanche Garcia, the Travel Channel’s star of Hotel Impossible, can help you. Garcia, from Montclair, NJ, has a degree in interior design, over 16 years experience in the field, and is LEED accredited through the United States Green Building Commission. LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a program that provides third-party verification of green buildings and offers training for professionals involved in the entire building lifecycle. Garcia was the first designer in New Jersey to get certified. With an eye to reduce the carbon footprint, Garcia sends all her samples back to the manufacturer, rather than sending them to the landfill. She realizes that a little extra effort on the part of business owners can be very beneficial. She also provides eco-friendly choices to her clients, some of which include professional athletes, corporations, restaurants, nightclubs, and lounges.
Garcia describes her style as “Green Glam” because she knows that she can protect the environment while using stylish materials and produce a healthy, glamorous result. The producers of Hotel Impossible on the Travel Channel agree. They invited Garcia to participate in their premiere. “We had to renovate the hotel in three days on a shoestring budget,” she said. “I didn’t sleep for three days! It was crazy but very rewarding.” What Garcia thought was to be a one-time appearance on the show became a regular gig. “When they said, ‘We want you to do every show,’ it felt like, oh my God, it’s almost like finding out you are pregnant: excited, thrilled, yet scared at the same time.”
Garcia discovered a love of construction while volunteering at the age of 12 for nonprofit building projects around the country. She learned crafts such as electrical, drywall, tile work, landscaping; but later, at the age of 16, decided that that her true passion was for interior design. At 20, she put her focus on making a name for herself and being the best she could be. “I put everything into it. I had a dream board and a journal. I talked to people in the field to see how they did it. I also started writing blogs and working on a book,” she said. Her next step on the ladder to success was her participation in the show, Designer Stars. “We had to commit to three months of being quarantined from family and friends. We were only allowed one phone call a week, and that was supervised by a producer.” She explained that this occurred because the producers want the contestants to produce original work without outside influence. “This is what I likened it to: You know Alice in Wonderland, when she falls through that hole?” she said. “That’s kind of what it was. You’re in an alternate universe. It’s so different from where you are now. And imagine all the comforts and all the things you can do right now, you can’t really do.” Though she appreciated the opportunity and experience, she was somewhat relieved to have been the first eliminated in the competition so that she could return home to family and friends. Soon after that show, she received the invitation from Hotel Impossible.
Garcia takes pride in getting a “feel” for what her clients want. “Design should be about what the client likes, not about my own preference,” she said. She also wants people to realize the impact their environment has on their well-being and productivity.
“People are becoming more aware of how what they eat affects them,” she said. “Their environment affects them too. What you see in the morning when you wake up can affect your mood for the whole day. How you feel in your office space can affect the quality of your work.” Garcia spends long hours at her office with her Chihuahua, Maddix, by her side. She breaks up her 12-hour work day with a half-hour workout with her trainer, a half-hour walk with Maddix, a call to her mother, and 15 minutes for meditation. She eats lunch on the run and takes about 15 minutes for dinner. “I usually get what I want because I work very hard for it,” she said candidly.
So what’s “in” this summer? “Turquoise, oranges, and greens have been very big,” Garcia said. “When the Wizard of Oz came out, emerald green became very popular. Each season offers an abundance of natural products just waiting to be used. Pull out the crystal bowl you received as a wedding gift and load it up with pine cones (for Fall). Fill the vitrine with gourds and pottery in colors of the season. It’s almost unlimited what you can do with what you already have and with what’s right outside your front door.” She added that the popular TV series, Downton Abbey has people choosing more deep colors, golden gilded velvets, and crushed florals. The show has also influenced many to want salons and extra spaces. “Be careful that what you choose will stand the test of time,” she says.
Also popular is the “lived-in look,” eclectic and Bohemian styles. “People have more freedom today to mix and match. Things do not have to look so perfect and new. Before, people used to come in with a magazine and say ‘this is what I want it to look like.’ Now, people are talking about how a place feels, not how it looks. People are putting their own personality into the design style and want it to feel like them.” Garcia added that many grew up with the plastic slipcovers and plastic rug runners. These people now want to feel comfortable in their surroundings, hence the popularity of the “lived-in look.”
Garcia also has some ideas to create a sexy bedroom, starting with super soft 600-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and plush rugs on the side of the bed. Remember to use an iPod and docking station for mood music, and ceiling-to-floor silk window panels will “not only look silky but swish around in the most alluring way when the wind blows.” A bouquet of roses on the night stand and matching silk robes for the bedroom’s occupants finish the look.
What’s next for Garcia? Maybe having her books published, or her own show, but especially living a happy, healthy life with family and friends.
For a behind-the-scenes look at Blanche and Hotel Impossible, check out the video “Hotel Impossible Raw” at www.travelchannel.com/video/hotel-impossible-raw.