by RICHARD PEREZ-FERIA
Television star, single mom, passionate girlfriend—HGTV’s reigning queen, Genevieve Gorder has it all. Now, she wants more.
It’s a lot like playing tennis, actually. Whenever I’m just about to meet a celebrity to interview them for a magazine feature—something I’ve been fortunate to have experienced hundreds of times—I prepare myself exactly the same way I used to when I played competitive tennis: research my opponent/ celebrity; exploit weaknesses/inquire about tough times; go on offense as much as possible/make them laugh early and often. Essentially, the principle of being “game ready” is at play in both of these super- competitive, high-stakes arenas.
If I’m meeting with President Bill Clinton or Angelina Jolie or David Beckham or Eva Longoria, for example, I always know what’s behind Door No. 1. Trust me, I come prepared. I come to play. I come to win.
This pre-game routine prior to a celebrity interview is so second nature to me that when I walked in to meet the reigning queen of interior design at HGTV—and star of an armload of television shows on that network— Genevieve Gorder, in the middle of getting her hair and makeup done, it hit me with a thud: I wasn’t ready to meet her at all. I had actually introduced myself to a celebrity I was about to interview without having a game plan, a line of questioning or even a basic strategy. And this had never happened to me. Not even once.
As the head-turning statuesque Gorder appealingly prattled on with the hilarious Randall Tang, her longtime hair and makeup stylist, she seemed to be as unprepared for me as I was for her; and by that I mean she didn’t have her guard up. Not even a little. She was instantly familiar—sarcastic, playful, real. This casual/chummy drop-by feeling in the air had the makings of becoming a very interesting, memorable day. I wasn’t wrong.
As I continued to assess why my game face wasn’t on, I realized that it felt as if Genevieve and I were already old friends. After all, I’ve been aware of Gorder’s telegenic existence for at least a decade, and not once did she come across as phony. In that magic box in my living room, Gorder seemed to be completely herself; exceedingly comfortable in her own skin. And she appeared to be—wait for it—nice. At least “celebrity nice,” you know The kind of nice that makes you think that if a famous person got to know you, you’d be BFFs in a snap. I didn’t come prepared to grill/seduce/conquer Genevieve Gorder because why would I have to grill/seduce/conquer such a “good friend”
Here’s the absolute best part: In person, Gorder is much better than advertised. She’s smart. She’s funny. She’s sassy, with a bit of a potty mouth, and she’s absolutely, ridiculously drop-dead beautiful. She’s pretty, yes, but more than that, she’s hot. I didn’t come prepared to meet Genevieve Gorder, because she’s equal parts Jennifer Aniston and Pink with a dash of Nigella Lawson thrown in for good measure. It’s quite the seductive, quenching, intoxicating cocktail.
Genevieve Gorder was born on July 26, 1974, in Minneapolis and is the oldest of three children (she has two brothers). She attended Minneapolis South High School, where she excelled at soccer and the violin. Upon graduation, Gorder made her way west to Oregon to attend Lewis & Clark College, where she majored in international affairs. After taking a graphic design course, the trajectory of her life completely changed, and she soon landed in Times Square to work as an intern for MTV and finished her studies by earning a B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.
The internship turned into a permanent job, and eventually Gorder became on-air talent on the MTV series Sex in the ’90s. After MTV, Gorder went to work at Duffy & Partners in New York City—where, among other highlights, she designed the bottle for Tanqueray No. Ten gin. Then came Trading Spaces. Gorder was cast as one of the original designers of TLC’s monster hit show, and from that moment, nothing has ever been the same for the Minnesota native.
Gorder has parlayed her Trading Spaces success into more than half a dozen television programs, most notably as one of the judges—along with Sabrina Soto and Vern Yip—of HGTV Star (formerly HGTV Design Star) and, since 2009, as host of the award-winning series HGTV White House Christmas. Her latest program, Genevieve’s Renovation, debuts next month and features Gorder as the reverse client as she navigates the ins and outs of gutting and renovating her impressive home high above Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.
At this juncture in her life, Gorder seems to be seizing her moment— and I’m not just talking about the numerous brand extensions that constitute the growing Genevieve Gorder business empire—she’s literally nothing short of luminous, radiating a palpable joy.
Well past her divorce to TV host Tyler Harcott, Gorder is a single mom of a five-year-old daughter, Bebelle, and is “deliriously happy” in a serious relationship with Anthony Carrino, a star of HGTV’s Kitchen Cousins and Cousins Undercover. Since her home has literally been a construction site for many months, Gorder and Bebelle have been nesting at Carrino’s place in Jersey City, an experience like no other, according to the clearly smitten 5’10 beauty.
Genevieve Gorder is confident, silly, caring and talented—boy, am I ever glad I didn’t come to our fateful meeting ready for combat. It really does feel as if Gorder and I have been close for years. And after a very long day of shooting, laughing hard and gossiping just a smidge, we actually are becoming friends. Isn’t that a little nuts And, yep, I do know what a cool gig I have. So, yeah, there was definitely something in the air after all.