HGTV’s Fontana to headline Home and Garden Show |

HGTV’s Fontana to headline Home and Garden Show

HGTV celebrity and designer Frank Fontana will appear at The Union's 30th annual Home & Garden Show April 26.
Submitted photo |


WHAT: The Union’s 30th annual Home & Garden Show

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 25

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 26 (Frank Fontana to appear Sunday)

WHERE: Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Rd, Grass Valley

TICKETS: Admission free, parking is $5


Many homeowners dream of homes that are rich in personality and sophistication — whether it’s elegantly upscale or funky and laid back, the flow and cohesion that pull a room together always seems so elusive.

Do-it-yourselfers venturing out to this month’s Home and Garden Show for inspiration and direction will be treated to some professional guidance by Frank Fontana, host of HGTV’s Design on a Dime.

Fontana heads west from his Chicago home to attend The Union’s 30th annual Home and Garden Lifestyle Show April 25 and 26. He will appear Sunday, April 26.

A lifestyle expert known for renovating on a budget, Fontana is a regular contributor to The Today Show and, hosts a series of radio shows, and is the author of “Dirty Little Secrets of Design.”

It will be Fontana’s first visit to the Grass Valley home show, and he admits to not getting out to the West Coast as often as he likes, but his advice and insight transcends local and regional trends.

His discussions and guidance usually come from a philosophical standpoint — about the inner workings of creating a room.

“It’s more of an energy-based principle,” he said of his strategies. “Ears perk up when design and science are discussed together.”

Anyone who’s seen or heard Fontana knows that while his approach may sound offbeat on paper, his solutions, ideas, and demeanor are accessible, relatable, and down to earth.

His shows are filled with wit, humor, and inspiration. While appearing at the home show, he’ll be telling stories, giving visual demonstrations, discussing and sharing product samples, and signing copies of his book.

Fontana notes that the number of people taking on home improvement projects has increased exponentially with the rise in design shows and accessibility to tools and education.

“The homeowner/consumer is far more educated than ever,” he said. “There are so many mediums for do-it-yourself projects.”

Once people realize they can alleviate some costs substantially by taking on the labor themselves, they often take the steps and seek the knowledge to renovate and redesign on their own.

His most basic piece of advice when starting a project is to be prepared for the unexpected, which includes delays and increased or unexpected costs. He tells most clients to create their budget and then add 30 percent to it.

Fontana also says he never “goes behind the wall,” meaning he leaves any heavy electrical, plumbing, or contract work to those specialized in that area. That still leaves plenty of room and opportunity for sanding, priming, cutting (baseboards, molding, etc.), and painting, which he says is the most common roadblock to beginning a project.

Though choosing a color is “in front of the wall,” he encourages those challenged by selecting a color to bring in a designer or consultant. Hiring a professional to assist with just that one element isn’t pricey, he says, and can be well worth it.

“I’ve seen it create conflict with married people. It’s the number one issue,” he said.

If a color consultant is not an option, he suggests using large color swatches (8 by 10 or legal-size paper) and hang them for several days in order to get the feel of how they might work with the light and mood of the room.

Often people aren’t exactly sure what they’re looking for. It helps, he says, to start with a genre, era, or nuance you may be fond of, or even a piece of furniture that appeals to you. When it comes to creating a look, he says to get a picture from a magazine or Pinterest, or perhaps make a list, and then find everything on it on a budget.

Fontana, who’s a knowledgeable spokesperson for a plethora of brands and stores and is launching his own collection later this year, is a big believer in secondhand stores, particularly hotel liquidators. These liquidators and resellers are often found in larger cities and sell good quality, used furniture from hotels that must upgrade their pieces every few years.

When it comes to staying in budget, it’s vital to reclaim, recycle, and reuse. “I’m a big fan of thrift shopping. I go there before I hit any of the box stores.”

It’s not all about pinching pennies, though. Fontana notes that if you can create the majority of a design on a budget, springing for that one “splurge piece” (an intricate headboard, table, or piece of art), may be worth it to help achieve the desired look.

The Home and Garden Show takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 25 and again from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 26 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Admission is free and parking is $5. For more information, go to

To learn more about Fontana, go to his website at

Katrina Paz is a freelance writer in Grass Valley.

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