Skip to main content

Living the dream: How an HGTV designer merges style and function

Dec. 14, 2022 • 6 min read

What we'll cover

  • Design tips from HGTV's Brian Patrick Flynn

  • Functional and stylish features of the HGTV® Dream Home 2023

  • Ways to add useful elements to your home

When you close your eyes and imagine your perfect home, what do you see? Maybe you picture hardwood floors, a wraparound porch or floor-to-ceiling windows. But what about those more practical elements? Visions of storage space, easy-to-clean surfaces and pristine mudrooms might not be as glamorous, but they could be essential parts of making your dream home actually work for you and your family.

For the HGTV Dream Home 2023 — a mountainside retreat near Denver — lead designer Brian Patrick Flynn merged style and function to create a house that’s both worthy of a magazine spread and still practical for everyday life.

But you don’t need to win an alpine paradise to create your own dream home. We asked Brian to share his top tips on how homeowners can bring the best of style and function together in their spaces.

When you hear the word functional, what comes to mind?

This can mean so many things depending on your own personal needs in your home, but it never has to mean boring. When it comes to design, a functional space is one that’s not just good to look at but also super practical and befitting of someone’s lifestyle. Sometimes homeowners might feel like they have to pick one over the other. But with some creativity, style and function can work together to make a beautiful home.

When it comes to design, a functional space is one that’s not just good to look at but also super practical and befitting of someone’s lifestyle.

In what spaces is it most difficult to balance functionality and aesthetic?

Any room that will absolutely get dirty and/or messy a lot. Anything too precious in a high-traffic room is going to get worn out, so I start by focusing on function. Then I marry that with hard-working materials and stylish lines as best as I can so the room stands the test of time — and also its actual usage. The mudroom in the HGTV Dream Home 2023 is a perfect example.

Photo shows cabinetry in a mudroom with a Dutch door to allow pets easy access. Items like a hat and vest hang on the wall.

The key is to choose things that will age well both stylistically and from a wear-and-tear point of view. I usually start with upholstery and lighting, then take the rest of the stylistic approach from there. If you have great upholstery that will hold up to lots of traffic and beautiful light fixtures that provide the illumination you need, you’ve grounded the space and the other design elements can fall into place.

Any tips to create pet-friendly areas in a home without taking away functionality from a space?

Pets are part of the family, too! So they should definitely be part of the design. I think having one central place in the house where your pet’s food, toys and necessities live makes life a lot easier and also creates a sense of place for the pet. In the HGTV Dream Home 2023, we set that space up in the mudroom, but it could be the kitchen, living room — whatever makes the most sense for you and your furry, feathered or scaly family members.

Photo shows a sink with cabinets underneath, two bowls for pets under a counter and a shower space for pets.

What is an easy, stylish way to add storage to a home?

Install piano hinges on any type of bench seating. It immediately adds extra storage space for things you only need access to a few times a year, like winter blankets and other seasonal items. 

What is the most clever storage solution you’ve come across?

I think the hidden reading and relaxation nook at the end of the hallway in the HGTV Dream Home 2023 is the smartest storage or spatial planning solution we’ve done. At first glance, it just looks like a bookshelf, but it’s actually a pair of doors that hides a massive picture window. You can sprawl out in front of it, and there’s open storage below for books, too.

A hallway with artwork on both sides leads to a reading room with a large, sunny window.

How can someone use common, functional items to enhance their space?

If you’re someone who does not like a lot of stuff, but you still want a room to feel personal and lived in, stacks of books are the way to go. They can add pops of color and texture to a room. Plus, they also serve as a conversation starter for guests. Stack them in any area with dead space and let them do their thing (Bonus: You and your guests will never be too far from a good read.)

Books are stacked in small piles on a coffee table inside a living room. There is a large art piece of a dinosaur hanging on the wall in the background.

How would you recommend making a room dual purpose without it feeling cramped?

Clever furniture choices like pedestal tables that allow for additional chairs to pulled up, multipurpose pieces, collapsible furniture and daybeds used in place of your usual twin, queen or full are my go-to tricks for getting more than a single use out of a space. 

A chess board, two coffee mugs and a houseplant are on top of a pedestal table that has two chairs next to it.

What are some ways to really utilize outdoor space and get the most out of a yard or deck?

I like to mix and match different groupings of chairs and tables that can be moved around over time, so you are not committed to just one look outside. I did that this year with different tables that coordinate perfectly with three totally different styles of seating. Play a quick game of musical chairs and you have a completely different vibe. 

The backyard of the HGTV Dream Home 2023 contains a water feature, a lounge area, a fire pit area and bar seating.

What part of the HGTV Dream Home 2023 was the most fun to design?

I always love building outdoor spaces, but this year’s home was especially epic because of the spectacular views of the Rockies. I have this vision of whoever wins the house being able to curl up with a magazine outside and take it all in.

Home is where your favorite spaces are

Whether it’s mountainside in the middle of a concrete jungle or somewhere in between, your home needs to work for you. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice its style. By finding a balance between functional features that make your everyday a little easier and fashionable finishes that bring you joy, you can build a happy home that works for you.

Brian Patrick Flynn is an American television producer turned interior designer. HGTV audiences will recognize Brian from his work on HGTV Dream Home and HGTV Urban Oasis. He also stars in the series “Mind For Design”, which debuted in 2021 on Magnolia Network. His full-service production company FlynnsideOut, where Brian serves as Founder, Executive Producer, Set Designer, Writer and Prop Stylist, brings together his design and decorating skills to create lifestyle-related content for television.

*Ally is an official sponsor of the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway® 2023

©2022 Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. or its subsidiaries and affiliates. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.

Explore more

Save Spend Borrow

Read next

Money solutions and strategies sent straight to your inbox.

Tips and tools to help you build your best financial future.

Let's Connect