The Impact of HGTV on Design Professionals Part 2

Vittoria Haritos Blog

In television and film, Architects and Interior Designers are often portrayed as creative intellectuals who make a substantial salary for their services. In the U.S., the average salary for an Architect can range from $49,000 – $57,000 and the average salary for an Interior Designer can range from $30,000 – $53,000. Design professionals may earn 1.5 - 5% of the construction cost and this percentage varies by firm, region, size, and type of project. We spend most of our lives in architecture yet, the designers of those residential buildings may take home less than the square foot cost of a wood floor.


Why is the design field romanticized in literature and entertainment but, frequently undervalued in reality in the USA? So often people are willing to spend thousands of dollars on material possessions that may last for a year but are not willing to invest in one of the three essentials to our survival: shelter. As a result, the value of Design services is often scrutinized and misunderstood.


The design process can be inspiring and enjoyable, yet overwhelming. Despite what HGTV portrays, construction drawings and 3-D renderings are time intensive and require a high level of coordination, skill and knowledge amongst the Engineering teams. What is lacking in HGTV episodes like “Love It or List It” is the time it takes to create details, coordinate building systems, and the permitting process with local entities. Without this knowledge, it is common for viewers to assume design is linear and can be done quickly with the latest “fill-it-in/push button” computer programs.


However, HGTV has created a level of design awareness that Architects and Interior Designers can appreciate in our present society when Architecture / Design theory and history classes are nearly absent from the Pre-K – 12th grade curriculum. This design awareness has a positive impact, but the lack of architectural and design education continues to play a negative role in understanding the value of services that Architects, and Interiors Designers offer.


The next time an episode of “Flipping 101” comes on, remember that HGTV is an entertainment network - please consult an Interior Designer, Architect and / or Engineer before taking a hammer to that wall. 


Born in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Joelle Szerdi Gutierrez studied at the University of Florida (UF) where she received a Bachelor of Design in Architecture with honors in 2009. During her first years at UF, Joelle worked in Boynton Beach, Florida as an architectural intern during the summers and studied abroad at the Vicenza Institute of Architecture in Italy for a fall term. She taught at UF as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for Architectural Design 1- 2 and was awarded a scholarship to study abroad at the Preservation Institute: Caribbean in Guadalajara, Mexico. She graduated from UF in 2011 with a Master of Architecture, a Concentration and Certificate in Sustainable Architecture, and a Graduate Academic Achievement Award.

After completing her Master’s degree, Joelle moved to New York where she worked for H.T.O. Architect, a Manhattan based firm specializing in high-rise residential, commercial, and mixed-use buildings. In 2013, Joelle moved to Boston and joined Oudens Ello Architecture where she worked on various academic, cultural, and institutional projects. In addition to being part of numerous project teams, she was the Project Manager for the Eastham Public Library, managing the construction administration and interior design of the 18,000 sf library in Cape Cod. 

In the summer of 2016, Joelle relocated to Lake Worth, Florida and became a Principal at LDG, joining her husband Dany Gutierrez and father, John Szerdi. She is also an Adjunct Professor, teaching Architectural History and Digital Architecture at Indian River State College. Joelle can often be found painting in the studio of her 1934 Lake Worth cottage.