Local designer Michel Smith Boyd hosts HGTV’s newest show, Luxe for Less

Upscale design is within everyone’s reach; the secret is knowing where to splurge and where to save

Local designer Michel Smith Boyd hosts HGTV’s newest show, Luxe for Less
Michel Smith Boyd

Photograph courtesy of Michel Smith Boyd

Atlanta interior designer Michel Smith Boyd has garnered dozens of accolades during his 15-year career, including being recognized as one of the country’s top 10 African American designers by the Black Interior Designers Network in 2022. His work has appeared in countless national publications—from Veranda and Vogue to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, and his carefully crafted rooms have been featured in showhouses around the country. As if that wasn’t enough, he also has launched several bespoke collections, including artwork, casegoods, luxury rugs, and home fragrances.

And now, the designer is the host of HGTV’s new show, Luxe for Less, which debuted December 1. It should come as no surprise that the network tapped him for the job. Aside from his impressive resume, he has made regular appearances on HGTV’s House Hunters and Rock the Block as well as the Bravo design series Buying It Blind.

Ironically, Boyd had decided to forego television and focus on building his brand when he received a call from the director of the show in May 2020. “After the Bravo show, I thought I was done with TV,” he said. But the designer agreed to take the HGTV meeting, which was held via Zoom due to the pandemic, and he soon found himself shooting a teaser—also via Zoom—with the camera operator in his Atlanta studio and the director in Los Angeles.

The execs at HGTV liked what they saw and, before long, Boyd was casting coworkers on the show, including interior designer Kai Williamson, contractor Laura Green, and fashion designer Anthony Elle (who is also Boyd’s Rock the Block partner). “I’ve known these three throughout my career and wanted them to be a part of my team,” he said.

The premise of the show is to give homes a high-end makeover while ensuring that expenses are kept to a minimum. Boyd and his team use clever hacks, such as repurposing furniture and purchasing appliances at ‘scratch and dent’ outlets, to keep costs down. “Luxury is within everyone’s reach,” he said. The key is figuring out where to save money and then deploying those dollars where it counts.

He often splurges on surfaces, such as countertops for kitchens and primary baths. A recent episode featured a waterfall countertop design for a kitchen island that transformed the space from ho-hum to show-stopper. “You want to spend money on the areas you come in contact with the most,” he said.

He doesn’t skimp on sofas either. “They set the tone for the room.” And he’s a huge fan of wallpaper, often using textured wallcoverings to add depth, drama, and warmth to a space. “It’s about making smart design choices.” According to the designer, well-appointed rooms are achievable, even on a modest budget.

Interestingly, he sees one of his primary missions as helping homeowners identify what luxury means to them. “Luxury is a word we hear a lot, but most of our ideas about it are based on advertising or on what other people have told us. I try to help clients determine their ideas of luxury and then help them achieve it,” he said.

Boyd enjoys helping people create beautiful living environments and is happy to have found a television home at HGTV. “It just feels right. HGTV resonates with everyone,” he said. “My mom is a loyal viewer, which makes this whole experience so much sweeter.”

In November, he and his castmates gathered at an Atlanta theater for a screening of the new show. A few days later, he watched the first episode at his childhood home in Louisiana with his mother, his siblings, and a few friends in attendance. “We watched the show in the kitchen while we were eating, and it was great,” he said. “Not only do I get to do what I enjoy but I also get to share the experience with viewers and the people I love most.”

Luxe for Less is now streaming on Discovery+ and other outlets—as will be the new season of Rock the Block, another HGTV show that features Boyd, starting March 6.