An Interview with Mark Montano: The Big-Ass Book of Home Decor

If you're into DIY decor, Mark Montano might as well be your king. He's a creative, larger-than life personality and an interior designer who has authored 11 books (most about crafting and DIY style) and appeared on TLC’s 10 Years Younger, Style Network’s My Celebrity Home, ABC’s The Tony Danza Show and WE TV’sShe’s Moving In. He's also a former fashion designer and is known to joke about how he's so crafty that he sleeps with a glue gun.

Mark was gracious enough to chat with me a bit about his books, his career, his small-town background, how to find your own special design sensibility, and his upcoming TV show. Check out what he has to say!

You're well-known for your almost larger-than life design sensibility. When did you first notice you loved bold statements?

I think it was when my parents let me decorate my own room. I painted a jungle scene around a water pipe that was in the corner of the room. I felt it should become a tree trunk....and it did!

If people aren't super-comfortable your exact design sense, but still love the ideas behind your work, do you think they can still use your books (like The Big-Ass Book of Home Decor) in almost the same way people often use cookbooks -- as inspiration to create something more to their tastes?

ABSOLUTELY! I never want people to feel they have to do things the way I do. More than anything I want to inspire people to think, use different materials and experiment. Being creative is personal everyone has their on special take on things.

The Big-Ass Book of Home Decor (2010) is a few years old now, as time has passed, what have proved to be the most popular projects featured in the book? Also, are there any plans for a Big-Ass Book of Home Decor 2?

Hm, I think there are quite a few, but the ones that immediately come to mind (because I've seen them a lot lately) are the Butterflies Under Glass project and the plaster dipped flowers. No plans for a Big Ass Home Decor 2 right now. I've written 11 DIY books and I need a little break.

How did you learn how to infuse your personal sense of style -- and personality, really -- into decor? Do you have any tips to make it easier for people to figure out their own design sense?

FIND WHAT YOU LOVE! It's that simple. If you love something, make it work for you. Otherwise you'll be unhappy with things that look pretty but don't speak to you.

You note that writing the Cool Room column for CosmoGIRL magazine really was part of how you solidified your niche as an interior designer, after having been a fashion designer. How did you end up with the Cool Room assignment?

My friend Atoosa, the editor in chief of Cosmo Girl!, was in my apartment in the East Village and loved that I'd made everything from the lampshades to the coffee table. She offered me an editor position and I jumped at it. It was a wonderful 10 years.....Just amazing!

It's so interesting that after having emerged from the upscale fashion and publishing worlds, you have a very hands-on, inexpensive approach to decorating. Was it your experience at CosmoGIRL (offering up decor suggestions for younger women) or something else that inspired your DIY aesthetic?

Actually, it was growing up in a small town where there just wasn't anything to buy! If you wanted something you had to make it. Fortunately my mom was a painter, dad could fix anything, gramps was a carpenter and welder, my gram taught me to sew and my uncles were cabinet makers. I had tons of inspiration and supplies to work with. If we saw it, we could make it!

What products do new DIY decorators absolutely need to have on hand?

A good jigsaw and drill, good brushes, and my latest LOVE......Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paints in every color. I'm obsessed.

What would you recommend as a great first DIY decorating project?

Great question. I love chairs. I love painting mismatched chairs in funky colors and reupholstering the seat cushions.

What are your favorite kinds of decor projects?

Probably decorative painting on walls. I love stripes and stencils.

What decor decisions are really best left to the professionals?

Wallpaper!

Is there anything that can't be made better with the addition of a little hot glue or a little polycrylic finish?

Nothing except a hamburger.

Do you have any new TV projects and/or books on the horizon?

Make Your Mark for Public Television will air this September......FINALLY! It will be on all PBS stations and every public television station that isn't affiliated with PBS, too.

What do you hope people take away from your blog/books/YouTube tutorials?

To be creatively fearless!

Do you really sleep with a glue gun? :)

Do NOT enter my house in the middle of the night or you will leave with one serious glue gun burn. Nuff said.

Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This light figure made with plastic plate display holders in one of Mark's favorite projects. Photo Courtesy of Mark Montano.Meet Mark Montano -- he's the DIY decor king (at least in my world.) Photo Courtesy of Mark Montano.
This light figure made with plastic plate display holders in one of Mark's favorite projects. Photo Courtesy of Mark Montano.
See all 2 photos
This light figure made with plastic plate display holders in one of Mark's favorite projects. Photo Courtesy of Mark Montano.
Meet Mark Montano -- he's the DIY decor king (at least in my world.) Photo Courtesy of Mark Montano.
See all 2 photos
Meet Mark Montano -- he's the DIY decor king (at least in my world.) Photo Courtesy of Mark Montano.

 Last updated on November 18, 2014

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Guestbook 9 comments

GrammieOlivia profile image

GrammieOlivia 8 months ago from Toronto Level 6 Commenter

Great interview and I think I need some new books for some extra inspiration......thanks for this review!


Pam Irie profile image

Pam Irie 8 months ago from Land of Aloha Level 3 Commenter

DIY Decor has always been my preferred style. Thanks for doing this interview of such a master in this art!


AnonymousC831 profile image

AnonymousC831 8 months ago from Kentucky Level 2 Commenter

Great lens. I love DIY decor.


DeborahDian profile image

DeborahDian 8 months ago from Orange County, California Level 5 Commenter

Sounds like the perfect book for do-it-yourselfers!


Ruthi 7 months ago

Sounds like there has to be something in this Big-Ass Book that's bad-ass for me and my budget (or lack therefof) to utilize in this rental house I live in.


Cherry-Ambition profile image

Cherry-Ambition 7 months ago from U.S.

I definitely remember Mark Montano's Cool Room column contributions in CosmoGirl, because I saved some of those and still have them today! Loved his eclectic, colorful style.


jeffersuan profile image

jeffersuan 6 months ago

Great review. Awesome that you could interview the author!


Marten22 profile image

Marten22 6 months ago

Awesome interview! Really enjoyed reading it.


dellgirl 4 months ago

I enjoyed reading your lens, thanks for sharing this information. It is very interesting.

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