Designer Brian Patrick Flynn brings TV flair home

A 6-foot-5-inch tall drink of water with piercing blue eyes and super-sized charisma, Atlanta designer Brian Patrick Flynn has built his reputation on a mantra of great design on the cheap.

A cyclone of frenetic energy matched only by his adorable Jack Russell terrier-chihuahua mix Gidget, Flynn has parlayed an Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale degree in television and film into a career as a very media savvy designer whose brand combines the flash and impact of TV makeover shows with the pocket book-minded concerns of his clients.

Flynn, 35, has become a kind of design world one-man band: creator of his own Décor Demon blog, contributor to interior design blog, set decorator and on-air design talent for TBS’s “Movie & a Makeover,” and a residential designer for hire.

But Flynn’s growing national reputation can be attributed in large part to his high profile role as an HGTV contributor. Flynn offers his witty takes on design for HGTV’s Design Happens blog and this spring went to New York City to serve as a behind-the-scenes design producer on HGTV’s No. 1 design reality show “Design Star.” In his role as design producer, Flynn offered an insider’s perspective on each week’s design challenge and the best places to source each episode’s materials.

But nowhere has Flynn’s philosophy of high-impact, creatively sourced looks been on better display than in the 1955 split level ranch he bought in East Lake with his partner, lighting designer Hollis Smith, on Christmas Eve 2008. After looking at 30 houses, the couple found their mid-century modern dream home, but it had one crucial flaw. The home had been remodeled for flipping with contractor-grade fixtures in the bathrooms and kitchen that not only clashed with Flynn's aesthetic but made the home more valuable than its neighborhood, which made securing a loan difficult. The couple finally clinched the deal for under $250,000 and Flynn has spent the past two and a half years methodically scrapping the remodel to suit his own taste.

With less than $25,000 and a bounty of imagination, Flynn has transformed that blank slate home into a high-style, living laboratory for his design aesthetic, a clever blend of high-low items from curbside finds to pricey George Nelson Bubble lamps. The home is proof of what Flynn preaches as an HGTV design expert and nationally consulted style-guru: that eye-catching decor can be achieved with imaginative shopping at vintage stores, design-savvy chains like Ikea and an aversion to all things beige, unfabulous and matchy-matchy. Flynn calls it “value engineering,” and it’s a philosophy he extends to his residential clients’ projects too.

“First and foremost, I’m a major penny pincher. I think that’s why I’m having success in this industry. Even if I’m doing your home I think of your money like mine. I am always looking at maximizing my clients’ dollars,” said Flynn who works on both a per-project fee for big jobs and an hourly rate from $125-$165 for smaller projects.

A self-taught designer, Flynn learned early on that TV makes certain demands on design. Fresh out of school Flynn worked in news and then on the Discovery Channel’s design makeover show “Surprise by Design,” where rooms were transformed in eight hours. “That’s what started it all,” said Flynn. “The idea of finishing stuff quickly and having it look fantastic.”

The big money on Flynn’s own home went into refinishing the floors, grasscloth wallpaper in the great room, a new Ikea kitchen, upholstery and a new roof. Though the house is spectacularly stylish, at every turn Flynn can point to some great find from one of his favorite vintage shops that kept the budget low: a $75 coffee table, a $98 antique art work from Inman Park’s City Issue and a $175 '70s-era sideboard with a gleaming violet sheen from auto body paint. Flynn’s contractor Brian Bell -- part of the designer's Flynnside Out productions dream team -- converted the piece into a media console, customized so the drawers flip down for DVD player access.

Despite the home’s relatively modest 1,475 square feet, its impact is TV-big. Flynn displays a knack for spiking the drama with large scale features like an enormous custom tufted vinyl bed in the guest room that looks like a '70s steak house restaurant banquette gone “Alice in Wonderland.”

“When you’re designing for TV you have to go really big with your statements. Really big color, really big shapes, really big graphics, really big patterns. Otherwise it doesn’t show up. When I bought my home I wanted to keep that sense of the unexpected but be a little more grown-up ... just tone down the volume a little bit.”

Even as a kid growing up in Ft. Lauderdale, Flynn somehow knew design was his destiny.  “When I was a teenager people would ask what I wanted to do for a living," Flynn recalled, "and my answer was, I either want to be a casting director on ‘The Real World' or I want to be part of the set design team for ‘The Real World.'"

Flynn smiled. “I am kind of doing exactly what I wanted to do.”


Want the Brian Patrick Flynn look? Then you’ll want to locate a great upholsterer and top-notch handyman to help you turn thrift store finds into one of a kind pieces and hit up the following sources for Flynn-worthy treasures.

Scarlett Loves Rhettro

436 Ponce De Leon Ave., 404-249-7699,

“The prices there are incredible,” said Flynn of this favorite shop on Ponce de Leon Avenue where he finds vintage furniture for rehab.

City Issue

325 Elizabeth St., 678-999-9075,

This Inman Park mid-century modern treasure trove is a favorite Flynn resource for art and fixtures.

Kudzu Antiques

2928 E. Ponce De Leon Ave., 404-373-6498,

“I’m there every weekend,” said Flynn.

Graham & Brown


Flynn calls this cutting-edge British wallpaper source “insanely affordable.”


441 16th St., NW, 404-745-4532,

Flynn lives his philosophy of mixing high and low by raiding this Swedish retailer for low-cost but big impact items, like his Ikea Abstrakt Grey kitchen with Numerar countertops.

Kitchen Complete


This company, which specializes in Ikea kitchen installation, set up Flynn’s kitchen in just nine hours.