Childhood & Early Life
Hilary Farr was born Hilary Labow, on August 31, 1951, in Toronto, Canada. Her parents then moved to London and she spent most of her childhood years in the UK. Her mother had an eye for art and loved to travel. Hilary accompanied her mother during most of her trips and this helped Hilary develop an interest in art.
However, her love for interior designing developed much later. As a child, Hilary wanted to be a ballet dancer. She got enrolled into ballet classes at the ‘Royal Ballet School’ in London. However, by the time she turned 11, her interests shifted. By then, she had developed an interest in performing arts and wanted to act.
She started doing theater in school, while her mother worked with antique traders at ‘Liberties of London.’ The old yet beautiful architectural sites of London made Hilary drift toward the art of interior designing. Her mother often took Hilary to grand old auction houses and old homes.
Her mother asked her to design the interiors of their old house, and Hilary finally found one thing she had wanted to do all her life: interior designing. She completed her graduation from ‘Ryerson University’ in Toronto. However, acting being her first love, she moved to Los Angeles to bag film and TV roles in the early 1970s.
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She moved to Los Angeles to build a career in acting and designing. She started her designing career while in Los Angeles and bought many properties to redesign them and renovate them. She also did many part-time jobs during that time and worked in interior designing firms. She also started working at film sets as a set designer and designed homes to be shown in the films.
She also auditioned for many film parts. She made her acting debut in a small role in the 1972 film ‘Layout for 5 Models.’ In 1973, she appeared in the film ‘Sex Farm.’
The same year, she appeared in the British comedy film ‘Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width.’ Some of her other notable films are ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show,’ ‘Legend of the Werewolf,’ and ‘City on Fire.’ Of these, ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ ended up becoming a cult-classic horror film.
When Hilary failed to find enough decent and respectable work as an actor, she concentrated on her renovating and designing career. As a designer, she has worked in cities such as New York and Toronto. She has also worked in Australia and the UK. She was also hired by popular American actors such as Jenna Elfman and Jennifer Hudson to design/renovate their houses.
She was one of the first designers to bring the concept of home staging to Toronto. The concept involves arranging the furniture and other things in the house in a way that enhances the beauty of the house.
She arrived back in Toronto in 2008 after a bad divorce. The same year, she got an offer to appear on the TV show ‘Love It or List It’. It gave rise to a franchise later.
The show, which still airs on Canadian TV, revolves around couples who are not happy with the interiors of their homes, while two designers, who also happen to be the hosts, present the couples with ideas of renovating their homes. While one host, Hilary, is hopeful about the future prospect of the homes becoming beautiful, the other host, David Visentin, is mostly a naysayer.
The show’s unique content made it one of the most-watched variety shows on Canadian TV. Of the 154 episodes of the show that have been aired, Hilary has won over David in 90.
There were some controversies regarding the authenticity of the reality show, but the cast members and the producers later confirmed that it was not a scripted show. The show was telecast in nine countries around the world and was a success in all of them.
The show won several awards during its runtime. In 2010, ‘Love It or List It’ received nominations for two ‘Gemini Awards,’ namely, the ‘Best Direction in a Reality Program or Series’ and the ‘Best Reality Program or Series.’ When the series premiered on ‘HGTV,’ the producers claimed it was one of the most-viewed TV shows in the history of the network.
The show also earned accolades from famous people such as Hillary Clinton, who once mentioned it as her favorite TV show. Other celebrity admirers of the series were Vanna White and Julianne Moore.
In April 2016, Hilary and the show’s organizers faced a major controversy when a contestant on the show claimed that the renovation of his house was not done properly and that the hosts of the show had not participated in the process actively. The network rejected the allegations, and the issue was settled in April 2017.
Hilary has also appeared as a host on the show ‘Search for the Next W Expert’ in 2010. By 2011, Hilary had become a celebrity in the Canadian entertainment world and had made several TV appearances. She was also invited to the ‘Canadian International Interior Design Show,’ hosted in Edmonton, Vancouver, and Toronto.
She also writes regular articles for ‘The Huffington Post’ and has appeared as a guest on ‘The Marilyn Denis Show.’ She was invited as a design expert and a guest at the ‘Art Van Furniture’ convention held in Orland Park, Chicago, Illinois, in 2014.
In 2016, she got a chance to relive her love for acting when she was signed to play a key role in the stage production of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in Toronto. She portrayed the character ‘Malignicent’ in the play.