For many homeowners, the hardest part of DIY projects is finding the free time to do them—but HGTV’s newest show proves just how little time you need.
On “Home in a Heartbeat With Galey Alix,” Wall Street executive Galey Alix works a full-time finance job and moonlights as a designer, helping homeowners pull off ambitious projects in just one weekend. In her words, she hopes to demonstrate “that it’s possible to pursue your passion outside of your day job.”
Eager to learn how she gets it all done, we chatted with Alix about how she meets such tight renovation deadlines, the looks she loves most, plus much more that might inspire you to dabble in a little more DIY projects than you’ve ever dared before.
How did you get into home design?
It’s a wild story. I had been decorating a house for the first time. It was going to be my forever home with my then fiancé. I was making all these videos of me decorating these spaces, [and] I posted them to social media. Right before our wedding, I was battling a mental health issue and he left me, and I was forced to move out of that home.
Instead of staying on social media, I logged out completely and I left those videos up not really thinking much of it.
I checked into therapy, and when I checked out a few months later, I logged into social media expecting to see messages from friends and family. Instead, I had thousands of messages from strangers saying, “Hey, I saw this video of you decorating this basement, or this office, or a garage. Can you do that in my house?”
I just started saying “Yes” and doing my day job in finance during the week. On the weekend, I would go meet total strangers and, for free, I would help them with their homes.
Seeing that I could make other people happy made me happy again. A huge part of my recovery was designed for strangers.
What is it about your signature style that resonates with fans?
The authenticity of what I’m doing and how I do it. I am very transparent about how hard this is, about how every project humbles me. I make mistakes constantly, but that’s how I learn. To share that openly—especially to millions of people—it creates a safe space.
I don’t have any style. I let the space speak to me about who the home owner is, what their style is, and what the functionality needs are. I just kind of listen to the walls, and they tell me what to do. No two rooms I’ve ever done—and I’ve done hundreds—are the same style.
What’s your strategy for completing house projects in one weekend?
Whenever you’re trying to do something pretty big in a very short time, condensed amount of time, you have to get efficient. I am constantly coming up with ways to save time. For example, I never use measuring tapes. I keep a Sharpie marker tucked in my sports bra. I’ll mark on my spandex or my leg.
You have to be efficient, and you have to be hyperorganized so you don’t have to go out and do a bunch of store runs. You need to have everything ready to go. As soon as I go to a website, I click “in stock items” so that whatever I’m searching for, it’s only showing me things that ship quickly.
How can homeowners stretch their renovation budget?
There are certain things you can buy secondhand and it’ll be pretty much brand-new. Think about chandeliers: If somebody buys a chandelier and they hang it in their house, they probably only touched it once when they were putting it on and then when they brought it to a secondhand store. It’s not like a chair that people are sitting in and using. It was up on a ceiling somewhere, and now you’re getting it for one-fourth of the cost.
What’s an easy DIY project you recommend?
Dried foliage in some sort of vase. The reason I love it is because you don’t use plastic [and] it’s free. You can literally just go out into nature, you can look in your backyard. You will always be able to find branches that have just fallen.
To me, those are the prettiest works of art. They’re unique because no two branches are alike, so you don’t have the same fake, plastic fiddle leaf tree that everyone sees in your home.
You love dogs. What pet-friendly design features do you suggest?
For couches, I found that leather works great because even if they are slobber, leather is so easy to clean. That’s been a saving grace for me with two very big, slobbery dogs.
The other thing is everything you put on the floors—from rugs to dry mats—you want to make sure they’re washable. I use carpet tiles that you put together in squares, and it looks like one solid rug. You can’t even see where the seams are, but then if one of my dogs has an accident, I can just take up that one square and either replace it with one of my backups or wash it in the sink. That has been a lifesaver for me.
Is there a design you’ve done in the past that makes you cringe?
Five years ago, before I started designing, I went to HomeGoods and I bought a bunch of plastic table mats, like 40 of them, and I put them up inside of the storage closet to cover the wall because I didn’t know about wallpaper yet. This is in my house where I have my vacuum and my dog food. I still have those place mats stuck to all of the walls. It’s really ugly, and it’s something that I laugh at because now I’m a wallpaper machine.
What’s your favorite design feature in your own home?
My kitchen. I just finished it [and] I’m so happy with it. I did this German smear on the wall, and I think I used 12 bags of grout.
Are there any popular home design trends on social media that you love—or hate?
We take everything to an extreme, right? Everything was so perfect, and now the pendulum is swinging and now everything is trying to be extra relatable so they’re being extra messy. Clean is calm for me, so I don’t care if it’s relatable or not, I keep a very clean, calm, minimalist home, and that’s what I create for my clients.
My favorite trend is making a space feel custom. If you can do things like mixing metals, not being so matchy-matchy, and doing an all-white kitchen, it has a better chance of standing the test of time and not getting outdated really quickly because it doesn’t look like something everybody else has been done. The more custom you are, the more longevity your design has.
“Home in a Heartbeat With Galey Alix” airs Wednesday nights on HGTV and streams on discovery+.