Hilary Farr: Redirect Anger and be Grateful for the Bad

On Thursday, May 9th, 10 of Canada’s most influential individuals graced the stage of the iconic Winter Garden Theatre for the Top Ten Event, hosted by Stewart Knight and in support of autism Ontario. The idea is simple: each speaker had approximately ten minutes to offer words of advice on the “one thing you should know before you die,” based on their area of expertise. Here’s what ‘Love It or List It’ star Hilary Farr had to say…

When she agreed to speak at the Top Ten Event, Love It or List It’s Hilary Farr admits to hitting the send button, then panicking; public speaking was out of her comfort zone. “I’m a designer!” she exclaimed, “am I going to give you guys design tips you must know before you die?” She was stuck; nonetheless, she took the stage with confidence, saying, “Here I am. Let’s hope I don’t end up in the ‘Really Bad Speakers Protection Program.” In questioning what drove her to agree right away, she revealed that she was flattered. “Vanity kicked in so I said yes.” She points out that vanity may be negative but may also serve some good as a motivating force.

In examining the upside to vanity, she pondered the upside to other emotions, most notably anger. Farr revealed her bitterness after a “horrible, horrible divorce” and resentment toward her ex-husband. It was then that she auditioned for Love It or List It. She “needed to deal with that anger,” and to “use it well to give her edge.” Farr “rocked the audition.” Now, five years later, she has filmed over 100 episodes as the show continues to draw viewers and fans, and she’s “met some crazy people” in the process.

In dealing with less-than-favourable individuals in shooting, Farr says she allows herself not to react and instead turns the anger into positive energy. “Love It or List It is a metaphor for all of us,” she says, “It’s about challenges in the home and rebuilding houses, careers and families.” She acknowledges how tough life can be and advises to deal with it by “turning ugly into beautiful, and a mess into a sanctuary.”

“Thoughts are powerful things can translate into who you are and what you do,” says Farr. She described a time where she felt she was mass-producing episodes of the show and losing her creativity. “I felt like I didn’t have a creative bone left my body—I’d been there, seen it.” She describes a time when her and co-star David Visentin were asked to provide comic relief at a National Ballet suite. “I firmly didn’t want to do it,” said Farr, “I thought, I don’t want to hear the music, I won’t do it.” The problem was that David wanted to and it was either the two of them or neither. After being called cynical by a coworker, Farr agreed to do the show, and ended up happy that she did. “We must be thankful for the bad as well as good because they all present opportunity,” she said. She ended with an inevitable design tip: “Red is an angry colour, you won’t like it.”