I went to the same rural school as David Bromstad, of HGTV fame. You know how the younger kids always know who the older kids are; he was no exception. I remember him, though he left for the suburbs after 8th grade. His talented family had an impact on our small communities and consolidated school district. Our towns are more conservative than not; our people tend toward the monochromatic in attitudes, behavior, expression, and pallor. Or, that’s how it seemed, then. His trademark smile, shared by the sisters that I knew, made our communities brighter.
Or course, no matter how homogeneous a community might appear, we know it’s got its differences within. There are positives. We make them and we find them. A hometown is always where we each began. It’s where we are constructed, in part, to be who we are today. David Bromstad was a bright, colorful force in what presented itself as a united beige. Miami in Minnesota. A “Color Splash,” as one of his television shows was so aptly named. Here’s an interview with the Minnesota-Boy-Gone-Big, HGTV STAR‘s David Bromstad.
There’s quite a nice number of out and proud D-C expatriates. You’re probably the most famous of the bunch. How do you like them apples?
I love them apples. Them apples are delicious! And just for the record, I went to D-C for K-8 grades and moved to Plymouth, Minnesota and graduated from Wayzata Senior High School. I was the only one from my family including my mom and dad NOT to graduate from D-C.
In your own words, you were “After School Special” bullied. You were pretty badly treated in our rural Minnesota school. Would you care to expand on that? Share what happened and how you got through it?
I was constantly harassed for, really, nothing. I was a new kid that entered into an environment that was so foreign from the familiar halls of D-C. I really didn’t know who I was after I left Cokato. It turns out I was a very shy person. The girls loved me and the guys hated me for it. I was awkward and had a hint of gayness which was then elevated by the guys. Going to school was torture for me and I dreaded going to school for fear of being tormented everyday. I was always the center of every joke and always laughed at. “Faggot” became a term that I never adjusted to on a daily basis and to this day hate the word. I don’t know if there is any way to let you know how I got through it. I just did. I woke up, I dressed myself and I just had to go through it. My strength came from my church group. If it weren’t for my relationships with my buddies from the Wednesday night youth gathering, it would have been a much harder road. The best part of being a part of that group is that no one from my school attended my church. It was a massive relief knowing this.
Do you have any advice for any of the unicorns out in Dassel-Cokato and other rural schools today.
I do. Hold strong; surround yourself with people who want to be your friend and fight back. When I say fight back I don’t mean with fists or words, but mentally. If you put your mind to something, you can do anything. Just remember: these bullies are insecure buttheads that are taking out their insecurities on someone who they think is less than themselves. Talk to your teachers and counselors. It gets better and there is help out there if you just reach out. Many kids are so scared to reach out because they haven’t accepted their sexuality, especially at a young age. Find local organizations and never, ever let someone bring you down. You have the inner strength to fight and rise above. So my advice is fight and fight like hell.
You came out at age 22. How do you think things would have been different for your coming out experience in 2013?
Times have definitely changed since I came out. People are becoming more accepting and sensitive to my community, which is great. I do believe it’s still more difficult to come out in communities with less diversity, like in rural areas. People are close-minded and unfortunately, kids are still locked inside their own closet for fear of being bullied and made fun of. The winds are changing, but we need to fight to ensure they continue to change—and quickly.
Some of the most recent information I could find is that you now live in Miami with your partner and dog, can you tell us more about your life?
I love my life. Miami is my home and I enjoy every minute of it. The city is so colorful and full of people from all ethnic backgrounds. I’m proud to live in a city that is so accepting. I am always busy, so one of my favorite things to do with my partner is just relax on the beach or sit on the couch with my dogs and my partner and just chill out. It’s my peace and I am very blessed in life.
Do you come back to Minnesota often? What do you like to do in Minneapolis/St. Paul?
I do come back at least once or twice a year. Family time is so important and when I go home for the holiday or any celebration, I do nothing but relax and take in the gorgeous crisp air. I always stay at my sister’s house on Prior Lake. I just wake up and take in the beautiful scenery and enjoy every minute with my family.
Are you taking interior design clients? Would our readers be able to hire you for their homes and spaces?
Absolutely. This is a new venture in the last year and I am currently working on several personal interior design projects as we speak. It’s really challenging to do private work, but I am enjoying it. For more information on my design service, you can check out my website that will lead readers to the appropriate section: www.bromstad.com.
Now HGTV Design Star has become HGTV Star and you’re the host, mentor, and original Design Star. What do you find rewarding about this role?
It’s such an honor to be hosting the show that started my career. To mentor and host these talented designers on their journey is really exciting for me; it’s like looking in a mirror. I know the stress they are going through and it’s really interesting to see it from a different perspective. I’m so proud that I can be there to help them through this intense and overwhelming process of what is a reality competition show. I’ve been there and done that and I think the designers really appreciate that my perspective is right on point with their own.
In addition to your work with HGTV, you also have artwork for sale–Fine Art by Bromstad on Penny Lane. What role has art played in your interior design and how do you incorporate your art into clients’ surroundings? How do you hope that the general public might incorporate your art into their spaces?
Yes, I have partnered with a wonderful company: Penny Lane Publishing. My art is available on their site (www.pennylanepublishing.com) and a link to the art is also on my website. Art is a huge role in my design for clients. It’s always been something I leave my clients with to add a personal touch to their space. I always wait to the end of my projects before creating a personal piece for them. I like to find out personal things about my clients and what they like and dislike in life. After the space is complete, then I can create something for them inspired by what I know about them and their families. My art can be put in any type of décor from contemporary to traditional. My art is always fun and colorful and it’s a great addition to any space.
Color seems to be your niche–would you agree? How does your relationship with color set you apart from other designers?
Yes, color definitely is my niche. Color is huge in my life, always has been, and forever will be! In fact, I have given many presentations on color and the meaning of each color and what roles color has in each of our lives. I think, as a designer, people know that I am not afraid to use color, but most people are so frightened by color that they shy away from it completely. Using bright, vibrant color and utilizing it in a way that is not only pleasing to the eye and soul, but is livable. Color is so powerful and many people are afraid of it until they realize it can be used as an accent to liven up any space in their home. Color is my entire world.
Color Case Study 1
For all of my spaces, I usually start with a fresh palet unless the owners have a unique piece that will add something special or unique to my design. I love to take an old piece of furniture and restore it to fit the new design. The three examples below consist of everything new. I didn’t use any of their existing pieces because the space didn’t call for it and my clients were eager to start fresh.
This room is still one of my all time favorites. Turquoise was the color of the year when I designed this room. It was a condo on Key Biscayne that was really large. The design consisted of the living and dining rooms and hallways of the condo. My favorite piece in the room was the custom oversized tufted ottoman you see in the front of the picture. The use of turquois with touches of brown and neutral walls really gave this space an incredible feel. Notice how the turquoise is carried throughout the space bringing the room and color together beautifully. Another focal point is the wall mural in the backdrop. It really gives the room a unique touch and adds visual interest and depth to the space. Interestingly enough, shortly after putting this mural up, I partnered with another wonderful company: www.muralsyourway.com. I thought, how fabulous would it be to have my art blown up and made into a wall mural. So now, all of my art can be purchased either as a canvas, or made into a gorgeous wall mural in any size. How fun!
Color Case Study 2
I had so much fun designing this dining room for the client. They were so not afraid of color, as you can see. She wanted color and Bromstad delivered. The custom yellow, oversized, dramatic dining bench could easily fit 20 people in the back. White walls really bring out the color in the room and they all pop. The use of yellow, pink, orange and turquoise shows you that you can combine many different colors in a space and it works. The client just so happened to have French Bulldogs, just like me. So I created these custom pieces for her to add a personal touch.
Color Case Study 3
I loved designing the traditional space below. So many of my clients in Miami request a contemporary design, so I was thrilled when I was asked to design this traditional space. The neutral walls are custom designed with tufted fabric bringing an elegant, soft touch to the space. The use of red, which I adore, brings in a rich feel to the room that complements the neutral tones on the walls. This house had a very large living area and because of the size, we had to ensure the room was comfortable and livable. I created several different seating areas to fill the room because the client requested a room to sit and entertain in. My custom canvas above the fireplace is a focal point in the room as an example of how a piece that appears contemporary at first glance can be incorporated into a traditional setting.