11 Things You Should Know About Michel Smith Boyd, The Host Of Luxe For Less

Michel Smith Boyd is becoming a force to be reckoned with on HGTV. That's become apparent to viewers who watched his debut series for the network, "Luxe for Less," in which the superstar interior designer creates extravagant redesigns that ooze luxury while keeping within the confines of a tight budget. This, in fact, is Boyd's specialty, utilizing the common-sense bag of tricks he's assembled over the years as head of his own design firm, SMITHBOYD Interiors. "For years I've designed for celebrities and wealthy clients with big budgets, but the majority of us have to prioritize differently," said Boyd in HGTV's release announcing "Luxe for Less." "I believe that everyone deserves luxury in spite of budget, so my team and I have discovered great ways to deliver the gasp-worthy spaces families crave."


For Boyd, the purpose of design is a simple one, which he feels is crystallized in the fact that most people experience better design when they check into a luxury hotel than they do in their own homes. "I love the idea that people live better in hotels than homes and I am changing that one home at a time," he told Black Enterprise.

To find out more about this intriguing television personality and interior design leader, here are 11 things you should know about Michel Smith Boyd, the host of "Luxe For Less."

Design wasn't his first career goal

After leaving his native Louisiana for New York City in pursuit of his dreams, Michel Smith Boyd found those dreams coming into focus ... eventually. This, he explained in an interview with HGTV, came about by a sort of process of elimination as he tried a variety of things that never quite panned out the way that he'd hoped. "I was working in fashion, and I mean loosely as in retail, and taking acting classes, and being rejected for modeling gigs, but then one day I found myself in the Decoration and Design Building," he recalled.


Wandering into that building — containing more than 100 showrooms and featuring home furnishings and decor from more than 3,000 manufacturers — proved to be a revelatory experience. "I couldn't believe there was this entire world that existed under my nose," he said, reflecting on how this random visit sparked an interest in interior design that had been silently simmering beneath the surface. "All I could think was, 'What a fun place to play!'" 

Suddenly, Boyd's vision became clear, and he could see the path before him. Within the year, Boyd left NYC and began studying interior design at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Once enrolled, Boyd took to studying design like the proverbial fish to water; in fact, he was still in school, in his sophomore year, when he landed his first clients and founded SMITHBOYD Interiors in 2006.


His design signature is wallpaper

For loyal viewers of "Luxe for Less," it's hardly a secret that Michel Smith Boyd is a huge fan of using wallpaper to make a statement in a room. "I love layering, and wallpaper is back in a big way," he said in an interview with HGTV. "It's another tactile experience that contributes to the luxury experience and is visually stunning. Our clients have been really surprised by how it looks."


Boyd's conviction — that wallpaper is an effective and relatively inexpensive way to make a bold impact — fits the show's mission: to demonstrate how viewers can add a touch of luxury to their homes without breaking the bank. This was the case in an episode in which Boyd used wallpaper made from wood to create a wood-covered accent wall, costing thousands less than if an actual wood wall had been constructed.

Some homeowners who undergo a "Luxe for Less" renovation need to be talked into using wallpaper; for the couple who appeared in the series' debut episode, the husband associated wallpaper with the dated decor in his grandmother's home. Boyd, however, relishes the challenge of expanding a skeptical client's design horizons. "I love making a non-believer a design lover, and that's what happened in the first episode," the designer recalled in an interview with House Digest. "It's about making smart design choices," he told Atlanta Magazine.


He prefers to charge clients a flat rate

There are many ways in which an interior designer can bill a client, ranging from an hourly rate to a flat fee. Michel Smith Boyd has become a firm believer in the latter practice. In an interview with the podcast "Trade Tales," he explained that at the start of his design career, he charged clients on a percentage-over-budget basis. However, he realized his profit was negligible, since he wanted every design to be a stunner that would land him further work. "I'll be honest, I was spending most of the money I was making ..." he admitted. "I am notoriously creative, and also notoriously crappy at managing that business part."


That fee structure changed after a few years in business and continues to evolve as Boyd's business does. "I don't have money conversations with clients anymore, and we are doing flat fee, and I am still experimenting with that," he added. According to Boyd, it became difficult to keep track of hours spent on a design project. "There is not a designer alive that is being paid for every hour that we're working," he explained, recalling that he'd come to realize he was consistently losing money. 

By charging clients a flat rate, Boyd was able to stop stressing about the financial aspect of design and focus 100% on creativity — a win-win for both him and his clients.

Why he was extra psyched to be invited to Rock the Block

Michel Smith Boyd saw his profile rise on HGTV when he joined the fourth season of "Rock the Block." As the show's fans know, the series involves a competition between four pairs of HGTV personalities, as each puts their distinctive design touches on one of four homes situated on the same street. Boyd was partnered with Anthony Elle, a product developer on "Luxe for Less." With each team given a $250,000 budget and a six-week timeline, the team that adds the most value to their home is declared the winner.


In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boyd was confident about his chance of success, given his record of budget-friendly, eye-popping makeovers. "I felt like HGTV would not have asked me if I wasn't up for the challenge," he explained. "Luxury for us means knowing how to spend the money and how to create an experience." He was also honored to be chosen for the series. "It's one of the biggest shows on the network."

Boyd's confidence was not misplaced; he and Elle were declared the winners of Season 4 when they bumped up the value of their home — initially estimated at $1.9 million — by nearly a mil, to $2.85 million. After his victory, Boyd shared his personal advice to future "Rock the Block" competitors. "Rest up before you come," he told HGTV. "Expect the unexpected. Give it 100%, leave nothing on the table."


He wasn't always as confident as he is now

While Michel Smith Boyd exudes confidence onscreen, it's not so much an innate trait as one that he's developed over time. In an interview with The Art Institutes, Boyd explained that what now appears to be a natural confidence took time to build. "I wasn't this confident at all when I first graduated," he admitted. 


While Boyd's confidence has certainly grown, so too have the sources from which he draws inspiration. As he told the Atlanta Tribune, he constantly gleans ideas from not just the work of other interior designers, but also artists in a wide range of mediums, with the ultimate goal of making a statement through design. "Filmmakers, photographers, and musicians all have their own unique way of communicating their point of view to their audiences," he explained. "So if you don't get it, I didn't do my job."

Of course, Boyd's biggest source of inspiration is his clients, so he spends a significant amount of time with them in order to gain an understanding of their own individual styles. The way he sees it, his job isn't changing the space to reflect his tastes, but embracing and enhancing the design elements that are already there. "I love the idea of getting to know a person while walking through their house," Boyd told Ebony. "How they designed it, what they used, the color schemes, the finishes, the materials — it's a narrative."


He's come up with clever hacks to keep budgets low

Delivering on the promise of "Luxe for Less" may seem like a straightforward mission, but successfully delivering wow-worthy interior design makeovers on a frugal budget hasn't come without the development of some seriously clever hacks along the way. Speaking with Realtor.com, Michel Smith Boyd detailed some of the more ingenious tips and tricks he's developed over the years. One of these involves paint; according to Boyd, using precisely the same paint for walls, ceilings, and trim can result in significant savings. "A lot of times you [see] flat on the walls and a semigloss on the trim," Boyd explained. "All that adds money because you're buying more paint, and also, changing finishes means it might be a separate crew."


Another hack — which he learned from one of his contractors — is to seek out discontinued flooring, which will typically be available at a huge markdown. "It's much less expensive," Boyd declared. 

Boyd also recalled that for one client's kitchen, he purchased a range at a huge discount because one of the panels was damaged. He was then able to order a new replacement panel, saving big bucks. "It takes a little work, but it's your home," he noted. "It's your biggest investment, so it's worth doing the research and going that extra step."

He signed on for a design challenge show with a Barbie twist

Following Michel Smith Boyd's "Rock the Block" win, HGTV announced a new project that was unlike anything that viewers had seen him in before: "Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge." According to HGTV's announcement, Boyd and Anthony Elle Williams were reuniting for this new design competition, with other participants including: Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson ("Married to Real Estate"); Jasmine Roth ("Help! I Wrecked My House") and Antonia Lofaso ("Beachside Brawl"); Ty Pennington ("Rock the Block") and Alison Victoria ("Windy City Rehab"); Jonathan Knight and Kristina Crestin ("Farmhouse Fixer"); Christina Hall and James Bender ("Christina on the Coast"); Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas ("Bargain Block"); and Brian and Mika Kleinschmidt ("100 Day Dream Home").


Hosted by supermodel Ashley Graham, the show tasks each team with transforming one room per episode, inspired by different eras of the iconic Barbie dreamhouse. "It's just a lot of fun to live in a fantasy for a little bit," Boyd told Houma Today of the experience of creating Barbie-themed decor. "Each team has an opportunity to transform a space, 'Barbify,' or 'Barbieize,' the spaces in a residential house inspired by a Barbie dreamhouse."

While Boyd didn't specify which room and era he'd be tackling in the show, he conceded there were plenty of different design styles to work with. "Barbie has been around since 1959, with over 200 careers and multigenerational fans," he added. "So each team has a decade to be inspired by."


His personal style is tough to pin down

While Michel Smith Boyd's work as a designer can be plentifully seen — on HGTV, in magazine spreads, and via his own website — how closely do the redesigns he undertakes for others adhere to his own personal design style? According to Boyd, that's an answer that's constantly in flux, right along with his own tastes. "My personal style is ever evolving," he explained in an interview with Chairish. Recalling some of his earlier designs, Boyd is definitely not looking back through nostalgia-tinged rose-colored glasses. "I literally cringe at some of the past choices I made," he admitted. "My goal is to fully communicate whatever my intended narrative is, with fewer things — that's wardrobe AND interiors."


Originally hailing from Louisiana, Southern style continues to be an influence that shapes his design philosophy. "Louisiana is the capital of 'extra.' We call it lagniappe!" he explained. 

One element of his style that has remained consistent is his insistence that his personality be reflected in every design choice he makes in his home. That, he told Realtor.com, is why he's always equated luxury with being able to customize his designs. "I want to feel like it's for me," he said. "I want to see my point of view in my home, in my studio, in what I wear. I want to be able to see a little bit of my personality."

He had TV experience before coming to HGTV

If Michel Smith Boyd seemed fully formed as a television personality when "Luxe for Less" made its debut, there's a good reason for that: He had a previous television show before coming to HGTV. 

Bravo viewers may recall that back in 2018 Boyd starred in "Buying It Blind." The premise of the show was far more harrowing than that of "Luxe for Less," with couples under financial duress due to a home-renovation project agreeing to turn over all the money in their respective budgets to a three-person team of experts, which included a contractor, a realtor, and Boyd handling the design aspects.


"I became involved in this project because I was approached by a casting agency, and due to my reputation and level of work produced, and I just happened to be the guy they needed," Boyd told Black Enterprise of the somewhat random way he came to be a television personality. Back then, he was still becoming accustomed to being referred to as a "celebrity" designer. "That term is such a strange one because I tend to focus on being excellent and making a huge contribution for my clients every day," he said. "If it is based on doing amazing work, and then only if I am being great is being an inspiration to kids who look up to me — then yes, I accept that title."

He's a superstar mentor

Now that Michel Smith Boyd has become a success in his own right, he also takes the time to mentor aspiring young designers. That was the case when Boyd took Andre Jordan Hilton under his wing. Now a success himself, thanks to his own Jordan Hilton Interiors, Hilton told Designers Today that he took some extreme measures to place himself on Boyd's radar. "I knew about Michel Smith Boyd, and I thought to myself that I had to get to know him," Hilton said. When he finally met Boyd at an industry event, Hilton decided to forego subtlety. "I begged him for an internship," he admitted, revealing Boyd asked him to describe the room they were in using design terms. Hilton's explanation so impressed Boyd that he accepted him as an intern on the spot, and Hilton wound up working with SMITHBOYD Interiors for six months.


Boyd has mentored other interns who, like Hilton, take what they learn and then go on to found their own design firms, effectively nipping at Boyd's heels. That was the case with Briana Mercado. On her design firm's website, Mercado wrote about how she managed to meet with Boyd, impressing him enough that he took her on as intern. "Landing an internship with him was a dream job!" she wrote, praising him as a "design genius."

His brand is authenticity

Whether he's crafting a "Luxe for Less" design makeover on HGTV or working with one of his firm's numerous clients, Michel Smith Boyd maintains a consistent throughline built upon a foundation of honesty and authenticity in everything he does. Being straightforward with clients — sharing his true opinions and not just telling them what they want to hear — has gone a long way in establishing and building Boyd's design business.


In an interview with Black Enterprise, Boyd was asked how he makes himself stand out from other designers. "The only one thing you can be is yourself; present your full authenticity," he explained. "I don't water down my presentation for no one." Offering clients an honest assessment not only builds trust, it also aids Boyd in creating designs that better reflect the clients' wants and needs.

"Whether you like authentic people or not, you can identify with [authenticity]," he shared on "Design Uncensored with Stacy Garcia." Remaining authentic may not always be the easiest path, but for Boyd, it's the only way forward. 

Static Media owns and operates House Digest and The List.