Once-Popular HGTV Stars You Don't Hear About Anymore

There's no question that all major industries have their own unique set of "celebrities," and the world of home and gardening is no different. Who else do we have to thank for that other than — you guessed it — HGTV? Originally created as the Home, Lawn, and Garden Channel, HGTV has worked its way up to number three out of the top television channels in the United States. The idea for a channel centered around interior and exterior home design was developed and pitched in 1992 by Kenneth Lowe, a radio executive out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Since its launch in 1994, HGTV has accumulated nearly 100 million viewers — or an estimated audience of eight out of ten households in the US.

Naturally, with popularity of this scale and magnitude, the channel has given many people in the construction, design, agricultural, and architectural career fields a real shot at stardom. But as most who have experienced their 15 minutes of fame have seen, everything must eventually come to an end. Here, we're taking a trip down nostalgia lane and revisiting some of HGTV's once-biggest names who seemingly disappeared from the media in the blink of an eye.

Divine Design's Candice Olson

When "Divine Design" first aired in 2003, it didn't take long for viewers to fall in love with host Candice Olson's down-to-earth personality. Olson was all about making upscale design and stylish sophistication accessible for homebuyers, so you could often catch her upcycling old furniture or mixing and matching vintage with modern pieces to give a house a much-needed makeover. Aside from her top-notch design skills, Olson's personality was, in part, what drove audiences to tune in. Her sense of humor shined as she would make jokes and comedy skits before a commercial break or take part in some classic banter with Chico, her electrician.

Olson's success paved the way for her to launch her own line of home decor called The Candice Olson Collection before she appeared as a judge on "HGTV Design Star" from 2009 to 2011. She even made several guest appearances on other HGTV shows until "Divine Design" wrapped things up in 2011. From there, Olson landed her own show called "Candice Tells All" — a series where she was able to show off her knowledge of construction and design.

"Candice Tells All" ended in 2013, but Olson's retirement from HGTV didn't seem to slow her down. These days, she continues to focus on designing and renovating while sharing her work via social media. She even revealed in a 2023 Instagram post that she purchased a Florida home which she plans to freshen up with some new decor.

House Hunters' Suzanne Whang

"House Hunters," which first premiered on HGTV on September 30, 1999, has aired a jaw-dropping 236 seasons as of the summer of 2023. Still, it's difficult to think of the show without associating it with the original pioneers who made it what it is today. One of these people is Suzanne Whang, the show's narrator and host from 1999 to 2008.

Whang radiated a fresh and vibrant energy on the show with her clear narration, so it was only natural that viewers were drawn not only to the show but to Whang as well. After leaving "House Hunters" in 2009, she moved on to make appearances in several TV shows like "Dexter" and "Las Vegas," and though she was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2006, her positive attitude never wavered. Sadly, Whang lost her battle with breast cancer in September 2019.

"For thirteen years, she confronted cancer with courage, humor, determination, and optimism," her partner wrote in a message on her website. "She was immensely encouraged by the love of her family, friends, and those she had yet to meet" (via The New York Times).

Designing for the Sexes' Michael Payne

"Designing for the Sexes" was a show designed to help couples with varying levels of taste in decor overcome the obstacles of their differences. At the root of this aid was host and interior designer Michael Payne, who was considered to be a master of merging styles together. "I believe that styles can be very successfully mixed," Payne told The Washington Post in 2003. "The look I like the most is when a room is predominately one style, and then the exception to that style is highlighted."

After Payne left the show and was replaced several times, "Designing for the Sexes" finally came to an end in 2011, but he hasn't called it quits in the interior design department. According to his website, Payne still works privately with clients, designs exclusive material for various companies, and represents Lowe's as a spokesperson. Aside from his professional life, he resides in LA with his wife, where he enjoys bicycling, gardening, photography, and cars.

You're Home's Kitty Bartholomew

"Kitty Bartholomew: You're Home" kicked off in 1994. During its 8-year run, the show featured tips and tricks for designing your home. For example, in one episode, Bartholomew featured a guest star who broke down the steps for creating DIY animal print decor. With neutral colors and a simplistic painting approach, viewers were able to see just how easy it is to step up their decorating game with a few basic brushstrokes.

Six years after the show ended in 2003, Bartholomew once again made headlines in 2009 when she listed her Santa Monica home for over $2 million. Bartholomew herself decorated and designed the interior, which added to the home's charm and appeal. From there, she wrote two books, one called "Kitty Bartholomew's Decorating Style" and the other titled "Designer Knitting with Kitty Bartholomew." In 2021, Bartholomew took her interior design skills to the stage, where she helped redesign the set for a production of "The Belle of Amherst" in her local town.

Design on a Dime's Brice Cooper and Kristan Cunningham

"Design on a Dime" first premiered in 2003, and viewers were transported into the world of designing on a budget. With a strict budget of $1,000, guests on the show were shown by a team of designers just how simple it is to achieve a great look for less. Though the show rotated designers and hosts, Brice Cooper and Kristan Cunningham were among fan favorites.

Cooper often would appear as both a designer and a host on the show and did so until 2007. After making his on-screen exit, he landed in the world of racecar driving, where he served as a reporter for motorsport events. According to his LinkedIn, Cooper currently works as the creative director for Pan American World Airways.

On the other hand, Kristan Cunningham hosted the show's first ten seasons before leaving in 2011 to pursue other endeavors. In 2013, she and her husband opened up their own decor shop called Hammer and Spear, which was met with instant success. In fact, the store was named "Best Downtown Emporium" by LA Weekly and continues to be considered one of the best stops for vintage finds in California.

Fixer Upper's Saul Shorty Sanchez

"Fixer Upper" began airing on HGTV in 2013, and the show was centered around hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines' adventures remodeling houses into ultimate dream homes in Waco, Texas. While much of the focus was on the Gaines, fans still fell in love with other members of the team — including Saul "Shorty" Sanchez. Sanchez was the Gaines' trusty sidekick, and his easy-going personality and sense of humor made him an instant fan favorite. To many fans' dismay, he did not return to the show's spinoff, "Fixer Upper: Welcome Home," when the original series ended in 2018.

Sanchez's last official update regarding his whereabouts came in 2018 when Chip was replying to a fan on Twitter. According to Distractify, Gaines wrote, "Have no fear!! My brother @shortymsanchez is living not only 'his' but THE best life." While Sanchez hasn't been the best with updating his social media, he does post on occasion. In January 2023, he posted a picture on Twitter with his infant son, whose onesie reads "Shorter Shorty."

Love It or List It's Eric Eremita

"Love It or List It," which premiered in 2008, gives homeowners who are tired of their space the opportunity to renovate their home or put it on the market. In each episode, realtor David Visentin and designer Hilary Farr bring forth competing expertise in their given areas to help homeowners come up with the best decision. The show brought in general contractor Eric Eremita to assist with renovations in season six, but he seemingly disappeared from the program in 2019.

As Eremita told Forbes, he left the show because he felt like it was time for a change. "The renovations were great," he said. "The people were great. But, I thought it was time for my own thing." Upon leaving, he developed an idea for his own show called "Homeboys" — a reality renovation show depicting people in the tri-state area who love living in their neighborhoods but not their homes. The show is still awaiting a channel to pick it up, but Eremita has reportedly been in touch with several networks regarding its airing.

Trading Spaces' Genevieve Gorder

Though hosting TLC's "Trading Spaces" was Genevieve Gorder's first on-air design gig, her bubbly personality and eye-catching designs captured the adoration of slews of fans, so it was only natural that HGTV would snag her up for her own show. She was on "Dear Genevieve" from 2009 to 2012 and was seen again on "Genevieve's Renovation" in 2014, on which she renovated her own home.

Since then, Gorder married interior designer Christian Dunbar in 2018 before appearing in the Netflix series "Stay Here," and she recently collaborated with Scotties Tissues to design more exciting boxes for the company. These days, Gorder still designs, but she's trying to take it easier than she has in the past. "I've learned to listen to my body," the designer told USA Today regarding her years-long struggles with Lyme and Hashimoto's diseases. "I think it's made me a much better designer because I understand home in yet another way when home truly has to be a cradle. I get when your senses are so weary that everything hurts. It's made me more sensitive."

Property Virgins' Sandra Rinomato

Before real estate expert Egypt Sherrod became the host of "Property Virgins" in 2011, there was Sandra Rinomato. Rinomato landed on the show in 2006, where she coached first-time homebuyers through a more realistic approach to purchasing their first house. Before her time on "Property Virgins," she was a Toronto-based real estate agent in the mid-'90s, where she initially gained success.

Although she's very grateful for her time on television, Rinomato began to suffer from burnout around 2016 after hosting another HGTV show, "Buy Herself." She felt it was time to take a step back from the pressures of the media. Rinomato returned to real estate and is now enjoying the career success that being on HGTV brought her. "I'm just really enjoying being a realtor and being a person," she told Dominion Lending Centres in 2021, adding that she now has much more free time to spend with those she cares about — something she didn't have when she was hosting TV.

Gardening by the Yard's Paul James

"Gardening by the Yard" was HGTV's very first show to air in relation to gardening. Host Paul James acquired his green thumb in the late '70s when he and his wife moved into their first home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, years before a friend of his — an anchor at a local TV station — asked him if he'd be interested in doing brief gardening segments as part of her show. The show was a huge success, and when James saw an advertisement for the newly-launched HGTV, he figured more people across the country might be interested in what he had to offer. He met with HGTV to discuss the show, and the rest was history. "Gardening by the Yard" went on to run for thirteen years.

HGTV unexpectedly canceled James' show in 2009, reportedly due to newer and younger executives at the channel attempting to change things around. "​​I have no disparaging feelings toward HGTV at all," James told listeners during a 2019 podcast called "The Joe Gardener Show." "They were so good to me, they were wonderful. I still know people there that I respect and admire greatly, and I had a good run" (via Closer Weekly).

Room by Room's Matt Fox and Shari Hiller

Hosted by Shari Hiller and Matt Fox, "Room by Room" was designed in 1994 to teach easy and innovative techniques for achieving makeovers on any room in the house. With budget and expense in mind, Hiller and Fox decorated everything from bathrooms to sunrooms using their creative and practical expertise.

After the show ended in 2006, Hiller and Fox moved to PBS to begin another series in 2010 called "Around the House with Matt and Shari." Nearly 20 years after their professional relationship began, Fox explained to The Detroit News how the duo managed to work so well together for so long. "Shari is known for decorating, and I'm known for getting stuff done," he said regarding the pair's balanced-out approach. Hiller added that they both feel the internet hasn't been much help in the home renovation department.

"We used to take decorating challenges and show how to solve them step by step," she said. "Today, there aren't that many how-to shows, and there is more information on the Internet." Fox chimed in, saying, "Everything seems so escalated, and a normal person couldn't afford what is shown. We should go back to being real because people want to do projects on their own."

A Gardener's Diary's Erica Glasener

Horticulturist Erica Glasener made her HGTV debut in 1994 on "A Gardener's Diary." In each episode, viewers followed along with Glasener as she explored a new garden, introduced its owners, and shared the ins and outs of its contents. In one episode, Glasener visited a couple's Tennessee garden, which they originally bought as bare land. Over the next 20 years, the pair developed and cultivated their 10 acres into beautiful, lush gardens, and Glasener was on the scene to share its magnificence with viewers.

Nowadays, after 14 years of being on HGTV, Glasener has worked as the marketing manager for several different on-location Georgia gardens, including Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, GA. As of 2022, she is a horticulturist at Alex Smith Garden Design Ltd in Atlanta. She has also written and co-written several books, including "Proven Plants: Southern Gardens," "Getting Started with Gardening in Georgia," and "Month-by-Month Gardening in Georgia."