Kele Dobrinki And Christina Valencia On Their Inspiration For Mash Up Our Home - Exclusive

At heart, every home improvement show is about solving a problem: How can you make a fixer-upper livable in just a few weeks? How can you make a small, awkwardly shaped room both useful and attractive? Or what's the best, most economical way to redo someone else's botched-up handiwork? 


Even if you're not handy or have no plans to do any renovation yourself, these shows are still satisfying to watch. It's fun and surprising to see how creative minds and nimble hands can turn a wreck into a showstopper in just a few days or weeks.

While their challenges can be daunting, the problem-solving stars of most home-improvement shows have one advantage: The homeowners they work with are usually on the same page about what they want.

But, in their new HGTV show, "Mash Up Our Home," married designers Kele Dobrinski and Christina Valencia take on a challenge dreaded by creative professionals everywhere: clients who don't know what they want and, even worse, disagree with each other about what they want. 


In "Mash Up Our Home," Dobrinski and Valencia work with couples who know that their interiors need a refresh but have their hearts set on different styles. The designers' mission? To come up with a unique, harmonious look pleasing to both clients. 

In this exclusive interview with The List, they share how they were inspired to launch "Mash Up Our Home."

Kele Dobrinki and Christina Valencia rely on their branding skills

While Kele Dobrinski and Christina Valencia of the HGTV show "Mash Up Our Home" have only had their design business for about four years, much of the thought process behind their work is inspired by their previous professional lives. 


"We were in different disciplines of storytelling," Valencia explained. "Kele was in advertising, and I was in communications. So we've always really been interested in creating a strong concept from the beginning and having it be differentiated. So that idea of not relying on one genre is something that we've always pulled from as we've started to move into these physical spaces."

Dobrinski agrees, adding that they approach the development of interior design concepts much like they used to approach branding campaigns: by identifying distinctive features of the entity being branded and distilling them into a unified concept. The only difference is that, now, they're coming up with visual brands for couples, not companies. 


"We had traditionally come from a branding background, and I think having a strong concept that you lean into from the get-go has always been really important to the creative work that we do," he said. "And so we try to do as much research as we can on our clients and put together a strong concept. That's how this mashup idea was kind of like putting a nice bow on the strategic direction and conceptual work that we'd always done."

Being a married couple gives them insight into their clients

As a married couple, Kele Dobrinski and Christina Valencia know firsthand that combining styles requires compromise. 

"Really, no two people living together have the same design sensibilities," Valencia said. "Even if you're aligned, it's just you're a different human being, so you're bringing two different ideas to the table. So, innately, it's a problem that everyone has, and finding a middle ground is really something that happens in all of our work."


For example, Dobrinski said that he prefers cleaner, more spare, and modern looks than Valencia, who said she prefers "more color, more textures, definitely more variety." When disagreements came up, both see the value of choosing their battles carefully. 

"It is figuring out — I really, really, really want this tile on this backsplash, but maybe I can give in a little bit for something else and have really clean lines in another space," Valencia said. 

She believes, however, that even couples on "Mash Up Our Home" with seemingly incompatible tastes can find a look that pleases both of them. "They're living together for a reason," she said. "They have a shared relationship for a reason. So our goal is to really spend a lot of time listening at the beginning to find where that commonality lies."


"Mash-Up Our" Home premieres Saturday, March 12, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV.