Debra Prinzing

Get the Email Newsletter!

Peace by Design: My TV show

Friday, March 27th, 2009
Filming the pilot episode of "Peace by Design"

Filming the pilot episode of "Peace by Design"

My friends know I am a PRINT person – I love magazines, newspapers and books. I’m kind of okay with the Internet, because blog posts and web sites still involve using letters to compose words and words to create sentences . . . all of which are ultimately read as the printed word.

So this week has been one of those out-of-the-comfort-zone experiences as I “played” at being a television host. Robert Schauf, my amazing and intuitive producer, keeps telling me that talking to the camera is just like talking to a friend (a conversation!). . . and I’m starting to believe him. I just have to imagine all my friends hiding behind the HUGE black lens held by the cute camera guy, John. And then, just talk. Naturally.

Okay, I need to back up. I met Robert Schauf in 2006. It was one of those Kismet moments. It will sound so cliche, but we met on an airplane flying on business class from Burbank to Newark (a Jet Blue flight). I’m pretty unfamiliar with business class, but somehow I was bumped up to that rarefied section because it was the last seat on an overbooked flight. I was on my way to speak to a garden club in New Jersey and absolutely had to make that flight or I would miss the lecture entirely.

Robert, who hops comfortably back and forth between NYC and LA, was returning from a business trip. How do I describe him? He’s tall and slender, he wears the kind of clothing that my teenage son might wear (hip jeans, long-sleeved t-shirts, lace-up Keds) and his shocking white-platinum hair kind of sticks out all over his head. Robert has that Rocker-dude look and frankly I didn’t know what to think of him at first. But we talked nonstop for something like 5-1/2 hours. I was so fascinated with his stories of producing television specials and working on the Grammys. I told him about my new project – about garden sheds! – and described my plans to scout sheds in the Hamptons and NYC after I finished my New Jersey lecture. We exchanged business cards and subsequently swapped a few emails. That was it.


Home of the (Los Angeles) Times

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

Here’s how “Seeing the Light,” my story in today’s Los Angeles Times’  HOME section begins:

When Alan Smart was a kid, he discovered an old trunk in an antique store and begged his mother to buy it. She refused (after all, he was 10). So young Alan spent $45 from his allowance to purchase the trunk himself.

“I like old-timey things,” Smart says in his retro Hawaiian-print shirt and board shorts, gesturing to his living room filled with restored antique armchairs and vintage California tile tables.

This is a story that underscores my belief that we can both possess a home and be possessed by it. It’s about how Alan and his partner Michael Uhlenkott transformed a nondescript 1930s Spanish Revival bungalow in an aging Los Angeles neighborhood into a showpiece for decorative arts and their amazing collection of early California pottery, tile, furniture, paintings, figures, and lighting. It’s about how their personalities and preferences are revealed through their choices of color, textiles and artwork.

Alan and Michael are artists of the highest order. If there is a surface to embellish, they will find a way, even if it means spending endless hours standing on ladders to hand-stencil the stucco ceiling with a Moorish pattern or antiquing the walls with layers of glazing, rag-application and dry brush painting techniques.

They design with a respect for the past, an appreciation for craftsmanship and materials, and a lighthearted sense of irony. There is no halfway effort here. Everything relating to a genre, period or style is explored, honed, refined and reinterpreted. There’s such an honesty and authenticity to each decision to adorn and decorate. I love every detail!