Battle Of The Bling Star Kim Myles Talks Maximalist Design And Self Expression - Exclusive Interview

For practical homeowners, purchasing and furnishing a home is a decision that requires pragmatism and poise. However, for every thousand practical homeowners, there's an artist — a dreamer — whose home becomes a lavish canvas of their wildest fantasies and ambitions.

Kim Myles, one half of the power duo from HGTV's daring new program "Battle of the Bling," is no stranger to bold décor or the intersection of identity, art, and design. With a maximalist catalog boasting roots-inspired designs that scream "Hollywood," the "High Design" veteran is right at home taking in LA's most sumptuous properties. For the new show, she and illustrious social media juggernaut Todrick Hall toured 15 outrageously blinged-out homes in order to crown the most "unapologetically extra" pad of them all.

In her exclusive interview with House Digest, Myles described how her understanding of "bling" changed while filming her latest project. She also offered expert design tips on how homeowners can harness their own artistic inspirations, unique story, and audacious flights of fancy to craft a unique home filled to the brim with creative warmth.

Talking Battle of the Bling

You and Todrick make an amazing duo and have incredible chemistry. What was your favorite part about teaming up with the influencer for "Battle of the Bling"?

Oh, my God. What wasn't my favorite part? Look, anybody who spends even 30 seconds watching Todrick Hall understands that he is a dazzling entertainer — a real, true triple threat. He's incredibly funny. I spent most days laughing really hard, enjoying his insane talent. He is somebody who has a fabulous voice and happens to enjoy the sound of his own voice, so he likes to share that voice with everybody, and it is pristine. In between takes, he'd be singing and practicing notes.

I don't know; every day was different. Every day was hilarious. Every day was a bonanza of God-given and hardworking talent. That is Todrick Hall. I had a ball. It was great.

Without giving too much away, what kind of surprises are in store for viewers who check out "Battle of the Bling"?

There's no way I could give a lot away, because it is ... I've been in television for a long time, but I have never experienced anything like this — from being in these homes, which are amazing, but these homeowners and their stories and the "why." How they arrived at these bling-ified houses is so entertaining and fascinating.

There's a lot of controversy ... Here's a choice that was made, so let people think about this: fur walls in a bathroom. I don't think anybody feels neutral about that. It's over-the-top wildness — beautiful, joyous expression in people's homes. They are celebrating their freak flags and letting them fly. It's a wonder to behold, and it's super fun to be a part of.

The essence of bling

"Battle of the Bling" explores homes where the homeowner "does the most" with their space. What do you think average, less extravagant homeowners can take away from the show?

The big learning for me ... I went into this so excited, but truly feeling like I understood bling. I got it. I understood what box that lived in. [laughs] I had defined it for myself. What we learned is that you have no idea. Yes, there's bling on the crazy end of the scale that is super exaggerated and also costs a ton of money, but then there are other renderings of bling that are no less amazing and gobsmacking, but that were DIY and done on a budget.

The big learning for me was that the bling contains multitudes. It's all shapes; it's for everybody. Bling is in the heart. It's, "How do you wear your shine?" Some people definitely like to shine and be dazzling for other people. They like to sparkle for other people.

But even the people who are like, "Listen, I'm a quiet personality, I don't need all the attention, I don't need all that" — you're going to watch and you're going to go, "Oh my gosh. Here's this interest that I have. Look at how this person took their passion, took their interest, took their focus in life and created a visual around that in their home and celebrate that passion in their home." There's so many entry points ...

We have 15 homes that are wild, but they truly are all over the place. They're all over the map. I feel like you can't often say it, but there is something for everybody, I promise.

What are some ways homeowners can grace their space with the essence of bling without breaking the bank?

The essence of bling is about celebrating yourself, your true self, whatever that means. If you are a person, for example, who lives for fresh flowers and loves to have flowers and beautiful bouquets, treat yourself to some carnations from the grocery store that are $2.99. Put them in grandma's crystal cup and display them and have that moment. It can be [from] that small to going as big as possible, which you have to tune into "Battle of the Bling" to see just how far that can go.

Artistic inspiration

Unsurprisingly, quite a few contestants on the new show are artists. What design lessons can homeowners take from artists showcased in "Battle of the Bling"?

Artists do not think about what's going to look right or correct. That is the noticeable thing. Artists go into a space and they think about how they want it to feel. They're touchy-feely, right? They think about how they want it to feel, and then they think about what they want to see. They don't think about, "Will this color work on a northern exposure? Will this tile be in trend five years from now?" They aren't asking those questions.

They're not looking at it from an investment standpoint. They're not looking at it as, "I better make a safe choice because I might list this house and I might have to sell it, and I want it to look like a model home, like anybody could live here." No. An artist walks into a home and says, "I never want a home that looks like anyone could live here. This has to be mine, all mine. How do I make it feel like mine?"

That is the question they ask. We'd all do well to ask that question more, because we'd have environments that were a little bit more fun if we did. I promise. That's what the beauty of the show is, and why I'm so excited to share it ... I can talk and talk at you and tell you all the words, but we're going to show you. See what you think, and I dare you to come away without feeling inspired.

You've got some amazing maximalist designs of your own in your portfolio, but none of them overpower the senses to the point of distraction. What are some ways that one can create balance and harmony even when showcasing bold design elements?

It's about choosing ... Personally, I choose what I want to be the star. There can only be one star. There can be supporting players, there can be a co-star, but there's usually one true star. It's finding what that piece is in any space that I'm designing. What is going to be the main focus? What is the big wow moment? Make choices around that that support it. That's an easy recipe to having a space that feels alive and visually interesting without smacking you over the head.

Functional bling

What are some must-have elements that a home should possess for homeowners who like to throw killer parties?

If you like to throw a killer party, make sure that you understand ambiance and environment. As a designer, always think about the lighting. You can hide a lot of sins with good lighting — there's a reason everybody looks good in candlelight. Think about lighting; set that mood. Make it warm, make it cozy, make it a little dim, candles, little twinkly holiday lights inside. Those are always surefire ambiance creators.

Then, don't go cheap on the bar. It's not difficult. If you want to be the king, queen, or in-between of any holiday party, make sure the liquor is right and tight, and give your guests some food to absorb. Give them little snackies. Don't send them home hungry.

If there's a single room in a home that can benefit from bling, which room would it be?

The bathroom. Do you know why? Because you can go straight Liberace on a bathroom. You don't have to live in the bathroom.

I need a place for my eye to rest. I have a home that's actually pretty pared back and pretty minimalist because I look at visuals for a living. When I'm home, I like it to be very quiet. But a bathroom — how many hours a day are spent in the bathroom? Maybe two to four if you have a crazy regimen or going out regimen.

That's the place to go buck. Have some fun. Throw up a chandelier. Give yourself crazy sconces. Do a wild wallpaper or a wild wall treatment.

Think about the steam factor. That's the one thing with wallpaper in the bathroom ... But HGTV viewers, [House Digest] readers, they know these are all things. These are veterans, people who know what's up. [The bathroom's] the place to have some fun. Let it rip. Why not? When are you going to do it — when you're dead? The time is now.

Your design work strikes many people as being deeply personal. How can homeowners tell their stories through thoughtful design choices?

You just said it. You have to tell your story. It's however that looks. If it is an immigration manifest or immigration papers from great-grandparents who immigrated and came through Ellis Island, and that's in the family, sitting in a chest carefully hidden away — no. Pull that out, take that to a framer, [and] have it put in the proper glass. You want to keep that pristine. Have it done properly, but display that. That is family history.

It's things that are ... It's not about what you spend. It's not about being on trend. It's truly about finding the pieces that speak to you — your story, your heart, your history, your roots, and where you see yourself going, even aspirationally. Create a space that has signifiers and representations of that; that can be small and inexpensive. [Give] the place of honor to the things that really matter. That's how you get a home that feels good.

Bathroom bling

Do you have a blinged-out bathroom?

I do, yes. In fact, it's my version of bling, but I had tile put in very specifically on a horizontal so that I could get, on a diagonal, a certain pattern. I was looking for a certain pattern with the grout that would give me some visual interest [and] could pick up that pattern in my lighting, so I could have sparkle and I could have fun.

Here's the thing: Everybody who's going to judge you for making choices that make you happy will one day be dead. Don't worry about it now, where you all have to go. Don't give the power away. You get one shot at this. You get one shot at life. Have a good time. Don't worry about the neighbors. Don't worry about other people's opinions. Do the thing that brings you joy.

That's what was huge on "Battle of the Bling." [What] I took away from it was meeting all of these people who said, "I don't care that my family thought I was out of my mind or the neighbors think it's tacky." They did not care. They said, "Nobody's opinion matters but my own, and I'm going to create a space that brings me absurd pleasure every time I walk through the door."

That's exactly what they've done. As a guest, you walk into a space like that, and even if it's not something you would choose to do yourself, you cannot [help it] ... It is contagious. You feel the joy. You feel you know these people right away. They wear their personality on the sleeve of their home. You feel embraced, and it is such a warm, wonderful feeling. That was the big takeaway — what happens when you're fearless? It's amazing.

[For] each one of these homeowners, their homes have come to define huge opportunities in their lives. They're on TV showing people these homes. It doesn't all have to be shiplap — and not that I don't love shiplap; I use it all the time — but there's a whole world outside of it. It is not for everybody to want to live exactly like that, but boy, is it fun to visit.

"Battle of the Bling" premieres on Friday, December 9 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV.

This interview has been edited for clarity.