Couple appearing on HGTV show explains why South Jersey was the right move for them. Sheri Berkery, Courier-Post
UPDATE: Eric Hillegass and Patrick Bartscherer, who appeared in an April 2 “House Hunters” episode, chose a multi-use building in Collingswood. They’ve already renovated their apartment over their future business — Bespoke Home + Life, set to open this summer on Haddon Avenue. Original story appears below.
A South Jersey couple will appear on HGTV’s “House Hunters” soon.
But by rights, they should probably have their own show.
The home that Eric Hillegass and Patrick Bartscherer moved into several months ago is a DIY clinic, from the poured-concrete kitchen counter, to the hardwood floors and handcrafted four-poster bed.
This summer, they’ll even open a home decor store, called Bespoke Home + Life, in Collingswood.
MORE HGTV IN SJ: Pair seeks home that’s ‘affordable and close to the bridge’
The couple’s professional-grade sense of style has been honed over multiple moves and renovation projects.
“Every time we moved into a new spot, we wanted to redecorate and make it ours,” said Hillegass, 31.
Viewers can get an up-close look at their aesthetic when the “House Hunters” episode “Storefront or House in South Jersey” airs at 10 p.m. Tuesday on HGTV.
The real-estate show with the familiar formula will follow Hillegass and Bartscherer, 29, as they look at three options for a new place, including a roomy single-family home and an apartment unit atop a commercial space.
The couple shopped for homes in the Collingswood area as they prepared to live in New Jersey for the first time in their lives — and move from their beloved New York.
But with Hillegass leaving his TV production career to open a store, they needed a more affordable option than NYC.
“It was hard to give up New York,” Bartscherer said. “I love New York so much. The thought of moving to the suburbs was scary.”
Hillegass tried to offer a comforting metaphor as they looked for homes in the Collingswood area.
“Don’t think of it as the suburbs. You have to think of Collingswood to Philadelphia as Brooklyn to Manhattan.”
Proximity to the PATCO line was a huge selling point for Bartscherer, who travels between Connecticut and Alabama for his visual design position with retailer South Moon Under.
Hillegass will take the lead in the business once Bespoke opens on Haddon Avenue in the spot previously occupied by Yogawood. But Bartscherer said he’ll be able to contribute his retail experience.
“I like the fact that Eric is not working for someone else, and he can find much more joy in what he does,” Bartscherer said.
Shopping for a home on “House Hunters” wasn’t too daunting a prospect for Hillegass and Bartscherer.
That’s because they’ve done it before.
In 2013, as the Drexel University grads embarked on a home search in Philly, they tossed out the idea of contacting “House Hunters.”
“We went out one night and were sitting at dinner … we were in the process of moving and we said we should apply to ‘House Hunters'” Hillegass said, adding there was a bottle of wine involved.
The next day, a producer from the show asked them to send a video. Within a week, they were filming.
After that home search, the couple settled on a corner loft at 13th and Callowhill streets in Philadelphia. They renovated the whole place, and had so much height to work with, they added a master suite.
“The design was very industrial,” Hillegass said. “Restoration Hardware was like our dream.”
HGTV returned a year later to record a follow-up show. A week after that, Hillegass and Bartscherer moved out — to a 400-square-foot studio in New York, where Hillegass had been transferred for work.
But their “House Hunters” impression was lasting.
“We’d be out months after the show had aired, and someone would go up to me and say, ‘I really like your loft.'” Hillegass said.
As the couple talked about moving and starting a business in South Jersey, they figured it would be fun to return to “House Hunters.” Besides, the show’s reach could provide a nice marketing boost.
“It’s crazy how fast the filming is,” Bartscherer said. “It’s four to five days.”
Once the couple chose their new home and moved in, they got to work on the renovations.
They removed a kitchen peninsula and took out a door to open up the space. They converted a small bedroom into a living room/office. And they painted, quite a few coats, to cover up bright shades like purple and green.
A graphic print of their French bulldog Griffin is a main artistic feature.
“It’s a little bit of traditional design with a modern take on color,” Hillegass explained. “Traditional and modern sounds like a paradox. But you kind of need both in the right manner.”
Their new home also has lots of space-saving touches.
“We learned from New York how to use every bit of space,” Bartscherer said. “We know how to live very minimally.”
Business takes root
When they were thinking of what type of business to open, Hillegass and Bartscherer figured they’d incorporate their passion for home decor.
“We want to put the focus on handmade,” Hillegass said.
“It’s a maker-motivated focus on home decor, made by people, not machines,” Bartscherer added.
Shoppers can also become creators, as a space at the back of the store will be dedicated to make-and-take workshops.
But they’re also including plants, and that part of the Bespoke concept seems to keep growing.
“Plants are very trendy now,” said Hillegass, who also propagates plants in water bottles and all types of containers at home.
“I just always liked it since I was a kid,” he said of the hobby.
Manhattan’s Flower District was a huge inspiration for the couple.
“The flowers spill out as you walk down the street. You feel like you are walking in a jungle,” Hillegass said. “The stores are packed with tropical plants.”
They also put a lot of thought into the name of their business — using a word that is both fitting and stirs curiosity.
“A bespoke suit is custom, made to order,” explained Hillegass. “In architecture and design, it means the same thing. The word isn’t used as often here as it is in the United Kingdom.
“Not a lot of people have heard of it. They either say, ‘I love it and I get it’ or ‘I never heard of that before.”
And though Bespoke will offer custom merchandise, “custom doesn’t have to mean expensive,” Hillegass said.
They’re glad the Collingswood community will get to know them from their “House Hunters” episode.
But those first impressions depend on the way the show is edited.
“I’m nervous for what things they’re going to lock into,” Hillegass said. “If they edit, they have enough material to make one of us look like the villain.”
The couple still laughs every time they think about a line that became infamous in their first “House Hunters” go-round.
They were looking at a home in Fishtown that was a bus ride away from the train station.
Kidding around, Bartscherer emphatically said, “I do NOT take buses.”
Of course, that line was played over and over by the time the episode aired, he said.
“Meanwhile, a month later we moved to New York and I took the bus every day.”
Sheri Berkery: @SheriBerkery; 856-486-2673; firstname.lastname@example.org
More South Jersey news
- Kona Ice owner from South Jersey will open kiosk inside Cherry Hill Mall
- South Jersey ‘Bandstand’ dancer talks TV dating program on Steve Harvey’s show
- South Jersey native Payton Taylor’s ‘American Idol’ gets second-chance audition
Read or Share this story: https://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/local/south-jersey/2019/03/30/house-hunters-nj-hgtv-comes-collingswood-nj-eric-hillegass-peter-bartscherer/3310649002/