Frank Fontana's "Dirty Little Secrets of Design"

November 8, 2010 (CHICAGO)

With the holidays sneaking up on us, you may be looking for ways to spruce up your house before your company shows up. You can probably use a little help from an expert like Chicago designer Frank Fontana, the host for one of HGTV's longest running hit series, Design on a Dime. Frank is the go-to guy for chic make¬overs on a budget and he gives away some of his design tricks in his new book Dirty Little Secrets of Design.

Frank shares his techniques, breaking down the process room by room, project by project, and divulges his secret tips and tricks for how to create high-style homes the low-cost way. Fontana analyzes several beautiful homes, dissects the individual design components of each room, and applies his "Look for Less" principle to help readers build their own look on a budget.

The book also includes DIY projects that are accessible and do-able for readers of various skill levels, as well as advice on how to be a savvy shopper when looking for home decor items or furniture. You'll also find:

  • Over 40 DIY projects straight from Frank's personal sketchbook (such as a multi-purpose ottoman, custom display case, and unique artwork made from reclaimed items)
  • An honest guide to what saves money (and what doesn't) in green home design
  • Guides to practical decorating and fabricating techniques that will help novice designers become master decorators
  • Stories from the Reality TV front--Frank dishes on lessons he has learned on the job

For a look inside "Dirty Little Design Secrets" visit:

For more information on Frank, visit

Here are a couple of Frank's projects to get your started:

Faux Wood Graining technique

Tools: Paint Brush, Wood Graining Rocker,

Items Needed: Latex paint as base coat; top-coat tinted glaze

1. Paint base color of choice to mimic wood tone desired
2. Brush one a generous amount of glaze to a small portion at a time
3. Drag your wood graining rocker over the freshly glazed area
4. Repeat in a systematic pattern

Mosaic Coffee-table top made from old plates

Items Needed: simple square coffee table; old flat, colorful decorative plates from thrift store or home; tile grout adhesive

Tools: Grout trowel and rag; hammer, plastic bag and safety goggles


1. Carefully break plates into random pieces using a plastic bag, safety goggles, and a hammer
2. Use thick gardening gloves to pick out the flat colorful pieces of plate (be careful not to cut yourself)
3. Use the trowel to spread a medium coat of grout adhesive on to table top surface
4. Adhere pieces of the plate to the table top in a random pattern and leave only a small space between pieces
5. Fill in any remaining areas with grout, so surface is level as possible
6. Wipe off excess grout and let dry

Door-knob Coat Hanger

Tools: Jig saw or hand saw, screw driver, paint brush

Items needed: Piece of Barn wood about 2 foot long by 6 inches tall; old door knockers or knobs; trim molding

1. Drill holes evenly apart across the board
2. Assemble door knobs or knockers on to board
3. Attach trim molding around the edges

12:30 pm on Tuesday, November 9
150 N State St., Chicago

7 pm on Saturday, November 20
Barbara's Bookstore
1218 S. Halsted

Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.