It’s what is on the inside that counts, according to Carmine Sabatella. One of reality TV’s hottest newcomers, Carmine recently celebrated Season 2 of HGTV’s Inside Out, where he tries to convince homeowners looking to revamp their space to put their money towards inside renovations in a friendly war with his co-host, landscape designer Mike Pyle, who is looking to optimize their client’s budget on the outside. Never intending to be a reality TV personality, he can now add TV show hunk to his resume along with his experience as a restauranteur, realtor, entrepreneur, and renovator, which has given him unique insight and a signature flair that has made Inside Out a welcome addition to HGTV’s line of programming.
As his name, stature, and mannerisms suggest, he is deeply Italian, raised in a traditional family household best known for its prowess in the world of restaurants. His wonder years were spent among kitchens and tables and directly after graduating from university, he opened his first restaurant. From there, he went on to build and design his own cocktail bar and lounge in Pasadena, California. Soon after, he pivoted careers, a choice that would ultimately bring him to television.
I have always practiced interior design and had a passion for it, but it was more of a “side job.” I got to a point when the restaurant business sucked the life out of me. I was working 60-plus hours a week and I was miserable. The business changed and had become much more litigious, workers comp got out of control and quite frankly I never saw my daughter and I hated that, so it was time to change.
Word of mouth spread, and with a network of contacts cultivated from his time in the restaurant biz, he became an in-demand interior designer who could quickly reimagine a space from the ground up. He established his design company, C S Domains, and The Sabatella Group, which handles the real estate side of things. It’s hard to keep up with Carmine in whatever he decides to do because he’s going to do it and he’s going to do it better. In his first year of being a licensed realtor, he was in the top 1 percent of 57,000 agents nationwide for sales volume at his first agency. He remains top-ranked in sales while continuing his interior design and filming a hit show. Did we mention he also has time to be a father and a husband and also work out – a lot? As much as fans point out his great work on Inside Out, they are also quick to point out his muscles and carefully tailored pants. How does he have time for it all?
Well, it’s not easy. I try to take time out of every day for myself and for my family. You must set boundaries and stick to them. I have grown up in fitness since I was 15 years old. I taught for Equinox for over 20 years and fitness is part of my DNA. It is what balances me and will always be a top priority.
Carmine’s charming personality, powerful Rolodex, and popular social media would lead him to network TV.
It’s a very serendipitous story. The production company reached out to my co-host, Mike Pyke, about the show. Mike has a great presence on social media and that’s how they found him. They asked him if he had anyone in mind to do the “inside?” It happened that Mike’s business partner at the time, Kim, was with him and said, “Hey I follow my friend Carmine from high school on social media and I think you would really like his work.” And the rest is history!
Carmine and Mike do have great energy and the show has become a network favorite. Audiences come for the design and stay for the personalities and storylines. This designing duo isn’t just catering to a home’s physical needs, they are filling it with the energy and essence of their clients – they listen and celebrate the difference a well-styled home can make for everyone. They say home is where the heart is, and Carmine and Mike are part of that heart.
I think people appreciate me being me. What you see is what you get. I’m no different off camera than I am on. I think authenticity is important.
Being authentic has been a major theme in Carmine’s life. It was only somewhat recently that Carmine discovered who he truly is.
I had some traumas happen to me when I was much younger and when I began to deal with that trauma as an adult, it brought up the subject of my sexuality. Through many years of intense therapy, and exploration I realized that I was, in fact, gay and I immediately came out to everyone I know, including my ex-wife. I didn’t come out until I was about 30. Although my family is traditional Italian Catholic, they are very progressive and accepting. My aunt runs the church, and she was at my wedding having the best time.
Carmine’s husband Ryan is also a real estate agent who has previous experience in the fitness and modeling industries. A perfect match. And with Inside Out, home design on television has found its perfect match. What has Carmine learned the most from doing the show?
This business is fast-paced, and it requires a lot of hours and dedication. AND we really do the work! I have realized that I do like working in front of the camera. I never thought I would feel that way.
And what has been a winning moment from his two seasons?
I have to say that it was Ashely and Brad Bell in Season 2. They were just the kindest, most lovely family and they were so desperately in need of the renovation for the better of the entire family and they were just full of gratitude. It was very heartwarming.
As trends come and go, Carmine has his finger on the pulse of the future of interior design.
I think interior design has gone through a recent renaissance. Today it incorporates the old with the new. The eclectic mix of new and traditional is timeless. I think we are really going to see leaps and bounds in natural integration with home construction to be greener and energy efficient.
And what’s next for Carmine?
I am about to renovate a ranch-style home in San Marino, CA. It had been a rental for over 30 years and is so ugly. The uglier the better!
You can stream Inside Out on HGTV and follow Carmine on IG: @RealDesignCarmine
What are some of the top design mistakes people make when doing a remodel (or interior design fads people should avoid)?
First, making every design decision on the front end of the project. Meaning people often feel pressured into choosing every design idea and finishing on the front end of the project based on a set of plans or rough framing. A project is an evolution and with evolution, there is change and progress. Some items I recommend waiting on until later in the project are decisions on lighting, tile, and window treatments. Second, please stay away from anything on trend, unless it’s something easy to switch out like a faucet or wallpaper.
What are the easiest ways to improve your living space for the holidays?
There are a few ways you can improve your living space during the holidays. One is to not overcrowd your space. My rule of thumb is that for every decoration you put out try and take something away. If you put a statue of a Christmas tree on your mantle, take away a framed picture. Another idea is to blend the old with the new. This is the time to bring out family heirlooms, vintage China, and family quilts. When you bring in tradition it warms the space.
Where should you spend your money first in renovating your home?
This is a loaded question. This completely depends on your lifestyle and needs. But, if you ask me, I would say the kitchen – 100%!
Last modified: October 4, 2022