Philadelphia-based contractor and DIY host Jeff Devlin came to the Twin Cities with an odd goal: finding ugly, outdated bathrooms and the homeowners who hated them
Q Were bathrooms you saw in the Twin Cities worse than those in other cities?
A A bad bathroom is just bad regardless of where it is. I'm always amazed at how people can live with a toilet that's not functional or a sink covered with mold.
Q Tell us about some of the surprises you encountered during the demolitions.
A A colony of ants came pouring out the walls. And evidence of a lot of DIY renovations gone bad. That's why it's nice to rip out the walls and start fresh.
Q Since this is a DIY Network show, the homeowners are expected to pitch in. Did you run across people who weren't so handy?
A Lord, yes. Some of them are holding a tool for the first time and there's terror in their eyes. One guy cut a piece of wood that was 2 feet short. He did it by eye instead of measuring.
Q Have you ever goofed up a project?
A It's tough because there's a camera over your shoulder and everyone is watching you. I cut a hole for a countertop and made it too big so the sink would fall through. The homeowner was laughing hysterically. I cussed like a banshee, but they didn't show that on TV.
Q What do people want in their renovated bathrooms?
A Flat-screen TVs and coffeemakers. Lots of audio, all on a remote control. People want to stay connected when they're getting ready for work.
We're putting in sleek faucets that come out of the wall and vessel sinks in copper, porcelain and glass. Glass-enclosed shower doors are more popular than curtains. I'm ripping out Jacuzzis and putting in soaking tubs, which are getting bigger and deeper.
Q What are some quick ways to update a bathroom?
A Paint. But don't just slap it on. Clean the walls first and pick the right sheen. I prefer a satin finish. Change out the towel bar and buy new towels and accessories. A new vanity is a simple way to add a lot of pizazz. Nowadays the big-box stores have every style and size and they come in a package with countertops. Swap out your old faucets and showerheads for new ones with the latest finishes.
Q Some of the remodels you do are costly. Is there a way to get that look without the price tag?
A If you're able to do some of the work yourself, you can get a high-end bathroom without the high-end cost. Most people can handle tiling -- you just need patience. But you should hire a professional to rip out a wall. That's structural.
Q What's your bathroom like?
A I live in a renovated farmhouse with my family outside of Philadelphia. I'm redoing my bathroom in a vintage style, but with a modern glass vessel sink. I'll build my own vanity and add some copper accents to make it cozy. But I'll keep it simple. I have a budget -- and two kids.
Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619