Ty Pennington, the telegenic carpenter who rose to TV fame on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” will be one of the “celebrity guests” at this week’s Minneapolis Home + Garden Show. He’ll appear Feb. 28 to share behind-the-scenes tales and new technology for home improvement.
The California-based host is no stranger to Minnesota; during the reality TV series’ eight-year run, Pennington brought the makeover bus here to build four dream homes for families in need.
Q: How do you feel about returning to Minnesota in the dead of winter? A: I love Minnesota. I’ve definitely experienced Minnesota Nice. What I love about coming to Minneapolis and the Home + Garden show is really connecting with people — not only sharing my experiences on “Extreme” but also the good, the bad and the ugly of what happens when you really are trying to build a house in seven days.
Q: You go to multiple home and garden shows every year. What do you like best about them? A: I just love seeing all things “home” under one roof. … You really get a hands-on Q&A with the people who make the product to understand exactly what it does and how cool it is.
Q: What’s your favorite tool?
A: It’s the camera. Not only does it capture images, but it also captures ideas that you can go back and look at. It creates visual stimulation all over the Internet, with Instagram and Pinterest and all these other things.
Q: What’s your latest TV venture? A: I’ve got a new show on Food Network called “American Diner Revival,” which is really awesome because we go into small towns and struggling businesses. … It’s the same sort of spirit as “Extreme” where everybody rallies around that person who owns the diner. It’s the emotional roller coaster of chasing the clock that I love doing.
Q: How did you go from a home-makeover show to the Food Network? A: I was on a show called “On the Menu” with Emeril [Lagasse], and everyone would ask me, “What’s the deal? Did you put down your hammer and pick up a spatula?” I’d say no.
The thing is, what a lot of people don’t realize about me is that my brother is a wine guy so I’ve always been sort of a foodie. Talk about independent kids — we started cooking at the age of 8.
Q: After the end of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” did you tackle any design projects for yourself? A: I’ve always had a dream to build my own home, and once the show was off the air, I had the chance to live that dream. My mom has some health issues with allergies, so I wanted to build the cleanest, most energy-efficient, healthiest home possible. That’s taken two years. I’m a perfectionist; that’s probably why it’s taken so long.
Q: What are some indoor home-improvement projects for long Minnesota winters?
A: You can do anything cosmetic. The one thing people seem nervous about is giving your own home a customized personal touch.
What I like is when you walk into a home and you immediately get an idea of the personality of the people who live there. Showcase a sparkle of your favorite color mixed with something you are really passionate about. Personalize while you’re trapped inside.
Libby Ryan is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.