Ty Pennington may no longer host Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, but the television personality and designer says he still has “a pretty darn busy schedule,” which includes a visit to the fall edition of the Birmingham Home Show this weekend.
“I want home show visitors to walk away inspired to not only improve their own living environment but also the environment around them by reaching out to help others,” Pennington said of his appearance at the home improvement expo at 2 p.m. Saturday. The show opens at 10 a.m. Friday at the BJCC and concludes at 6 p.m. Sunday.
An Atlanta native who gained fame as a carpenter on TLC’s Trading Spaces, he headlines an event that includes Clean House host Mark Brunetz offering home organization advice, Birmingham Bargain Mom Christie Dedman sharing thrift tips, culinary demonstrations by local chefs, a canine fashion show, seasonal floral displays and a craft beer tasting.
Pennington will be on hand to share stories from his nine seasons hosting Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, in which he led crews of builders and designers to provide home improvements for families facing financial hardships, usually giving homes complete makeovers in less than a week. One of those homes was in Birmingham.
“When I look back at it now, I don’t know how we pulled some of those projects off,” he said by phone earlier this week from California, where he was pursuing some new television projects. “There had to be some type of higher power involved, because you really can’t do those things in four or five days, even though we did it.”
While the program was a venue for telling the stories of the families benefiting from the home makeovers, it also served as a showcase for different styles and techniques of building.
“Honestly, I learned so many new and innovative things while we were doing that show,” Pennington said. “It was fascinating to learn what it’s like to build in Colorado and Maryland and Florida, because each part of the country has unique weather conditions, species of subterraneans, codes and soil. And each town has its own distinctive style. So I’ll be telling stories about those things Saturday and about what it was like to do the show.”
Since he’s currently building a home in Florida, his weekend plans also include checking out what the home show has to offer.
“After your family sees you building so many homes for other people, the guilt starts to set in that you need to build one for your own family,” he said with a chuckle. “And trust me – it’s taking a lot longer than a week. There are so many cool new products and materials out there now to make homes more energy efficient and last longer that were not available a couple of years ago. Some of them are so revolutionary they’ll blow your mind, so I’m looking forward to seeing some of them this weekend.”
Having grown up in Georgia, Pennington is no stranger to Birmingham.
“You guys have got some of the best thrift stores in the world. I still call Atlanta home, but Atlanta has gotten so big, a lot of cool people I know are cruising over to Birmingham to hang out. Growing up in the South, I love coming home to it. There’s something about the kindness, the sincere laughter, and the ability to have conversations with friendly people that you can’t get anywhere else. I miss Southern hospitality.”
That’s the spirit Pennington says he believes was conveyed through Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. “When art and building came together, it didn’t get any better than when we could see the reaction of the families we were working for. The human spirit of people working together to make it happen and inspiring people to do things for their communities – that something that has a lasting, positive impact, and I think it’s the show’s legacy. We proved it can be possible.”
Birmingham Home Show hours are 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets prices are $8 for adults and $3 for children ages 6-12. Admission is free for children 5 and younger. Advance discounted tickets for $2 off regular admission are available at www.homeshowbirmingham.com.