Ty Pennington was the enthusiastic host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. He spent many years changing needy families’ lives on TV, where his natural charisma shined through. Since the show’s end, however, fans are wondering where he’s been.
Where’d He Go?
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition aired for nine years before being canceled in 2012. After the show ended, Ty seemed to shy away from the spotlight. The reason behind his sudden reversal is not what you’d expect it to be. It all comes down to his childhood.
Ty Pennington had a few difficulties to overcome as a child, namely in school. “I was so out of control that I spent most of the time in the hallway or in detention,” Ty shared. Surprisingly, his mother was in the process of becoming a child psychologist and was assigned to observe the “worst kid” in Ty’s school. The school tried to give her a heads up, telling her, “Mrs. Pennington, you really don’t want to know who that is.” She hadn’t guessed it would be Ty.
They Tried Everything
Ty was unaware that his mother was observing him for educational purposes, and had no reason to modify his behavior. “Within 30 minutes, I was wearing my desk. I swung to the blinds, I climbed out the windows, I ran around naked, I slapped Johnny in the back of the head,” Pennington admitted. The teachers were at their wits end, “they put me on antihistamines to … make me drowsy. They tried everything.” It wasn’t until college that he began to understand.
A Helpful Diagnosis
It took until his college years before his behavior could be explained. Ty has ADHD, attention deficit hyperactive disorder. Ty got candid, sharing “ADHD hurts your confidence. You feel like you really can’t succeed because you don’t make good grades, you’re always out in the hallway so you don’t really fit in as a member of the class. That really kind of affects you later in life, especially when you’re trying to get a job and your confidence level is low.”
Fears He’d Hurt Himself
Back in the 1970s, when Ty was growing up, “they didn’t even know what to call [ADHD].” They didn’t have the knowledge we have now with regards to treatment. Doctors could only think to prescribe him antihistamines, with the hope that they would, “make [him] drowsy.” Others feared for his safety. They were “afraid [he was] going to hurt [him]self from just mowing the lawn.” It’s funny then that he, “ended up working with power tools … and still [has] all [his] digits.”
One Saving Grace
School may have been a struggle for Ty, but it helped him to discover his other talents, such as woodworking. Incredibly, when Ty was only 12 years old, he succeeded in building himself a three story tree house, without even having tools in the house. He was inspired by his mother who said, “I’m really glad you’re creative, but … take it outside.” He collected the tools he needed by “trad[ing] comics with all the kids in the neighborhood [for tools].” He named this strategy after Tom Sawyer.
A Simple Carpenter
Ty soon realized that he had a facility with working with his hands, and it was a good way to channel both his energy and his creativity. Ty started small, but was quickly becoming skilled in both woodworking and home improvement. Ty continued to hone his carpenter’s instinct, relying on the skill to pay for his degree at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Little did he know, it was his interest in home improvement that would make him a star.
An Uncertain Future
When graduation rolled around, Ty was confronted with the same question that many young graduates face. How could he turn his degree and his passions into an economically sound career. He had always known “the only way [he] would calm down is when [he] was drawing or putting a jigsaw puzzle together.” It was fate then that he would find a way to build for a living. He knew he was “pretty creative at certain things, but how do you turn it into a vocation?”
Why Has Ty Not Married?
Ty has been asked over the years if he would ever start a family, but he hasn’t quite answered, joking that he’d googled the concept before. Ty is in a longterm partnership with Andrea “Drea” Bock, but the relationship isn’t so straight forward. She serves as both his romantic companion as well as his manager. Ty has referred to theirselves as “a team.” When Drea was given a chance to weigh in, she seemed unconcerned, saying, “We don’t need to get married.”
Does Ty Listen To Her?
Ty’s ADHD has also been an active member of his relationships. He shared that the diagnosis “affect[ed] the way [he] communicate[s].” Communication is the bedrock of any good relationship, so it can be hard when Ty appears to not listen to Drea. Ty shared, “If you can’t pay attention to someone who’s trying to tell you something and then you forget that they even said it, they think that you may not even care.” This could be why Drea doesn’t want to get married.
As a soon-to-be college graduate, Ty received a once in a lifetime offer. A modeling scout thought Pennington was attractive enough to appear in commercials and print advertisements. Ty cashed in, appearing in promos for well known brands such as Levi’s and Diet Coke, as well as Macy’s. In print, he was the face of a number of companies, including Sprite, Swatch, and J.Crew. The job had other perks too. Ty was jet setting around the world, living in exotic locales like Japan, Italy, and Germany.
Transition To Show Business
Ty Pennington may have been living the glamorous life, but he wasn’t ready to give up his carpentry days all together. Though he wasn’t quite ready to transition to a full blown TV star, he starting working behind the scenes in set design on films like the Nicholas Cage hit, Leaving Las Vegas. He booked a role in an indie film called The Adventures of Ociee Nash, though it wasn’t widely viewed. As it turned out, Ty was most successful just being himself on camera.
Though Ty had had a small TV role before, he gained widespread popularity when he was booked as a contractor on the TLC show, Trading Spaces. The show’s concept was built around two neighbors taking over each others’ houses and renovating one room in the house with the aide of the TV crew. Ty’s energy was perfect for the show, as he was a talented carpenter, but he also had charisma and looked good to boot. Producers were impressed and wanted Ty to be front and center.
Too Many Tears
Though Ty enjoyed his work on Trading Spaces immensely, there was still one thing that irked him. He was encouraged to exhibit his wild and often silly personality, but it bothered him that it was “interesting because sometimes people would cry.” He was not impressed that the network seemed to milk these tears, feeling that it was always “for the wrong reasons.” Producers loved when neighbors were appalled by their friends’ choices, because it “got great shock value and a good reaction.” Ty needed more positivity.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Executives at ABC concocted a plan to get Ty front and center on TV screens. They planned a 13 part special titled Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, a spin off of their plastic surgery show, Extreme Makeover. They had been impressed by his charming performance on Trading Spaces and were ready to see him change the lives of deserving families, who would receive a new home built over the course of a week. 2007, however, was not kind to Ty.
Under The Influence
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was a hit, but trouble lurked in the shadows. Ty marred his reputation when he was arrested on May 5th, 2007 for drunk driving in Los Angeles. Ty posted his $5000 bail and made a public statement that said, “We all make mistakes; however, this is about accountability. Under no circumstances should anyone consume alcohol while driving. I could have jeopardized the lives of others and I am grateful there was no accident or harm done to anyone. This was my wake-up call.”
Apologies To The Network
Ty had to own up to his sins in front of his fans as well, continuing his statement with an apology to the network that had been him a star in his own right. He said, “I also want to apologize to my fans, ABC Television and my design team for my lapse in judgment and the embarrassment I have caused.” Given that he was still incredibly popular with audiences, ABC forgave him and allowed Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to continue for another six years.
What lead Ty to his “lapse in judgment?” He claims that it was due to poor stress management, as he was continuously involved in projects, calling himself a “control freak.” He confessed, “I wish I could say I’ll have somebody else do it for me but I can’t. It’s great in theory but it’s always better when you do it yourself.” However, he acknowledged that he’s “aware how lucky [he is] to have these opportunities so [he] don’t waste them by letting somebody else do it.”
How He Sees Himself
Ty feels that he is often mislabelled, due to his talent in woodworking, which was solidified by his role as a carpenter on Trading Spaces. Pennington has said, “People don’t realize that I am more of a designer than a carpenter.” He furthered the explanation by saying, “I’m a cross between Martha Stewart and MacGyver,” which hopefully clarified how he considers himself. Then he teased, “I’m going to change my name to Stewart MacGyver.” Of course, he hasn’t come to that quite yet.
Ty Pennington Style
Ty was lucky that his DUI didn’t end his career. In fact, he managed to land a product deal with Sears, one of the sponsors of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The retail giant offered Ty his own line of furniture, both indoor and outdoor, in addition to bath accessories and bedding. He further capitalized on his own fame with his own furniture brand, named Furniture Unlimited. The product endorsements don’t end there, as he also has a deal promoting hardwood flooring for Lumber Liquidators.
Snap A Picture
Ty’s creativity extends beyond carpentry, after all, he went to art school! More than anything else, Ty actually loves photography. He divulged, “People ask me what my favorite tool is, and I’m like, it’s not a hammer or a drill, it’s a camera.” Ty didn’t happen to share his favorite subject, rather he shared, “I shoot everything, I document everything.” When asked about tech innovations in photography he said that he thinks “we’ve all become human selfie machines!”
Ty’s good will mission does not end with the work he does on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. He also works with Sears on their project called Building Community Together. They send their team out to struggling communities in order to help them refurbish dilapidated landmarks which helps to revive the deserving communities. Not only that, the charity is a good source of job creation. “With Sears Home Services, we’re employing over 1,000 people nationwide, which is great,” Ty effused.
It’s only natural that fans wonder about Ty’s own house, considering how much time he spends work on others’. He has revealed that his house does include a “man cave” so he has a place to relax. Pennington’s creativity is nearly unbounded, as it carries over into musical talent, so he uses his garage for his many drums, keyboards, and guitars. ” I love playing with toys,” Pennington says, “I have a percussion machine, something you can’t download off the Internet. Just these random pings some machine makes.”
Extreme Makeover Cancelled
All good things must come to an end, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was not immune when it was cancelled by ABC in 2012. In looking back, Ty has said that he will, “always be proud of,” the work he did. He continued, “What Extreme taught me is that as an artist, what you create with your hands has a lasting difference and actually makes someone’s life better.” The show hit a milestone of 200 episodes. Ty, however, was also grateful to have more time with his family.
There were a few incidents in particular that may have led to Extreme Makeover’s cancellation. After one renovation project, the next door neighbors of the recipients were upset that the house was sold shortly after the show. The buyer was Butch Woolfolk, a Houston Oiler, who transformed the property into a rehabilitation center for substance users. The angry neighbors protested that their property values were now lowered by having such an institution so close by, which wasn’t something they’d bargained on.
For as much as Ty was convinced he was helping people get their lives back on track, there were often negative consequences for the families on the receiving end of the show. After the show wrapped, families soon realized the downsides of a larger house included significantly higher taxes and utility bills. Given that they were often families who had already been struggling financially, they couldn’t keep up with their payments, and the bank foreclosed on their houses.
Dragged Into Court
ABC kept many controversies hidden behind the scenes from the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition days. In one particularly unfortunate case, Ty helped build an incredible mansion for a family that had adopted five orphans. The new house was complete with nine bedrooms, but the gift quickly began to cause strife. The parents of the kids attempted to evict the kids from the house, who then sued ABC, as given that they “were promised a new home,” which meant the deed should have been in their name.
Take A Break
With the show’s cancellation, Pennington found himself with time to spare, which allowed him take a long-deserved vacation, as well as to reconnect with family. He was open about how enjoyable it was, sharing that his favorite parts are “the funny things that happen, whether it’s a disaster in the kitchen or it’s the personalities. I have a very funny family with a really strong sense of humor, so to spend time with them is a lot of fun.” He couldn’t remain on holiday forever though.
Ty Pennington was asked what he goals were for his post Extreme Makeover days, and he had a surprising answer. He revealed, “I want to try swimming with whale sharks, coaching a Little League soccer team, and maybe taking one of the kids on the team to see a World Cup game. I’d like to go white water rafting down the Snake River through the Grand Canyon and build a tree house that’s beyond any other tree houses you’ve ever seen.”
The Revolution Will Be Mediocre
ABC wasn’t done with Ty Pennington just because Home Makeover was over. They tapped the charismatic change maker to be a part of their new show, titled The Revolution The show intended to change people’s lives by connecting them with a team of five celebrity coaches, a health coach, a style coach, a home designer, a physical trainer, and a mental health expert. The show was a flop and lasted only six months, which devastated Pennington, though his costars, like Tim Gunn, were elated.
On The Menu
Ty had a lot of time to himself as child while his mother was preoccupied with her degree. Due to that, Ty became proficient in the kitchen, saying his food was “decent”, especially compared to his mom who he called “the worst cook ever.” Ty may have gotten in over his head though when he agreed to do a food show with former Food Network star, Emeril Lagasse. The was titled, On the Menu, but it only lasted a mere 10 episodes.
Tips In A Rut
Despite all of his success, his subsequent failures after Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, gave Ty Pennington pause. It was time to shift gears and take some time for introspection. Pennington pondered his non-stop attitude, saying, “If you’re always racing to accomplish something, you can never really realize what you’re missing. I want to learn to appreciate not going full speed all the time.” He came to realize perhaps his rashness with new shows contributed to their failure.
Deeper Than Just Paint
As an artist, Ty believes that design is an integral part of self expression. “A home is more than just where you live,” Pennington said, “It reflects who you are. And when your life gets cluttered, your home shows it.” He has some advice for anyone looking to breathe fresh life into their home, however. He suggests, “when you bring in a little change like a new wall color, it also brings in new life,” adding that “design can change how you look at yourself.”
Help Yourself By Helping Others
It’s always been important to Ty to help other people. After Hurricane Sandy destroyed the Jersey show, Ty made sure to travel there in order to help the victims. He was deeply affected by all of the “heart-wrenching stories of people who lost everything. It was rough.” Pennington used his connections at Sears and K-Mart to bring them aide. He said that they “loaded up a truck full of water and blankets and batteries and supplies.” It was meaningful to help.
The Real MVP
Pennington is so humble, he has some unexpected heroes. While he clearly has better known role models, the people who really inspire him are “moms and dads who, when the odds are stacked against them, figure out a way to rally.” He’s very impressed by how much of themselves they give. He said, “they do it for more than just themselves; they do it because their kids are relying on them. Those are the superheroes — they’re the everyday people who live on your street.”
Building With The Stars
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition had its fair share of big names as guests of the show. There were well known athletes, like Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, and former Yankees star, Derek Jeter who joined forces with Ty on occasion, in addition to thew host of musical talents who made appearances, including Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, and Carrie Underwood. Most notable, however, was probably First Lady Michelle Obama. They all seemed to glean great joy from helping others.
While Ty may have been a fan of super-sizing the homes he rebuilt during his time on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, he had a few revelations in retrospect. In speaking to the Huffington Post, Ty realized that there was definitely a benefit in having a smaller and more manageable home. He noted that designers are “definitely seeing a lot smaller homes because they’re more affordable to maintain.” He added, “It’s all about taking what you have, maximizing the space and adding on.”
Taking Care Of Mom
Though one might assume it’s all about aesthetics for someone who does design for a living, functionality is particularly important to the kind hearted Pennington. Ty suggested, “It’s not just about, ‘What color should I paint my walls,'” but also creating, “the cleanest environment.” One of his many projects included building his mom a new house, but he had to take into account that she “has health issues and asthma.” It was important to create a home that made things easier for her.
Ty Pennington At Home
You might be wondering where Ty has been in recent days. As usual, he has several projects in the works, including one on television. His other projects include a quarterly magazine, which presents information to readers about Ty, as well as giving them design tips. He makes sure to include more updates on his furniture line, and provides a space for readers to send in questions, which he answers personally. Moreover, he instructs readers on how to build high-end looking furniture on the cheap.
From watching Ty Pennington on the screen, you almost wouldn’t know he was already in his 50’s. His high energy keeps him appearing youthful, though the TV star said there’s more too it. “I’ve been blessed to act and feel like I’m a child my entire life,” he admitted. While this is always a plus for his career in which he still feels there is much to accomplish, it also could be one of the reason’s behind his status as “never married.”
Ty’s Dream Girl
Ty, however, does have an idea of what his ideal partner would be like. He revealed that he needs someone with “a sense of humor and a natural honesty.” She would also “[love] to laugh and [would be] comfortable in her own skin.” Nevertheless, he got candid as it dawned on him that he couldn’t be sure he knew who he was, adding that he likes “women who are self-sufficient. A woman who actually has the drive to do stuff around the house- that’s awesome.”
Six Pack At Fifty
Pennington can definitely say that some of his energy comes from keeping fit, even in his 50’s. He has maintained his exceptional physique through a strict regimen that includes a daily run on the beach, followed by yoga, as well as an afternoon bike ride. Pennington likes to refer to yoga has “groan-gah” named for the sounds he makes while stretching. He accompanies this with a healthy diet of “fresh squeezed tangerine juice, coconut water, arugula … salsa and guac” among other things.
For those who are still wondering why Pennington seems to have disappeared from the spotlight, you might be looking in the wrong places. Recently, Ty began co-hosting a TV program on Food Network alongside celebrity chef, Amanda Freitag, who is a frequent judge on Chopped. Their show is called American Diner Revival, and involves the two of them revamping failing diners. Pennington renovates their space while Freitag updates their menu. The caveat, however, is that the two need to keep the feel “authentic.”
Another Shocking Revival
Fans of Trading Spaces, rejoice! The show is yet another that is seeing a reboot, even years after it went off the air. Additionally, Ty has agreed to come back to the show alongside his former cast members. In announcing the news, the ever exuberant Pennington exclaimed, “We’re getting the band back together!” He followed up with a more detailed statement, saying, “I’m so excited to see some of their faces. I mean, I haven’t seen some of these people literally in decades!”