‘Ty Breaker’s Ty Pennington on Design Therapy, Being Dazzled and More

Ty Pennington
Q&A
HGTV

Ty Pennington left the megaphone at home for his HGTV competition series Ty Breaker. But fear not as the original Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host still packed that signature enthusiasm. The new show follows Pennington as he helps homeowners decide whether to overhaul their current residence or renovate a different property to fit their needs.

The carpenter and designer presents plans to convince them to stay in their existing space. Alison Victoria, Grace Mitchell and Sabrina Soto counter pitch that a customized new place is the way to go. Here Pennington, the man of many hats, talks about why now is the right time for a Ty Breaker.

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It’s hard to believe you’ve never had your own show on HGTV. Why did it take so long?

Ty Pennington: Extreme Makeover was such a big show. We did over 224 homes for 10 years, so there really wasn’t a day off. I had to step away from TV for a little bit and focus on just being Ty. I built my own house, looked after my mom, and spent time with the family…I just wanted to wait for the right project that made sense. The other thing is with the new Extreme, they wanted to go with an all new cast. It was somewhat shocking, but all good.

It is amazing what can happen in a year. It does seem strange that this is the first time I’ve gotten a show on HGTV. But what’s really fun about Ty Breaker is it’s a pretty authentic show in a sense that we’re helping people make real decisions. What I wanted to do is help people out and have fun with a co host that has experience and is a little sassy and spicy. I didn’t realize it would be as fun as it was and the quality work we were able to do.

Ty Pennington

HGTV

It’s almost like two shows in one. First, you’re competing in each episode against these designers. Then if your plan gets passed over, you have to change gears and help support their vision.

Even on Trading Spaces, we were all so competitive with each other. That’s what pulled me in. I grew up with an older brother. We act like we’re not competing, but everyone is trying to dazzle everybody with their creativity. What I love about this show is you have to choose which side to go with, but we do find a way to team up and add a little bit of my ideas and her ideas. You get a mixture.

I’d be lying if I tell you I’m happy when they choose the other person’s plan. It’s fun though because it’s life. You may not win, but you have to find a way to work with the person. Same with a client. You find a way…I do always try to slide in my own thing. I use reverse psychology. It has worked in the past and still does well.

There are similarities to Love It or List It. What do you think makes Ty Breaker different?

I was never one to be thought of as just another thing. The idea that people have to decide if they are going to stay in the place they have or move into another place. Everyone goes through that. It’s the reality of life. I just try to make it more entertaining. I live with the family a little bit and really get to know them and why they have certain issues with their house. Whether that’s brushing my teeth with the entire family or camping in their backyard or taking a shower in their private shower.

Let’s just say I get up close and personal with the families we are helping. Just because I think that’s the best way to understand what needs to change but also you get to understand who they are. They understand you too. It adds fun to the show. Let’s just say there is no private area I won’t go to really dive deep into what their situation is.

Ty Pennington on 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'

HGTV

You’re rolling up the sleeves and returning to your roots here. That had to be fun.

You can tell it’s really great for my conditioning as well. To try and demo a kitchen in 30 seconds is amazing. I love doing it. These guys are going to have to edit out so much of my craziness because usually I’m way over-the-top. I just enjoy making a bunch of noise. I always have. There is natural comedy that comes with that as well.

Do you feel the pandemic really brought this boom for the home renovation business?

I’ve seen more people doing renovation projects on social media than ever before because we’re all looking at the same walls at home. When you’re stuck in a room that looks the same, we all want to make changes just to make it feel like a fresh new room.

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There is a joy that comes to finishing a project that makes you feel like you accomplished something. That elevation of emotion you feel is happiness. The opposite of what we’ve experienced with COVID. It really is design therapy.

Ty Breaker premieres, January 11, 9/8c, HGTV