GETTING DOWN WITH HGTV'S “DOWN TO THE STUDS”
Let’s first start with how these two caught the home renovation bug. For PJ, home renovation was both an academic and a family affair. While getting his degree in construction management, he immediately put his learnings into practice by building and renovating alongside his mom and her contracting business. As for Thomas, his love for home and interior design ran deep as he was always painting his mom’s house as a kid. One of the first things PJ and Thomas found in common was that they both had been “watching HGTV religiously since we were 10!”
So theirs was a marriage made in heaven, and written in the pages of The World of Interiors!
When the two met, PJ was three years into flipping houses on his own and was excited to involve Thomas in his projects. “As our relationship grew, so did our working on projects together,” said PJ. “What was great as we were getting together was how much we’d say [about home projects]: ‘oh, you like that? I like it, too,’ or we’d always agree on paint colors.” “We were able to build on each other’s skills,” Thomas continued.
So, with an eye for houses with “great bones,” and the ability to spot a good deal, the two developed their outstanding talent for transforming houses into homes. “The last two we did, weren’t even on the market,” PJ answered when asked how the two start their process. “Most of the time the houses are empty because they are in such bad shape.”
PJ’s skills include understanding space and “being really good at floor plans” according to Thomas, so the two know what they are going to do to a house on the first walk-through. “We will have assessed the house and made a list of what we have to do and want to do and set a budget,” PJ pointed out. Helping set the budget requires them to “know what you’re purchasing and knowing [your] limitations.” The two really look to the market comps to determine how much they should invest in any given project. And, they always allow for a budget crisis, because every renovation project will have one, no matter how great the inspector!
Next up, boys-will-be-boys and with plans in hand, the two take to demoing the house right away. “We’ve been known to do demo on the day of closing,” PJ said. These studs are up for bringing their homes down to the studs. (We just couldn’t resist!!)
While the design of each house is unique, PJ and Thomas do focus on a handful of design elements for all houses: kitchens and bathrooms, overall flow and having a master bedroom on the ground floor! PJ points out what “you’ve heard a thousand times, updated kitchens and bathrooms are what people really look for when buying a house.” But, as Thomas says: “older houses are choppy and have small openings,” so there’s always room to improve the flow of a house. And, the real deal-closer is the master bedroom on the ground floor. “People like to envision that they will grow old in a house,” PJ says about the master bedroom. “I’ve seen houses not even make it past a first viewing because they don’t have this.”
By contrast, PJ and Thomas say not to spend a lot of energy in making your basement a showstopper. “Even on an appraisal, basements don’t price as high on price per square foot,” PJ highlights.
Then, boys-will-be-boys-who-like-boys and PJ and Thomas’ focus turns to applying their design aesthetic, which they describe as being “old school and classic.” As Thomas describes, “we want our designs to stand the test of time and not be something you have to redo in 20 years.” And, what that means is, among other things, walls! “We love walls because we like a designated area for the kitchen and dining room and living room.” Great rooms are great until you have to look at the dirty dishes in the sink while you watch TV!
And, while they will appreciate the trend of subway-tiled backsplashes, they avoid accent walls made of shiplap, and especially stay away from chocolate-colored floors. For PJ, “dark floors are beautiful for pictures, but to live with them is miserable! The upkeep is not easy.”
Now, how does a team of home-renovating husbands land a show on HGTV?! Simple: start an Instagram account. “We really just started it to share our lives and document renovating the house we were living in,” said Thomas. PJ went on to say: “Once the opportunity presented itself, we were excited to be husbands on TV and having the gay community be excited about the show,” Ultimately, the two jumped at the chance and responsibility of representing the gay community on HGTV and being the first same-sex couple to host on the channel. But, at its core, the show is about a diverse group of people – PJ and Thomas, his gay sister and a British “Jill of all trades”- coming together to tackle a challenge. “Our message is really about inclusion,” Thomas affirms.
And, the challenge this group takes on in the first episode is Thomas’ childhood home! “It was my dream project!” We won’t say too much more as we want you to experience Down to the Studs for yourselves on Monday, July 17th. Check your local HGTV listings.
Thanks to how in love PJ and Thomas are with each other and the houses they design, they really lend new meaning to the phrase “home is where the heart is.”
Editor’s Note: One episode in and we are HUGE fans of Down to the Studs. But, it takes a village to renovate a house and make a hit show so we want everyone in the Men’s Vows community to tune into Down to the Studs on Monday, July 17th – check your local listings for exact air times – and watch the WHOLE EPISODE!!
The first airing was a success, but the second one will be through the roof if we watch every minute of PJ and Thomas’ studly design antics! HGTV is focused on audiences “holding” across commercial breaks and episode segments, so let’s help PJ, Thomas and Down to the Studs give every other hit show on HGTV a run for their money!