TV home-repair guru and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host Ty Pennington -- who from 2000 to 2004 was one of the carpenters on TLC's Trading Spaces -- offered observations on today's home-renovation market and the changing attitudes toward home as shelter instead of a commodity to resell as quickly as possible.
"The real estate market has changed, and not for the better. Instead of buying a house and flipping it as fast as you can, people expect to stay for a while, which means the art of 'nesting' is back," he said in a phone interview.
"The home is now a place you want to be, so you can personalize instead of keeping everything neutral so it will sell quickly -- warm and cozy instead of clean and ready to go," Pennington says. That means you can do "unique things" -- wall treatments and unusual textures and colors to walls and floors -- "creating long-lasting projects."
Although people may not be focusing as much on expensive cabinetry and high-end countertops, the kitchen is still the center of the house, he says.
"And as the kitchen becomes less of a place for food preparation, homeowners are looking for ways to open up the kitchen to adjacent rooms to create larger spaces for social interaction."
Rooms are being used for more than one thing today, he says. "For example, a dining room that isn't being used all the time can have other purposes, like an office, because a lot of people are working more from home."
Pennington is into good design -- "revolutionary design, it is something for which I really have a passion," he says. A recent affiliation with the makers of Similac baby formula also has him promoting good nursery design.
Painting is a common way to prepare a house for a new baby -- and is one of the jobs Pennington believes people should tackle themselves.
"Painting a wall is a good project, if you put down dropcloths and are neat about it," he says. "When it comes to electrical work or plumbing, you need to call in the professionals, although it is a good idea to watch what they do and learn all about the job so maybe, if it is a small and easy thing -- not major wiring -- you might be able to try it the next time.