Talking to Ty

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host and design guru Ty Pennington shares his secrets of design inspiration, this year’s hot trends and tips you can use in your own home.
International Exposition Center (I-X Center),
6200 Riverside Drive
(state Route 237 near
Hopkins International Airport)

Feb 6: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Feb 7: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Feb 8: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Feb 9: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Feb 10: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Feb 11: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Feb 12: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Feb 13: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Feb 14: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

$11 - when purchased
online at greatbighomeand

$13 - adults at the door

$4 - children ages 6 to 12

Free - children 5 & younger
Q: Why are you involved with the Great Big Home and Garden Expo?
Ty: I love doing great big anything. I’m into the big, extreme things. When it comes to homes, I understand them. I am building one every four days. Even in this tough economy, people are still interested in their homes because they are creating a nest. When you to go to big home shows, especially like the one in Cleveland, you get to see the future of homes. You get to see what materials are being used for countertops, cabinets, flooring. You also get to learn new ways to save money in your house.

Q: Is there anything you are really excited about at this year’s show?
Ty: There are so many things that are green oriented that are made from sustainable products. All these things save money on your bills. It’s not just about picking out a new piece of furniture; it’s also about how to reduce the bills in the home you already have.

Q: Where does design inspiration come from, and how would you tell someone to find it?
Ty: It comes from so many different things. Nature I think is one of the biggest. There are so many patterns in nature that are soothing — like wood or a flower or even a butterfly. It’s also the experiences and the people, seeing a pattern in something simple like a radiator cover. There is something about bringing the elements of nature inside your home, whether that’s a repeat pattern that is part of wallpaper or a cool pattern cut into your headboard.

Q: What is the first thing someone should consider when tackling a home-design project?
Ty: The first thing someone should consider is can they finish. Some people are gung ho, and they want to start but get over their head too quickly because they are jumping to the finish before they go through all the preparation steps. Any project takes three times longer than you think it does. You have to be careful not to take on something that’s above your experience level. Remember your budget and stick to it.

Q: Do you see any design trends emerging for the coming year?
Ty: Eco is everywhere, whether it’s wallpaper used with water-based inks, reclaimed lumber that you can make furniture out of or more. Because of the era we’re in, there are the gray and muted tones going back to the ’30s and ’40s, sort of almost a Grapes of Wrath feel. But there are also the ’80s bright, beautiful colors that are popping off that gray neutral. So there are two things going on — going back and bare-bones basics. It’s sort of shabby chic going even further, bare-bones, stripped-down elements of style paired with a bright throw.

Q: Do you have any design rules?
Ty: My design rules are have plan A, plan B and plan C, especially with my kind of deadlines. Try not to overthink because it bogs you down. Sometimes you have to step back and remember, if you keep it simple, you really can’t go wrong. Try not to be too busy. It’s important to remember to leave a space that doesn’t have anything going on. It’s a moment of air. You have to give everything, including wall space, a moment to breathe. If you let things be natural with pops and touches of things, it’s so much more enjoyable.

Q: Are there key design mistakes people make?
Ty: Overdoing anything. Following what everyone else is doing sometimes is a mistake because it’s not really you. It’s something you like but it looks like someone else’s home. It’s important to remember that we can all walk into our closets, and we can all know what materials we like to put on our bodies. We all know what we look good in because we go to our closets every day. But I think people worry when it becomes their home. They aren’t sure what fabrics to pick out and what colors. If you wear blue jeans and khakis, chances are you are going to like a casual style of living. If you’re a suit person, think about the color choices you’re putting on as a tie because that might be the [color of the] throw pillow to put on your couch. It doesn’t have to be that difficult. Sometimes you have to progress or you stay stagnant.

Q: What are must-have products in the market?
Ty: Everything is going toward personalizing. We have our iPhones and our gadgets that we carry around and have to put on chargers. When we design stuff now, we have to think about that. You can still have that rustic feel but open it up more. Things are becoming more customized for the people. I try to let people pick out a pattern that is going to be on the furniture. I think anything that has more than one function is really big, too. Have a surprise.

Q: What gets the most bang for a home-owner’s buck?
Ty: A lot of paint really does go a long way, but what I mean by that is you don’t have to just get one gallon of paint and put one color on the wall. What I mean is take that gallon of paint and create a stencil or a pattern on the wall. Do something original, whether it’s ivy on the wall or a pattern you are repeating. Take some photos and blow them up and put them on the wall. Sometimes it can be Xeroxed copies. It’s adding a little freshness to what’s there.

Q: If you could give someone just one design suggestion, what would that be?
Ty: Make sure that your home is open. When you walk in a room, you should not be faced with the back of a couch. I think it’s important that when you walk into a room you should immediately feel like you can walk into certain spaces and there is comfort. Always try to make it welcoming. That wall you see when you walk in should define who lives there, whether it’s photos of people or instruments. It should represent the people. Some people call it feng shui; I call it leaving it open.
Share this story: