Ty Pennington came to fame for his role as a hunky carpenter on TLC’s Trading Spaces, which helped land him his most notable gig: host of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for nine seasons of emotional, feel-good home transformations.
In early 2021, Pennington returned to television with HGTV’s Ty Breaker. According to HGTV’s announcement, the eight-episode series features Pennington lending a hand to homeowners faced with a life-changing choice: should they renovate their existing home to better suit their current needs, or move to a new home that will be completely customized to address the issues they’re dealing with in their current domiciles? “Do they move,” Pennington declared in a teaser, “or improve?” The ante is upped with other HGTV stars competing against Pennington by trying to persuade the family to move to the new place that they’ll renovate just for them. Once the family makes their decision, Pennington and his guest team up to pull off an epic home makeover. “I loved meeting so many awesome families and helping them decide on their future home,” Pennington declared.
Find out all there is to know about Pennington’s exciting HGTV series by reading further to explore the untold truth of Ty Breaker.
Ty Breaker is Ty Pennington's first project for HGTV
After a brief stint as a male model, Ty Pennington revealed in an interview with Fox News, he landed some TV commercials, and eventually an audition for TLC’s home-renovation series Trading Spaces. The loose, easygoing nature of the show was a perfect showcase for Pennington’s charming personality, and he proved to be a standout.
After several successful seasons, Pennington was tapped to host ABC’s spinoff of its controversial plastic surgery reality show, Extreme Makeover. The new series, titled Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, was an out-of-the-box hit, enjoying an impressive nine-season run until its cancellation in 2011.
Despite two solid decades spent within the TV home-renovation genre, Pennington had never had a show on HGTV. As Pennington told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, fans assumed he must have had some sort of HGTV presence along the way, yet that hadn’t been the case. Ty Breaker, in fact, marked his first project for the network. (He did, however, make a few guest appearances on the rebooted 2020 version of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, noted The Wrap, which aired on HGTV, not ABC). “I’m happy with it,” Pennington said of Ty Breaker. “It’s very authentic.”
The concept of Ty Breaker came before the title
As The Wrap reported, Ty Breaker boasts “a pretty cool concept and a really good title,” incorporating host Ty Pennington’s name right into it. This led to the question of whether the idea for the show or the Ty Breaker moniker came first. Speaking with the outlet, Pennington laid that to rest. “The concept for the show came first and once we realized how important a big change to a certain area of the family’s home was… we realized it really was the Ty Breaker in which design they eventually chose to go with,” he explained. Pennington admitted he also agreed with The Wrap‘s assessment of the title’s coolness, admitting, “let’s face it — it’s a great title.”
In fact, as Pennington pointed out, to the best of his recollection he couldn’t think of any other HGTV series to have been branded with the host’s name in the show’s name. “So the fact that they did it, I was blown away,” he continued. “I was like, wow, that’s a bold move.”
Ty Breaker features special guests from other HGTV shows
Adding a little extra fun to Ty Breaker are the special guests who join host Ty Pennington to serve as his adversaries. These rivalries, of course, are friendly ones, with stars of other HGTV series tasked with convincing homeowners to move into the swanky new pads they specially design for them. Meanwhile, Pennington tries to convince them to stay put and redesign their existing place.
In the first season of Ty Breaker, Pennington found himself competing against Alison Victoria (Windy City Rehab), Grace Mitchell (One of a Kind), and Sabrina Soto (The High Low Project).
Discussing the show with PopCulture, Pennington praised his guest stars. Noting that he’d worked with Soto previously on Trading Spaces (“I knew that she was a firecracker,” he said), Pennington admitted he wasn’t sure what to expect with the other two designers, but quickly became impressed after getting to know them. “When I met Grace, I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ The warmest, sweetest, human being, but also super-competitive,” he recalled. “And then Alison, oh my God. She is… Talk about a firecracker. She’s like an M-80.”
Some viewers think Ty Breaker is a ripoff of another HGTV hit
When Ty Breaker hit the air, some viewers noticed that the show’s concept was similar to that of another HGTV show… very similar. “Tybreaker on @hgtv is basically a non David/Hillary Love it or List It,” one viewer tweeted, pointing out that Ty Breaker appeared to draw inspiration from Love It of List It, if not borrow the concept entirely. Another viewer noticed the same thing, tweeting, “#TyBreaker is literally love it or list it. And I prefer #LoveItOrListIt.”
At first glance, it’s easy to see where those comparisons come from. After all, Ty Breaker finds host Ty Pennington trying to convince homeowners dissatisfied with their current abodes to stay put and renovate, while his HGTV guest stars try to convince them to cut bait and find a new place. In Love It or List It, realtor David Visintin tries to convince similarly unhappy homeowners to get packing and move to one of the places he suggests, while designer Hilary Farr uses her considerable decor skills to persuade them to hang onto their existing home, which she redesigns to suit them better.
Ty Pennington responded to comparisons of Love It or List It
Given all the social media griping accusing Ty Breaker of ripping off fellow HGTV series Love It or List It, that was a topic that came up when Ty Pennington was interviewed by TV Insider about his new show.
Pennington sidestepped the comparisons, implying that the idea behind Love It or List It isn’t particularly unique. As he explained, the notion “that people have to decide if they are going to stay in the place they have or move into another place” is something that’s practically universal. “Everyone goes through that,” he said. “It’s the reality of life. I just try to make it more entertaining.”
One key difference Pennington highlighted between his show and that other one is that he actually spends a few days living with each family in order to really get a solid handle on the problems they’re experiencing with their homes. “Whether that’s brushing my teeth with the entire family or camping in their backyard or taking a shower in their private shower,” he said. “Let’s just say there is no private area I won’t go to really dive deep into what their situation is.”
Ty Pennington loves the competitive nature of Ty Breaker
Ty Pennington identified another big difference that sets his HGTV series Ty Breaker apart from the similarly conceived Love It or List It. In speaking with TV Insider, the interviewer described Ty Breaker as being “almost like two shows in one,” an assessment that Pennington heartily agreed with.
Noting that “we were all so competitive with each other” on Trading Spaces, even though it wasn’t a competition show, Pennington explained that Ty Breaker boasts both competitive and collaborative elements. “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,” he said.
However, Pennington also admitted that Ty Breaker tended to bring out his competitive nature. “I’d be lying if I tell you I’m happy when they choose the other person’s plan,” Pennington confessed. “It’s fun though because it’s life. You may not win, but you have to find a way to work with the person.”
Ty Pennington thinks Ty Breaker is a return to his roots
Ty Breaker doesn’t just mark Ty Pennington’s return to television, as he also believes that it represents a way for him to get back to his roots. “I also wanted to get back to what I really do best, which is make people’s dreams of the home they’ve always wanted to live in come true,” he told PopCulture, offering an example of how Ty Breaker is similar to the show that made him a celebrity, Trading Spaces.
According to Pennington, he had longstanding contacts at HGTV, and had “been playing around with ideas” that he could bring to the network for some time. In fact, there were several ideas batted around before both he and HGTV settled on the concept that would eventually become Ty Breaker. One of these rejected ideas, he explained, was “a show that has me with a female co-host that isn’t so lovey-dovey… But, I wanted something a little bit more salty, a little bit more sassy, a little bit more real-life conversations, including sarcastic insults to each other the way, well, real relationships are.”
Ty Breaker was filmed in Ty Pennington's hometown
The first eight episodes of Ty Breaker were filmed in Atlanta, the city in which Ty Pennington was born and raised. This, he explained to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, meant that he already had an existing connection with the neighborhoods in which he was working. “I had some type of geographical connection with every spot we shot,” he revealed. “We did one in Marietta that was one street over from where I grew up in the 1970s. It was nuts I could work on a house there.”
As the Journal-Constitution pointed out, Pennington had been spending more time in his hometown in recent years, even purchasing the historic Otis Building in Atlanta’s Castleberry Hill neighborhood, with plans of converting the former home of the famed elevator manufacturer into a residential-retail complex. According to Pennington, his hope is that the project is completed no later than summer 2021. “Castleberry Hill is a fun community,” he said. “There is diversity of spirit. People really love and care about the neighborhood.”
Ty Breaker's Ty Pennington loved working with his HGTV co-stars
Having other HGTV personalities appear on Ty Breaker to compete/collaborate with Ty Pennington not only brings added value to viewers, it also made the show immensely more enjoyable for the show’s star.
In an interview with People, Pennington revealed the single biggest thing that Windy City Rehab‘s Alison Victoria, One of a Kind host Grace Mitchell, and his Trading Spaces co-star Sabrina Soto (who also stars in HGTV’s The High Low Project) brought to Ty Breaker. “Sass!” he joked. “A lot of sass.” Pennington also offered a serious answer, noting that the three women “bring all the qualities that maybe I don’t have.” Pennington clarified by explaining that the women are “so confident in what they do,” pointing to the level of experience they each bring to the table. “When you’ve lived something long enough, you just know your instincts about certain designs and finishes,” he added.
Pennington also noted that each of the three designers has her own specific style, “which is great, because when you combine them with mine, [you get] a hybrid — or a Ty-brid, if you will.”
HGTV's Ty Breaker is all about keeping it real
When Ty Pennington interacts with his Ty Breaker guest stars Alison Victoria, Sabrina Soto, and Grace Mitchell, viewers may have noticed that it includes no shortage of chop-busting as they playfully rag each other during the competition. That, Pennington told News AKMI, was no accident. “I just love that we have verbal, spicy banter you don’t get on every HGTV show,” he explained. “I wanted to bring a little realness.”
That “realness,” as Pennington described it, ultimately brings about the best renovation the team can possibly produce; once the homeowner has made the decision to either renovate the new home or their existing one, Pennington and that episode’s guest designer then work together to bring their respective skills to each project. “As talented as we all are, another person’s vision and opinion can make your design even better,” Pennington explained.
Pennington summed it up best on the show. As TV Insider reported, in the series debut he quipped to Victoria, “I’m the beer, you’re the champagne. We make it work.”
Ty Pennington and Alison Victoria shared their top Ty Breaker tips
In a joint interview with the New York Post, Ty Breaker‘s Ty Pennington and Alison Victoria shared some of the key tips that viewers can pick up from watching the show. As Pennington explained, homeowners don’t need to break the bank in order to make a big impact on their domiciles. “Some of the small things really have a huge effect,” he revealed.
One thing that Pennington loves to see in a person’s home is a personal touch. “I love to see anything that says, ‘This is who I am,’ whether it’s dancing shoes hanging, whether it’s a cowboy hat on a wall,” he explained, admitting he enjoys being able to “immediately feel their personality” when entering someone’s home.
Victoria also offered her tip, advising homeowners who are sick of their kitchen cabinets to try painting them before replacing them. “I think people have fear around painting their cabinets, but it’s so easy — and if it’s done right, you can really make a difference,” she shared, suggesting “a bright, happy color — whatever that means to you.”
Don't expect to see Ty Pennington "screaming and yelling" on Ty Breaker
It’s not surprising that a show with his name right in the title would reflect Ty Pennington’s chill and laid-back personality. That’s why viewers of Ty Breaker won’t be seeing the show’s star having onscreen meltdowns or temper tantrums. “If you’re expecting me to be screaming and yelling a lot, you will not get that on this show,” he told Celebrity Page.
Truth be told, what would there be to yell about when Pennington is back on TV doing what he does best? “What I love is being back in my element and sort of helping people decide whether they’re going to stay in the place they are and fix that up, or move to a whole new place,” he continued.
In fact, Pennington admitted that starring in his own HGTV series more than 20 years after he banged his first nail on Trading Spaces is kind of mind-blowing, especially to a guy who never really saw himself having a career as a television host in the first place. “My 15 minutes turned into 15 years. Who knew?” he added. “It’s pretty humbling. It’s pretty amazing to see.”
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