The new kid on the home repair block
A city boy, Jonathan Knight has always been drawn to farmhouses. The solitude, simplicity and peacefulness of life on a farm – and all that goes with it – are things that have always appealed to the native Bostonian and longtime member of New Kids on the Block.
His passion for farmhouses and fixing them up is on display in his new HGTV series “Farmhouse Fixer.” Premiering Wednesday, March 3, the hourlong series follows Knight – who has renovated more than 200 homes – as he brings his considerable experience and construction know-how to bear on centuries-old New England farmhouses in various states of need. In the six episodes, Knight sets out to preserve the home’s original craftsmanship and historic charm while also modernizing layouts, updating interiors and giving clients a home that can withstand the passage of another century or so.
It’s an endeavor that’s neither for the faint of heart nor the light of wallet as the simple task of installing a window can turn into a budget-busting debacle.
“With old construction, it’s a lot more involved,” Knight explains. “You know, you’re dealing with old houses. Just like us old people, we’ve got our creaky bones and we have to go to the doctors and get a tune up. And I think with old houses, too, it’s like you never know what you’re going to get into when you rip into the walls. So you know, you think it’s going to be a simple fix: ‘Oh, let’s put a window in this wall.’ And you take the old window out and you strip it back and then you end up having to redo the whole back wall because for the last hundred years water has gotten in there and rotted it all out.”
That was certainly the case in Wednesday’s premiere, when he took on a worst case scenario in Hollis, N.H., a suburb northwest of Boston. There, he was forced to tear down a section of the home because the foundation was crumbling so badly and the structure was so rotted that it was in danger of collapse. He could have saved the original building but to do so would have been far costlier than rebuilding from the ground up.
On the lighter side, there was the chicken coop on that same property, for which Knight let his imagination run wild, decorating it with wallpaper and even portraits of chickens in old-fashioned frames.
“That’s me at 2 a.m. just Googling images and wallpapers and (thinking), ‘Where can we use this and what can we do with this?’ ” Knight says with a laugh. “It’s fun. To me, it’s like music is an art and I’m so glad that I grew up around music and got to have a career. I really think remodeling houses and decorating is an art as well, so I’ve had a really charmed life being able to balance the two.”