The real reason we don't hear from Ty Pennington anymore

Ty Pennington got his humble start in television as the designing hunk on Trading Spaces in the early 2000s. For a while, it was impossible not to see Pennington on television or to hear his interior-decorating advice. After releasing several design books and building an empire, the handyman virtually disappeared from the spotlight. From a nasty DUI to some misfired TV projects, here are the reasons why few hear from Pennington anymore.  

He's still embarrassed over his DUI

While Pennington was helping out families on national television, he was clearly on a path of self destruction. On May 5, 2007, Pennington was arrested for driving under the influence in Los Angeles, reports People. His blood-alcohol level was .14 percent, well over the legal limit of .08 percent. He apologized for his actions saying, "I made an error in judgment. We all make mistakes; however, this is about accountability. Under no circumstances should anyone consume alcohol while driving. I could have jeopardized the lives of others and I am grateful there was no accident or harm done to anyone. This was my wake-up call."

He also apologized to his employer ABC for his behavior saying, "I also want to apologize to my fans, ABC Television and my design team for my lapse in judgment and the embarrassment I have caused."

People later reported he plead no contest to DUI charges and received 36 months probation, fined $1,500, and was ordered to undergo a 90-day alcohol education program. After enduring embarrassing court procedures and countless headlines pointing to his mistake, Pennington said, "I'm happy to bring closure to my recent court proceedings… Drinking and driving is never acceptable. I have pleaded no contest and will abide by the court's ruling. I hope this experience can help others as much as it has helped me."

He's had a life-long battle with ADHD

Pennington is perhaps one of the most animated and active people on television. As the host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Pennington was clearly energetic. But it wasn't until recently that he confessed his energizer-bunny personality is caused by his attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It's a disorder he's had to both endure and learn to manage his entire life.

"I see a psychiatrist … Medication has helped," Pennington told The Huffington Post about his current state. "It's something that's worked for me for several years in small doses." Although Pennington has it largely under control, he may still come across as hyper. "Hyperactivity is just one aspect of ADHD" he added. "There's distractibility and there's impulsivity. I was the type of kid who would jump off a building — not only would I get a rush from it, people might laugh and think it was cool. I'm that kid and you don't really grow out of it."

He was brutally honest about how his disorder can affect not only his professional life on television but his private life. "It affects the way you communicate," Pennington told the site. "Not only that, but if you can't pay attention to someone who's trying to tell you something and then you forget that they even said it, they think that you may not even care. Imagine what that's like with not only your relationships at home, but at work."

'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' was axed

After an astounding 202 episodes, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was officially canceled by ABC in 2012. The show, which grew to tremendous fame, tore down and rebuilt economical and sustainable homes for deserving families each week. As Pennington described to Parade, leaving the show behind wasn't easy. But he grew from the experience.

"I think what Extreme taught me is that as an artist, what you create with your hands has a lasting difference and actually makes someone's life better," he said. "It's something that I'll always be proud of." And he misses the show, saying, "Of course, are you kidding me? That's my family." Despite being yanked from the air, Pennington hasn't given up on helping families in need get beautiful, well-crafted homes that are life changing. As Parade notes, Pennington is searching for a more affordable way to do the show.

But since then, Pennington has managed to get rest and turn his attention to his family. "My friend recently said, 'Oh my God, dude. You look rested.' Now, I actually have a chance to try to get some of the things in my life in order," Pennington clued in. "When you're on that show, you're literally traveling every three days. Everything is on hold until you can get back to it. So I'm trying to reconnect with my own family and breaking ground on a sustainable home I'm building for myself in northern Florida."

He hosted a failed 'Revolution'

Pennington thought his prime time magic would carry over into daytime television, but he was terribly mistaken. For just six months he was part of the ABC talk show The Revolution, which aimed to totally transform a person's life through style, health, physical fitness, mental health, and environment. Pennington, who helped in the interior decorating area, was joined by fellow co-hosts Harley Pasternak, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, Dr. Tiffanie Davis, and style guru Tim Gunn.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, it debuted in January 2012 and ended in July of that year. And in terms of ratings, the show didn't do so well compared to other shows in the same late-morning time slot.

As Tim Gunn said, the show was doomed from the start. "That show almost killed me," Gunn frankly told USA Today. "To be perfectly honest, it was a matter of too many cooks in the kitchen — too many ABC executives with too many different points of view." He also shared the cancellation hit everyone hard except him. "When they announced we were canceled, I was the only of the five hosts who was doing the happy dance around the studio."

'On the Menu' got 86'd

In 2014, Pennington joined TNT to launch On the Menu, which co-starred celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. The competition cooking show offered home cooks from around the nation an opportunity to create spectacular culinary dishes for restaurant chains, stadium concession stands, or other big businesses. The winning dish would be made available to viewers the very next day, reports Deadline.

For those who thought Pennington was only good at using chainsaws and putting up wallpaper, he proved them wrong with this show. "I can juggle several things at once," he told the Wall Street Journal about the show's debut. "I love food. My brother's a wine guy so I've been involved in food a long time." Pennington says he learned to cook as a child because his mother was a full-time student and worked at night. "We grew up with the worst cook ever," he dished. "And I think that's why my brother and I became decent cooks because we're like, 'There's no way we're going to pass this on.'"

Despite his obvious passion for food, and Lagasse's trademark "BAM!," it wasn't enough to save the show. After just 10 episodes, it was pulled from the airwaves.

His Food Network show appears to be in limbo as well

In 2015, Pennington got to combine both of his previous jobs — interior designing and cooking. He and Amanda Freitag became the co-hosts of the Food Network's American Diner Revival. Together the pair traveled across the nation to renovate and essentially save diners — all to the surprise of the owner. Freitag worked to improve the menu while Pennington broke out the sandpaper to smooth out the diner's interior design and overall appearance.

Though the show was well-received — It currently has a 7.9/10 rating on IMDb — it seems to be in some sort of a holding pattern. As of this writing, there have only been two seasons and a combined total of 22 episodes, the last of which aired on March 18, 2016. According to the cancellation-tracker website, TV-Release-Dates.com, there has been no official cancellation statement from Food Network, but the lengthy gap between the end of season two and now doesn't bode well.

He's hawking patio furniture

In 2013, Pennington brought his first-class designing skills to Sears. He teamed up with the big box store to launch his very own collection of outdoor patio furniture. It was the first time Extreme Makeover: Home Edition fans could get their hands on a piece of style created exclusively by Pennington. It was also the first time Pennington was able to give America what it had been wanting for years.

"Nothing really brings family and friends together quite like an outdoor gathering," Pennington opened up in a video for Sears. "And the right setting is key. Furniture accessories can completely transform your space. Sears has products that fit every style and every taste. Whether it's country, eclectic, modern, you name it. There's one style and design for you."

He's incredibly active with community outreach

Pennington recently teamed up with Sears to launch the Building Community Together initiative, which renovates local landmarks to better serve communities. At the start of the project, Pennington lent his handyman skills to renovate a 100-year-old church and three homes in Tampa, Florida.

"The other cool thing is with Sears Home Services we're employing over 1,000 people nationwide, which is great," Pennington told DoItYourself.com of his new project. "People are trying to bring jobs back to the community. It's not just happening here in Tampa. We're going to hit Chicago, Sacramento, Philadelphia, and we have the entire year to do other projects in the community. I've done things with Sears before — built a house for a family after Sandy up on the Jersey coast. I love doing what I can — giving back to the community. The impact I think will be pretty phenomenal. You have all kinds of people in the community all cheering. It's sort of like an Extreme Makeover."

He's working in impoverished areas on behalf of Abōd Shelters

Since 2014, Pennington has been quietly involved with the Abōd Shelters Foundation, a charitable organization whose mission is to provide sustainable, quality housing to areas in need around the world. Though Pennington doesn't do much press regarding his affiliation with Abōd, others have sung his praises.

Ginny Shiverdecker, a designer, blogger, and Abōd Shelters Executive Director, recounted her experience with Pennington and Abōd during a 2016 trip to Tanzania where they spent seven days assembling 12 Abōd structures for the benefit of "STEMM, a medical ministry NGO from Sioux City, Iowa." She revealed that Pennington had spent "the past 18 months as our Goodwill Ambassador [for the Abōd Shelters Foundation]" and helped raise funds for five of the 12 structures.

STEMM Director Steve Meyer told the Sioux City Journal that Pennington possibly had plans to turn his work with Abōd into a reality series. "I guess you can call it Ty's Tanzanian Transformations," Meyer joked.

As of this writing, that series hasn't happened, although Pennington did document his Tanzania trip with a few Instagram photos. He also spoke at the 2016 International Builders Show about his shared passion for Abōd's mission. "As I travel the world, I see a huge unmet need for sustainable, low-cost housing for families living in poverty in places like Africa but also here in America where so many go homeless. The Abōd Shelters Village of the Future is a forward looking idea that provides not only secure homes but an emotionally healthier environment for children to grow up."

He's the celebrity spokesman for a land development firm

In 2017, Philadelphia-area home builder Peter B. Rotelle announced the formation of his new land development firm, Studio E. Along with developing a proprietary algorithm that streamlines the byzantine process of applying for all of the necessary permits to improve a piece of undeveloped property, Rotelle also secured Pennington as Studio E's "celebrity presenter," according to The Inquirer.

"He's a great character. He's extremely creative," Rotelle said of Pennington, who also claimed to be "pretty stoked" to be on board. The problem is that while this is obviously a nice, cushy gig for Pennington, it doesn't seem to be a compelling concept to build a TV show on.

"We've set up a system that's completely, with a red bow, turnkey for someone to buy a custom home on a lot. I looked at the inventory in our marketplace, meaning land and lots. There was a tremendous amount of lots in the multiple listing service for sale by individual people," Rotelle explained. "Single-family lots are so complicated with today's regulations. It's almost like a miniature development project to get a permit — stormwater management. Twenty-five years ago, you could go in with a two-page plan and get a building permit. Today, it's a fully stamped, engineered, architectured plan that could be 25 pages thick. It's extremely complicated. We make that completely seamless. We have an algorithm called lot scrubbing, which we have trademarked."

So, this would potentially be a series focused on a computer program filling out permits? Not exactly the stuff Emmys are made of.

He's returning to 'Trading Spaces'

Pennington basically got his start on reality TV on the TLC series Trading Spaces. In fact, he even goes so far as to credit Trading Spaces with the entire DIY home renovation boom of the early 2000s, which served to launch not only Pennington's career, but also those of many other TV designers and builders.

Speaking with Inspired Living in December 2016, Pennington said, "But more importantly [than being good television], what really changed in the DIY world, is that for the first time we put tools in the homeowners' hands. So for the first time you saw actual people doing the work themselves instead of professionals, and they were actually doing it." Pennington continued, "So that revolutionized it and next thing you know, Home Depot stocks went through the roof. So Trading Spaces changed the face of DIY for sure."

It's no surprise then, that when TLC announced the return of the series in July 2017, including longtime host Paige Davis as well as many of the original designers, Pennington was also on board. In his typically cheeky way, Pennington teased his return to the rebooted series with a November 2017 Instagram photo of a mysterious TLC clapboard with the caption, "In a world where space is traded…#classified #film #studio #atl #live #action #usualsuspects #cast #crew #tlc #comingsoon #life #unscrpited."

Here's hoping Pennington's return to his TV roots may also serve as a refresher for his seemingly stagnating reality TV career.