Here's What To Know About HGTV's Small Town Potential

HGTV has proven particularly adept in recent years at finding fresh, new talent for its vast roster of home-renovation series. Joining such HGTV newbies such as Galey Alix of "Home in a Heartbeat" and Denese and Mike Butler of the outrageous "Fix My Frakenhouse," the latest personalities being introduced to viewers are Davina Thomasula and Kristin Leitheuser, stars of the new series "Small Town Potential." 

So what makes this show stand out from all those other HGTV series? According to HGTV's news release announcing the show, Thomasula and Leitheuser are former city dwellers who recently relocated to a quaint town in New York's picturesque Hudson Valley. Utilizing their combined expertise in interior design and construction, the dynamic duo assists families looking to live in the area by helping them first find the right home, and then works with them to craft an ideal design, inspired by the home's surroundings, which they bring to life with a meticulous renovation. "The Hudson Valley is full of unique and beautiful towns nestled along the Hudson River," said Thomasula in the release. "So many people are moving here, because each town has a lot to offer and so much potential."

The show brings viewers to a very specific and oh-so-charming part of the U.S., featuring some truly stunning historic homes, and holds the potential to become the next addiction for HGTV fans. To find out more, keep on reading, because here's what to know about HGTV's "Small Town Potential."

Small Town Potential focuses on a same-sex couple

"Small Town Potential" stars Kristin Leitheuser and Davina Thomasula aren't just TV co-stars and partners in the business of home renovation, they're also partners in life. The real-life couple, in fact, have been fiancées for some time now. "We've been engaged for four years and we're still navigating a wedding date," Thomasula told HGTV. "Everyone is wondering when we're going to get hitched, but we're so busy with all of our projects!" In fact, Leitheuser admits it's the number-one question the couple tends to get asked — but agrees that their life together has become so hectic that they haven't had any time to put their heads together to do any serious wedding planning. "But we have so much happening in our work life, we're taking all the other stuff day by day," she added.

It's probably not a coincidence that "Small Town Potential" debuted in June 2023 — during Pride Month — and the two are thrilled to be able to bring their unique brand of LGBTQ+ representation to HGTV. "We're the only two queer-identifying female hosts," Thomasula proudly declared. 

The couple shared their gratitude for the opportunity presented by HGTV in a heartfelt Instagram post. "This is what grateful looks like," Thomasula wrote in the caption. "Sitting in the experience of a lifetime and trying to just take it all in. What a ride so far. Coming soon to a [television emoji] near you!"

Small Town Potential is set in NY's Hudson Valley

As the aforementioned HGTV news release said, "Small Town Potential" is set in the Hudson Valley in New York. As viewers of the network may have noticed, it's not an area that typically gets a lot of airtime on HGTV, but has been receiving increasing attention in recent years; as Hudson Valley Magazine noted, 2022's "Home Town" spinoff, "Home Town Kickstart," was filmed in the Hudson Valley town of Cornwall.

For series stars Kristin Leitheuser and Davina Thomasula, the potential cited in the show's title is emblematic of the region, rife with opportunities for the couple and their particular set of skills. "The Hudson Valley is filled with fabulous old homes, farm stands, and mom-and-pop businesses, yet it's also an easy train ride into New York City," Thomasula told HGTV of why that area is such fertile ground for a new HGTV renovation series. "Even if you've lived here your whole life, you continue to discover new things you didn't realize existed."

This is evident in the series' very first episode, which takes viewers to the towns of Marlboro and Kingston. In the former, Thomasula helps a couple to find a stunning farmhouse that dates to the 19th century, with Leitheuser overseeing the renovation process. In the latter, the duo creates an artist's studio from an old attic. "Anyone with an imagination can restore some pretty amazing properties here," Thomasula added.

Small Town Potential stars Davina Thomasula and Kristin Leitheuser met in a bar

"Small Town Potential" couple Davina Thomasula and Kristin Leitheuser have their own meet-cute story. As Leitheuser told HGTV, she and some friends dropped by a New York bar where one of them knew the bartender — who just happened to be Thomasula. "I played it safe and ordered a Guinness," Leitheuser recalled, "and the rest is history."

Thomasula tended bar for more than 10 years, and had always fantasized about owning her own watering hole. That dream became a reality when she and her business partner, Megan Giometti, opened their bar, Goodnight Kenny, in Poughkeepsie, New York. The bar's name, Thomasula explained, is in honor of her father, Kenny, a musician who performs at night and sleeps during the daylight hours. "Goodnight Kenny is what we scream to him every time he goes for a nap," she said with a laugh. "It's a little bar — only about 700 square feet," added Leitheuser. "When you're there you feel like you're hanging out with people in your living room."

Speaking with the Poughkeepsie Journal, Thomasula revealed that the bar is imbued with history; back in the 1940s, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt imbibed there, when it was known as The Ritz. In its current incarnation, Thomasula is keen to let the place establish its own identity. "We want it to be the neighborhood bar and then we kind of just let the neighborhood create what it's going to become," she said.

Kristin's dad is a master carpenter who helps out on the show

While Davina Thomasula's dad inspired the name of her bar, life partner Kristin Leitheuser's father, Don, is an integral component of "Small Town Potential." As Leitheuser told HGTV, her dad is a master carpenter with four decades of experience, and lends his expertise to the renovation projects undertaken on the show. "I discovered my love of holding a hammer working beside him," she shared, crediting her father for her love of building and the skills she's picked up from him. Television, she pointed out, wasn't necessarily his forte. "This is a whole new world for him — he never thought he'd be part of this show!" she said. 

While Thomasula's family members may not physically appear on "Small Town Potential," their presence nonetheless permeates the show — as does the work ethic that they instilled within her. "I will always look up to my family. They're just so hardworking," she said.

In fact, both are close to their respective parents, with Leitheuser marveling at how much her folks have impacted her — and continue to do so. "As I get older, I realize I've inherited some great qualities from both of them, and they still influence how I do things," she said. "I'm so fortunate to have them in my life."

Don't expect much open-concept design in Small Town Potential

Viewers who watch HGTV's "Small Town Potential" are unlikely to see Davina Thomasula and Kristin Leitheuser taking sledgehammers to walls in order to create an open-concept design scheme in one of the Hudson Valley homes featured on the show. "We often work in older homes where there's no reason to knock down walls everywhere," Thomasula told HGTV. "A small room has such personality. I say embrace the low ceilings." 

As Leitheuser explained, she's inherited her father's propensity to restore an older home to its original glory rather than completely change the interior into something unrecognizable from what it initially was. "My dad and I like to restore things to their original form — and that often means appreciating the past and keeping rooms separate," she added.

However, the pair said, the anxiety of performing a renovation on time and within budget was magnified considerably by the fact that they were doing it for a television show that will potentially be seen by millions of viewers. "It can be stressful because you're not just battling your typical construction issues — there's an elephant in the room and that's the camera waiting to film," said Leitheuser, considering that neither she nor Thomasula had much prior experience in front of the camera. "Getting there was at times a grind," she said, "but in the end, we always delivered a great product to our clients."

Davina Thomasula is also a real estate agent and food blogger

As previously mentioned, in addition to her work in interior design, Davina Thomasula has more than a decade as a bartender under her belt. Thomasula, however, is a woman of multiple talents, and those are far from the only skills she's developed over the years. Another of these that is put to use in "Small Town Potential" is her role as a real estate agent, working with Keller Williams. According to her LinkedIn, she's been a licensed real estate agent since 2017, first in New York City and now in the Hudson Valley area. "I truly enjoy helping others where I can and not just in real estate," she says in her Zillow profile. "There is nothing more rewarding than hearing someone say, 'Thank you for your help.'"

Meanwhile, Thomasula has also made her mark as a food blogger. Several years earlier, Thomasula wrote about food on her site, ForkNPlate. The site originally reflected Thomasula's surroundings in New York City. Once she and Kristin Leitheuser made the move to Poughkeepsie, the blog adjusted accordingly; more recent entries focus on some of her favorite Poughkeepsie eateries, including coffee shops, pizza places, and craft breweries.

She also indulged her foodie passions via her YouTube channel, which was also titled ForkNPlate. "A place for food and drinks tips, neighborhood eats & beautiful homes with beautiful kitchens!" she wrote in the channel's description.

Kristin Leitheuser was a college basketball player-turned-coach

Before becoming a contractor and HGTV personality, Kristin Leitheuser was a top college athlete. Back in the 2007-2008 season, Leitheuser — then a sophomore — was a point guard/forward for the St. Francis College Terriers women's basketball team. According to the school's stats, she got an average of 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds in each game; in her best performance of the season, she scored 12 points in a single game and also nabbed nine rebounds. She also attended New York University Tandon School of Engineering, where she was a two-time competitor in the All-Skyline Conference. During her four seasons of NCAA basketball, Leitheuser scored an impressive 1,059 points, nabbed 637 rebounds, and made 174 assists.

As NYU Tandon School of Engineering reported, after graduating she was hired as assistant women's basketball coach at New Jersey City University for the 2011-12 season. 

During her career in basketball, as both a college player and in coach, Leitheuser sported a somewhat different look than she does in "Small Town Potential." "Most of my life I had long, blonde hair," she told HGTV. "I chopped it off almost five years ago."