The Untold Truth Of HGTV's Farmhouse Fixer

In January 2021, HGTV announced a new addition to its lineup of home improvement series: Farmhouse Fixer. According to the network's press release, the series introduced a very specific goal of "meticulously restoring centuries-old New England farmhouses that deserve a second chance," maintaining these home's historic character and charm while updating layouts and interior design.

Lending their expertise to this endeavor are Jonathan Knight and designer Kristina Crestin. In the six-episode first season, the duo tackle a farmhouse in New Hampshire that dates back to the 1700s. Additionally, Knight may be best known as a singer, yet HGTV's release pointed out that he's also personally renovated hundreds of similar homes, a niche for which he's come to develop a passion. "I love a good old farmhouse," said Knight in the announcement. "To me, being on a farm is a way of life. It's the real deal. Old farmhouses are disappearing off the landscape, but these are American treasures that should be saved."

With HGTV setting the premiere date as March 3, 2021, there's a lot that HGTV fans have to learn about this unique new offering. Keep on reading to discover the untold truth of HGTV's Farmhouse Fixer.

Farmhouse Fixer's host is a boy band superstar

Farmhouse Fixer host Jonathan Knight's name should be instantly familiar to anyone who ever screamed in delight at the famed boy band New Kids on the Block during the group's heyday in the late '80s and early '90s. Knight still regularly performs with NKOTB, alongside his brother Jordan Knight, and their bandmates Donnie Wahlberg, Joey McIntyre, and Danny Wood. "We've had such a great career, and to still be here 30 years later and playing arenas is something really special," Knight marveled in a 2019 interview with Columbus Underground

While it's Knight's musical talent that made him a celebrity, it's his love of restoring old farmhouses that brought him to HGTV; in fact, Knight's network bio notes that he's renovated 200-plus such properties over the years. "Restoring the American farmhouse is not just a hobby for me — it's my passion, my obsession and I've been doing it for more than 25 years," Knight revealed. "It's so easy to just go knock down an old house. It's way harder to renovate them so that families can enjoy them for years to come. That's the reason this work is so worth it."

Farmhouse Fixer was first announced back in 2018

While the debut of Farmhouse Fixer is set for March 2021, the show had actually been in the works for years before that. In fact, the first announcement came back in 2018, when an HGTV press release announced that host Jonathan Knight had signed on to shoot a pilot that would air sometime in 2019. Describing Knight as a an expert in restoring centuries-old homes, the release made a joking nod to one of his biggest New Kids on the Block hits by explaining that he'd be taking viewers "step-by-step" when he restores a farmhouse that's more than two centuries old. "Old farmhouses are American treasures," Knight said in the announcement. "Most have been in the same family for 200 years and have never been renovated. And they're disappearing fast. If we don't save them, they're going to be gone."

Knight's talent for farmhouse renovation is no secret to followers of his Instagram account, such as a 2018 photo documenting one of his projects as it progressed. Additionally, back in 2017, he shared a photo of himself mid-reno, writing in the caption, "When does that damn NKOTB tour start????"

Restoring farmhouses has been Jonathan Knight's passion for decades

While the member of a famous boy band may seem an odd choice to guide viewers through the complex process of restoring centuries-old farmhouses, New Kids on the Block star Jonathan Knight brings a lot of experience to the table for his role on HGTV's Farmhouse Fixer. Even before the first announcement for the show was made, Knight's social media accounts have been bursting with photos of his farmhouse restorations. In fact, he once posted vintage photos that his mother gave him, of his great-grandfather James Archibald Putman in the process of building a barn, "circa 1901," writing, "Now I know where my love for old barns came from."

According to HGTV's announcement, Knight had his hands full filming that first season. One of the biggest problems he needed to address was to "stabilize" an addition to the original structure that had been sinking. Another project involved transforming a dilapidated old tool shed into a combination potting bench and chicken coop, with other exterior projects including "everything from a goat enclosure to raised garden beds."

Designer Kristina Crestin is Farmhouse Fixer's secret weapon

Jonathan Knight doesn't pull off his amazing restoration efforts on HGTV's Farmhouse Fixer all by his lonesome; along for the restoration journey is designer Kristina Crestin, who brings her own farmhouse cred to the show. As her Instagram profile explained, Crestin runs a residential interior design firm that's based in New England. 

As Crestin wrote on the home page of her company's website, Kristina Crestin Design has taken on a wide array of different projects over the years, but she declared that "our true passion lies in designing farmhouses, modern farmhouses and coastal cottages." In fact, the site boasts photos from several of those farmhouse projects, including one dubbed the "Essex Farmhouse," which features salvaged materials she was able to integrate into the redesigned new kitchen. "I have a love affair with architectural salvage," Crestin explained in an interview with Scout & Nimble. "Layering in actual materials that are old or utilizing skills and craftsmanship that may be a lost art," she added, is something she tries to keep top of mind when developing a design to refresh an old farmhouse while remaining true to its architectural purity.

Farmhouse Fixer put out a casting call for homeowners on Boston's North Shore

Given that Farmhouse Fixer host Jonathan Knight and designer Kristina Crestin are both based in New England, it makes sense that the farmhouse being restored in the first season of Farmhouse Fixer would be situated nearby. In fact, as HGTV's website pointed out, the duo's first project for the show is a farmhouse in New Hampshire that dates back to the 1700s. 

Following the selection of that particular farmhouse, the show's producers were already at work seeking more farmhouses to fix. Back in February 2020, NorthShore Magazine reported that Farmhouse Fixer had put out a casting call specifically seeking farmhouses located on the North Shore of Boston. According to that casting notice, some pretty specific criteria was listed. Not only did the home's heritage have to date to before 1940, it also had to be located within a 50-mile radios of Ipswich, Massachusetts. There must also be a $150,000 renovation budget, which will involve "four or five spaces in each home." In addition, the homeowners must also be "comfortable" with the idea of moving out during the renovation, with Knight and Crestin then "taking the reins."

Jonathan Knight owns his own Farmhouse Fixer

He may be a celebrity, but Jonathan Knight avoided the temptation to move to Hollywood. In fact, he still lives pretty close to where he grew up: at his farm in Essex, outside of Boston, which he shares with husband Harley Rodriguez. Given his love of old farmhouses and his skill at fixing them up, it shouldn't be surprising that Knight's own home is a historic farmhouse that would have made an ideal subject for HGTV's Farmhouse Fixers

When Knight originally purchased the Essex property, he told the Boston Herald he decided to have the barn — which dates to the 1700s — completely dismantled and shipped to Maine. After it was painstakingly restored, it was then shipped back and reassembled. 

The sprawling property is Knight's pride and joy, but he admitted it also keeps him relentlessly busy. "It's never-ending," he shared of his homeowner's workload. "I always get these romantic notions." One of those, he revealed, was the impulsive online purchase of 100 seedlings, which he planned to plant so that one day, "I can have my romantic moment of cutting down a Christmas tree on my own property."

Jonathan Knight teased Farmhouse Fixer pretty heavily on social media

Given that the first announcement for HGTV's Farmhouse Fixer came more than two years before the show actually made it onto the air, Jonathan Knight had plenty of time to plug the project on social media. In fact, Knight's Instagram page was chock full of updates and teasers during those years. 

Knight first posted about the show on the day of HGTV's initial announcement on Instagram, writing in the caption, "It's been an amazing journey getting here. Looking forward to sharing this pilot with everyone." A few months later, in January 2019, Knight shared a photo of himself that was taken during filming of the pilot, which he described as being "the best thing ever." He then began posting about other HGTV stars, such as a post praising the new design line from Restored By the Fords' Leanne Ford. 

Other Farmhouse Fixer posts included a photo of a custom-made sign, bearing the show's title, that Knight had been given as a gift. Additionally, Knight shared a photo of himself posing with fellow HGTV personalities Christina Anstead (Flip or Flop and Christina on the Coast), David Bromstad (My Lottery Dream Home) and Windy City Rehab's Allison Victoria. 

Farmhouse Fixer isn't Jonathan Knight's first experience on a TV series

While Farmhouse Fixer marks Jonathan Knight's first HGTV series, he's far from a television neophyte. In addition to making numerous appearances on talk shows as part of New Kids on the Block since the '80s, Knight and husband Harley Rodriguez also appeared on CBS' globetrotting competition series The Amazing Race; they didn't last long, however, and were eliminated fairly early in the season. 

According to IMDb, Knight also starred in the 2015 to 2016 NKOTB reality show Rock This Boat. He also played himself (alongside the other members of NKOTB) in a 2016 episode of Fuller HouseNetflix's spinoff to beloved family sitcom Full House. Additionally, Knight made an appearance on Wahlburgers, the A&E reality show that followed the exploits of the burger chain owned by Knight's NKOTB bandmate Donnie Wahlberg and his brothers. 

Arguably Knight's most unexpected television appearance, however, was on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, when NKOTB became wrapped up in the case of a teenage girl who'd gone missing in 1987; in 1991, her mother spotted her in the audience while watching a video of a 1989 NKOTB concert.

Kristina Crestin brings her experience on an iconic series to Farmhouse Fixer

Jonathan Knight's co-star on HGTV's Farmhouse Fixer, designer Kristina Crestin, likewise had some television experience under her tool belt before joining the show. As she recalled in an interview with Scout & Nimble, prior to Farmhouse Fixer she'd brought her talents for lovingly restoring heritage properties to the PBS series This Old House – arguably the great-grandaddy of home improvement shows. 

Participating in a season of This Old House, Crestin said, was "where I got my feet wet on being both the interior designer and then being the talent that has to carve out time to do the filming as well." According to Crestin, she loved the experience. "That was my moment of feeling like I wanted to do more," she added.

Crestin's appearance on the show didn't go unnoticed, and producers reached out to her. And while she had discussions go "through the first stages of Skyping and interviewing," no concrete opportunities emerged until she received a call about Farmhouse Fixer. Not only was the premise right in her wheelhouse, she and Knight were already friends. When she was pitched the show, she recalled, "the answer was OF COURSE!"

Kristina Crestin landed on Farmhouse Fixer after winning HGTV's Designer of the Year

Not only were Kristina Crestin's interior design skills featured on This Old House, prior to being tapped for HGTV's Farmhouse Fixer she could claim another connection to the network. That came when she was voted HGTV's Designer of the Year for 2019, taking top honors for designing a beachfront cottage. 

As Crestin told Scout & Nimble, when she first received the email telling her she'd won, she initially "thought I won the 'living large in small spaces' category" before realizing she was the overall winner. "It almost didn't feel real — my first national award!" she admitted. 

Speaking with HGTV about the winning design that ultimately brought her to Farmhouse Fixer, Crestin described the look she was going for as "modern cottage," with plenty of vibrant pops of bright color. As Crestin explained, using such bold colors came from discussions with the homeowner, in which "the coastal feel was a starting point early on as we didn't want the home to be a modern palette of all black, white, and grey and not relate to its waterside location."

Kristina Crestin offered Farmhouse Fixer tips to bring an older home back to life

The underlying premise of HGTV's Farmhouse Fixer is to take old, outdated, and possibly even dilapidated old properties and restore them to their former glory — while also modernizing the look. For designer Kristina Crestin, this can a bit of a balancing act. "It's trying to meld modern-day functional needs with the visual and textural cues of antique homes," she explained in an interview with Scout & Nimble

According to Crestin, she treats each home's planes as the starting point. "So before thinking about decor we start with walls, ceilings, lighting etc. We think about how to take those old ideas and do something fresh without being too trendy," she explained.

Other important elements in Crestin's designer toolbox are paint and lighting. In terms of color, she suggested using color to paint trim around doors and windows, something that "can really add differentiation." She also advised that "decorative lighting selections" that feature "a new finish or a retro vibe" can go a long way in order to "add a new layer of interest and breath new life into a space."