Jeff Lewis Shows What Remodeling Is Really Like
BY Lucas Grindley
March 14 2012 4:00 AM ET
The perfectionistic, neurotic Jeff Lewis that Bravo viewers
first met during the boom times of house flipping is ready to remake the home
makeover show. And he’s not leaving anything out just for the sake of a “Disney
In Lewis’s new show, Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis, he and his indefatigable and entertaining
assistant, Jenni Pulos, move into clients’ homes for a weeklong remodel that is
intense on many levels. First of all, Lewis isn’t lowering his standards for
any time crunch.
Stress is evident on the show. Lewis says his producer quit
after one episode ended in a couple breaking up. During another episode, Lewis forces himself to complete the
remodel because, “I did not care for this woman at all.” The first installment debuts tonight at
9 p.m. as Lewis helps Felice and Michael put romance back in their
bedroom. Yes, he outright asks them when they last had sex.
Lewis isn’t one to mince words. And in an interview with The
Advocate, he talks about the ups and downs
of his new show, the state of his relationship, and why foster-adoption might
not work for him.
I just watched the show last night; I love it. I’ve never seen a design show
like it, and I’m gay so I watch a lot of them. There are a lot of rough edges
on display. I wonder if you think this is the more realistic version than the
cheery remodeling shows we see so often?
Jeff Lewis: It is. It is definitely more realistic.
You know, [Bravo President] Andy Cohen and I have been talking for years about doing a second
show. I was pitched several shows and none of them I really took to. But I
think the reason I liked this one is because it is kind of a reality hybrid. We
are committed to whatever happens, happens. We embrace the result.
I am very familiar with how these makeover shows work. There
is a lot of prep involved. People have floor plans, and they may go out
shopping, and in some cases they may purchase everything and put it in storage.
In our case, we have no prep. The day that I walked in, which was Monday
morning, I hadn’t seen the house before — which created an even higher level of
stress for me because not only did I need to formulate a game plan within 24
hours, I had to shop locally and find things that were in stock. I didn’t have
time to buy things on the Internet. Actually, I feel like it strengthened my
skill as a designer because I was forced to kind of make good on what I had.
Wow, no prep? Is that going to be the way it is all the
Yeah. Even if I wanted to do any sort of prep, we shoot Flipping
Out well into the first week of August. And
I’m assuming that if this show does well and it does get picked up, we would
immediately jump into Interior Therapy. I think you have to stick to the formula that works and no prep time
has worked for this show.
Another thing is we were not committed to a Hollywood
ending. Even if it wasn’t a happy ending, we just embraced it. There was one —
there is one particular show —where it isn’t a happy ending. The couple decided
to break up. And I’m most proud of that episode because I got into a
knock-down, drag-out fight with a producer who wanted to change the ending, who
wanted to put the happy, Disney ending on it. And I said absolutely not. This
is not what I signed up for. She ended up quitting by the way.
Yup, and we got a new producer. Because we were just not seeing eye to eye.
Well I’m glad it’s more realistic because it feels more
like how my remodeling goes.
Yeah, warts and all, right?
These makeover shows, it really creates these false
expectations because people expect remodeling to be so easy when you watch so
many of these HGTV shows and some of these other remodeling shows. And it’s not
easy, especially when you are working with clients. What I like too is it sheds
some light on what I go through working with clients. And it’s not easy.
Sometimes you reach people and sometimes you don’t.
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