Ty Pennington got his humble start in television as the hunky carpenter with an eye for design on TLC‘s Trading Spaces in the early 2000s. While he gained notable attention in that role, he skyrocketed to fame for his work as host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, winning not only numerous awards, but also critical acclaim for the philanthropic mission around the show (which was directly tied to Pennington).
For a while, it seemed impossible not to see Pennington on television or to hear about him in the media for one positive reason or another. But 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 we don’t seem to hear from Pennington anymore.
Ty Pennington’s still embarrassed over his DUI
While Ty Pennington was helping out families on national television, he was also on a path of self-destruction. On May 5, 2007, Pennington was arrested for driving under the influence in Los Angeles, as reported by People. His blood-alcohol level was 0.14 percent, well over the legal limit. He apologized for his actions, saying, "I made an error in judgment. … 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, 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 pleaded no contest to DUI charges and received 36 months probation, was fined $1,500, and was ordered to undergo a 90-day alcohol education program. After enduring embarrassing court procedures and countless headlines, Pennington said, "I’m happy to bring closure to my recent court proceedings… Drinking and driving is never acceptable," adding, "I hope this experience can help others as much as it has helped me."
Ty Pennington’s had a life-long battle with ADHD
Ty 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 2012 that he confessed his energizer-bunny personality is caused by his attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a disorder he’s had to learn to manage.
"I see a psychiatrist … Medication has helped," Pennington told The Huffington Post. "It’s something that’s worked for me for several years in small doses." Although Pennington has his ADHD 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."
He was brutally honest about how ADHD has affected his professional and personal lives, explaining, "It affects the way you communicate." He continued, "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."
Ty Pennington’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was axed
After 202 episodes, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was canceled by ABC in 2012. The popular show tore down and rebuilt economical and sustainable homes for deserving families each week. As Ty Pennington described to Parade in 2012, 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." Despite that show being yanked from the air, Pennington hasn’t given up on helping families in need get beautiful, well-crafted homes. Parade noted that Pennington was searching for an affordable way to do so.
Since then, Pennington has managed to rest and pay more 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, adding, "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."
Ty Pennington hosted a failed Revolution
Ty 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 Project Runway‘s 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."
Ty Pennington’s On the Menu got 86’d
In 2014, Ty 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, reported 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 said 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 ten episodes, it was pulled from the airwaves.
Ty Pennington’s Food Network show didn’t take off
In 2015, Ty 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 8/10 rating on IMDb — that didn’t stop it from ending. After two seasons and a combined total of 22 episodes, the last episode aired on March 18, 2016.
Ty Pennington hawked patio furniture
In 2013, Ty 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."
Ty Pennington’s incredibly active with community outreach
In 2014, Ty Pennington teamed up with Sears to launch the Building Community Together initiative in an effort to renovate 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, Fla.
"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 the 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."
Ty Pennington has worked in impoverished areas on behalf of Abōd Shelters
Since 2014, Ty 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 the affiliation, 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, jokingly calling it "Ty’s Tanzanian Transformations." As of this writing, that series hasn’t happened.
Ty Pennington became the "celebrity presenter" 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. Rotelle, and that it had secured Ty 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 claimed to be "pretty stoked." The problem is that while this was obviously a nice, cushy gig for Pennington, it doesn’t seem to be a compelling concept with which to hook fans.
"We’ve set up a system that’s completely, with a red bow, turnkey for someone to buy a custom home on a lot," Rotelle explained, adding, "Single-family lots are so complicated with today’s regulations. … We make that completely seamless. We have an algorithm called lot scrubbing, which we have trademarked." So, the business is focused on a computer program filling out permits?
Ty Pennington’s return to Trading Spaces
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 with an Instagram photo of a mysterious TLC clapboard with the caption, "In a world where space is traded…"
Ty Pennington wasn’t asked to host the Extreme Makeover reboot
In February 2020, the much-anticipated Extreme Makeover: Home Edition reboot premiered on HGTV, promising to fill the hole in fans’ hearts that was left when the beloved, feel-good home renovation series was canceled in 2011. However, as excited as fans were to get another installment of one of their favorite shows, they were likely a bit taken aback to find the show would be coming back without Ty Pennington, who famously hosted the series for its original nine-season run.
When Extreme Makeover: Home Edition made its return in 2020, Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson made his debut as the reboot’s host. Fortunately, while some fans might have been disappointed to not see Pennington on their screens, the former host wasn’t too upset about not getting the gig.
Speaking with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Pennington said, "To be honest, my ego wasn’t bruised." He revealed, "I went to the folks producing it and said, ‘Hey, man. I know you are not sure who the host will be. I’m totally okay with that." Pennington noted that he just wanted the series to be "authentic."
Ty Pennington lent his hosting talents to a series about small businesses
While Ty Pennington wasn’t chosen to return as host for HGTV’s reboot of the hit home renovation series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, it wasn’t because the famous television personality’s hosting skills were rusty from not being used. In fact, by the time the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition reboot made it to the air, Pennington had been busy hosting multiple seasons of another show, though you may not be too familiar with the series.
In October 2018, Season 3 of Deluxe Corporation’s series Small Business Revolution: Main Street premiered, with Pennington serving as co-host. Speaking with Forbes, Deluxe’s chief brand and communications officer Amanda Brinkman revealed just how the corporation had decided to get Pennington involved. "Going into season three we wanted to change things up a bit," Brinkman revealed. She continued, saying, "[Ty] is a renovation icon and is known for helping people and businesses with pretty tough renovations."
As Pennington revealed in an October 2019 Parade interview, he immediately loved his new gig. "When I found out about the show, I thought it was a genius idea," Pennington said. He continued, joking, "Of course, I was upset I wasn’t asked in the first season!"
Ty Pennington travels around the country for home shows
When Ty Pennington isn’t busy flexing his hosting muscles or keeping fans up to date on his daily adventures via Instagram, the former Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host is on the road, meeting and greeting fans all across the country.
Pennington often travels to cities across the United States for various home and garden shows, giving the iconic television personality a chance to share his knowledge and talk face-to-face with the people who have followed his on-screen home renovation career for years. Speaking with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Pennington said he enjoyed traveling cross-country for home shows. "It’s almost like doing stand up," Pennington said. He continued, telling the AJC, "I share stories. It’s pretty entertaining. I like that interaction between myself and the audience."
According to Pennington, the home shows also offer ample opportunities for Pennington to learn more about his craft. "There’s always new materials, new technologies," he told the AJC. Pennington continued, "Homes are changing fast. I check out all the booths and cool things that show up."
Ty Pennington has kept busy between projects by writing a book
Perhaps one of the reasons you haven’t heard from Ty Pennington in a while is because the famed television personality has been incredibly busy.
In May 2019, Pennington’s book Life to the Extreme: How a Chaotic Kid Became America’s Favorite Carpenter was published — much to the delight of his fans. While the book provides an in-depth look at the home renovation expert’s life, Pennington revealed to the Chicago Tribune that he actually penned the entire thing in just seven days. And if that feat seems a little crazy — it’s because Pennington has a knack for doing things that are a little, well, crazy. "That was the whole goal, to try and do something extreme," he said.
Pennington told the Chicago Tribune that he was busy filming appearances on various television shows, as well as keeping up with multiple construction projects, when he decided to write the book. "Let’s face it, it’s not like my life is ever not chaotic," Pennington said. He continued, "I want it to be that way for some reason, so why not try to write it in that amount of time?"