Insiders Win a VIP Preview of the 2019 Idea House
A few select winners and their guests were granted the opportunity to meet members of the This Old House cast and take an exclusive tour of the 2019 Idea House in New Canaan, CT before doors opened to the public
It isn’t every day that you get the chance to wander through the halls of a 6,600 square foot Greek Revival farmhouse accompanied by cast members of your favorite TV show. As luck would have it, on Saturday, September 14, a small group of Insiders and their guests strolled down Main Street in New Canaan, CT to embark on a VIP Preview of the 2019 Idea House before the house opened to the public. Keep reading to see how this eventful day unfolded.
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The day began with a light breakfast as Insiders checked in and picked up their free goodies and autographed portraits of the cast. Early birds Jerry and Mary Ann Smith from Fort Washington, PA crossed another item off their bucket list on Saturday morning as they mingled with Norm, Richard, Tommy, Kevin and Jeff among coffee and croissants. One of Jerry’s favorite parts of the show is the comradery of the cast, similar to the close bonds he formed at his volunteer fire company. He got to experience the love first-hand as Tommy played around with the camera man. “I love Kevin, because to me, he is me. He is always asking why and how,” said Jerry. “I also loved meeting Tommy because he is my hero – a man who can build or fix anything. I have learned a lot watching him on the show.”
Kevin, Meet Kevin
As more Insiders began to arrive, they mingled, told stories about their own home projects, chatted with sponsors, and enjoyed the perfect weather. We caught a moment of surprise from Kevin Pyles of Delphi, IN as he bumped into host Kevin O’Connor outside of the Idea House. “I have been watching This Old House and Ask This Old House for about 15 years.”
What a Throwback
Insider Tom Chrzanowski of Catonsville, MD and his daughter met with Norm in 1991 when Maria was just two years old. Tom brought his daughter again hoping for a potential reunion with Norm 28 years later. They were able to recapture their special memory once again. Crew members from TOH TV spent some time interviewing them on the back deck near the vertical fireplace.
Be Our Guest
Once our winners arrived, Robin from Karp Associates took the Insiders on their own exclusive tour of the interior before the doors opened to the public. The house contained innovative and funky features including a large master bathroom tub, a dog washing room, a rock-climbing wall in the children’s room, and a glass ping-pong table.
Lights, Cabinetry, Action!
The cast was spread out throughout the massive house to showcase their favorite areas. Many Insiders were in awe of the cabinetry and its impressive storage capabilities. Xenophon Papasimakis of Woodside, NY (right) and his guest Angelos Kazalas (left) made themselves at home and did some exploring in the range hood. Xenophon works at his family construction company in New York. “We do apartment renovations as well as maintenance and repairs in Manhattan for management companies,” said Xenophon. “I grew up in construction sites, around tools.”
Behind the Scenes
Insider Bob Signor, who came to the event from Lake Grove, NY, spent some quality time near the modern fireplace with Generation Next apprentice Kathryn Fulton. Bob’s most loved projects were the Milton and Carlisle projects. He is a fan of Behind the Scenes footage and the live Q&As that Insiders have access to, but he never imagined that he would be able to step onto the scene and ask questions in person until this weekend.
In the afternoon, the crew members gathered together to take group pictures with our Insiders. Posing in the middle is Walter Dietrich of Amenia, NY. Walter sees himself as “just a homeowner who likes to dabble in renovation,” but he held his own in a conversation with his favorite guys from the show.
Insider Scott Wright (2nd from left) flew in all the way from Denton, TX with his guest Charles Brian McCoy (left), and we couldn’t be happier that they made it. Scott captured the attention of Norm and Tommy and reveled in the opportunity of a lifetime to tell them his story and ask for some pointers. “The memory of watching Norm, Tommy and Richard over the years is inextricably entwined with my memories of my grandfather, and sitting beside him in his workshop as a kid, and later working side-by-side with him on countless woodworking projects and home repairs.”
One Step at a Time
One noticeable design feature in the home is the sleek, modern railings. Greg Flessate from Chantilly, VA is seen here demonstrating the vast amount of levels in the Idea House as his wife Kristen admires the glassware in the kitchen. Greg and his wife have a lot in common – both of their fathers were architects, and they similarly grew up loving home improvement and watching This Old House. Greg’s biggest project was tearing down a family beach cottage and designing a new larger oceanfront home in North Carolina. He is hoping to win a Tommy Award by submitting one of his latest projects, a custom Murphy bed.
Ken Rogers of Harrison, ME and his wife Sharon were thrilled to meet Richard, our plumbing and heating expert. Ken was reaching a difficult time in his life while recovering from a liver transplant when he discovered the Insider program. He claims that Insider was a “game changer” for him, and that the easy access to our programming and articles kept him going and motivated his full recovery. “My health is now excellent! I am now working through some re-builds of various rooms, and lots of repairs,” said Ken. “I will be forever grateful to your organization for creating this platform, the continued improvements that are being made in programming, and for including other trades like masonry, electric, and technology.”
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Some Insiders brought posters, books, and other sentimental items that they wanted to get autographed. Keith Mears of Vernon, CT had previously met the cast back in Washington DC during the Generation Next project, so he and his wife Susan were twice as excited for the chance to meet them again. “This Old House gave me the knowledge and confidence to be my own General Contractor on my Modular House in Vermont,” said Keith.
Balance is Key
At noon, the Idea House opened to the public as it began to rain. Chris Sayers of Malaga, NJ places booties on as he enters the house. Chris bought a fixer-upper of his own with his wife Jayme and their two children, so he watches This Old House to get ideas for his mid-century ranch. “Not much had been changed since the Eisenhower administration," said Chris. "Dark brown paneling covered the walls of every room. With the help of my wife and sometimes even my four-year-old daughter who is always there to hand me tools, we have tackled most of the big things.” Chris can’t wait for his children to get a little bit older so that they can watch This Old House alongside him.
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