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The Details of ‘Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis’ on Bravo

March 17th, 2012 · 2 Comments

(L-R) Designer Jeff Lewis, producer Jenni Pulos, and executive producer Andrew Hoegl speak onstage during the 'Interior Therapy With Jeff Lewis' panel during the Bravo NBCUniversal portion of the 2012 Winter TCA Tour at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa on January 7, 2012 in Pasadena, California. (January 6, 2012 - Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America)

By: Valerie Milano – Pasadena, CA (Hollywood Today) 3-17-12 Bravo presents ‘Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis’ which is about everyone’s favorite obsessive compulsive house flipper taking on a new role as a style therapist when, with his trusted assistant Jenni, he takes over somebody’s home each week to redesign not only their space, but their lives. He’ll observe the homeowners, diagnose their problems, and then take over their house for five days — with the goal of improving them inside and out. Of course he does this by using a combination of brutal honesty, impeccable design, and a few unique solutions that only Lewis could come up with. His trusted assistant Pulos, and his loyal housekeeper, Zoila Chavez, are along for the ride to make sure he doesn’t go too far over the line. This time, Lewis is not just redesigning a space; he’s redesigning people’s lives Earlier this year The Television Critic Association had a panel hosted by Frances Berwick with Jeff Lewis, Jenni Pulos, and executive producer Andrew Hoegl. Jeff  was asked about the transformation of his personality because flipping seemed to be perfect for him because he could just work to his own tastes and then eventually sell. Frances asked ‘You seem to be a very strong minded person. Now when you’re transforming things, first of all, when you became a designer for other people and now actually living with the people and designing, how much have you changed in recent years, toned down your personality, changed your mind-set, and so on?’ Jeff’s insight was revealing,  ‘Well, I don’t think I could have done this five years ago. I think that the change in the economy and then having to reinvent myself and start the design business and work with clients and I don’t think I could have done this show five years ago because I it really was about my taste and my design. You’re right. I did what I wanted to do, and if somebody didn’t like my house, there was four other people lined up ready to buy it. So now it’s a much different it’s a much different economy. It’s a much different situation we’re in. So I was able to go into these homes with this show, and I could really kind of get into the clients’ heads, and I could put together a design that would suit their tastes and needs, not just mine.’ The next topic inquired about Jeff when he deals with couples where someone has better taste than the other, and how does he handle that? Does it cause problems between the couple if he side with one’s taste versus the other? Without missing a step, Jeff replied, ‘In my own business in real life, it’s for me, it’s always better when the couple decides to sell the house and buy one together because it really is difficult. You know, I walk into a house, and the husband’s owned it for 16 years, and the wife has moved in, and she’s trying to make it her own, and it never really is her own, and she knows it, and he knows it, and it’s kind of a losing battle. So what we did and we had a very similar situation during one of the episodes of the show where, by me giving this woman her own space, by me giving her her own office, by incorporating things that meant something to her I mean, she had most of her stuff in storage. It was, like, all his things. So it really is a huge challenge. It’s very, very tough because ultimately it is you know, it was the husband’s home.’ Next, Andrew was in the hot seat with the question, ‘How does it work financially? Do the people come in and say, “OK, here is X-thousand dollars. Do it,” or does the show pay? How do these things work? ‘ Andrew Hoegel replied, ‘No, we have a design budget that it sort of varies. I mean, really the show is about we call it conflict resolution through design. So really the core of the show is when we cast the show, we’re looking for people not just who are looking for Jeff to redesign their home, because that’s easy to find. We’re looking for people who really have a problem that’s centered around the design of their space. And what Jeff is doing is really coming in and solving that design problem and, through that, is sort of transforming their relationship as well.’ Andrew adds ‘So to answer your question, the what ends up getting designed is sort of Jeff’s decision. When he walks into the home, he sort of hones in on what needs to be changed. And then that’s what we focus on. And we have a budget to take care of that, but it varies because every situation is different.’ Concluding the question, Andrew was asked ‘So the show does pay?’ to which he adamantly replied ‘Yes.’ Back to Jeff, ‘What happens if you come in, you design it, and they don’t like it?’ Jeff  threw it right back by replying ‘Well, I really try to keep the clients as involved as possible without ruining the surprise. I’ve only done that once in my business, and it really was I thought it would be my dream job for somebody to hand me half a million dollars and say, “Redo my beach house.” He lived in Colorado. But actually, it was the most stressful thing I’ve ever done because what if he hated it all? So I really I prefer a client to be very involved.’ The curiousity persisted with additional inquiring questions such as ‘Jeff, has your design sensibility changed much? Have you changed your design sensibility? You were very minimalist in your own show, in your own house. Has that changed with this show, or will we see a lot of minimalist houses? And then also, will we see, like, Zoila or any of those other people on this show or not? ‘ Jeff shared  ‘Zoila is very involved in the show. Initially when we go into a house, we start cleaning everything out and boxing things and deciding what’s being donated, what goes into storage, what are we going to use. Zoila is involved in that process. She’s also involved when we’re done with construction, we have very little time to get it cleaned up before we bring the furniture in. She’s involved. Of course, does she want to work extra hours? No. Does she kick and scream all the way there? Does she eat all day long at craft service? Yes.’ which brought laughter to the audience. Jeff continued with, ‘But the second part of the question is my design aesthetic has changed dramatically. It is much more layered than it used to be. I realized that not everyone wants I would be happy in a glass and concrete house with two pieces of furniture and a beautiful piece of art on the wall. That’s the way I would love to live. It’s antiseptic. I get it. It’s cold. But that’s me. I would not have any clients if I designed homes like that, and that’s what I realized early on when I switched from flipping to the design business.’ Jenni Pulos shared about Jeff, ‘He really grew through this the course of this show. Every time it was a different canvas. You know, some of these, obviously, he wouldn’t have chose these projects. From beginning to end, I’ve really seen him grow as a designer through this show.’ To which Jeff added ‘But we should talk about the warts too because it’s it wasn’t always a happy ending. There were a lot of fights. There was crying. There was screaming. And that was just Jenni.’ Which Jenni acknowledged after the laughter by saying, ‘We got very emotionally involved with these people as well.’ Jeff chimes in, ‘We really do because you think it’s only five days, but we’re spending all day, late into the evening, early morning. We’re spending so much time with these people that you can’t help to become attached, connected. And then you want I mean, all of a sudden, it’s not even just about a paycheck, which is to be honest, that’s why I did the show. You really become like, “Wow. I’m really invested in this. I want this to be great for them.” But I didn’t always like them, and sometimes I didn’t give a shit, and sometimes I wanted them dead. And I just really,  they’re not,  we didn’t always have nice people to work with. We didn’t. And some people were entitled and ungrateful, and I wanted to walk out the door and go to the neighbor’s house and see what I could do there.’ Next Jenni adds, ‘And sometimes we just couldn’t finish, and we felt like a failure because we couldn’t do what we wanted to do in the time allotted. So there’s a lot of highs and lows.’ Jeff continues ‘Yeah, I mean, I don’t know many makeover shows where they don’t finish. And we don’t finish all the time.’ Jenni agrees as Jeff talks about when they are not on time, ‘And sometimes we’re late. When we said we’re going to be finished by 4:00, we’re not done by 4:00. And then you think that the clients are going to be really happy. You know what? They were just as miserable when I left as when I walked in the door. Some people you just can’t reach. But I guess why it was so rewarding in the end, we probably reached a good six or seven people out of ten. But three of them are lost causes. I can’t help them.’ Next comes the economy reality question, ‘Jeff, did you get out of flipping because of the collapse of the housing market.’ Jeff shares,’I did. But you know what? I have to tell you the flipping market is back. I mean, I never thought I would say it this soon, but I might just get back into flipping this year. It’s there’s so many great deals, and there are so many people that you know, they spent all the money on the down payment on the house, and they don’t have money for the renovations. So there’s quite a market for done houses. There wasn’t for a while, though. I couldn’t give those houses away.’ The discussion changes gear with the question,’ Jeff, I’m wondering, what is your training? Did you major in design or architecture or what?’ This question brings Jeff to look back, ‘I was a pre-law major. Who would have thought? And now you know, it really was since I was a kid, I would draw. I probably in hindsight if I could turn back the clock, I would be an architect. But my dad was a real estate investor. I kind of learned this business by osmosis. I went into the business about 15 years ago, and you just kind of it was basically trial and error. I do believe I have an instinct, kind of a natural talent. But I do not have any formal training. For what but the thing is I think what makes a success is I’m very aware of my weaknesses. There are things that, if I’m not good at it, I will consult someone who is. I don’t know how to draw a house on CAD, but my clients which is a design program we use — my clients require it. So I have to hire someone I can draw it, like, little stick figures, and it looks like a kindergartner did it, and then I hand it to someone who a consultant, and they draw it on CAD.’ The reflection of his background brings up the question, ‘So how did you get into it? How did you go from pre-law to this?’  Jeff replies , ‘You know, I had a therapist once tell me that, when I graduated and I was lost, and he said, “You know what? Go work for a job” “go to a job, work there six months, re-evaluate. If it’s something that you think you might want to do, stay. If not, go.” I had five careers through my 20s. Ironically is that when I first started my first career, I was working for a real estate agent. It took me five years and five careers, but I got back to it around 28 years old. And, you know, I love construction. I love design. I just followed my passion. I always said I wanted to be the best at what I did, whatever it was. And I feel very fortunate that I’m able to succeed in something that doesn’t feel like work to me.’ Changing gears slightly, a different question to Jeff, ‘What were the other three careers that you did?’  Oh this conversation is opening some new doors! Jeff opens up with ‘Oh, God. I was believe it or not, I was an “extras” casting director for six months at Central Casting. That was one of the craziest jobs I’ve ever had. I worked in collateral financing. I worked in music licensing. I might have had more than five careers.’ Giving Jeff a break, the question is tossed to Jenni, ‘Because you’ve been arguing with him for 11 years, what changes have you seen in Jeff’s personality in recent years, and what changes have you seen in yourself in recent years?’ Jeff interrupts with ‘Well, she looks older.’ which Jenni thanks him and adds ‘Isn’t it wonderful? Look for that coming up March 14th, lots of that. I think he’s changed in that I do think he actually is even more collaborative than he was. He’s a little and I use that word “a little” very strongly less of a control freak. I think he’s more self aware. And again, to talk about “Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis” Jennie continues ‘I think that this show actually really forced him to grow, deal with people. And, you know, becoming a designer and having to work for other people, I think, has actually I think really strengthened him as a person because he couldn’t just blow up, and he had to sit on things, and he had to eat it, much like I have for 11 years in many ways. And I actually think that has made him a better person. You know, this journey for us has been up and down. It has been like a marriage. Obviously, we’ve had cameras in our lives and in our face now for six years. And it’s been a great journey. And for me, my life has completely changed. This is never something I thought I would be doing. I’ve fallen in love, thanks to Jeff, with design. It’s another form of art and expression. And I’m just enjoying the ride. I was, obviously, married and divorced in front of a lot of people. And now I know why I went through what I went through, and I’m happy to be where I am. So it’s been a crazy journey.’ Jeff reflects about the current state of things by sharing, ‘Sometimes it takes you years to figure out you know, when it’s happening to you, like when the real estate market crashed, it’s like, “Why is this happening to me? I’ve been so generous with people. I’ve given so much money away.” And then, you know, it takes years sometimes to figure out the lesson. But me getting knocked down was probably one of the best things that could ever happen to me.’ Jenny quips, ‘And Jeff has an incredible work ethic, and I love his passion. And I think that’s something that’s kept us you know, through the ups and downs and the fighting and the hating each other, we share that. And I have a tremendous amount of respect for that. He doesn’t do anything halfway. And you’ll see that in this show. We really committed to every one of these families. And I think that the result in the end is not only great television, but it was a great experience to help people like that.’ The talk about passion inspires Jeff by adding ‘The work ethic is what’s kept us together really, truly. She’s not you know, we both come from families that are self made. Nothing comes for free. And it’s I think that’s really what keeps us together.’ Next comes a question about their very interesting chemistry. Over the years they have had their ups and downs, fighting in ways where one wasn’t always sure they were going to make it. The name of the show is “Interior Therapy.”  The question is  if they all end up bickering, would they consider attending therapy together? Jeff wonders, ‘Honestly have we done that yet? ‘ Jenni adds, ‘No. Well, the one client was a therapist in the show. And she kind of gave us a session. But ..’ Jeff interrupts, ‘But the problem is she was also a hoarder!’

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lorraine Chambers // Mar 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Zoila sounds like a riot with Jeff and Jenni. Looking forward to checking it out.

  • 2 robin guido // Sep 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    i need jeff and jenni, please help us. how do we get considered for the show?

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