Ty Pennington

Ty Pennington

Born Gary Tygert Pennington in Atlanta, GA, Pennington spent most of his youth in his hometown of Marietta. His mother, Yvonne, divorced his father when he was quite young, although she soon remarried, with her new husband adopting both Pennington and his older brother. Pennington's love of carpentry and design manifested itself at an early age, when the budding jack-of-all-trades designed and built a three-story tree house at the age of 12. After graduating from Marietta's Sprayberry High School, he attended Kennesaw State University, focusing on art and history. At the conclusion of his freshman year, Pennington's art professor suggested a career in graphic design, so Pennington began working as a carpenter by day and attending classes at the Atlanta Art Institute by night. After graduation, he continued his education at the Atlanta College of Art, studying painting and sculpture while honing his carpentry skills to pay for his continuing education. During his final semester, Pennington was approached by a modeling scout and soon began a successful career in print ads for various clothing companies and in television commercials pitching Diet Coke and other products.Pennington's orbit brought him closer to Hollywood when he worked as a set production assistant on the Academy Award-winning film "Leaving Las Vegas" (1995), starring Nicholas Cage. Five years later, Pennington's breakout moment came when he was cast as one of the series' carpenters on "Trading Spaces" (TLC, 2000-08). The home decorating series - based on a successful British program, "Changing Rooms" (BBC, 1996-2004) - featured two sets of neighbors each week who exchanged house keys and were given two days, $1,000, and the assistance of a professional designer and carpenter to transform a room in each other's home, but were not allowed to inspect the results until the end of the show. During his four years on the series, Pennington built a loyal following - especially among female viewers - as the handsome, quirky, and playful carpenter. So popular was he, that during his third year on "Trading Spaces," Pennington was tapped to host the primetime home renovation special "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (ABC, 2003-12), itself a spin-off of the personal appearance improvement show "Extreme Makeover" (ABC, 2002-07). Over the course of the new program, a team of designers and builders would completely renovate a house, including landscaping and major interior construction, during a seven-day period, while the unsuspecting owners - who had been nominated for the show by friends and family - were sent off on a week's vacation until the grand finale, in which the results were unveiled to them on camera after Pennington led the holler to "Move that Bus!"No doubt due in large part to the charisma and showmanship of its host, the TV special was such a ratings success that the network quickly put it into production as a weekly show, necessitating Pennington's departure from "Trading Spaces." Now quickly propelled to household name status, he soon signed an exclusive multi-year agreement with Sears, partnering in a broad range of activities, including product design and development, merchandising and advertising, and being named ambassador for the Sears American Dream Campaign. Pennington's first book, Ty's Tricks: Home Repair Secrets plus Cheap and Easy Projects to Transform Any Room was published in 2003 and became a New York Times bestseller. Capitalizing on his recent heartthrob stature, Pennington tried his hand at acting, appearing in the independent film "The Adventures of Ociee Nash" (2003), playing aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright. He made another brief onscreen appearance, this time as himself, in the John Travolta/Tim Allen midlife crisis comedy "Wild Hogs" (2007), in addition to launching his own quarterly magazine, Ty Pennington at Home that same year. The following season, Pennington began hosting the British television series "Ty's Great British Adventure" (UKTV, 2008-) in which he helped English communities revitalize ill-preserved public spaces. Reaching a much younger demographic, Pennington lent his voice to a character inspired by his persona in a 2009 episode of the animated series "Wow, Wow, Wubbzy!" (Nick, Jr. 2006-).