You’ve followed him “Step by Step” over the years, but did you know that this “New Kid” was a master at home renovation? Jonathan Knight has teamed up with HGTV and has come out with an instant hit – the show Farmhouse Fixer. With the help of his friend, designer Kristina Crestin, Knight restores old farmhouses to their glory and beyond.
And, Knight is everything you’d hope he’d be … kind, caring, funny, talented, deep … just a great guy who likes the simple things in life.
Read on below for our exclusive interview with Jonathan Knight.
HEAVY: So, I see you’ve been doing a lot of work in Massachusetts on Farmhouse Fixer?
Knight: Ha, yeah. New England is the best! I would never leave New England.
HEAVY: Well, what’s it like to be able to live out your passion of renovation on HGTV there?
Knight: It’s been amazing. It’s so funny. I think back to New Kids days and I never thought New Kids on the Block was going to be what we turned out to be. Six years ago when I was talking to producers about doing a show, I never thought it would even come on air … It’s still so surreal. I mean, the other night I went to bed at 7 in the morning because I just kept watching it over and over. Like, it’s not real, but it’s real!
HEAVY: It’s very real and the show is very awesome! How is it showing this side of yourself to fans since it’s so different from being onstage with NKOTB?
Knight: I just think that since Instagram came along, it’s been really cool that I’ve gotten to post pictures here and there, behind the scenes. But, to bring it to life on TV and for people to really go through the process, from meeting the clients, to the demo, to reconstructing it, to decorating it and having the clients come back in … It’s just so much more rewarding for people to see that.
I think a lot of people think I’m just a boy-bander and this is just some other type of celebrity show. In reality, in 1994, when the New Kids disbanded, this became my full-time job and then we got back together in 2008. So now, I’m able to juggle both of these passions and I’m just loving every minute of it.
HEAVY: So, one thing I really like about the show is you really champion to keep the integrity of the house and to bring it back to life. What’s the most exciting part for you?
Knight: Oh, goodness. Everything! Everything’s so exciting … just going and scouting houses and seeing them. When you walk up to a house, you just get this feeling in your heart, of love … There’s also a lot of times when people will come along and remodel a house and just do a crappy job. (He laughs.) We just bought a 1760s house and in the 1970s, they just made a mess of it. So, we’re just taking things out and putting back in historically appropriate design.
HEAVY: Now, what is it about the American farmhouse that just speaks to you personally, more than other styles?
Knight: I think it’s really just the way of life. You know, when I was 20 years old, I moved out of the city, up to the country and had the most ridiculous animals. I had this guy who would rent my field and he would bring in these longhorn Texas cattle to graze my field for a week … I had a zebra-donkey crossed animal. I had chickens and all of that stuff.
I think being in my twenties, in the hayday of the New Kids, just being able to get back home and not be worried about people peering in my windows and that kind of stuff … Just the whole relaxing element that comes with living on the land. You know, I see, especially with the pandemic, so many people are moving out of the city, to just get back to a slower-paced life … to just enjoy smelling grass, seeing birds and planting some tomatoes in their backyard.
HEAVY: Absolutely … I mean, so everyone has their thing, right? For one, I’m really into antique doors. And I’ve seen you’re really into the ends of staircase banisters. (Laughs.) What’s that about?
Knight: I think front doors and banisters in a front hall … It really sets the tone for what’s beyond those rooms.
HEAVY: So, does a love of houses and home renovation run in the family? I know your brother [Jordan Knight] and your mom are briefly on your show.
Knight: Well, it runs in my family but I think I’m the only one that got it in this generation. My dad was a contractor and when I was a kid, at 15, I’d go work with him on the weekends. My parents moved us from this really small commuter town outside of Boston. We moved to the city, into Dorchester, which is full of old Victorian houses. So, just growing up, we were in this mammoth of a house, with stained glass windows and our staircase was amazing. The fireplaces were all tiled with these brilliant, cool tiles.
My grandfather, he was also very into building. He built our family cottage. So, there’s always been construction in my blood. My mom is just a big history buff, but more so a big house lover as well. When I was a kid, I remember I would get in the car with my mother and we would just drive through neighborhoods and just look at houses, just look in awe.
HEAVY: Yeah! That’s actually what my husband and I have been doing in the pandemic with our toddler to keep sane. (Laughs.)
Knight: Yeah, exactly! (Chuckles.)
HEAVY: (Continues laughing.) One thing that really cracks me up actually on your show is how Kristina likes to work in some of your New Kids song lyrics into situations.
Knight: It’s so funny. (He laughs.) A lot of times, it happens so organically. On last night’s episode, the muralist goes, “Oh I’m just going step by step.” Kristina and I look at each other and the muralist was like 22 years old and she’s like, “What?! What’s so funny?” Then we had to explain to her that it was one of the big New Kids songs back in the day and then she started laughing. It was just a good moment.
HEAVY: Yeah, I think it just adds some personality to the show.
HEAVY: So, with old houses, you don’t know what you’re going to get sometimes when you start to renovate. Have there ever been any crazy obstacles or issues you’ve had to deal with?
Knight: I mean, there’s always obstacles. But, there are houses that my partner and I have looked at, that have sat on the market for years because people walk in and they’re just horrified. But, there’s a fix for everything. There’s also a budget for everything too. So, I think that’s really the obstacle … It’s working with people and not knowing what’s behind the walls.
HEAVY: Right. Well, the show is awesome and it just started. Would you be open to doing more episodes?
Knight: Yes! We are plugging away. The ratings are good. It’s been a really well-received show. So, hopefully the ratings just keep getting better and better. Luckily this year, we are not touring with the New Kids. So, I have this whole summer to go renovate about 6 to 8 more houses.
HEAVY: Wow. That’s a packed summer!
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