VIP Interview: Matt Muenster of DIY Network’s “Bath Crashers”

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Have you ever watched DIY network’s Bathtastic! or Bathcrashers? You know, the one with the charming host? Yes–that one! Well, that cutie pie contractor/designer made a special appearance at the 2014 Birmingham Home + Remodeling Show where the VIP had the fabulous opportunity to sit down and chat with him about things you fangirls probably didn’t know *wink*

Now, before we delve into the interview, let’s learn a little bit about Matt and his background…

Licensed contractor Matt Muenster sees every house project, whether he’s ripping apart dated bathrooms using the latest construction technology or completely gutting his own kitchen, as a chance to use his clever ideas to achieve great design while integrating earth-friendly elements. Matt earned his degree in interior design from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He initially got his feet wet designing restaurants and casinos and even worked on the Angolan Project in Africa. Eventually, his fervor for design shifted to the residential sector. His professional experience includes high-end interior design, and he gets an adrenaline rush every time he transforms a boring bathroom into a fantastic one on DIY Network’s Bath Crashers and BATHtastic! Series. (link here)

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VIP: What would you say is your favorite power tool?

Matt: Oh! I like expensive stuff…

VIP: That’s okay! I like expensive shoes…

Matt: There’s a German company called Festool, and they make AH-mazing things! One of their tools I use religiously is called the Domino.

VIP: What does the Domino do?

Matt: Well, the Domino is kind of like a biscuit joiner–which is a tool that allows you to plunge a hole in one board and another board then stick a little dowel rod in between the two boards.

VIP: Oh, yeah! I’ve seen that done.

Matt: Biscuit joiners are great, but in my personal opinion, Festool’s Domino does it better than anyone else. I literally use it as often as I can because it makes getting the job done so much easier.

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VIP: What color would you say best describes you and why?

Matt: Blue, and I do not know why! It’s been that forever.

VIP: I totally get that! Blue is my favorite color, and I am strangely attracted to it.

Matt: Yeah! Whether it’s eyes or a shirt or whatever–I just tend to lean toward blue-colored things.

VIP: What advice can you give to people who are looking to start a bathroom renovation?

Matt: Definitely watch and take notes from the television shows.

VIP: Hint, hint *wink*

Matt: Yeah–hint, hint!

VIP: With that said, how did you actually get involved with bathroom renovations as a designer?

Matt: The TV show happened. I did not seek the show out, they found me. To be honest, I wasn’t even really that interested in doing such a specialized job because I was really happy with the diversity of doing restaurants, casinos, and special commercial design. My design work kept things interesting, and I thought that if I specialized I would get bored, BUT the TV part keeps me from getting bored. So, now, I can just focus in on this [bathroom renos], and try to make it interesting and entertaining.

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VIP: What is your favorite part about being the host of Bath Crashers?

Matt: Hm…I don’t know! It’s definitely interesting. I really like the idea of being someone to go to for this information–that’s kind of empowering, but it’s also a lot of responsibility because I want and need to make sure I get it right. I also really like the opportunity to “get it right” because I used to watch shows like this [Bath Crashers] all the time growing up, and they were not often hosted by real designers. And I would watch these programs as a designer and get frustrated because the renovations and such were being portrayed in a way that I did not feel did the design community a favor…kind of worked against us a little. So, I think it’s really cool to have the opportunity when on camera to use the correct terminology and show people the correct way to do things while making it an entertaining show.

VIP: Is there a specific aspect or area of the bathroom that is your favorite to renovate?

Matt: Every episode is its own thing. Demo is fun because I get to smash and grab stuff, which if I’m having a bad day that’s a great way to blow off steam. Other times, my favorite part is the reveal, or it’s a specific project that turned out way better than I thought it would. As I drive away after day three, the things that stand out to me are not necessarily the things I thought would be great going into it. It’s really cool and really fun because my favorite part is always different every time, every episode.

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VIP: Recently, my parents and I renovated a 1980 time capsule from top to bottom with three full bathroom redos. By the time we had the house finished, my dad hated bathroom renos! haha

Matt: Oh yeah! Bathrooms are hard and scary because there is so much that can go wrong. That’s one reason I really love bathroom renos–I like the challenge. The challenge is the difficult part, but it’s also the opportunity. The hard part is getting the job done, but the room [bathroom] offers so many awesome possibilities that its unlike any other room.

VIP: I know that when we were working on the renovation, we watched your show a lot. One thing I really love about it is that you are always incorporating cool design aspects.

Matt: That’s one thing I really love to do.

VIP: And I think that’s what makes the show so special and appealing to so many different people.

Matt: Thank you! The adding of cool design really puts a challenge on us, but it’s so awesome figuring it all out and making it happen. The hard work definitely pays off. We always love to add in the unexpected.

VIP: I think that’s so great because it would be so easy to get stuck in a rut with such a specifically themed show.

Matt: It would make life much easier to do the same thing in-and-out on every show, but that’s not what we are about. It’s hard coming up with new ideas all of the time and sometimes we take really big risks, but that part is really fun for me. I look forward to bringing something new to the table for everyone to see.

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Stay Fabulous,

Abby Hathorn

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VIP Home: Blogging Headquarters Renovation Before, During, and After

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Hello, fabulouses, and welcome back to VIP Home!

I have received several fan emails lately about my “blogging space,” and I am so glad that y’all sent me those emails because it inspired me to write this post.  On today’s blog, I am going to share with y’all the before, during, and after of the VIP “blogging headquarters” aka my office *big smile*

To preface, I must inform y’all that I have always adored “roof-top rooms” also called attic rooms or bonus spaces. I am not sure why I find these rooms so awesome…perhaps it is from watching way too much Drake and Josh as a kid–you have to admit that their bedroom was pretty fabulous. Back to my office *wink*– I immediately fell in love with the attic room because I saw the incredible potential that it possessed, and I knew that with a little hard work and some time…and a little money *wink*…it would be the perfect blogging space.

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Before it’s face-lift, the roof-top room was merely a glorified storage closet. Oh, readers…it was a DIY project gone terribly, terribly wrong. Just because Pinterest says you can DIY your attic space in 10 easy steps doesn’t always mean one should or that it is truly easy…DIYing is not for the faint of heart…I digress….Where was I? Oh, yes. The first time I saw this room it reminded me of an episode of Renovation Realities on the DIY Network. Mixed-matched carpet patches tacked to the floor, crooked sheetrock (some joints taped and some not…I just assumed they ran out of tape and did not think it was important), and floppy closet doors that popped off their tracks if you tried to open them…Phew…I am having nightmares again just thinking about it. Now, don’t fret because it did not take long to get this diamond in the rough in VIP condition *wink*

I did a lot of the renovation myself–the designing, the painting, the assembling of the cube shelves, and even laying the floors; however, my dad gave me detailed instructions and guided me through the process. I had him on speed-dial *wink* I stubbed my fingers a lot, said some pretty nasty things (but it’s okay because Jesus and I worked it out), and put my seventh grade math skills to the test. After just a couple of weeks of dedicated labor, I created a fabulous blogging headquarters–Plus, I feel pretty awesome about my skills knowing that I have a DIY success and not a DIY fail  :)

Now, enjoy the before, during, and after photos of the VIP Blogging Headquarters *wink*

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Stay Fabulous,

Abby Hathorn

VIP Interview: Ahmed Hassan, DIY Network’s Yard Crashers Host

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Have you ever watched Yard Crashers, the show with the really cute landscaping host, on the DIY network? I have a lot…especially during the reno.

During our year-long renovation, my family and I lived the DIY network. We were surrounded by things that needed to be done everywhere–even the yard was a hot mess. 

Every time we went to the home improvement store, I kept hoping that Ahmed Hassan with his camera crew would pop out and ask to go crash our yard. Sadly, our landscaper in shinning armor never came to our house in Birmingham; however, he did come to the Birmingham Home and Garden Show 2014 where the VIP got to interview the expert yard crasher, who is also a contributor to the CBS Early Show and NBC’s Today Show

Okay, that is enough chit chat for now. Are y’all ready for the VIP’s interview with Ahmed Hassan of DIY network’s Yard Crashers? *drum roll* 

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VIP: What is your favorite part about being a TV host?

Ahmed: My favorite part about being a TV host is that because I host reality-based TV shows, I get to just be me–I get to do what I want to do and build off of my own inspiration. Landscaping is something I have spent most of my life doing, and it has always been interesting to me even when I was a little kid. Now, it is really cool to see other people being interested in what I love doing–which is landscaping. To be able to share my passion for landscaping on TV, to be in the limelight, and to get paid TV dollars is a heck of a lot better than just being your average gardener!

VIP: And you get to be you!

Ahmed: Yes, I get to be me, and it works–that’s the best part about it!

VIP: Exactly! If you weren’t Ahmed Hassan, playing Ahmed Hassan, it would not be nearly as entertaining to watch.

Ahmed: I do not think I am the best actor–I can act like Ahmed everyday, all day long, and I know all the lines! I can even put on a little extra for TV because as a host, you have to learn how to spice up things. You are always slightly amused, and you have to come in with a lot of energy at the beginning of the show–things like that are a little bit of a stretch, but not so much that it pulls me away from my authentic self.

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VIP: Who inspired you to start landscaping?

Ahmed: My inspiration was really my dad. He was a landscaper, and I grew up watching him work. He soon moved on to do construction and truck driving. I grew up around blue-collar work and around learning to work with your hands. Through that, I sort of evolved into that type of work too…I had a wake up call that people who work a lot with their hands typically do not make a lot of money–and I knew that I wanted to make good money and be highly respected. I knew that I did not want to just be a lawn jokey. So, that’s when I decided that I needed to become more educated in the field. I have been able to build a career where I am interacting with people, problem solving, and creating beautiful spaces, and I love doing all of those things. I never imagined that doing the things I loved would have developed into the career that it is now.

VIP: Absolutely! You have to do what you love–if you don’t, you will never be truly happy!

Ahmed: I agree. I am seeing if I can prove this in my lifetime…if you love what you do, you create such an energy and such a passion around what you do that people want you and want to be around you. It’s not so much what you’re doing that attracts them, but it is the love and the passion behind what you are doing. That’s how I went from being a gardener to being a television host and probably the country’s most popular landscape expert.

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VIP: When it comes to landscaping a yard, what would you say is the most important element?

Ahmed:  It’s like most things, it is a lot of conscientious planning. If you want to build something, you really need to take the time to think about what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Planning and doing research in today’s day and age is really easy because we have Google right at our fingertips, and we can find out everything we need to know right on our mobile phones….If you do not want to do the research, pay the right people who have the knowledge to assist you with what you want to do before you go out and waste a bunch of money on something you do not know how to do.

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VIP: What landscaping advice do you have for homeowners that are looking to spruce up their yards for spring?

Ahmed: Sprucing up your yard is really no different than sprucing up your house. You have to clean it up–mow the lawn, trim the shrubs, rake the leaves, put some fresh mulch in the flower beds, plant some new flowers, and add other things that make your yard work for you. A lot of times, I joke how I am like a glorified outdoor janitor because we always clean up people’s yards before getting started with the “crashing,” and they are amazed at how such a simple task really makes their lawn look amazing.

VIP: What color best describes you?

Ahmed: Oh, Lord…ahh!

VIP: I know, what color best describes you…crazy question *wink*

Ahmed: Well, I going to go with burnt-orange, and the reason I say that is because it is a color you will find in nature, and I am mostly a natural guy. That burnt-orange/rust color has a little bit of bling and a little bit of interest–it is a natural pop of color–and I think that color best describes me because I have a little pop of this and a little pop of that, but when it comes down to it, I am just an average guy like everyone else.

Special thanks to Nature's Edge, LLC for letting the VIP hold the interview with Ahmed Hassan at your beautiful display at the Birmingham Home and Garden Show 2014. You guys are awesome!
Shout out to Nature’s Edge, LLC, where the VIP held the interview with Ahmed Hassan– your display was absolutely beautiful!

Stay tuned for more of this interview in an upcoming Abby In the City column on www.thisisrealmedia.com!

Also, stay tuned for the VIP Interview with Retro Rad diva Emily Ellyn coming this Friday. Yay!

Look! Ahmed and the VIP matched! Did we plan it? Nope. Great minds think alike *wink*
Look! Ahmed and the VIP matched! Did we plan it? Nope. Great minds think alike *wink*

Stay Fabulous,

Abby Hathorn