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It's Ty in the flesh

"Trading Spaces" crews and fans descend upon two Carrollwood Village homes to film an upcoming episode.

Published December 4, 2003

[Times photos: Stefanie Boyar]
Fan Jeanne Flynt tries to snap a photo of carpenter Ty Pennington of television's Trading Spaces as he scoots between two Tampa homes that will be featured in an upcoming episode of the show.

Ty Pennington works on a plantation shutter with designer Christi Proctor outside the Carrollwood Village home of Bob and Carol Touton Wednesday afternoon.
Robin Ruskiewicz, left, Mike Otwell, Connie Pulvermacher, and Jeanne Flynt get close-up shots of Pennington during filming Wednesday.

TAMPA - Robin Schumaker blew off lunch Wednesday afternoon to bask in the wonderful aura that is Ty Pennington, hunky carpenter of The Learning Channel's Trading Spaces show.

"I'm a fan of the show and a fan of Ty," said the wide-eyed Schumaker, a faithful viewer of the program. "But mostly a fan of Ty. I'm really excited that his shirt's off. I had no idea he stands around half naked all the time. This is awesome."

Schumaker was just one of dozens of Ty admirers who visited the quiet cul-de-sac in the Carrollwood Village neighborhood where the Trading Spaces crew crafted its manic magic.

It's a routine familiar to home improvement fans. Two couples exchange homes for two days and, with the help of a professional designer (and Ty), they remake one room in the other couple's home.

The show has become a cable cult favorite since it was launched four years ago. Fan clubs spring up around individual designers and perky host Paige Davis. But 38-year-old Pennington, with his surfer dude physique, bad boy bed hair and goofy personality, is the object of almost universal adoration.

"Oh man, he's flexing his muscles," said Vickie Fisher, as she sat on a sunny sidewalk taking pictures of Pennington at work. "And I got it! This has been one of the best days of my life. I watch the show almost every day and all the repeats."

After lurking as a secondary character of sorts on Trading Spaces, Pennington moved out front as the host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, a new reality show where he leads a crew in a total revamp of a home. The taped show debuted Wednesday night on ABC.

Pennington also has earned a legion of female followers for his penchant for working sans shirt.

Lauren Rodriguez said Pennington was already bare-chested by 9 on a brisk morning when she arrived at the site. But she was equally impressed with Pennington's circular saw skills. "He really does do it all by himself," Rodriguez said as Pennington put the finishing touches on an armoire. "He's measuring and cutting and sanding and everything."

During breaks, Pennington posed for pictures with admirers. Later, he got one willing fan to fetch a can of paint thinner from the nearby Home Depot. "He even autographed the can lid for her," Rodriguez said.

Neighbors Tiffany Brennan, Deanna Dye and Stephanie Musumeci wandered over from their part of Carrollwood to take in the view. "The highlight of our day is to get together at 4 p.m. to watch Trading Spaces," Brennan said.

By lunchtime, with the deadline for finishing fast approaching, homeowner and show participant Hayley Norman needed to make one last run to Home Depot for paint. Along for the ride were host Davis (who films such outings with her handheld "Paige Cam"), designer Christi Proctor and a producer.

"I've met big TV stars before, and I'm more excited meeting them," said Home Depot employee Linda Kosik, who once worked as a media buyer for a large advertising firm. "I have to call my daughter to tell her."

Trading Spaces crews have been in town all week filming three episodes.

The Carrollwood Village show will feature homes owned by David and Hayley Norman and Bob and Carol Touton. In Lutz, the homes of Frank and Lisa Pennimpede and Lisa and Richard Mauriello are being used for an episode of Trading Spaces Family, which includes the whole family.

[Last modified December 4, 2003, 05:30:42]

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