Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg.
Imagine owning your dream home. Not just any dream home, one that has been custom built and is fully furnished. Well, that’s exactly what Jack Thomasson helped hundreds of people accomplish for over 20 years on the HGTV hit show Dream Home. Thomasson was the dream person to host and produce the dream show, with a background in architecture, real estate, interior design and construction, having honed his skills as the founder of Coastal Living magazine, which has long been known as the ultimate source for travel, coastal design and coastal homes. Additionally, Christopher Parr, the founder of Pursuitist, had the pleasure of working with Jack for over 8 years in creating the award-winning Sub-Zero and Wolf kitchens that were showcased within the HGTV Dream Homes. The Overhead Compartment went for a luxurious seaside walk with Jack Thomasson to learn just what it’s like to give away Dream Homes, and pick up a few pointers along the way.
The Overhead Compartment with Jack Thomasson begins now….
OC: You are President of The Home Department and a Professional House Planner. What’s the first question people tend to ask when they meet you?
JT: Since most people know me from my work with the HGTV Dream Home, the first question that people tend to ask is, “Will you help me with my home?” And, while I can’t help everyone, I’m always happy to offer a few suggestions. My most common recommendation is to start small — one project at a time. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed — and make mistakes — when you’re in a my-whole-house-needs-help mindset.
OC: What is the most important thing any first time builder needs to know?
JT: The construction industry is very competitive, and most custom home builders do the majority of their work in a relatively small geographic area, so your reputation means everything. Communication with your customer throughout the entire process is key to a successful project. Don’t be afraid to be transparent when unexpected issues arise – and they will — and incorporate an official line-item contingency into both your schedule and your budget for the unexpected. And, don’t forget the importance of a “last impression.” The last 3% of your project will always take longer than you’ve expected, and how gracefully you cross the finish line is what your customer will remember.
OC: What is the biggest mistake most people make when building a home?
JT: The biggest mistake that most people make is taking the lowest bid and assuming that all else will be equal. Price is certainly a consideration in hiring a contractor (or selecting a product), but it is only one of many factors that should play into your decisions. Do your homework to make decisions that will minimize your risks. If a contractor isn’t licensed and insured, take a pass. And, if your contractor doesn’t have previous customers who will let you see their homes, it’s a big red flag.
OC: What is the latest and greatest in homes right now?
JT: I try not to encourage trendy designs. Instead, I encourage a more practical approach that reflects my client’s personality so that their satisfaction with their home will endure the test of time. I also encourage certain design philosophies. For example, I think that children should share a bedroom and bathroom for as long as it is practical. When the lights go out at bedtime, you’ll hear giggles and conversations that would never happen in separate bedrooms that will help bond your kids for life. Let your children brush their teeth in the same sink – I promise it’s ok – as it teaches them to share. And, this doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice style. Create a vision of how you want your family unit to work and incorporate it into your plan.
OC: How have the concerns about being environmentally friendly changed the industry?
JT: I was in the forefront of the eco-friendly “green” movement of the mid-2000s (when standard LED bulbs were $30 each). There was an awareness that was contagious, but the price of the products limited what consumers were willing to do to make a change. But, eventually, consumer demand created competition among suppliers that forced a reduction in prices that helped forward the movement. Beyond products and services, I think that concerns over the environment have educated and encouraged us to change our habits – simple things, like turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth to conserve water.
OC: What is the first thing you notice when you visit someone in their home?
JT: My first impression is usually how someone’s house makes me feel, but it’s more important how it makes them feel. It’s a successful design if it reflects their personalities and is their own private haven. it’s not my place to be critical of someone else’s home — and I resist offering advice — unless I’m asked.
OC: You were very instrumental in the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway. What was your favorite experience with the sweepstakes?
JT: It’s impossible to name just one favorite experience, but I always loved meeting the people in each town, experiencing the local cuisine, and even learning local pronunciations (Nevada instead of Nev-odd-a”) so that I represented an area properly. And, I tried to incorporate the local influences into the house, especially in architecture. I was most proud of the compliments that I would get from the locals who felt that the house and television special did a nice job of representing their community.
OC: What was the most interesting city your work has ever taken you to?
JT: I was invited to a Natural Light Symposium in London to promote the benefits of incorporating natural daylight (i.e., passive solar) into home design, which is unequivocally the most environmentally friendly form of lighting. The entire symposium was conducted in a building that needed no electric lighting during the sessions, so attendees were actually experiencing the benefits of what they were being taught. Most of my design projects have been in cities and towns in the continental US, but it’s important to broaden your horizons when you can and gather inspiration along the way.
OC: What do you do for down time?
JT: Lately, my down time has been filled with college tours for my two teenage daughters, but in general I love spending time outdoors. I’m a surf and turf kind of guy — I love my time on the water, and I love playing in the dirt at my farm in Florida.
OC: Favorite place for leisure travel?
JT: I’m a traveler who goes wherever the season or the opportunity takes me. My bags are always packed!
OC: Complete the following sentence:
JT: I never leave home without my backpack.
Jack Thomasson, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!
Stacy Steponate Greenberg brings over 15 years of travel and marketing experience to Pursuitist. With her column, The Overhead Compartment, Stacy interviews celebrities and athletes bringing an insight into their lives and travel habits. Stacy spent 11 years at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in various capacities, serving stints as Director of Marketing for the St. Regis and Sheraton brands, and Senior Director for Starwood Residences. Prior to Starwood, Stacy worked as Manager of Marketing for Hyatt Hotels. A native of Chicago, Stacy resides New York City with her husband and two kids, who like to “rate” the various hotels on their travels with their mom. Reach Stacy via Twitter twitter.com/StacyGSG.