Kristina Crestin, a Manchester-by-the-Sea-based interior designer, has recently starred in an HGTV show called Farmhouse Fixer alongside Jonathan Knight of New Kids on the Block. The two of them restore old farmhouses on the North Shore in this six-episode series, which premiered in March and will be available soon for streaming on Discovery+. Here, we chat with Crestin about her career, her inspirations, and what it was like to film a national TV show.
Q: Why did you decide to go into interior design/architecture?
A: Growing up, I was an avid Lego builder and I could never mix colors—I had to build a white house. My grandfather was in construction management, my parents are creative, and I always thought I wanted to do interior design. I always thought more about drawing what a house would look like, thinking about the plan. I think that’s why I ended up on the interior architecture end of the spectrum.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I grew up in Bellingham, Massachusetts, and I went to school at Endicott—that’s where I got my Bachelor of Science in interior design. And then I started working at an architecture firm on the North Shore, and then met my husband at a job site, and he’s from Ipswich. I don’t know if I intended to live on the North Shore for the rest of my life, but meeting my husband who grew up here and falling in love with the North Shore kind of set that all in stone.
Q: What sets you and your style apart from other designers?
A: A couple different things: there’s working with us, and then there’s style. Part of what’s key to my success is the reputation I have for listening to clients, working with clients, making it fun, and being very team oriented. And then about my design—I love interior architecture and thinking of all the planes in a space. Diving into millwork and ceilings and making sure every plane is paid attention to. And I think that makes for a more thoughtful, or a more layered, final product. When people look at my portfolio, there’s traditional farmhouse, and then there’s some pretty modern work. I’d say ‘approachable modern.’
Q: How did you get involved with HGTV and Farmhouse Fixer?
A: Right after school, I was a junior designer on a renovation project Jon was doing. We’ve stayed in touch over the years. Jon’s been trying to get this show off the ground for maybe 10 years. This was his baby. High Noon Entertainment pitched it to HGTV, and they said he really needed someone to do the design, someone he can play off of, and I guess he suggested me. They said, ‘we’ll do our own research,’ but I had some experience [Crestin designed a farmhouse in Essex during a season of This Old House], my portfolio looked good, and I could get things done. I had to test and Skype and go through that whole process—it was a pretty long road to get here!
Q: What was one of your most memorable moments from working on this season?
A: One of the things I looked forward to the most, and I was so excited about, was getting to bring my truck to film one day. I spent years restoring this ’55 Chevy pickup truck—it’s my baby, and it’s a farm truck. Jay Rodricks, from North of Boston Studios, is another local Beverly guy who does special projects on most episodes. He’s fun to work with, and the cool thing about Jay is he has a vintage pickup truck, too. So we got to film at the season finale farmhouse together with our trucks doing a meetup—they had GoPros on them, we got to drive in, and that’s when I was finally like, ‘I’m making a TV show!’ That was super fun. That felt special—it felt unique. My truck’s name is Dixie, by the way.
Q: What was your biggest challenge in filming this season?
A: I would say timeline management was one of the biggest challenges. Filming felt really natural—they were great to work with, and nobody ever fed me lines. We brought in a local builder, Shawn Curran of Curran & Sons Construction, as general contractor, which was wonderful because we had someone we absolutely trusted to do it fast but right. There was a high level of trust that even though this was a faster paced timeline, the execution was still going to be the quality that it would be even if it wasn’t TV. That was important to Jon and me. We don’t want these shows to be fast and low quality. But navigating the timelines—the faster clip, the faster communication—was the biggest challenge, I think.
Q: Why should folks tune into this show?
A: There’s a wide range of aesthetics that I think will be fascinating to see. It’s not just one stylistic direction—there’s some traditional farmhouses, there’s a coastal farmhouse, there’s a more modern farmhouse, there’s a European countryside farmhouse. There’s a real diversity in types of projects. I am so excited for people to see this design work. I cannot wait to put these in my portfolio because I want folks to see the range of work I got to do.
Farmhouse Fixer premiered on HGTV March 3 through April 7. Tune into Discovery+ to stream all episodes. For more information, visit kristinacrestindesign.com.