Carter Oosterhouse is known as the carpenter/green expert on HGTV.
He is the host of "Carter Can" at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays, where he rushes to the rescue of homeowners tackling renovation projects by coming up with energy-efficient solutions and reducing environmental waste. He also plays host to special programs on the network.
After earning his bachelor's degree in nutrition and communication from Central Michigan University, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a modeling and acting career. He got his start behind the scenes on HBO's "Project Greenlight." Before HGTV, he was one of the carpenters on TLC's "Trading Spaces."
We caught up with Oosterhouse by telephone.
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How did you become a carpenter?
Growing up in a tourist town (Traverse City, Mich.), building was an easy summertime job. I also learned from family. My older brothers are builders.
Tell us about your homes.
I have a farmhouse in Michigan. It's where I do lots of home projects and gardening. And then there's a beach house in California. Two homes, two totally different feelings.
Besides paint, what's a little lift people can give their homes in this economy?
Repurposing or recovering old pieces of furniture. There are steals in antique and thrift stores. I've found great old sinks.
What's your most recent house project?
I'm in the process of ripping out the master bath in the farmhouse. It had only one sink. I'm adding a second one, new tile and a jet tub. I'm also turning the old barn into a workshop.
What's your favorite room in your house and why?
Definitely the kitchen. I like how there are so many different types of materials. I built everything around it because it's where I entertain. The farmhouse kitchen looked Victorian, so I updated it with a farmhouse sink and a gooseneck faucet. The countertop is concrete.
Can Carter cook?
No (laughing). I have other people over who can. I invite them over a lot.
What advice do you give people about do-it-yourself projects?
Don't be scared. Painting is easy. For me, a lot of the work is just trial and error. Don't be afraid of making a mistake and just learning from it.
What tools should everyone have?
A tape measure for cutting up wood and making sure furniture fits in the right spot. Also a hammer, pliers and a level. One thing to spend a little money on is a drill you like. I also like impact drivers because they're light and good for screwing something in, like furniture parts.
How have you seen the green movement change during this economy?
The mentality has shifted from bells-and-whistles materials, like bamboo on the floor. Now it's about saving money while being eco-friendly. It's about using a programmable thermostat and sealing up your home with inexpensive weather stripping. You can also get energy audits on your home so that you're only heating the places you intend to heat.