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Friday, August 22, 2014

A Behind the Scenes look at the DIY Show Sledgehammer starring Fort Thomas’ own Meier Family

Adam and Laura Meier
On Wednesday August 20th, the DIY network aired an episode of their new hit show Sledgehammer which featured Fort Thomas residents Laura and Adam Meier (city council candidate) and their two young children.  FTM caught up with Laura Meier (newly formed superstar to be sure) to ask her about her firsthand experiences with the show (full disclosure, Laura is a close personal friend so it didn’t take much for me to “catch up” with her):

FTM: Why did you sign up for the show?

Meier:  I think it is important to understand what our living situation was at the time of the casting call for the show in order to understand the reason we felt it was a no-brainer to apply. In June of 2013, we purchased a duplex located on the avenue in Fort Thomas. Courtesy of my husband's creative mind, questionable artwork and a Bob Evans napkin (long story), we had a plan to completely remodel this duplex into our single family dream home. But with the financial and time restraints, we decided to focus our time and attention on the downstairs renovation and make the upstairs a future project. At the time we applied, we had a tenant upstairs, so our entire family, two adults and two children, occupied two rooms and 1 bathroom downstairs. We knew that this meant having no bedroom, no kitchen and involved sleeping on a couch, but it was all part of our grand plan. The remainder of the downstairs including the kitchen was under construction and completely off-limits. Since we had decided to do the bulk of the work ourselves, the process was moving very slowly. Nights and weekends can only get you so far when you are talking about a complete renovation. Applying for the show gave us our one and only chance to alter our living situation, which was very difficult with two small children. It gave us an opportunity and allowed us to dream about one day (once again) having our own bedroom with a door, a real bed to sleep on and a closet. Living out of tubs that are in the basement is NOT easy.

FTM: Did you enjoy the process?

Meier: Hmm, it depends on when you consider "the process" to have started.  It was a bit nerve-wracking waiting to see whether we would be selected, as it was probably 6 months from the time we first applied to the surprise that we had been selected for the show.  Every step up to that point we knew we were getting closer, and then we were a finalist...then SURPRISE, we're on it. From the moment that Jason Cameron walked through the door with sledgehammers we were just on cloud 9. There was such an immense amount of excitement between Adam and I that nothing could have brought us back to the real world.  The whole team at JAYTV were such a pleasure to work with from day one, true professionals. As you saw on TV, the walls came down day 1 and the team worked so hard every day to build us our dream suite. The process seemed to move so quickly for us, keep in mind we were already used to just living downstairs in a construction zone with no kitchen, so the added work, dust, construction was really no big deal for us. On shoot days, there was such a sense of happiness and excitement from everyone. We were so blessed to be going through this process with people that really cared about helping to improve our lives.

FTM: Was it more work then you actually thought? 

Meier: I couldn't believe how much work they actually did for us. When Jason first told us that whatever we knocked down in 30 minutes he would rebuild, he meant it. They thought of everything. As far as the work that Adam and I had to do, it wasn't that much at all.  I mean, no doubt about it, the demo was exhausting, but after that point, Jason and the crew really took over. We considered ourselves lucky that the show let us put our own stamp on some of the work, for example; I laid the hardwood in our upstairs hall and Adam helped put in our brand new shower. Adam did have to spend a weekend redoing the entryway because unfortunately we ran out of time during the shows challenge, but that was about it.  The hard part for us was trying to keep up with their pace. We really wanted our downstairs kitchen and living area renovation to be finished at the same time as our bedroom upstairs. Obviously we were excited and pretty exhausted trying to finish our project within the month but no complaints here.

FTM: What are some of the TV Secrets? (Did you really demo a room in 30 minutes?)

Meier: I'd say that the time we were actually actively swinging the sledgehammer was 30 minutes, Jason was the official timekeeper and he kept things moving.  However, we did have pause breaks for safety reasons (removing some of the dangerous tiles and wire mesh from the kitchen), but we were always right back at it.

FTM: Did they film anything that didn’t make it off the editing room chopping block? 

Meier: Obviously for a 30 minute TV segment you need a lot of video to choose from. So there were a lot of minutes of filming that didn't make it onto the episode. One moment in particular that did not make it onto the show was when I decided to get all sentimental. When the process began Adam and I requested that the designer include one specific piece of furniture in my room, my mother's mirror. This year was the 10th anniversary of my mother’s passing and my most sentimental piece from her was her mirror, something she had bought as her wedding present almost 30 years ago. They were very touched by my attachment to the piece and asked me to say a word or two about it. For some reason, I am guessing from all of the excitement on this last day of shooting, I became really emotional.  Yes, I cried. I am very pleased that they ended up leaving this entire segment out of the show as I was very much embarrassed!

FTM: Any funny stories from the shoot?

Meier: Well, I'm not really sure about the level of funniness in this story, but when the TV crew was at the house we were hooked up to microphones at all times, even in the restroom. The first time I went to the restroom, a complete panic came over me because I realized that everyone could hear everything that went on in there. Let's just say all bathroom trips were extremely quick! We loved the shoot days, when the Jay TV crew and Jason were all present.  They were all so much fun to work with, courteous, and professional-and they brought lots of food.  It's great to see a company like JayTV, based out of Northern Kentucky, bringing positive attention to our area and doing life changing things for families of NKY and Cincinnati.

FTM: Did the kids love it?

Meier: The kids were a little young to totally understand what was going on, but loved two things in particular.  First, the Donut Holes they brought on the shoot days.  Second, they loved the reveal day.  Up to that point, they had been limited to a few rooms of the house at a time, with a lot of their toys in storage.  But we got the downstairs done about the same time the upstairs was completed for the show, so on the reveal day, they had the whole house at their disposal, all their toys were out, and they could run around like crazy. It was like Christmas on steroids for them!

Great stories from a great and deserving Fort Thomas family.  Also, having seen the end product in person, the television crew did an incredible job (as has Adam, a handyman in his own right).  To watch the episode featuring the Meier’s, be sure to tune into the DIY Network for an encore airing on August 27 at 11:00 pm.  For a full schedule of all the airings of this episode, go to their website.  To watch current episodes, tune in Wednesdays at 10:00 pm.  

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