Celebrity chef Guy Fieri lives in his dream home. But he says the place was a dump when he bought it.
Fieri, who hosts the NBC game show "Minute To Win It" and the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," nevertheless saw its potential when he first laid eyes it 14 years ago.
His instincts were right; he still lives in the ranch-style home in Santa Rosa, Calif. with his wife and two young sons. The home now includes a 900-square-foot kitchen, game rooms, four bedrooms and three bathrooms. He even built his parents their own place nearby.
Fieri's career has taken off, but the 43-year-old TV star says he doesn't have any plans to uproot his family. Anyone who's ever invested in a fixer-upper likely understands his emotional attachment.
Here's a look at the evolution of Fieri's home:
When Fieri and his wife, Lori, were looking for their first home, they had a deadline in mind: move into their new home in time for their son's first birthday.
The problem was that they didn't see eye-to-eye on much else. Fieri dreamed of a sprawling, rustic property; his wife had a more modern space in mind.
After seeing dozens of homes that didn't strike a chord, their real estate agent picked Fieri up one morning to check out a place that had just come on the market.
"The house was a dump," Fieri recalls. There was a beat-up looking car in the driveway and a camper in the backyard. The floors were covered in shag carpeting.
Yet somehow he instantly knew it was home; he loved how it was surrounded by lots of trees and land. He told their agent he'd take it on the spot.
RACING FOR MOVE-IN DAY
His wife called him a "dead man" when she saw the property a week later. But Fieri was confident he could transform the rundown property into a home where they could grow their family.
On the day they closed on the property, contractors were on site to start knocking down walls and gut the place.
"We painted every surface, pulled out all the flooring," Fieri says.
It was nonstop work, but Fieri delivered. The family celebrated their son Hunter's first birthday in their new home just a month later.
THE HOUSE TODAY
The renovations didn't stop after they moved in. The home has since been greatly expanded and is now defined by an abundance of wood and natural light; Fieri counts 27 skylights.
The low-key décor — defined by lots of black iron, ornamental handles and hammered out steel — might surprise some, given Fieri's loud, colorful onscreen personality.
"It's not industrial, but it has those components," he says.
THE HEART OF HOUSE
As a chef, Fieri considers the kitchen his home office. That's why he built a 900-square foot kitchen in the space where the patio previously stood. The kitchen sports his-and-hers refrigerators and a digital juke box. There's also a flat-top griddle and three sinks with foot pedals.
"It's the main focal point, where the kids do homework and where we have meetings," he says. "It's the center of the house."
A BIG PLAYLAND
One of the major attractions of the property was that Fieri knew he'd be able to give his children the same outdoorsy childhood he enjoyed.
Over the years, Fieri carried out that vision by creating "a big playland'" for his sons and their friends. The spacious backyard, pool and basketball hoop are the main attractions. But his wisest investment may have been a $175 trampoline. It's still one of the most popular features of the home. Rain or shine, Fieri says "there's always a kid jumping on it" whenever he looks out his window.
Once he started gaining some fame, friends and family started asking if he would move. Fieri admits his life would be a lot easier if he did; it currently takes him more than two hours to get to the airport.
"But it was critical for me to keep my boys in their home," he says. "That's how I was raised — on a small ranch in Northern California — and I wanted to give that to my boys."
Candice Choi can be reached on www.twitter.com/candicechoi .