10 Things You Didn't Know About 'Farmhouse Fixer' Designer Kristina Crestin
HGTV sat down with the talented designer of Farmhouse Fixer, Kristina Crestin, to get to know her a little better.
By now, HGTV fans are well acquainted with famous boy-bander-turned-renovator Jonathan Knight's love of historic farmhouses. But you may be less familiar with his right-hand designer and longtime friend, Kristina Crestin, who helps him bring each renovated-to-perfection farmhouse to life with designs that could make any diehard city dweller daydream of a life amongst the New England countryside. We talked with Kristina about her background in interior architectural design, her friendship with Jon, her favorite design trends and more. Get to know the mastermind behind the gorgeous designs of Farmhouse Fixer below.
1. She's a New England Girl, Born-and-Raised
It's easy to fall in love with the picture-perfect New England scenery of Farmhouse Fixer. It's an area Kristina knows well. "I love New England!" she says. "I grew up about an hour and a half from where I live now in a town called Bellingham. But I came to the North Shore for college. I went to Endicott College, because they had a great interior design program, and I just fell in love with this coastal area. It's so beautiful and so comfortable."
2. Her Interior Design Career Started With Legos
Not many people can say they discovered their calling as a child, but Kristina can. "We found paperwork I did in elementary school that had you list three careers you might want, and I had interior designer, architect or dolphin trainer," she laughs. "I don't know where the dolphin trainer came from, but I always loved playing with Legos and spatial planning and floor plans." Now, Kristina's been working as a designer (specializing in interior architectural design) for 20 years.
3. She Met Her Husband on a Construction Site
Talk about an HGTV-worthy meet cute! Kristina's husband, Kirby, is also in the construction business. They've been married for 16 years and still work on construction jobs together from time to time. "We're on a project together right now," she says. "He's a foreman and carpenter, so he runs a lot of the jobsites I work on. We love collaborating. My team is really adept at putting a good set of drawings together so he appreciates all the detail he gets when collaborating with us."
4. She Runs an All-Women Interior Design Firm
The team she's referring to is her Manchester-by-the-Sea based design firm, Kristina Crestin Design, which she keeps running behind-the-scenes while filming Farmhouse Fixer. She started the business in 2009 and mainly focuses on high-end residential construction.
"I have a team of six — all women. My mom works for me, which is awesome. My mom and dad actually moved to the North Shore years ago just so she could work with me," Kristina says. "While [I'm] doing Farmhouse Fixer, part of my team works on the show with me and part of my team keeps all these other projects moving — so I'm still doing non-TV design projects while filming. It's great."
5. New Kids on the Block Was Her First Concert
You might be wondering how Kristina started renovating houses with a famous pop star. The two met when Kristina was working as a design assistant right after college. Jon hired the architecture firm she worked for, the pair hit it off and the rest was history. "I really played it cool without saying 'New Kids was my first concert when I was 12!'" Kristina says. "I thought it was the coolest thing. Jon and I ... stayed in touch. Then I did a season of This Old House and I got a text from him like 'Oh my God. I'm just watching this episode. I'm so proud of all the things you've done ... I'm so happy the world can see your talent.' I think that's when he realized 'Oh, she wants to do TV.'"
6. She's Good at Playing Phone Tag
While filming Season 2 of Farmhouse Fixer, Jon spent a lot of time pulling double duty on tour with New Kids on the Block. Kristina shares the secret to getting things done while he was on the road: a lot of FaceTime calls and phone tag. "We are opposites with communication. It's kind of hilarious. Jon will text me in the middle of the night with thoughts and I'll be asleep with my phone on silent. Then, I'll text him back at 5 or 6 in the morning, and his phone is on silent," Kristina says. "When he's away we meet over FaceTime and text notes back and forth. It's catching him when he wakes up the next morning on the tour bus going to another state."
7. Even Kristina Feels Pressure When Renovating Old Homes
"It's this whole other world when somebody entrusts you to an older home," Kristina says. "It feels like this greater weight of responsibility, partially because of the homeowner and partially because of the home itself ... It's kind of fascinating to work through the emotion of 'oh my gosh, this is bigger than just helping this person pick pretty things or fix the flow of their house.'"
8. She's Her Most Challenging Design Client
With two decades of experience under her belt, Kristina has an award-winning design formula that works with a broad range of clients. (Check out the beach cottage that made her HGTV's 2019 Designer of the Year) But when it comes to her own home reno she's found herself in a bit of a design stalemate: "I have nothing picked for my bathroom, and we've had a leak in our kitchen ceiling for about five months. My husband has been pushing me so hard, like we really need to start this renovation, but I can't make decisions for myself, and I can't find what I'm looking for. Clients are easy. It's amazing how quickly one's brain starts to engage with the client after the first meeting, but it's nearly impossible for myself."
9. But, She Loves Taking Design Liberties
"Moody rooms and painted trim! These are things I've always loved, but I've had a hard time getting clients to commit to the idea of a dark room or colored trim on the walls. People tend to not really want to go that far out of their comfort zone," Kristina shares. "They almost always love the finished product, it's just making the decision to pull the trigger that's hard. With Farmhouse Fixer we just do it, and then they walk in, and it's done. I love the freedom the show has allowed me to play with these trends."
10. She Has Two 'Babies' — And They're Featured in the Show
Aside from design, two of Kristina's other loves are her vintage pickup truck and her adorable 12-year-old Weimaraner mix rescue. Both have been spotted in episodes of Farmhouse Fixer. "Right now we have our baby until we have babies: our dog, Cooper. She got to be in one of the episodes and I swear our producer did that just for me. It's one of my favorite things from last season," she says. "My other baby is a 1955 vintage pickup truck named Dixie. I've always wanted a vintage truck and we found one and restored it. We painted it bright turquoise. There's nothing better than cruising around town or to a jobsite."