Here's How Jonathan Knight Went From NKOTB Member to 'Farmhouse Fixer'
His love of homes began long before he became a teen heartthrob.
When most people hear the name Jonathan Knight, the first thing that comes to mind is the iconic ‘80s and ‘90s boy band, New Kids on the Block. Because of this — and especially for folks who didn’t know what one of Jon’s biggest passions was before he became a fawned-over heartthrob — his show, Farmhouse Fixer, may come as a bit of a surprise.
But here’s the kicker: Jonathan has been in love with construction and home design for longer than you might think. So long, in fact, that his love affair with all things home remodeling predates his time with New Kids. Farmhouse Fixer, shows Jon’s step-by-step process for restoring centuries-old New England farmhouses.
“My dad — he’s retired now — was a contractor,” Jonathan tells HGTV. “When I was a teenager, he dragged me to work with him … well, he dragged me in the beginning, and then I just loved doing it.”
His parents divorced when he was around 15 years old, and he became the handyman of the house. “It was even to the point where I went up on a three-story roof to patch a leak and ended up falling two stories,” he recalls, chuckling. “But it didn’t dissuade me. It just gave me more ambition to make sure it was really fixed.”
His dad wasn’t the only one involved in construction, though.
“My grandpa was also very handy,” he tells HGTV. “He built my family’s summer cottage in Canada and both of my uncles have always been into home repair, so it kind of runs in my blood.”
As much as he loved working alongside his dad when New Kids took off, construction and remodeling took a backseat.
“When we [the members of the band] were kids, we would perform at nursing homes and at a jail; we did birthday parties, and really our goal was just to make enough money to buy scooters. That was our biggest thing … So when we got on tour with Tiffany and things just started picking up, it just got crazy, so that took me away from the construction,” he admits.
The silver lining? While getting to travel the world with his band, he held his first love — of houses — near and dear, ogling all the different types of architecture from England to Japan.
“I was still mentally there with the love of houses, even while I was traveling [with NKOTB],” he recalls.
Thanks to his musical career, when Jonathan was 20 years old, he bought a 20-acre farm in his hometown, and then, just a few years later, in 1994, New Kids disbanded and he had to take a close look at his life.
“I was like, I peaked; I had this amazing career and now it’s over,” he recalls. “I kind of had to reinvent myself. I didn’t really know what I was going to do next and I felt the pressure of having to be as successful and make as much money as I did with New Kids.”
To kick things off, he set a goal of trying to make $100,000 a year and take it from there. He teamed up with his friend, a Boston police officer, to flip houses — something he didn't even fully understand at the time.
After joining forces, he and his friend worked together to renovate homes in their neighborhood. “People would walk by and they would thank us, [and say] ‘Thank you so much for fixing up this house. You’ve improved the neighborhood; it was such an eyesore.' That just got me feeling really good. Not only was it a passion, it was doing something for the community,” he shares.
Eventually, the pair's company made a transition from their neighborhood to creating condos in the city and subdivisions throughout New England.
“It got to a point where I was tired of doing all these brand-new construction houses; you know, there was really nothing special about them,” he admits, noting that the realization led him to disband the company.
Fortunately, in 2008 (coinciding with “New Kids 2.0”), he started working with another partner, only this time to renovate old houses. “We started working on stuff and then I got dragged away [with] New Kids,” he tells HGTV. “Luckily, we tour every other year, so I have a year off, I work a year, a year off. So, we’ve been able to make it work.”
And by “been able to make it work,” what he really means is that, while touring with his iconic band, he’s still been able to renovate more than 200 houses over the past few decades. To many it may seem like being overworked, but for Jonathan it’s the dream.
“As long as I’m working on something, I’m happy,” he says.
As for New Kids on the Block: “I’ve known these guys since kindergarten on the playground,” Jonathan tells HGTV. “It’s funny because we did a couple TV shows and there were like 12 seats in this room and we all piled on the couch together. The host of the show was like ‘I’ve never seen a group still close together after all these years’ — we have to be with each other. It’s really … It's a great family atmosphere. Back in our heyday we were teenagers and we all had egos and we all would fight and argue and it was a mess. Luckily, we were able to separate from each other for a long while and be able to grow up and come into our own. So coming back together has just been the best thing ever. All day long we have group texts — ‘What’re you doing and how’s this and that’ — and it’s really special.”