Cristy Lee Opens Up About Filming Season 1 of ‘Steal This House’

The auto-guru-turned-HGTV-host gives a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like filming for Steal This House.

Photo by: Nick Hagen

Nick Hagen

Related To:

It’s natural to wonder how automotive guru Cristy Lee — born into the Daytona Beach world of cars, bikes and trucks — went from racing vehicles and spending sunny days in her dad’s auto shop to renovating houses in Detroit.

“I’ve always loved houses. I’ve always loved remodeling,” Cristy tells HGTV. “There was a housing boom in 2005 when I graduated from college, so I moved to Detroit.”

The rest is history, she assures us as Season 1 of Steal This House comes to a close. As proof, check her out on HGTV. She’ll show you: Renovating homes and fixing up cars aren't all that different — at least when you're a hands-on, DIY-lover like she is.

“I put everything I have into these projects and into this show and into putting out solid renovations and amazing designs,” she says. “I hope viewers can learn something along the way.”

With all things Steal This House on her mind, Cristy sat down with us to share some behind-the-scenes details about filming for HGTV.

Photo by: Nick Hagen

Nick Hagen

HGTV: What was your favorite part about filming?

Cristy: Filming in my home state of Michigan was so awesome. It was amazing to be able to do what I love in an extremely familiar environment. Going to all the different neighborhoods and looking at all the different homes. That was a huge advantage for me, because I know the area. I also loved working with the crew and the homeowners. Everyone’s so fantastic to work with. I don’t feel like the homeowners are my clients — they become my friends throughout the process, and it’s so cool showing off the final project and seeing how happy they are.

HGTV: Any behind-the-scenes tidbits?

Cristy: I’m kind of the same person all the time — on camera and off camera and although I take my job very seriously, I also keep it light. I like to have fun and goof around a bit, and sometimes the crew had to reel me in. But we had a lot of fun on set. I also did a lot of metalwork throughout the season. In one project we had a custom metal steel stair railing. We also put together a full-blown steel wall surround behind a fireplace unit as well as a copper range hood.

HGTV: What was a big challenge you faced during filming?

Cristy: Covid was a massive challenge for literally everyone on the face of the earth, but aside from that there were a slew of challenges. One of the biggest was pulling off the construction of the steel fireplace surround. There were a lot of moving parts and to finish it off I had to cut a nine-inch perfect circle through a piece of steel that took weeks to ship to us (we didn’t have the time or budget to order another one) — so there was a lot of pressure. I'm not sure if you can see me sweating on camera, but that was a very stressful moment. Luckily, I totally nailed it. But time and budget — those are two things that we were constantly working against.

HGTV: Real estate and design are completely different from cars and motorcycles. In what way do you think these two worlds overlap, and how has your experience with the auto industry influenced your real estate prowess?

Cristy: I think the biggest thing for me is that I love diving into projects. I love working with my hands. I love tearing things down, rebuilding them, learning new things, working with tools, creating projects, figuring out how to build them, the engineering behind it, the fabrication behind it. Although cars and homes are extremely different, when you really break it down, the process to renovate or restore both of them is very similar: You're using tools. You're building things. You're learning how to fix something. My experience with the automotive industry — not only working with tools and building things, but my metal work experience as well — has definitely helped me. I’m so glad I'm able to take those skill sets to the table for home renovation. Being able to do some of that stuff ties the two together. As different as they are, for me, someone who likes to build things and be hands-on, they're really not so different. They’re both DIY.

For more decorating and renovation tips follow Cristy on Instagram at @cristylee09.

Next Up

Cristy Lee Stars In New HGTV Show 'Steal This House'

The auto guru is hosting a new home renovation series coming to HGTV in July. Here's why we're all excited.

Realtor Shea Hicks-Whitfield Shares Her Love for Her Hometown on HGTV's 'Bargain Block'

The born-and-raised Detroit realtor talks about her love for her hometown as well as what it's like working with Keith and Evan.

New Series Featuring 'Australia’s Thunder From Down Under' Stars Comes to HGTV

These steamy construction gurus are ready to 'Flip the Strip.'

Interview: Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent Discuss Living Beautifully

In Down to Design, our editors delve into the creative minds of HGTV designers. Here, Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent of The Nate and Jeremiah Home Project open up about finding inspiration and designing with emotion.

The Biggest Little Farmhouse: ‘Farmhouse Fixer’ Fans Can’t Get Enough of 'The Little Couple'

Rewatch the 'Biggest Little Farmhouse' Farmhouse Fixer episode now, streaming on discovery+.

Karen E Laine Takes It Outside in the HGTV Special 'Good Bones: Better Yard'

Karen E Laine, Master Gardener and co-star of the HGTV hit series Good Bones, follows her true passion of renovating clients' outdoor spaces in the network's new special Good Bones: Better Yard.

Jennifer Todryk — aka The Rambling Redhead — Is Coming to HGTV!

Tearing down the notion that major demolition is always necessary to create whole-home transformations, HGTV has picked up 10 one-hour episodes of No Demo Reno (wt), starring home renovation expert and social media influencer Jennifer Todryk.

Big News! HGTV Casting For Two New Series Starring Familiar Favorites

Boise Boys' Clint Robertson and Luke Caldwell and Leanne and Steve Ford of Restored by the Fords are back with two new series.

What's Your Style: Tour the Sleek LA Home of a Stylish Trendsetter

Film director Lwany Smith brings her minimalist sense of style to her Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, home.


Rock the Block

11am | 10c

Rock the Block

12pm | 11c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Build It Forward

6pm | 5c

House Hunters

7:30pm | 6:30c

House Hunters

8:30pm | 7:30c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

House Hunters

10:30pm | 9:30c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

11:30pm | 10:30c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

House Hunters

1:30am | 12:30c

House Hunters

2:30am | 1:30c

House Hunters

3:30am | 2:30c
What's Hot

Home Town

Season Premiere! Dec. 4 at 8|7c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.

Luxury Home Giveaways

HGTV Smart Home

A sophisticated Southwestern home in Santa Fe, New Mexico

HGTV Dream Home

A modern mountain getaway in Morrison, Colorado

HGTV Urban Oasis

A music-inspired escape in Nashville, Tennessee