7 Things to Know About Kim Wolfe of HGTV’s ‘Why The Heck Did I Buy This House?’
She won season 24 of Survivor, and now she's host of the new HGTV show Why the Heck Did I Buy This House? We sat down with Kim Wolfe to learn more.
Kim Wolfe is a self-described “yes guy.”
Whether it’s competing on the 24th season of CBS’s Survivor (and winning!) or renovating seven houses in 24 weeks for HGTV's Why The Heck Did I Buy This House?, Kim doesn’t back down from a challenge. Which is why we can't wait for her new show, premiering on March 30, to hit HGTV. The seven-episode series follows Kim as she helps desperate homeowners renovate their headache-inducing houses in her hometown of San Antonio, Texas.
But besides being a Survivor champion and an HGTV host, who is Kim Wolfe? We spoke with her to get the inside scoop.
She's a Self-Taught Designer
Kim didn’t consider design as a professional career until after she competed on Survivor and won the million-dollar grand prize. “My husband and I bought our first house [with the money], which was a 1940s home in need of total restoration. It was the first real construction project I worked on,” she says.
After finishing the home, Kim became addicted to design. She and her husband bought four houses in eight years, all within five miles of each other — each of which they moved into and renovated.
Eventually, her husband persuaded her to try designing professionally. “He was like, ‘How about you do this professionally and stop making our family move every time you want to try a new tile?’” Kim says. “And so that was really kind of the birth of this as a career for me.”
And, She's Extremely Competitive
"Maybe even unpleasantly [so] at times," Kim jokes. As a winner of Survivor, her competitive edge comes as no surprise. Plus, her dad is a football coach, and she grew up playing sports, so a little healthy competition runs in her blood. But Kim uses this attribute to her advantage: to achieve excellence.
“Now I compete at estate sales and garage sales and auctions, and the occasional adult pickleball game,” Kim says. “I think I've allowed my career to kind of fill that void in my life.”
Kim’s Husband Stars Alongside Her
Of course, Kim was super excited to have her husband of nine years, Brian, co-host with her as they filmed Why the Heck Did I Buy This House? Unlike Kim, filming for HGTV was Brian’s first TV experience, so he was nervous — which Kim says she likes to tease him about.
Her Survivor Skills Helped Her on HGTV
Although HGTV and Survivor might seem like polar opposites on the reality TV spectrum, Kim says she found a lot in common between the two.
"For both shows, I had to learn how to read people and figure out who they really are," she says. “I had to quickly kind of come in and assess the family, assess what their needs are and try to figure out what's going to absolutely blow them away.”
Nature Is Important in Kim's Life and Designs
She was a backpacking guide, lived in Thailand and worked at a rafting company in Colorado. Kim says she’s always had a special connection to the outdoors, therefore she likes to incorporate natural motifs into her designs.
For Kim, this means focusing on natural lighting, plants and botanicals, as well as drawing inspiration from animals. “You'll find some version of an animal in almost any room I've ever touched, whether it's the pattern of the hide or a brass monkey or whatever,” she says. “I just think animals are so cool.”
She's also drawn to organic textures and materials, like linen or alabaster stones. “I think they make us feel like we're from the Earth,” Kim says. “It’s kind of one of those unspoken things that makes us feel a better version of ourselves.”
Kim Renovated Seven Houses at Once
Though they staggered renovation start dates during the 24 weeks of filming, at one point Kim juggled all seven renos at one time.
“There's no words to describe it,” she says. “But it takes a village. I mean, there were so many good people that came alongside us that pitched in, people we didn't even know we needed that showed up. Honestly, it was humbling to need so many people.”
Kim says she would rank making Why the Heck Did I Buy This House? up there with Survivor when it comes to “getting gritty.”
It was an “Honor” to Renovate Other Families’ Homes
Many of the families on the show have major buyer’s remorse when it comes to their dysfunctional homes with overlooked potential. Kim says it was “an honor” to renovate these homes because she understands that it was a vulnerable place for people to let her in so she could understand what they wanted out of their space.
“That's the part I really enjoyed — getting to go in and kind of try to read people, read their mail, figure out what they love, figure out what makes them tick and then give them the best version of themselves with this house,” she says.
Tune in to HGTV on Wednesday March 30 at 9/8c to catch Kim and Brian on Why the Heck Did I Buy This House?