As the star of the DIY Network’s “Mega Dens” and a host of other reality shows, TV personality Anitra Mecadon knows a thing or two about home renovations both straightforward and ambitious. Examiner caught up with the bubbly designer on Oct. 22 to chat about her favorite Purple products, her do-it-yourself style wedding to Adam Bret, and how she comes up with her craziest design concepts.
You know, it feels like the general sentiment toward home renovation is changing a lot, from ‘oh heck, I can’t do that’ to ‘why not?’ What are some of the areas in our homes that people seem to be trying to renovate on their own the most?
Mecadon: You’re right, it is changing. We’re DIYers, we’re daunted by the big projects in the past. I’m actually now seeing them take bathroom renovations –full on bathroom renovations themselves– without general contractors. And it’s not just the guys doing this, Sherry, it’s the girls doing it, too. They’re getting their hands dirty as well. And why not, right? You get a great return on your investment, you’re increasing the value of your home, you get that sense of accomplishment when it’s all said and done, and you get the shower in something pretty.
Tell me about it! My major problem with my bathroom is that we don’t have a whole lot of space and we can’t push outward. So we’re kind of stuck working with a relatively small space that can’t be enlarged.
Mecadon: You know… a big part of it is the tile. You don’t have to use one surface material anymore. You can create depth and drama just by changing up the pattern or changing up the tile that you’re using. That’s a big one for me… it’s kind of like you’re tricking the eye….
But I will tell you this: if you’re going to take on a bathroom renovation, and you go through all the hassle of picking out the tile and the wall colors, it’s going to be absolutely no good to you if you have to rip it down because you’ve got a moisture problem or it falls off the wall if you hit it with your elbow. So what’s behind the tile and behind the paint is just as important as the pretty stuff.
If you’re going to do this yourself, buy Permabase cement board. This goes behind the tile and gives you that great tile bond in your wet areas: your tub, your shower, your sauna. All the other areas, you’re going to want to use Purple Drywall. And the reason I’m telling you guys about this is… bathrooms have moisture. Both of these products are mold and mildew resistant. That huge.
Oh totally. I’m highly allergic to mold so I totally see that they would be important products for me to have.
Mecadon: That’s rough stuff, isn’t it? You need to get some Purple. Here’s the thing: long after the paint’s dried and the tile’s been grouted… this stuff is still working for you…. It gives you that peace of mind. You spent your money the right way, you know what I mean?
Oh, I do! So you make home renovations look like a snap. with as savvy as you are. Is it really something us non-savvy folks can handle?
Mecadon: Come on, yeah! I started out like you guys. I had no idea what I was doing, and I had the desire to make my home pretty, make it a better place to live in. I didn’t have the checkbook to back it up, so I was really forced into the DIY world. Now I won’t lie to you: my people are a fearless lot. If you’re going to take on DIYing, have a sense of humor. Don’t be afraid to fail. What’s the worst that can happen? You have to call in somebody to fix it? Who cares! And grab a friend! I feel like DIYing is always easier with a friend.
You’ve done a ton of “Mega Dens” and all of your episodes have adorable little titles I was going through yesterday. What have you not done on “Mega Dens” that you’d like to try doing?
Mecadon: What have I… you know, I’ve tackled some crazy projects on “Mega Dens.” We did a backyard drive-in theater where I took 52 Studebakers and I turned them into love seats. Come on, that was kind of my dream! I think I’ve literally tackled my dream. I don’t know what else I would tackle. What else would I tackle?
I don’t know, I have no idea. I think you think bigger than I do when it comes to design.
Mecadon: Well, it’s kind of in the name “Mega Dens.” I’m forced to push the limit. But it’s in my nature, too. I’m one of those chicks that just thinks outside the box. But I’ll tell you, whether you have a background like I do or you’re just starting from scratch as a new homeowner, have a plan, have a budget, know where you’re going to take it, and do it right from the start. That’s the big thing. You want to protect your investment.
How do you come up with your creative design concepts? Some of the things you come up with, I just can’t even….
Mecadon: [Laughs] It’s really funny. I’ll wake up and I’ve had a dream –it’s this vision of this amazing entertainment center– and my contractors on the show that I’m working with think I’m absolutely crazy as I’m helping them build this piece, but I was like ‘no, in my dream we use this.’ So I dream them up. But my background… in undergrad I took set design for theater, and so there’s a big part of theater in my background, and I come from the world of commercial interiors. You have to push the limits in theater and you have to push the limits in commercial interiors.
And I’m always looking at ways of topping myself and ways of using materials differently. That’s why I’m such a big fan of upcycling. It’s a great way to add character and style to your home without spending a lot of coin. Like upcycling that old bureau and turning it into a great vanity, or how about taking that old ladder, hacking it up, hanging it on the wall and using it as a towel rack. The possibilities are endless, you really just have to get creative. Dare to be different!
I know your first wedding anniversary is coming up soon, so I just wanted to say congratulations on that.
Mecadon: Yes! I got married on Halloween last year. I had a Halloween wedding and I did it myself! Oh my god, can you believe it? I was setting up the wedding… luckily I have a lot of great friends and family that helped. But I really wouldn’t recommend DIYing that. [Laughs]
Uh yeah! It’d take a talented and crazy kind of woman to do something like that!
Mecadon: Yeah. I think I first saw my wedding dress that night so it was kind of an intense experience but it’s awesome, you know? And the fun thing about this is I did it –I pulled in my friends, I pulled in my family– to do the wedding, to do the house. It’s always more fun with a friend. And you have funny stories to tell later!
For more information on Purple products, visit the official website. “Mega Dens” airs on the DIY Network.