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Jeff Lewis shows his 'softer side' with new show

Thursday, March 15, 2012

(Photo)
Reality stars Jeff Lewis and Jenni Poulos of Bravo shows "Flipping Out" and "Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis."
(AP Photo/Carlo Allegri)
LOS ANGELES -- Fans of Bravo's "Flipping Out" know that designer Jeff Lewis makes good TV. He's blunt, set in his ways and obsessive-compulsive.

Now Lewis has a new show, "Interior Therapy With Jeff Lewis," which premiered Wednesday, where he moves into people's homes to redo their spaces. He does it with the help of assistant Jenni Pulos and housekeeper Zoila Chavez.

In a recent interview, Lewis and Pulos talked about the show and how it has made them closer.

AP: How's the new show?

Lewis: It was a lot more grueling and emotionally draining than I ever anticipated. It was a really, really tough shoot. We did a lot of good for people. We weren't able to reach them all but we did help some families and that was rewarding, especially families that we really grew to care about. This is a little softer side of Jeff Lewis. When you're living with someone for five days ... you develop an attachment. I would say there are a good five out of 10 families that I developed an attachment for. There were a few families I couldn't wait to leave.

AP: How does "Interior Therapy" differ from other home renovation shows?

Lewis: These home makeover shows are not completely honest because you think they go in on day one and make the decision in 60 minutes what they're gonna do. No. It's been prepped. They've been prepping it for weeks and weeks and weeks. ... We were such an unorganized mess.

Pulos: It was very grueling in that sense. We were very overwhelmed.

AP: You had to essentially live together. How did that affect your relationship?

Pulos: In this case, we were both on one side and trying to help a family that was either against each other or against us.

Lewis: I may not do this again. It was really that taxing, and if I don't, I can look at the fact that we changed these five families' lives and Jenni and I became closer together and it really strengthened our relationship. This is what my therapist tells me to do. I'm trying to focus on the positive. I'm just saying verbatim what he says.

Pulos: It's so good. It sounds organic though!

Lewis: I really should be an actor.

AP: Are people interested in design and home renovation because they can't afford to move?

Lewis: That's one of the reasons why my business is doing so well. When the real estate market crashed in 2008 nobody was spending money. Once the market adjusted, people came to the realization, 'We're stuck here.' That's where people were saying, 'Let's redo the kitchen,' and then Jeff Lewis Design started exploding. People have come to the realization they're stuck in their homes for the long-term, they want to make it nice in the meantime.

AP: If "Interior Therapy" takes off, would you do it again?

Lewis: It was really, really time-consuming. I'm a very organized neat type of person. Every day I have a regimen, I get up at a certain time, I have this drink to drink, I'm a little like 'rain man,' when you upset my regimen it sends me spinning.

Pulos: As you get older it gets worse.

Lewis: It gets worse. And I think the executives at Bravo think it's really great to put Jeff in a 'fish out of water' scenario but it really isn't. I just feel like I'm a horrible, unlikable, mean person when you upset my regimen. I don't know if it was good for me emotionally. I was really stressed out and some of these people were hard to deal with. It will be a fantastic show but I think it was a rough shoot.

Pulos: I would do it again ... I loved seeing what it did for these people that maybe didn't have the financial means to do this otherwise. ... I couldn't believe how we pulled it off. It was fun to do it with someone like Jeff because he wouldn't say, 'Oh, well, that's good enough.' It was definitely the hardest thing I've done, too.


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