Creativity from Chaos

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Credit: HarperCollins

"Sometimes you can't wait for a door to open; sometimes you gotta build that door yourself." --Ty Pennington

If you were a fan of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" or TLC's "Trading Spaces" (which was rebooted in 2018 after a 10-year hiatus), you're likely familiar with the boundless energy and creative talents of Ty Pennington.

The original "Trading Spaces" was one of the shows that sparked a DIY revolution by encouraging homeowners to pick up tools and make changes to a room themselves, with the guidance of a designer and carpenter. This was well before the rise of the many decorating blogs, YouTube how-to videos and Pinterest boards that provide us with DIY inspiration today.

Watching Pennington on television, you can tell he has a passion for building things and helping others, and in his new autobiography, Life to the Extreme: How a Chaotic Kid Became America's Favorite Carpenter (Zondervan, 2019) he shares how finding that passion gave his life focus -- and helped him channel the frenetic creativity that often goes along with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Before he found that passion, Pennington was a troubled, rambunctious kid who, among other things, broke his arm jumping off the roof of his house, earned straight Ds in grade school and sawed a leg off the family piano to make a new piece of furniture.

When he was just a boy, he discovered that building items and working with his hands brought the world into focus, but receiving an ADHD diagnosis when he was 18 and a student at community college provided him with more tools to better manage his distracted mind.

In his new book, which was written over the course of seven days, in keeping with the "Extreme Makeover" timeline, Pennington offers both a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the making of some of your favorite iconic decorating shows and an encouraging perspective on navigating challenges. This is helpful to not only those with ADHD and their families but also to anyone seeking inspiration in life and in decorating.

Consider his take on trusting yourself and the process of creation when working on a project: "My creative endeavors won't always match the vision in my mind. Sometimes they turn out very differently, and sometimes that's a great thing."

Pick up Life to the Extreme to read more about Pennington's inspiring journey or visit his website for design ideas, like tips on how to put together a well-arranged space. Here is a sampling of his room-arranging savvy:

• Find a focal point for each room.
• Place a table within reach of every seating space.
• Anchor rooms with area rugs.
• Break up large, open spaces by creating distinct zones.
• Create visual balance by placing large objects on opposite sides of the room.

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