“The Bronson Pinchot Project” shows actor’s renovation talents to DIY Network audience

Bronson Pinchot in "The Bronson Pinchot Project" on DIY

Bronson Pinchot relaxes outside one of the homes he's renovating for "The Bronson Pinchot Project," which premieres Saturday at 10:30pm on DIY Network.

For much of his acting career, Bronson Pinchot has had accents and attitudes to hide behind. From the lovably daffy Balki on Perfect Strangers to the scene-stealing art dealer Serge in the Beverly Hills Cop movies, Pinchot often completely disappears into his characters. In his latest project, however, he’s letting the DIY Network audience see his true personality.

“I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be something, and that gets tiring,” Pinchot says as he walks through one of the homes he’s renovating in Harford, Pa., site of The Bronson Pinchot Project. “The producers came to me and said, ‘We think this is interesting,’ and I said, ‘I’m not changing anything. I’m not even going to shave. I’ll do it exactly as I do it’ … and they said, ‘You’re perfectly interesting just the way you are,’ and those are the magic words.”

What he does is buy up old homes in Harford — a place where, he says with affection, “there’s nothing to do except drive a four-wheeler down Main Street and get arrested” — and restore them to their former glory using only salvaged material. That means relying on cotton from the 18th century to make curtains, or taking a turn-of-the-century gas chandelier and making it run on electricity, and even allowing warped floorboards to keep their shape.

Bronson Pinchot in "The Bronson Pinchot Project" on DIY“When you walk into one of these rooms, even though they are entirely new, you would swear they’ve been there for 200 years, because that’s what I want you to think,” he says. “All the rooms look exactly like you would expect them to look if they had been locked in 1840 and just unlocked on the show. We do show how we get there, and it’s largely trial and error.”

Pinchot has carved out a method and style that operates mainly on feeling as opposed to traditional techniques.

“The difference between this and any other remodeling show that I’m aware of is that I have absolutely no game plan,” he says, “except I know how I want the room to feel and I don’t care what I have to do to achieve it. I start out in one direction, and if it’s working well I keep going, and if it doesn’t work I stop and do it again. I have a budget for every show, and I have to turn in a certain number of episodes every certain number of weeks, but other than that there’s no blueprint.”

Cynics might be tempted to classify the show as a desperate attempt from a former Surreal Life cast member to re-energize his career, but Pinchot insists that he never got into renovating for anything other than the pleasure it gives him. The houses are not for sale or rent, he says, adding that he restores them the way other people might restore cars that they drive only on occasion.

“People said for years that there’s a great TV show in this,” he says. “And I would say, ‘Well that’s just my life. Thank you very much for reducing it to its entertainment quotient.’ (laughs) But they meant there’s kind of a sitcom in it like the old Bob Newhart show. I said no. …  This show is actually about what I do with old houses, and of course, I don’t stop being me. Neither do the guys, but that simple moving of the focus just from, ‘Oh, look, I have a library full of Shakespeare and Shaw, and they all drink strawberries impregnated with moonshine, isn’t that interesting?’ [made the difference]. We just get on with building a house, and once in a while they do dare me to come drink moonshine and once in a while I do.”

The thrill for Pinchot comes in seeing new life breathed into old material, and contemplating all the history contained in each item he restores. It’s a joy that, for him, approaches the spiritual.

“The materials are imbued with the soul of everything that’s ever gone into them,” he says. “It’s almost like each is piece a photographic plate upon which all the experiences of all the people who have lived there have been imprinted. … To transpose a forgotten old place that’s been left to the demolisher, and to collect all those pieces and put them back together the way they’re supposed to be, and then they look beautiful and everybody loves them and feels happy around them, [it’s as though] the people are reunited with the pieces, and it’s the way it’s supposed to be. It’s very, very moving, and it gets to me.”

The Bronson Pinchot Project premieres 10:30pm Saturday on DIY Network.

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Photos: Courtesy of DIY Network

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8 Responses to “The Bronson Pinchot Project” shows actor’s renovation talents to DIY Network audience

  1. Linda says:

    Show is great! Bronson and his crew compliment eachother. Who would not want to work with these guys!
    Love his personality.

  2. Craig Sole says:

    A fellow lover of old houses clued me in to your show last season. FINALLY a show that validates me as a caretaker of valuable and rare houseparts and not a kook who saved moldings and siding from the burnpile. I felt your joy and honor as you drove down the road to the house that you carefully took apart and repurposed. I also enjoy all the educational tips you share with us and your staff. It is great to see them respect and learn from your overwhelming joy!

  3. Tammy Thomas says:

    Bronson, keep up the Beauty you and your crew are creating little by little. Only if… others would take lessons from ya’ll, Our world would be so easy on the eyes and soothing in our hearts… great things come from people who care and do what’s right for the world we leave for the generations to come, Thank ya’ll.

  4. mike brewer says:

    i drive past his house in harford everyday on my way to and from work. the place looks great keep up the good work.

  5. Elizabeth Psyllakis says:

    If there are videos of the entire season/s I would love to get them. Thank goodness for a show that is truly creative in every sense of the word. Recycling….bring it on !!! Thank you Bronson.

  6. Catherine Greer says:

    i love the Bronson Pinchot project, i have always loved watching him in movies but this is the most entertaining and what he and his crew end up with is just beautiful. :)

  7. Kathleen Hummingbird says:

    I love the new show Bronson is doing. I love the old historic homes and history it tells us. He and his crew has so many great ideas on how to restore these homes. can not wait until his next episode. Great 5 star show!!!

    • Barb Nelson says:

      I saw a special news segment re Bronson Pinchot & the homes he’s renovating n PA; now that I read online about his project, I realize I missed the 1st episode prbly n February. was fascinating, so I wanna catch it 2morrow. thanks.

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