Written By Barbara Marshall
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Published on: August 6, 2011
From the outside, the bland 1980s condo looks like all the others on this shady Admiral’s Cove street.
But cross the threshold and you’ve fast-forwarded a few decades into a sleek, contemporary home that could be in any of Jupiter’s newer, family-friendly neighborhoods.
“It needed to be brought into the 21st century, it had to work for our family and still appeal to any future buyers,” said Krista Watterworth, a star on TV design shows, wife and mother of two.
She gutted the condo and rebuilt nearly every square inch, adding built-in storage and reconfiguring rooms, assuming it would always be her family’s vacation getaway.
But a few months before her second child was born, she and husband, Eric Alterman, a social networking entrepreneur, wanted a permanent change of address.
“I was six months pregnant, pushing my son in a stroller through a snowstorm. I just couldn’t take the city anymore,” said Watterworth, a small-town girl from Connecticut.
In early 2010, they opted for a less complicated life in South Florida, where her husband’s family lived.
Answering the door barefoot and wearing a short jeans skirt with a trendy feather threaded into her side-swept ponytail, Watterworth, 41, could be any model-fit, blond North County yoga mom.
That is, until she fires up her computer’s AutoCAD design program.
Then, walls are coming down somewhere.
As the host of budget design shows on HGTV such as Save My Bath and Splurge and Save, Watterworth and her crew have ripped out mylar-papered bathrooms and dreary kitchens, then rejuvenated them in cheerful HD-friendly colors and clever, multi-tasking storage solutions.
But lately, “too many good-bye kisses” from her two small children, Griffon, 3, and Skylar, 1, persuaded her to leave her latest program – the Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible.
On the show, abrasive host Robert Irvine revamps failing restaurants in a drama-filled 48 hours.
“At this time in my kids’ lives, I need to work closer to home,” Watterworth said, perched on a tufted chair in the former screened porch she transformed into an air-conditioned sun room.
She’ll get her wish this fall on the second season on the DIY Network’s The Vanilla Ice Project which has begun taping in a 5,000 square-foot home in The Hunt subdivision in suburban Lake Worth.
Each season chronicles the renovation of a luxury home by the tattooed rapper-turned-rocker, whose real name is Rob Van Winkle. (Production is reportedly moving slowly because Van Winkle is simultaneously shooting a film in Boston with Adam Sandler and Leighton Meester called I Hate You, Dad.)
Watterworth’s job is to create a camera-ready interior.
“Its important to know how a camera sees a room. On TV, you need impact. You always think bigger, bolder furniture with plenty of color,” said Watterworth.
Watterworth’s TV design credentials seem crafted in an HGTV workshop.
She has an MFA from the Actor’s Studio in New York, the school that turned out Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Julia Roberts.
But she took her training in method, which encourage actors to internalize their roles, more literally than most.
After playing a designer on TV, she became one, by attending Parsons The New School for Design in New York.
“From the start, I loved the work. On TV, my speciality is the great fixes that don’t cost a lot of money,” said Watterman.
Now that she’s in South Florida for good, Watterworth hopes to use her design training to attract high-end private clients.
But she’s not leaving TV behind. Her design dreams include producing a TV show that chronicles the renovation of a local historic home, complete with an eccentric homeowner.
You can guarantee a few walls will be coming down.
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