At age six, before Jonathan Knight found fame as a member of the pop group New Kids on the Block, he got to work designing a barn. “My mom just gave me baby pictures and there’s a bunch of me designing a circular barn with animals around it,” the singer and star of the new HGTV show Farmhouse Fixer star tells AD. “I was obsessed with circular barns!”
These days Knight and his partner, Barry’s Bootcamp instructor Harley Rodriguez, own a Massachusetts farm with a restored 1700s barn. It may not be circular, but it is a nod to his childhood. He grew up in Dorchester with chickens, sheep and the “crowning jewel”—a pony his mom, Marlene, gifted him.
Thanks to weekends spent accompanying his carpenter dad, Allan, to work and summers in Canada at a cottage built by his grandfather (who welded together bunks for Knight and his siblings, including his NKOTB bandmate Jordan), he developed an interest in architecture early on. In fact, Knight was set to enroll in an architecture course when his boy band shot to global stardom in the ’80s. Countless hits, albums, tours, and a 14-year hiatus later, Knight now has the best of both worlds, having renovated over 200 houses while still performing with NKOTB.
Farmhouse Fixer, which sees the restoration expert team up with interior designer Kristina Crestin to restore historic New England farmhouses, is a world away from boy band life, but both feed Knight’s penchant for spreading joy. “Seeing the look of sheer joy on homeowners’ faces when they walk in is like walking out on stage to a crowd that’s just so happy to see you,” he says.
Below, Knight tells AD more about his journey from pop star to farmhouse flipper.
Architectural Digest: How did you transition to flipping houses after NKOTB’s 1994 disbandment?
Jonathan Knight: I was 25 years old and my career was over. Stumped, I thought, How do I reinvent my life? The flipping craze had started and a friend asked if I’d flip a house with him. It was so cool to be in Boston neighborhoods renovating houses that were falling down. We ended up going from house to house, then doing subdivisions and condos. It got too big. My heart wasn’t in new construction, so I ventured out with a business partner who does older houses with character and history, and I fell in love with it.
“People think I’m the quiet, shy one,” says Knight. “I am more reserved with New Kids, so it’s cool to show people more of my personality [on Farmhouse Fixer].”