Reno guru Bryan Baeumler all about ‘island time’

Renovations might go better if we built in a little “island time,” according to reno guru Bryan Baeumler.

The HGTV star, who is headlining the celebrity speaker series at the upcoming Ottawa Fall Home Show, has spent the last year-and-a-half with his family overseeing the restoration of a small, abandoned resort on the Bahamian island of South Andros.

Fans have followed his progress on Island of Bryan, which is currently filming the second season.

The beachfront project barely escaped Hurricane Dorian, the category 5 killer storm that struck the Bahamas Sept. 1. Baeumler, his wife, Sarah, and their four children, who have been living on the island during the renovation, were on holiday when Dorian hit, missing San Andros but striking two other islands.

“We were very lucky,” he says. “It missed the resort by just 100 miles. We could have lost the entire thing.”

Helping victims

Baeumler has since set up a GoFundMe page to help with relief efforts, raising over $170,000 to date.

Despite the anxiety around the hurricane and delays in restoring his Caerula Mar Club resort, which is scheduled to open Nov. 1, Baeumler is buoyed by lessons learned in the south.

“’Island time’ is a thing,” says the hard-driving owner of a production and media company, a construction firm and the Baeumler Family Foundation for Kids. “When the boat doesn’t show up (with construction supplies), it doesn’t show up. There’s no point in stressing. You have to enjoy everything in between. I think my stress level is down 80 per cent.”

Baeumler’s experience has so affected him that he’s even changed his attitude to some renovation projects back home in Canada.

“I had a couple who wanted to spend $500,000 or $600,000 on a renovation in Oakville. I’m looking at their house and thinking, ‘It’s not bad (the way it is). Do you know how much of the world you could see for $500,000 or $600,000?’ I eventually talked them out of it.”

The travel bug

It was a hankering to see more of the world that impelled Baeumler — whose other HGTV shows include the hits House of Bryan and Disaster DIY — to take a chance on the Bahamian resort, which has 22 small villas and 18 hotel rooms.

“We could have taken two years planning this, but as a family, we just jumped in. The kids (who range from six to 14) are old enough to enjoy it.

“I sat down with Sarah and looked at this. We asked ourselves, ‘Why not?’ I’m on the back nine now, I’m 45. So, what do I do now? Renovate another home?

“It was a question of, ‘What if I’m on the hamster wheel for another 15 years and then I have a heart attack and die?’”

Not that Baeumler sugar coats the experience of the past year-and-a-half. “There are days when Sarah and I are not the best friends,” he says with a laugh.

In spite of its scope, the resort isn’t that different from any reno, he says.

“With any construction or renovation project, the key is to look at in small steps. It’s just that with this one, some steps have been bigger than others.”

Baeumler presents his talk, Tales from the Island, Lessons Learned and the REAL Value Hiding Inside Your Home, at 6 p.m., Sept. 27 and 2 p.m., Sept. 28.

Other speakers

The slate of speakers at this year’s home show also includes international award-winning designer Sue Pitchforth of Decor Therapy Plus, home organizer Kathy McEwan from Second Set of Hands, and multi award-winning designer/renovator Emma Doucet of Grassroots Design + Build. All are based in Ottawa.

Anita Murray of All Things Home is on the stage Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. and again Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m. She will share her insights and advice on keeping your reno project from going off the rails.

Along with guest speakers and over 200 exhibitors, this year’s show includes:

  • A chance to cast your vote for the prestigious Ottawa Citizen People’s Choice Award while admiring the finalists for the annual Housing Design Awards organized by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association.
  • Natur-Evo, the newest addition to Bonneville Homes’ Natur Series lineup of modular homes.
  • Falling for Ottawa, a silent auction for fine local art with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa.
Show info

Ottawa Fall Home Show

When & where
Sept. 26-29 at the EY Centre, 4899 Uplands Dr.

Thurs., Sept. 26, noon-9 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 27, noon-9 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 28, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sun., Sept, 29, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Tickets & parking
Adults $13 (online $11)
Seniors (60+) $12 (online $10)
Youth (13-17) $12 (online $10)
Children 12 and under admitted free
Parking $8



Relationships key when hiring a contractor: Bryan Baeumler

Get regular updates on our latest articles

More from Patrick Langston