Canada’s newest TV construction hero in jeans and swagger has emerged.
Paul Lafrance, Christian rocker and outdoor living aficionado, storms the solid pine HGTV gates with “Decked Out,” a fun and informative series that offers an affordable alternative to cottage living.
Lafrance says that the days of driving hours and miles to summer homes is becoming a thing of the past and that experience can be recreated right in our own back yards.
“Decked Out” has found its audience already; it’s spun off and sold in the US and locking other international audiences as we speak.
Paul Lafrance Decked Out Premieres on HGTV Canada Thursday April 7 at 10 PM
Monsters and Critics spoke with Lefrance on a perfect deck day.
Monsters and Critics: The deck in the series premiere was immense, the size of a few city blocks. It was $80K in wood alone. What was the final tally?
Paul Lafrance Over $250M is not the average. I think that was the extreme example of what I’m talking about. The times and economics of our lives have changed. The lifestyle and maintenance of cottages are no longer a reality. The homeowners were just tired of the hassles of it and decided to build a resort in their own backyard.
They gave me creative license. We had small army of guys for five weeks so it was a blitz. And it couldn’t have been any hotter – if we didn’t have that pool – we’d have been goners. We don’t mind working September, October and November when you get more done and you’re not moving like molasses.
We’re in slow motion when it’s hot, but we managed. The cool thing about that, normally we don’t like people to be able to see the finished project. Hiding that one from Ken and Cathy for five weeks, a space that’s bigger than their house, there was no way. When they came out, and they’d been there, the final furnishing, cleaning was done, to still get that emotional moment was wonderful.
M&C: You seem to never to be still.
Paul Lafrance I am a musician before a carpenter so the ability for me to be creative, I bore awfully fast as I have an ADD brain, the need to be constantly creative, constantly switching elements. The crew’s always rolling their eyes – that’s the fun part, that’s the juice for me. It’s a great play off my guys Joey and Pat and Dave my brothers in law and we’ve worked for years together, there’s not a lot of host envy.
M&C: Will you be showing mini or cheap projects?
Paul Lafrance The original concept that we came up with three years ago was to have these large scale projects but we moved away because it doesn’t relate to people.
Look, another huge bodacious house I can’t relate to! A wonderful element is that we capture the homes, large and small, and there’s a townhouse where we carry the lumber through the house to the back. I’m just as proud of those projects. It challenges your creativity.
A big canvas is easier, but a limited space is more creatively challenging. Whatever the space, we create an oasis.
M&C: How do decks impact the value of a home?
Paul Lafrance It’s HUGE. You’ll notice we do our projects with low maintenance flooring. That’s really what impacts flooring, 92% of the project have maintenance free flooring. No one had time to maintain and that’s the biggest way it impacts the value.
Who has the time? I’m convinced that in five years – only naturalists who refuse to bend to new technology, who find natural things therapeutic will be the exceptions to maintenance free products.
M&C: What is the impact of “the deck life”?
Paul Lafrance Now you’re getting into what really drives me. On the surface I’ve been doing this stuff for years. I’m a counter-culture guy, I march to the beat of my own drum, in the early days of Cutting Edge my company, I was disheartened and felt that creative projects just added to the rat race, keeping up with the Joneses.
Until a good friend of mine, a Canadian military guy who had tough ordeals; he was a log home builder and artist, but he had view of life pretty rounded but he’d seen things that weren’t so pretty.
His outlook became very positive, one day he says to me, he grabbed me by my neck and pulls me in and says “Let me tell you what you’re telling me what you’re doing. You are creating places of rest in a world that has gone crazy”.
On that same point, what changed for at that point is now what I was doing related back to me as a counter-culture guy. Everything moves so fast today all the technical advances, but people have never been so stressed. You feel like a minivan driving down the road far faster than you were meant to go. There has never been a greater need to have a place to escape to and feel separate from your environment.
M&C: Did you need a lot of math skills to do what you do?
Paul Lafrance I wasn’t good at school. The fact that me being a counter-culture guy was that my time in school was me clawing at the walls wanting to get out of there. The school systems are on one side and I’m not that guy.
I can see a movie and recite lines to you but not from a book. I’m a visual guy, a designer. The school system doesn’t recognise that. I was told I wasn’t scholastic that I should be a tradesman, but I was creative and driven. I didn’t finish high school.
I love people to know that brains work a different way. I have more people come to say thanks for saying that. The culture says I didn’t do well in school, so I’m subpar person. I’ll sit on a soapbox, I didn’t finish high school. When you realise things are a game, see it that way suddenly no longer operating out of a place of being trepidatious or being in a certain mould. I’m okay to be who I am. Guys say you should be on a TV show. Don’t let the system or model of culture tell you who you are supposed to be.
M&C: How’s the schedule going?
Paul Lafrance We finished episodes for Season 1 in November before snowfall. We start Season 2 in a week. And we’ve already shot Deck Wars, a spin off even before Decked Out aired. It was a whole whack of fun. Two do-it-yourselfers against my crew. I’m hosting.
M&C What are your crew and designers, patting you on the rear end?
Paul Lafrance Isn’t that hilarious? Football players can pat each other on the butt, but construction guys don’t. They’re tough guys afraid to make a mistake! So we thought, why not? I know, I freak people out, but I like to think outside the box!