- 1 It was scheduled for Pride Month
- 2 People first expected it to air in May
- 3 The producers have prior experience
- 4 Kristin and Davina want to inspire
- 5 Viewers will initially see Marlboro and Kingston
- 6 Kristin and Davina are locals
- 7 They have much in common
- 8 They have a favorite episode
- 9 Their family uplifts them
- 10 Kristin embraces change
- 11 Viewers should learn more about their past
“Small Town Potential” is an upcoming reality TV show that combines real estate and house building. It’s similar to hundreds of previous HGTV shows, especially “House Hunters” which premiered in 1999, “Fixer Upper” which aired in 2013, and “Love It or List It,” which went on air in 2008. Fireworks Media Group, a production company headquartered in Los Angeles, California, USA, and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is at the helm. It took a winning formula, hiring charismatic hosts – realtor Davina Thomasula and builder and carpenter Kristin Leitheuser who are also life partners – and choosing an interesting location, New York State’s Hudson Valley, where they said ‘a lot of people are moving to after the pandemic because it has so much potential.’ They also want to draw people in, by highlighting the community benefit of renovating old houses.
Life partners Kristin and Davina were joined by Donald “Don,” Kristin’s father, who has a four-decade-long experience in construction in and around New York City. The trio excited people by leveraging their expertise to help people transform their affordable, but poorly conceived, outdated and inadequate homes into their dream residences.
“Small Town Potential” was scheduled to air the first episode in mid-June 2023, only a month after HGTV revealed its release date. However, something happened that delayed its premiere by about a month. Thankfully, that’s an excellent opportunity for people to get to know the hosts and be enamoured with the concept, explained in the sneak peek of the first episode. We investigated everything you should know to help you decide if the show will catch your attention.
It was scheduled for Pride Month
HGTV notified their loyal fans that a new show would air on 14 June 2023, which was almost certainly intentional, as June is Pride Month, and the show features a lesbian couple as hosts. New York State has a Marriage Equality Act, signed into law by the state’s 56th governor, Andrew Cuomo, during his first year in office in 2011. That may have contributed to the location choice, and avoided legal constraints and debates.
With that said, the hosts, licensed real estate agent Davina and her partner Kristin, a master carpenter and builder, help their clients, one of whom is Davina’s mother, to renovate their properties. They turn them into homes their clients always wanted but never had, whether because they lacked the money, a trustworthy project manager, or the time and courage to undertake full-scale repairs.
Although this still needs to be revealed officially, Kristin and Davina became engaged four years before the filming or the show’s premiere, in 2018 or 2019. However, while they admit that their busy work life prevented them from planning their wedding, their marriage may happen in front of HGTV cameras if the show takes off.
People first expected it to air in May
Although HGTV stated that the show would air eight episodes within a season in the middle of June, websites such as Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb initially listed the release date as 28 May. After the initial announcement, Rotten Tomatoes listed the updated premiere date as 21 June 2023, which made viewers tune in at the wrong time. When the new episode failed to air after the updated date, people speculated that HGTV wanted to expand the show’s reach.
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Although the company did not offer an official explanation, Davina posted on Instagram that they ‘unfortunately had to delay the show to August’, before editing the original announcements to reflect the new date. Some viewers speculate that viewership drops during the summer. If that’s true, the production company may have been looking for a better time slot for the intended audience.
Regardless, seeing the connection between Kristin and Davina is enough to convince viewers that the show is worth the wait, as seen in the sneak peeks released in June. People who don’t pick up on their chemistry from the get-go likely won’t resist the charm of rolling hills, lush greenery, and old but increasingly modern neighborhoods of Hudson River Valley.
The producers have prior experience
Fireworks Media Group is relatively new, started by a well-known TV producer, Jesse Fawcett, in 2021. Although he’s worked in movie, TV and animation since 1999, home renovation show fans will likely only recognize “Pamela Anderson’s Home Reno Project,” a working title of the show that he made for HGTV Canada, and “Selling the Big Easy,” which he produced for HGTV US in 2019.
The company’s expertise, likable co-hosts, and an attractive location with prices at both ends of the spectrum almost guarantee success. Thus, it was frightening that the show didn’t air when expected. Luckily, filming had seemingly concluded, and the premiere was merely pushed back by about 15 to 45 days, not canceled, meaning that the excitement won’t be in vain.
Kristin and Davina want to inspire
Starring in the show meant more to Kristin and Davina than securing a film crew to follow them around. The couple said that their goal was to motivate city dwellers to consider the alternative; cheaper homes away from the city center may not look the best at first, but can become cozy, fetching, timeless, and functional through redesign and repair. Best of all, the houses will be much cheaper than living in the central city areas, allowing their clients to use them as weekend retreats, holiday homes, or retirement properties if they aren’t ready to relocate yet.
Davina said that she got the idea for the location because she noticed the demand from upstate city dwellers after the COVID-19 pandemic through her work. She realized that there are many beautiful and distinctive towns alongside the Hudson River. She loved that they had many farmstands, abandoned properties, and mom-and-pop businesses yet had frequent and reliable train routes to New York City.
Viewers will initially see Marlboro and Kingston
With Davina’s motivations revealed, it was unsurprising that the first episode takes viewers to a farmhouse from the 1800s. The hosts will renovate it to fit the needs of a city-dweller couple who landed a new job near Marlboro, and wanted to move with their daughter, but needed more space to entertain guests. That prompted Davina, Kristin and her dad to transform it into an open-concept home in a contemporary style. Towards the episode’s end, Davina and Kristin visit an art studio in Kingston where they live, to restore a sad-looking attic into an awe-inspiring art workroom.
Kristin and Davina are locals
Kristin lived closer to the Hudson Valley longer than Davina. She was raised in Pleasant Valley, a town between New York City and Albany, New York State capital. Davina was born in the state’s city of Buffalo but grew up in Coral Springs, Florida. Nonetheless, they were shocked when HGTV told them that they’d green-lit their show; Davina was driving when the news reached her, and forgot what ‘getting a green light’ meant, prompting her to call Kristin and ask. Kristin stated that she almost fell over upon hearing the news.
They quickly got over the presence of cameras. Despite the stress of adequately capturing the projects on film on top of the usual construction issues, Kristin and Davina said that it felt like an adult summer camp, as they did what they loved, met new people, and spent time together.
They have much in common
In an interview with HGTV, the hosts explained that they are very similar. For instance, they enjoyed the bar scene, having actually even met there. Kristin played a recreational basketball game in New York City, then headed to a bar to cool off because one of her friends knew the bartender. That bartender was Davina, and although their romance developed slowly, Kristin says that ordering a Guinness started it all. Davina revealed that she had been bartending for over 10 years, and always wanted to own a neighborhood bar. She eventually opened a 700sqft or 65m2 bar, Goodnight Kenny, in Poughkeepsie, two years before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and hired locals. The name is a tribute to Davina’s musician father, Kenny. He works at night and naps throughout the day, so jokingly family wishes him good night whenever he goes to sleep.
Davina and Kristin love children and plan to have them someday. However, they note that their pets keep them busy enough and that they’ve give them human names. They have a mixed rescue dog, Stephen who is four, and Winston, a Brussels Griffon who is a year older. They found Stephen on a Poughkeepsie street when he was around nine months old; he was gaunt and resorted to digging through a trash can, so they took him in, realising that he had no owner.
Green is their favorite color – Davina said that it’s a ‘natural shade that makes her feel happy and peaceful’ while Kristin remarked that she ‘loves its diverse appearance in nature.’ She has green eyes anyway, so her mom always nudged her to wear green clothing to match her eye color!
They have a favorite episode
Although they only filmed eight episodes of the first season, one episode was so iconic and invoked so many emotions that they quickly called it their favorite, and that likely won’t change.
In an unannounced episode, the two work on Davina’s mom’s home, located about 600ft or 185m from their Kingston home. They were under extra pressure because they knew that Davina’s mom would tell them if she disliked something, but she let their creativity flourish and didn’t complain, only requesing that they paint her kitchen cabinets the same shade as her green eyes!
Their family uplifts them
Davina has described herself in three words – ambitious, honest, and silly – while Kristin said that she was regimented, driven and handy. They also said that Kristin was the honest one in their relationship, while Davina was always the person who could engage with anyone. Both claim that their parents greatly influenced those traits.
Kristin was always about finding solutions to a problem, which she learned from her father, who was a carpenter and builder in New York City for over 40 years. She has a college business degree, but found joy as a contractor when she worked with her father during summer breaks. Davina initially planned to be an on-air meteorologist, so she majored in broadcast journalism in college. However, she always loved working with people, and admired her hard-working parents, who are ‘in her heart every morning, inspiring her.’
After 20 years in the hospitality industry, Davina became enraptured by real estate. She particularly enjoyed the community service of helping make neighborhoods prettier and livelier, and the compliments that she received from happy clients. Moreover, Davina said that she gets long-term joy from people whose forever homes she finds. They reach out for years after working together, to thank her, and the word of mouth benefits her business.
Kristin embraces change
People may not have realized that Kristin had flowing blonde hair until 2017, when she decided to chop it off. That change was as radical as the one that her work brings; they transitioned an old home into a modern, open-concept residence in episode one, making it almost nrecognizable.
However, that won’t always be the case. Kristin says that one of the reasons that she wanted to be in the show about small towns was that people slowly gravitated towards older layouts in recent years. She and her father had been working on such projects for years, and both appreciated the beauty of the old form, including small rooms and low ceilings. Therefore, they do their best to preserve the original layout, appearance, and functionality when their clients agree.
This is what grateful looks like. Sitting in the experience of a lifetime and trying to just take it all in. What a ride…
Viewers should learn more about their past
Viewers who looked up the hosts online learned much more about them, and tidbits of that information will inevitably end up on TV. For instance, Davina only became a realtor in 2017, and beforehand was a food blogger for her website, ForkNPlate.com. She also had an eponymous YouTube channel, which she kept active after moving to Poughkeepsie to open a bar. She visited various restaurants, pizza places, craft breweries and coffee shops to meet the people, taste the products, and learn about their businesses.
Kristin played NCAA basketball for four years in college, the 2007 – 2008 season for St. Francis College Terriers, averaging 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. Kristin assisted 174 times as a player, made 637 rebounds, and scored 1,059 points during those four years. Consequently, she was hired as an assistant women’s basketball coach at New Jersey City University for the 2011 to 2012 season.