Redo the kitchen first, says "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" carpenter Paul DiMeo


Paul DiMeo is the staff carpenter on ABC's long-running tearjerker real estate hit Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and he knows a little something about building cool stuff in a crunch. For seven seasons now, he's swept into the lives of needy or deserving American families and granted them the gift of their lives: a whole new house in a week.

This Sunday, DiMeo and the crew on the bus pull into Texas, where they help a family who moved into a fixer-upper, intending to renovate it, when disaster struck. Unable to afford a change, they were stuck with a real estate lemon. In this recession, it's happened to a lot of us.

So if you don't have a lot of money to make over your own house, where you should start? DiMeo has two answers for that budget quandary. The first answer is the kitchen, a room that promises a lot of bang for the buck because families tend to spend a lot of their time there. But if a reinvention of that single room is too rich for your blood, DiMeo has an even cheaper suggestion of where your dollar can go the furthest.

DiMeo, who is spending a rare week at his own home, phoned WalletPop's Jason Cochran by Skype this week to talk to him about the upcoming episode and to dispense a few nuggets of renovation wisdom. And what room does DiMeo spent the most time in? You may regret asking.