'Ask This Old House' Brings Light to Pasadena

Tonight's cuppa: peppermint tea

ATOH_Kevin_OConnor_Dino.JPGOne thing's for sure about television -- it's sometimes a very long time before what I see on a set visit actually hits the airwaves.

Back in September, I headed to Pasadena, Calif.. (home of the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl, incidentally) to meet up with the "This Old House" companion show, "Ask This Old House," in which ordinary homeowners get expert help on relatively small projects.

On hand were the regular "TOH" crew -- including senior producer/director David Vos, cameraman/director of photography Stephen "Dino" D'Onofrio (white shorts in the picture at left), production coordinator Heath Racela and host Kevin O'Connor (blue shirt and jeans)-- and a local contractor, Charles Vargas of B&M Electric in Torrance, Calif.

(For those not familiar with the Los Angeles basin, Pasadena is as far east as you can get without being in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, and Torrance is almost as far west as you can get before you fall in the ocean).

Earlier this fall, I wrote a short syndicated piece based on my interview with O'Connor on this day -- click here for that --  but now the episode itself is airing, starting Saturday, Dec. 18. As this is PBS, check your local listings for time, date and channel in your area. Some local stations may run as much as a month behind the national premiere date.

Homeowner Stephen wanted to get rid of the fluorescent lights in the galley kitchen of his ranch-style home,  but he couldn't find a contractor who would educate him as well as trying to sell him something.

"I figured I could do the actual work myself," he says, "but I wanted to know whether what I wanted would be a good idea, what size cans to use, what kind of lights, what color lights, the placement of them."

So he filled out the form to apply to be on "Ask This Old House," and out came Vargas to help him decide what to choose.

Asked if he is B or M in B&M Electrc, Vargas says, "I am neither. B&M stands for Bill and Mike. They are the original father-and-son team, the owners. I worked for them for 15 years, and after 15 years, I purchased the company from them.

"They were ready to retire, and I was ready to keep on trucking."


Vargas showed Stephen many different kinds of lights and demonstrated a variety of ways to install them. Apparently this is not just for TV, but Vargas' standard practice - -and it has a very practical reason

"That one person talking bad about us," says Vargas, "trickles down to 20 people. So my goal is to educate people by showing them exactly what they're going to be purchasing to light up the space.

"It helps them make the most educated choice, and it also helps me in the end, because I know they picked what they liked."


So, what did Stephen pick? What challenges were there in the install? Did everyone get a good lunch? OK, even if you tune in, you won't know that last one -- but I had a grilled tuna sandwich, and it was yummy.

See below for some of the things I saw that day...




I've also been out to the current Los Angeles remodel project for "This Old House." Click here and here to see what I saw there.

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