Thomas (in orange) and PJ McKay will make an appearance at Saturday’s Dispatch Home & Garden Show in Columbus. (Photos courtesy of PJ and Thomas McKay, via Instagram)


PJ and Thomas McKay will share their renovation and decorating expertise at the Columbus home show.

By Bob Vitale

PJ and Thomas McKay, property-renovating husbands from Tennessee, will offer tips and tricks for remaking your home when they take the stage Saturday at The Columbus Dispatch Home & Garden Show. 

Here are a few to get you started: 

  • That blue-gray color everyone’s using on their walls? They’re over it. 
  • “We’re done with shiplap,” Thomas McKay says of the often-whitewashed paneling that makes rooms look like the inside of a barn.
  • Dark hardwood floors are pretty but impractical. 
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The McKays, whose “Property Lovers” blog, about renovating their 1950s split-level in Cleveland, Tenn., led to a big social media following and an HGTV pilot last year, will talk at 1 p.m. on the show’s Simple Bath Home Stage. The Dispatch home show takes place at the Ohio Expo Center’s Bricker and Celeste buildings, 717 E. 17th Ave., Columbus, 43211. 

They call their style traditional and favor neutral, casual colors. They love antiques. They also like industrial flourishes such as exposed brick and exposed ducts but steer away from other modern trends. 

“We always want our houses to look and feel lived in and feel very inviting, like you want to come in and sit down and have a cup of coffee with us,” Thomas says.  

They’d need an awfully big couch to accommodate all their fans. 

The couple started blogging in 2015, which is the same year they got married. They have more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and tens of thousands more on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. 

While they have bought and renovated more houses in Cleveland and nearby Chattanooga, their blog and videos have evolved into a lifestyley mix of travel (they recently took a Caribbean cruise), style, décor and features on other LGBTQ people. 

HGTV came calling, and the pilot for “Down to the Studs” aired in June 2017. Logo called the couple “adorable” and suggested their show could become the next HGTV obsession. (Thomas’ lesbian sister was part of the renovation team.) Pop Sugar said its fingers were crossed that the show would get picked up and added, “we can’t get enough of these two.” 

HGTV didn’t bite. 

“We expected no from the get-go,” says PJ, who shares that about 30 other production companies have contacted them since the pilot. “It turned into a really cool project that opened a lot of doors for us.” 

Thomas called the experience “bittersweet.” 

“The whole process really was never a guarantee in the first place, so we were, I don’t want to say expecting to fail at each turn, but we were just pleasantly surprised each time we got a yes,” he says.


Bob Vitale
A Toledo native and graduate of Toledo Public Schools, Bob has worked as a local government and politics reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, as a Washington correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and as editor-in-chief for Outlook Ohio. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Ball State University and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.