Open house

Why Joh Griggs broke her own house rules to let view­ers into her home

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

FOR the long­est time, Jo­hanna Griggs knocked back re­peated re­quests to open her home to TV cam­eras – even ones from her own show – in a bid to shel­ter her two young sons from the lime­light.

The agree­ment with Jesse and Joe was al­ways that the fam­ily house was a sanc­tu­ary away from their mum’s high­pro­file world, and what­ever went on in­side those walls was their busi­ness.

“When kids are grow­ing up, they’re try­ing to work out who they are and it can be hard when ev­ery­one knows ev­ery lit­tle thing about you,” Griggs says.

“It was a clear de­ci­sion that when the front door was closed, that’s home and no one needed to know any­thing about it.”

Now that they’re all grown up – Jesse is 20 and Joe, cur­rently gal­li­vant­ing around Europe, is 19 – they’re much more com­fort­able with the me­dia cir­cus and don’t mind if it comes home with Griggs once in a while.

And so it did re­cently, when the Bet­ter Homes and

Gar­dens host in­vited her fel­low pre­sen­ters around for a lav­ish Christ­mas lunch, with sev­eral cam­eras and a crew of about 80 in tow to cap­ture the day for a fes­tive episode of the long-run­ning life­style show.

Even her hus­band Todd Hug­gins makes an ap­pear­ance in the spe­cial, which airs on Fri­day.

“I wasn’t ner­vous,” Griggs says. “We were pretty com­fort­able with the idea.

“I fig­ure BH&G view­ers wel­come us into their homes ev­ery week, so it’s nice for us to give them a win­dow into our home.”

Griggs and Hug­gins built their place to­gether, on Sydney’s north­ern beaches. Hug­gins runs a con­struc­tion com­pany and Griggs was hands-on with the de­sign and dec­o­rat­ing el­e­ments.

Griggs says what they cre­ated was the ul­ti­mate party pad boast­ing big out­door spa­ces, a dream kitchen and a pool with a view of the TV, per­fect for long sum­mer days of live tele­vised sport.

“We love to en­ter­tain and the whole back of the house re­flects that,” she says. “It’s de­signed to have mass num­bers of peo­ple. For Todd’s birth­day last year, we fit 150 peo­ple in there.”

It’s also per­fect for Christ­mas, which is by far Griggs’ favourite time of year. Plan­ning for fes­tiv­i­ties, which she hosts each year, start in June. She re­cruits a horde of nieces of neph­ews, who pick the colour scheme, help with dec­o­ra­tions and take part in craft and bak­ing days in the lead-up.

“Christ­mas morn­ing is an in­ti­mate af­fair with fam­ily … and then it’s a mad scram­ble to get ev­ery­thing ready,” Griggs says. “Peo­ple start ar­riv­ing about 5pm and it just kicks on.”

The past year has been one of the most fran­tic of Griggs’ ca­reer. As well as BH&G, she filmed two sea­sons of Seven’s ren­o­va­tion re­al­ity se­ries House Rules, on top of her semi-reg­u­lar sport cov­er­age du­ties.

“It was ex­cit­ing and fun, I’ve got to say, but it was ful­lon,” she says. “I’ve had lots of busy pe­ri­ods but noth­ing as in­tense as that.”

In Septem­ber, she took two weeks off and went to the fam­ily farm in the Hunter Val­ley for some much-needed rest. The 40ha slice of coun­try par­adise has about 30 cows graz­ing on the rolling green pas­tures. There, Griggs and Hug­gins switch off their phones and re­lax.

“Todd and I went out there to re­group and I think we sat in si­lence for the first week. We both needed a rest,” she says.

That fort­night will seem like just a dis­tant mem­ory come Christ­mas Day.

BET­TER HOMES AND GAR­DENS CHRIST­MAS SPE­CIAL FRI­DAY, 7PM, SCT

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