Born and raised in Traverse City and a graduate of Central Michigan University, Carter Oosterhouse is one of America’s most recognized lifestyle experts. He first shot to fame in 2003 as a carpenter on the home improvement series Trading Spaces. While on that series, he did double duty on NBC’s Three Wishes hosted by singer Amy Grant. Now, he is host of three home improvement shows of his own (Carter Can, The Inside Job, and Red, Hot & Green), is a frequent contributor for Today on NBC, and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, and The Tyra Banks Show. Carter’s talent as a lifestyle expert and craftsman is as genuine as his down-to-earth personality. Still, not surprisingly, his rugged good looks have certainly captured attention too, making him one of People magazine’s Sexiest Men on Television. He is also a passionate supporter of his beloved homestate.
BMN: How do you think growing up in Michigan impacted your life and career?
CARTER: I loved growing up in Michigan. I wouldn't have changed a thing. My mom and dad are very hard workers and they instilled that work ethic into my brothers, sister and me. Not only did the strong Mid-western values help shape me into who I am today, but also the beauty of Michigan helped me appreciate the outdoors. I travel all the time and people rarely think about the things Michigan has to offer, but the people that do, they don't stop talking about it! That’s what makes me so proud, and glad to say that I'm from Michigan. Ask my fellow workers on the show, they'll tell you about my obsession with the state.
BMN: How often do you get back to the state and what are your favorite areas to visit?
CARTER: I have a farm up in Traverse City, and I get back every third month on average. If I had my choice I would stay there full-time but we shoot a lot of the shows in LA. I am bringing Carter Can to Traverse City this summer, to shoot a couple of episodes with Michigan residents. I've promised the crew that it would be the best shoot of the season!
BMN: What do you miss most from your home state when you’re not here?
CARTER: I just miss the pure beauty of the state. There is nothing like a sunny summer afternoon on the water. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
BMN: What foods and beverages do you think of as being quintessentially Michigan?
CARTER: Like most Michiganders I always thought of cherries and fudge, but now I am starting to think wine. Who would have thought that we are a major player in the wine industry? Michigan is the fourth biggest wine producing state in the US. Let’s capitalize on this opportunity. Michigan is already a huge tourist destination but I just found out that we might have a 2% decline in tourism this year. That's something we can collectively change. We need to buckle down and start taking advantage of resources like wine and cherries. We also have great schools. We have the resources; now we just have to act and help Michigan's economy make a turn around.
BMN: What are your thoughts on the Buy Michigan Now concept and the idea of supporting local businesses?
CARTER: Let’s face it, as a "green" enthusiast, I always promote buying locally. The average bite travels 1500 miles to get to your mouth. If we think about gas prices, that's not smart in any business model. Michigan is full of fertile land. Farmer’s markets are a great way to keep the dollar close to home. We have amazing schools that are producing extremely well educated individuals. We don't need to go anywhere else. How about tax incentives to help stimulate the economy? Not only will that mean more local buying, but also businesses can grow. People from MIichigan are strong. We've been on the forefront before Buy Michigan Now and we can do it again!
BMN: Michigan is currently considering passing legislation that will increase our use of renewable energy. What advice do you have for residents who want to be a part of the “green” movement?
CARTER: This is a must! We need to accelerate our thinking and understanding in the "green" space. The Midwest has beautiful open land and Michigan has some of the best. We need to take advantage of our region, which will bring in more local jobs. I still feel that we put ourselves behind the pack because we chose not to change as other states have. But the other states don't have what we have. Michigan is full of wind power, hydro - power, bio-fuels, we just need to harness these and jump back into the race (not every state has the resources). Gas prices are rising everyday with no signs of slowing down. Let’s not let others control our pocket books; instead let’s start controlling our own. Once we decide we want to, renewable energy is the fastest way to make that happen.
BMN: What plans do you have to celebrate Earth Day and what other projects are you currently working on that we can look forward to?
CARTER: I have a new show that airs in June on HGTV. It's called Red, Hot & Green. The premise is to deliver a red-hot design by using green materials. We are in the middle of production on Earth Day, so I will be remodeling someone's kitchen with eco-friendly materials. As a carpenter I use a lot of lumber, for the sake of keeping my material readily available and lowering my carbon footprint, I will definitely be planting some trees!
BMN: What Shout Out do you have for your friends and fans in Michigan?
CARTER: Thanks for watching the shows and keeping me busy and even though the economy may be down all we need to do is pick it back up!