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LA on "While You Were Out"


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Originally posted by AJWatson3

i want to know too...

my sis lives for that damn channel... if it isn't "why you were away" it is "a dating story" or "a wedding story" or "a baby story" enough to make any man sick to his stomach...

My wife lives for that stuff. I can put up with Trading Spaces, but as soon as she tries to pull "a makeover story" on me, it's Xbox here I come!

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LaVar Arrington Tackles a Rec Room

The Redskins' Star Is Game for TV Decorating

Linebacker LaVar Arrington confers with TLC's Evan Farmer and Chayse Dacoda. (Tracy A. Woodward - The Washington Post)

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By Annie Groer

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, July 17, 2003; Page H01

As the camera rolled, wiry TV decorating-show host Evan Farmer looked up at beefy Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington and asked, "When was the last time you painted a wall?"

"I have never painted a wall. My parents let me concentrate on my craft," said Arrington, 25, referring with understatement to his athletic prowess, which includes leveling 300-pound-plus NFL linemen. So good was he at dropping those in his path that he quit Penn State and, as the second collegiate pick of 2000, scooped up a $10 million signing bonus from the Redskins.

Last week, Arrington's unfamiliarity with such indoor sporting equipment as a paintbrush and roller -- "I don't want to mess anything up," he said, gingerly applying a Ralph Lauren red to a narrow wall -- hardly mattered. As a celebrity participant on TLC's hit show "While You Were Out," he actually did precious little to turn the colorless rec room in his Ashburn townhouse into a vivid "sports bar" for older brother Michael.

The real work was done by the show's crew adept at their own crafts: carpentry, upholstery, lighting, flooring and window treatments. Led by designer Chayse Dacoda, they had 48 hours and $1,500 to remake the smallish, cream-carpeted, white-walled room overlooking a patio and pond. Michael was gone, tricked into leaving town to spend two days at a resort with his fiancee.

"I think the Redskins were being very protective of LaVar's hands and his feet," said Dacoda. "They kept their prize possession away from tools."

Indeed, when tornado warnings were broadcast before a fierce storm during the early stages of remodeling last Wednesday, an anxious team official made sure Arrington knew to take cover in a windowless stairwell should a deadly twister hit. (It didn't.)

Arrington is kicking off the second season of "WYWO" -- in which a participant proposes to spiff up an interior or exterior space to surprise a loved one -- because executive producer Michael Klein said he wanted pop culture muscle on the show, which airs in September. When National Football League Films was asked which players might be game, Arrington's was the first name punted back.

"He's just one of those personalities who could pull it off," said Redskins public relations director Michelle Tessier. "Originally the show wanted him to do his mom's house. But he said 'My mother would kill me.' He could get away with his brother."

Arrington accepted because "I actually watch this show, and I thought it would be pretty cool to do it." He watches other decorating programs as well, "just to get ideas for the future. Actually, I am in the process of trying to move."

In his rookie season, he bought this $290,000 three-bedroom townhouse in Loudoun County near Redskin Park but now lives in far grander digs on five acres in Fairfax County. His housemates there include Michael, an events coordinator who by day stays home with his three children -- Jasmine, 9, Michael Jr., 3, and Amaya,10 months -- and Michael's fiancee, teacher Shalonda Dixon.

Now LaVar wants a place of his own. "Phase one" of his search for a permanent home -- preferably on the water in Annapolis -- is "getting Michael out of the house" in Fairfax and installed in Ashburn so he, too, can move on. What better house-warming gift for his brother than a groovy play space?

"The rec room had a couple of chairs, a couple of tables. It was pretty plain-Jane," said LaVar, who told the TV crew, "We are an athletic family, we do things that involve competition all the time. Chayse took that idea."

The designer installed a three-dimensional "goal post" made of PVC pipe on one wall, then cut a real football in two and positioned half of it to look as if it were sailing over the uprights.

Although the dominant colors are not quite burgundy and gold, the red and beige are close enough for TV work. "It definitely has a Redskins feel to it, " said Arrington. "It's gotta have that."

To stay within budget, Dacoda brought an outdoor bar inside and skirted it. She re-covered the seats and designed a football-shaped coffee table complete with white lacing. She pieced together a red-and-beige checked Flokati rug and installed sleek pendant lights. And because LaVar wanted to celebrate the fact that his senior sib also played football and basketball, Dacoda covered a wall with blow-up photos of Michael as a young jock. A local furniture company donated a leather couch and chair in return for publicity, and LaVar won a combination poker-bumper pool table for the room by correctly answering questions about his big bro.

Michael turned 28 last Thursday, so LaVar lured him back to the house with a birthday dinner invitation. Then they ventured into the finished rec room for the show's climactic "reveal."

"The room is awesome," a totally stunned Michael said later. "I had just started moving in. That was a big help and a big start. LaVar knew I was trying to get a little sports thing going down there so that when he's on the road I can invite a few people over and watch the game. He hit it on the head."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

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