SC couple finds dream home on HGTV's 'House Hunters'

rburris@thestate.comFebruary 26, 2011 

  • What: "House Hunters," episode number 4801

    When: 10 p.m. Sunday (subject to change)

    Channel: HGTV

— A young family, Matt and Meghan Pennell and their 2-year-old daughter, Kate, are cueing up for their 15 minutes of fame this weekend.

The Pennell's search for the perfect Columbia home will be featured Sunday night on HGTV's popular "House Hunters" television show, scheduled to air at 10 p.m. Sunday.

During four days of filming in Columbia last August, the Pennells went on a whirlwind house-hunting journey that led them to an intriguing choice among homes in three final neighborhoods: Jackson Heights, Lake Katharine and Quail Hollow Village in Lexington County.

The Pennells didn't want to give details about the three houses before the show's airing. But they were looking in the $275,000 price range.

Finding their dream house put the Pennells in their own home for the first time as a family - although family is one thing they haven't been short of lately.

The family moved to Columbia from Charleston last June after Meghan Pennell got a job promotion. They took up residence in the upstairs of her parents' home in Shandon while they searched for the right home for themselves.

That put five adults, one child, four cats and a dog all in one house, with the restrooms on the ground floor.

"We just said, 'We'll stay here until we can find something that's hopefully right and not go crazy at the same time,'" said Meghan Pennell, 27, a Coca-Cola executive.

Meghan Pennell's mother works from home, Meghan worked from home after the move, and her younger brother lived there while attending college. Then there was Meghan's mother's husband, and, of course, Matt and little Kate, too.

"Everybody was at home during the day, which made for not a lot of privacy," said a nonetheless grateful Matt Pennell, 41, a stay-at-home dad.

"House Hunters," HGTV's most popular show, is also Meghan Pennell's favorite television show, and the Pennells, who met at the 2002 Outback Bowl football game between Ohio State and USC, plan to make the most of their newfound celebrity.

They, along with their Columbia Realtor Donna Reed, plan a premiere party at the Cock 'n' Bull on Edisto Avenue beginning at 9 p.m., an hour before the scheduled broadcast.

Meghan Pennell said she applied for the show mainly because her husband challenged whether she could be successful at capturing the interest of HGTV.

"I did it for her," Matt Pennell said. "It's her favorite show, and it's an experience."

"It's our 15 minutes of fame," said Reed, a friend of the Pennells. "They've never owned a house together. They'll have that memory."

"We got to showcase Columbia, which was great," said Meghan Pennell, "and let people know (what's here) because I don't think people really know what Columbia is like. That was really nice."

Reed said she took the film crew to several parts of town during the four days, including to a residence on Governor's Hill, which affords a splendid view of the city; The Vista; USC; Five Points; and the top of No.1 Main for a peep down Main Street.

The crew filmed the Pennells strolling several parts of town, though no one knows what made the final cut.

"They want to come back again," Reed said of the show.

On Sunday, the world will learn which neighborhood the Pennells chose to live in as they raise their daughter. They also have a cat, Griffin. But the journey - that was fun, they said.

"We'll always have memories of her (Kate), because she's on it, and she'll always be able to say her goofy parents were on 'House Hunters,'" Meghan Pennell said.

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