Westerville News & Public Opinion

Local couple happy to shine reality TV light on Uptown

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ANDREW KING/THISWEEKNEWS
Meredith Jones and Sam Ross stand outside their Uptown house on South Knox Street. The couple and house were featured in an episode of HGTV's House Hunters that was to air for the first time Wednesday night, July 2.

Meredith Jones and Sam Ross love Uptown Westerville.

Jones has lived in the community nearly her entire life, growing up in town and attending Westerville South High School. Ross was introduced to the city when he went to college at Otterbein. When they tied the knot, the couple opted for 220 doughnuts from Schneider's Bakery instead of a wedding cake.

And after purchasing the Uptown home they always wanted, the pair hope their July 2 appearance on Home and Garden Television's House Hunters will help bring exposure to their favorite place.

"One of the main reasons we reached out to (the show) was we wanted to draw attention to Westerville and Uptown," Jones said. "I really hope they say Westerville and not just, 'a suburb of Columbus.' We hope a lot of Westerville comes out."

When Jones and Ross closed on their new home at 119 S. Knox St. in October, they took a long shot and applied to be on the popular HGTV show, where couples are faced with a decision between three houses. They eventually had a phone interview with producers and made a five-minute introductory video.

Producers liked their story. By December, HGTV cameras were in Westerville, filming B-roll in the snow for the episode.

The show is a very staged "reality" program, but Jones and Ross said their "decoy" house options won't just look real to the viewer; they would have been real options to them, too.

"They show you two houses that really would have been in the discussion," Jones said. "The discussions were all real, and we had to relive them all.

"We were worried about that going in. What if we liked the decoy better than our house?"

The couple had watched plenty of House Hunters episodes before and weren't disappointed to know firsthand that it's predetermined.

"If buying a house could be done in five days, it would be so much easier," Ross laughed.

"Within the logistics of the TV show, they do want to have you pick a house, so they want something that will definitely be chosen," Jones added.

Despite four straight nine-hour filming days, both Jones and Ross said they had fun with the show and weren't frustrated with the takes or overwhelmed by the cameras.

"We had no idea what to expect," Jones said. "I had never been on TV before. ... But it was an absolute blast."

Fans of the show themselves, Jones and Ross kept a House Hunters cliches drinking game in the back of their minds during filming. When Jones entered one walk-in closet, she turned to Ross and said, "Where are you going to keep your clothes?" She immediately knew she had played into a classic cliche.

"I hate myself for having said that," she laughed. "I'm terrified that they'll use it."

A main factor in their choice of homes was a place to put Ross' collections of comic books and video games. Jones calls it his "nerd nook," and both assume producers will latch onto it as a storyline.

"I have a lot of comic book stuff," Ross said. "I like having those things out, but she doesn't want them to be seen. She doesn't want the Superman cookie jar sitting in the formal dining room."

The couple were set to watch the show with the rest of America Wednesday night and weren't sure what to expect even from their own performances. But they're not too concerned.

"We have a really good sense of humor," Jones said. "No matter how we're portrayed, we'll have a good laugh about it. You can't take yourself too seriously."

One thing they did know for sure? They planned to play the House Hunters drinking game during the show.

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