Kayleen McCabe – Breaking Down Stereotypes

Kayleen McCabe – Breaking Down Stereotypes

The Lake Conroe Home & Garden Show

This was a great Home & Garden Show. Everywhere you looked you saw wonderful items and companies, ready to help you fix, expand, or renovate your home. Of course there were also the great companies with products to help you in the kitchen as well. I have to say my favorite part of this show was getting to interview Kayleen McCabe – the Host (and licensed contractor) of  DIY Network’s Rescue Renovations.

Kayleen McCabe onstage at the Lake Conroe Home & Garden Show

First, you should know that Kayleen is a very down to earth person. She and I had fairly similar backgrounds, and it felt as though I had found a kindred spirit when she started talking about how the smell of sawdust was her addiction. We both developed our love of carpentry and renovation from our fathers. She certainly made me feel right at home through the whole interview. My youngest came with me to the interview, and she insisted he be included in the pictures!

My son Mitchell, Kayleen McCabe, and me!

I have to share this adorable – um – purse(?) she carries! It really isn’t a purse, it’s a vintage, round-top lunch box that she has ‘renovated’ to hold all her daily essentials!

I love this very organized vintage lunch box Kayleen carries as a purse!

Kayleen McCabe is breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ – and all the stereotypes – for women in the truly, male-dominated world of construction. She’s not just some fluff that they put in front of the camera to make the show attractive. She is a licensed contractor with her own company, and a show on the DIY Network. She runs the renovations and knows her business and is the only woman on the whole crew. She wants women to know that there are places in the construction business for them. They should never think that it is a ‘male only’ career choice. She’s found that the homeowners are more comfortable with her, because she is a woman.

Here are the answers to a few of the questions that you asked me to ask her –

What has been the worst renovation so far? – It was putting insulation in an A-frame home. They had framed the room out so there was very little space for her to move around inside the wall to put the insulation in. She had wiggled in and gotten to a place where she had to lift her leg way up high to step over a beam. Just as she got her leg up and started to go over, her coveralls got hooked in the back and she couldn’t move. She sat there for 3 hours before she finally wiggled out of her coveralls, pulled them off the hook and got the insulation down. That was when she realized she still had to get back out.

What was your favorite renovation? – Building a pergola in a 30 ft. pit cut into the side of a sloping hill. They sunk the posts down into the pit first, and built the pergola top up on the flat drive-way. Once built, they picked this huge pergola top up with a crane, to set it on the posts. Many people told her it couldn’t be done, and that they would fail. The kicker was, it was a rainy, windy day. It also wasn’t the best time for Kayleen because her best friend had just passed away. As they were ready to pick up the top of the pergola, the rain and wind stopped. The pergola top didn’t even creak as they lowered it onto the posts. Kayleen said it was almost spiritual for her.

Advice for other women/girls wanting to get into construction? – Purchase a good leather toolbelt and break it in before you start working. Try every aspect of the business to find where you want to be exactly. She said if she had done this, she would probably be welding (“… the sound of welding is exactly the same as frying bacon…”).

What jobs did you have before Rescue Renovation? – She was a 911 dispatcher, and she worked as a ‘grunt’ on Trading Spaces.

What do you do in your spare time? – She doesn’t have a lot of spare time, but she likes to carry her dovetailing tools with her when she travels and practices making dovetails in her hotel room at night. She also builds furniture on commission.

Kayleen, Yvonne (from the blog Running In Faith), and I sat and talked like old girlfriends for over an hour. We talked about the power of the statement “I can make this!”, and the joy of doing it. We talked about women breaking stereotypes, and doing what they love, no matter what others think. We talked until it was time for her to go back on stage to talk about her show. One of the most memorable things that Kayleen said to us was a comment she made when we were talking about helping girls understand that they can do anything, if they set their hearts and minds to it. Kayleen was talking about there being no girls on the crew, and how she bridged the gap between a man’s world, and a woman’s world, by saying, “I have the best tools and the best shoes!”

Is there something you would have done, if there hadn’t been stereotypes? How are you empowering your daughters/nieces/grand-daughters? 



  1. I don’t know that I would have done anything differently, but I wish I knew a female contractor. I need a lot of work done on this house!

  2. By telling them they can do anything they set their minds too. If you believe it you can achieve it.

  3. What an inspiring time! I absolutely love her lunchbox purse!

  4. After working at the hardware store for six+ years, I wouldn’t lined to go into construction! I love that she does dovetailing in her hotel rooms! What a fun experience.

  5. This is pretty cool. Love her angle and wish she could come take a look at my place!

  6. Wow, how inspiring! What a great message she is delivering.

  7. What a great opportunity! I love that she spreads the message of empowering young women. With two little girls of my own I pray that they don’t ever feel held back in life because of their gender. I love that the two of you connected with your pasts and I, too, love her “purse”! She should totally start a fashion accessories line! 😉

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