Photo: Jeff Sciortino

Coming to an alley near you: (from left) Samantha Gleisten, Michael Spatafora, and David Beaupre

Last fall, the DIY Network, a cable channel based in Knoxville, Tennessee, asked Chicago’s Thea Flaum Productions to develop a new show about home makeovers based on a title it had come up with: From Junky to Funky. Flaum and her senior producer, Daniel Lombardi, got to work, brainstorming with colleagues and calling around town in search of cool stores and potential hosts for the show. Then they started auditioning.

“We saw plenty of suburban domestic divas, but that wasn’t what we wanted,” says Lombardi. He had already settled on David Beaupre, a 26-year-old freelance set designer, but he discovered Samantha Gleisten, a 32-year-old actress who is handy with a power drill, in the audition process. “Sam came in with her spunk and her original ideas, and she was perfect,” he says. Gleisten, in turn, introduced Lombardi to Michael Spatafora, 27, a professional set builder with acting chops. But would the trio have chemistry? “They instantly bonded, and they haven’t been apart since,” says Lombardi. “Their dynamic shows on camera.”

From Junky to Funky, which débuts October 3rd on the DIY channel, follows Beaupre, Gleisten, and Spatafora as they cruise Chicago in a 1969 green pickup. They chat with homeowners about hopes and aspirations, then snatch furniture and raw materials from alleys and thrift stores and transform their finds into accessories for a new dream room. Spatafora says theatre designers have the edge when it comes to decorating with cast-off items. Beaupre agrees. “Working with impossible budgets, in high schools and community theatres, forced me to go out to thrift stores and dumpsters to find the cheapest possible furniture, and change it somehow to fit the play,” he says.

The trio won’t reveal its favorite haunts, but Gleisten shares this tip: explore shops on the West and South sides. “The North Side is expensive and it’s picked over,” she says. That doesn’t stop Beaupre from roller- blading the alleys of Roscoe Village. “If I find something that’s really good, I call Sam or Mike,” he says, “-or if it’s light enough I’ll skate it home.”