Loved-up soap stars Nadia Bjorlin and Brandon Beemer on the hassles of home renovation and the craziness of a new reality TV show.
Their characters have battled all manner of nail-biting drama - including being stranded on a desert island, surviving cancer and a near-fatal car accident. But, ask Brandon Beemer and Nadia Bjorlin about the most stressful thing they've ever done and the soap-star couple instantly agree: renovating their California home.
It was a topsy-turvy process they'd sooner forget, say the pair better known to soapie fans as The Bold & The Beautiful's hunky Owen Knight and Days of our Lives' sexy Chloe Lane.
When they bought the four-bedroom, three-bathroom, double-storey house on the outskirts of Los Angeles in July 2009, they knew they had a bit of a fixer-upper on their hands, Brandon and Nadia say, taking time out of their schedules to chat to YOU.
The project took five months and involved installing a fireplace in the lounge, staining all the wooden floors a darker shade and a complete overhaul of the kitchen. "We basically gutted it", Nadia (31) says. "It was definitely a labor of love".
And they planned the whole thing without the help of a decorator. "Nadia was in charge", Brandon (31) explains. "I would just say yes or no to whatever she showed me". She chose all the kitchen fixtures and fittings, he adds proudly, from the hanging silver lights to the garbage disposal.
She turned to decor magazines for inspiration and checked out friends' and colleagues' homes for ideas, Nadia says. Brandon, she adds, was the voice of reason throughout the process. "At first I had all these grandiose ideas. He'd be like, "Honey, you can't just move that wall. The whole upstairs will collapse".
They decided to start renovations six months after they moved in. "Some people like to renovate before they move in, but we wanted to wait so we could get a feel for what bothered us before changing things", says Nadia, who recently left Days of our Lives but will be on SA screens for a few more years.
But, living through the renovation was tougher than they'd imagined. Nadia reached the end of her tether about halfway through the redo and recalls turning to Brandon in frustration and pleading, "Can we throw the builders out?" "It was a real test in patience, but I'm grateful we have such a beautiful home", she says.
The couple couldn't be happier with their property and love everything about it - the leafy garden, the big patio doors, the windows that create a bright, airy feel, the pristine while walls and the splashes of old-school charm. It's their slice of heaven, Brandon says, describing the place as "modern traditional - maybe even hip".
The couple are self-confessed homebodies and spend most of their time in the kitchen whipping up healthy meals or lazing in front of the fireplace.
They also enjoy weekly poker evenings with the likes of fellow soap stars Zack Conroy (Oliver, The Bold & The Beautiful), Christian LeBlanc (Michael, The Young & The Restless) and John McCook (Eric, The Bold & The Beautiful) who lives just down the street.
The area we live in is very quiet, off the map. We sometimes get deer running through the streets", Brandon says. And the beauty of it is it's only about a 25-minute drive to The Bold set in downtown L.A.
No sooner had the renovation madness calmed down than along came a camera crew that followed Nadia and Brandon's every move for months for a reality TV show called, Dirty Soap.
The fly-on-the-wall drama, which started airing on DStv's E! Entertainment channel on 7 February, goes behind-the-scenes in the lives of some of America's sexiest soap stars, including Galen Gering (Days of our Lives' Rafe), Farah Fath (who played Days' Mimi before joining soapie One Life to Live) and Kirsten Storms (the original Belle on Days, who now acts in the rival soap, General Hospital).
By the end of the 12-week shoot for E!, the channel that made the Kardashian clan famous, producers had eight episodes of cat-iness, name-calling, sneak peeks into what happens on a soap set - and Brandon modeling underwear for a fashion show.
"Nadia and I are the sanest ones on the show. Everyone else is not afraid to get down and dirty", Brandon says with a laugh. "Some of it gets pretty crazy. Some people are off their rockers".
When producers Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, both former soap stars, called to ask Brandon and Nadia to film the pilot, they were initially reluctant. We're actors; we spend our lives playing other people, not being ourselves. Plus, the idea of letting strangers into your home is pretty scary, says Nadia, who recently wrapped filming the romantic comedy, Divorce Invitation, in which she stars alongside Elliot Gould, Andrea Bowen (Julie of Desperate Housewives) and former Sopranos actress, Jamie-Lynn Sigler.
However, the allure of being part of one of the first reality TV series that focuses on soap actors and showcases what goes on behind-the-scenes proved too much and they relented.
There have been a few tough moments, Brandon admits, such as camera crews arriving at their door every morning at 7:30 and following them around all day. "You can't tell them to go away and come back in an hour. They're respectful, but if you let them record something, they can do whatever they like with it".
They might be the sanest of the Dirty Soap cast, but there's no such thing as reality TV without conflict - and for Brandon and Nadia, the struggle has been with Nadia's Persian mom, Fary, who's outspoken about her dislike of Brandon. "She wants Nadia to be with a different kind of guy and she's very vocal about that. She's got six kids and loves to meddle in their lives", Brandon says.
Still, he manages to be philosophical about Fary's meddling. "She's just being protective. I shrug my shoulders and move on. Although, after one day of shooting, she wouldn't speak to me for two weeks".
Nadia says in many ways her mom steals the show on Dirty Soap. "She's kind of like Stephanie in The Bold & The Beautiful or Kate in Days of our Lives. Some people even said she could take on Kate in a fight. She's a firecracker".
Now the cameras have stopped rolling and life has returned to normal, the lovebirds say. Fary is still welcome in their home. "At the end of the day, she'll respect any decision I make", Nadia says. "Brandon and I aren't ready to get married or start a family just yet. We're focusing on our careers. Like we always say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".