Ty Pennington Announces Engagement to Longtime Girlfriend

HGTV star Ty Pennington is engaged! The Trading Spaces alum announced Wednesday that his longtime girlfriend, Kellee Merrell, said "yes" when he recently dropped to one knee and popped the question. A representative for Pennington told PEOPLE that he proposed over morning coffee on the dock of his home in Palm Coast, Florida

The HGTV star shared the exciting news with his followers on Instagram, where he shared a photo of his now-fiancée's hand adorned with a glimmering teardrop-shaped stone. He captioned the post with a simple, "the 'yes' for me…" The news led to an outpouring of congratulatory messages from Pennington's fellow HGTV stars, with Help! I Wrecked My House star Jasmine Roth writing, "Awwww congrats!!!" Pennington's Trading Spaces co-star Genevieve Gorder commented, "IM SO HAPPY FOR YOU MY FRIEND!!! Cannot wait to meet her." Taniya Nayak, who currently stars alongside Pennington on HGTV's Battle on the Beach, added, "Wooohoooo! Smart move!! She's a keeper! Congrats you two lovebirds!"

Pennington and Merrell, a social media manager originally from Vancouver, originally met back in 2010 while Pennington was filming a TV show in Toronto. In the years that followed, the two stayed connected via mutual friends, though it wasn't until early 2020 that their relationship turned romantic when they decided to quarantine together amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"I have admired Kellee from afar for years. She's a beautiful person inside and out," Pennington told PEOPLE of their relationship. "Luckily our paths finally crossed at the right time. It's one of those things where you just feel happy being around a person. I never thought I would get married, but she changed that. Glad I waited for the one."

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News of their engagement comes just after Pennington in June penned a sweet message for Merrell's birthday. Marking the occasion, Pennington wrote, "thank you ...Universe ...for creating this amazing human... who somehow tolerates me ...even tho I'm beginning to look like papa smurf after a Willie Nelson concert." According to the star's representative, the soon-to-be newlyweds are "thrilled" to be engaged and excited to begin their life together. The couple recently purchased a 19th-century house together in Savannah, Georgia and are in the midst of renovating it.