The only thing harder than keeping a Hollywood marriage afloat may be navigating major home renovations with your spouse.

Corbin Bernsen and Amanda Pays have managed to do both for nearly 30 years.

In addition to successful careers in film and television, the couple has been busy renovating more than 20 homes on the side, living in some, flipping others, and showing a knack for repurposing pipes, planks, glass and beams in an effort to be both frugal and decorative.

Their style and strategies are compiled into a new book, Open House: Reinventing Space for Simple Living (Gibbs Smith; $26.99). Bernsen and Pays will be appearing at the Barnes & Noble in Akron from 3-5 p.m. next Friday to sign copies of their latest collaboration.

Open House features a beautiful collection of photographs of their projects, homes often accented in whites and grays, and the story of their evolving saga of fixer-uppers. It was primarily written by Pays, who has a sharp eye for interior design and overhauls.

“It was really meant as a design book that also incorporated our lives,” said Bernsen. “But people are reading it. I had never heard of people actually reading a coffee table book.”

He and Pays were on the phone from temporary digs in Los Angeles. Their four sons — Oliver, Angus, Henry and Finley — are mostly grown or off at college, so they have the flexibility of empty-nesters.

“We’re gypsies right now, we’re nomads,” said Pays, her British accent still thick despite decades in America. “We don’t actually have a place in the states right now. We are living out of suitcases and back and forth to our house in France. We’ve taken a year off to think about where we want to put down roots next.”

“I was thinking more like two years,” said Bernsen.

When they first connected in the late ’80s, he was known as Arnie Becker on L.A. Law, she was Theora Jones on Max Headroom. After they met at a Los Angeles nightclub, Bernsen told a friend, “I’m going to marry that girl!”

Flush with cash from his TV success, Bernsen had just redone his Laurel Canyon house and overloaded it with “Santa Fe” touches. He was quite proud of his decorating. When he showed it off to Pays, she made a simple declaration: “All this has to go!”

Shades of things to come.

They were married in 1988 and immediately started the pattern of moving in, fixing up and moving on. Their friend Steve Martin liked the couple’s first house in Beverly Hills so much that he bought it, and everything in it.

“It was a compliment whenever people wanted to buy them lock, stock and barrel,” said Pays. “But we always kept the really special things, about three or four pieces of furniture, that we’ve always managed to negotiate out of the deal.”

Jumping continents

Their journey has taken them from multiple abodes in Southern California, to a Georgian house in Surrey, England, (which dated to the 1400s), and a farm in the south of France. They are currently kicking around an idea for a reality fixer-upper TV show called Flipping France.

“Corbin and I have been doing this for 30 years. We reuse things and turn them into something else. We never tore a house down to bare studs. I always look at the hardware, and what lighting I can keep, and then adapt some pieces that are already there.”

For their Barnes & Noble appearance, they will share a few stories, answer some questions and sign books.

Bernsen is no stranger to Akron.

He has shot two films here, 25 Hill and 3 Day Test. When he read that the All-American Soap Box Derby was in financial trouble in 2009, he created 25 Hill to sing the praises of the Derby and help raise money for the race. In 2011, Bernsen held the film’s premiere at the Akron Civic Theatre, another derby fundraiser.

“I’m really glad FirstEnergy stepped in [as the sponsor]. They’ve been great,” he said. “I wish I could have featured FirstEnergy in the film more as the savior of the derby.”

On previous trips here, he liked to buzz around and take in the architecture.

“One of the things that fascinates me about Akron is all the old homes and the historic buildings.”

Road trip

On Sunday, Bernsen and Pays are heading to an iconic ballfield in Dyersville, Iowa.

It’s a mixing of baseball movies, as the crew from Major League (in which Bernsen played flashy Cleveland Indian Roger Dorn) will be participating in a Field of Dreams celebration and autograph session.

“Charlie [Sheen], Tom [Berenger] and I are all going to be there,” said Bernsen. “From there, Amanda and I will rent a car and head to Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland and Akron. We’ll be in Akron on the 8th, the day after my [63rd] birthday. Then we head to Columbus and Indianapolis and end up in Nashville. We’re going to have books in the trunk, maybe find some booksellers and lifestyle stores along the way and see if they’ll carry the book.”

Bernsen has several projects in the works, including Psych: The Movie, which airs in December on USA Network (he played Henry Spencer for eight seasons on the series), and he and Pays are set to co-star in the feature film My Mistress for writer-director Brian Skeet.

The couple will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary next year, defying the odds in a culture where celebrity breakups are announced almost weekly.

“We’ve had our ups and downs like any relationship, but we’re on this journey together, and always finding something new together always excites us,” said Pays.

“We had this joke, ‘change houses not spouses,’ which someone ripped off and put a fake book on Amazon,” said Bernsen.

“But there is something to that. It kind of keeps things fresh. When we get a project together, there are certainly arguments and disagreements, but in the end it comes together, and we have the new space that we live in. Each new house is like a holiday if you will. They last as long as the holiday lasts.”

Clint O’Connor can be reached at 330-996-3582 or coconnor@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClintOMovies.