Spring has sprung—and does anything make you happier? I can’t think of anything better than getting out our cute clothes (I mean, have you seen Hazel in a sunhat?), dusting off our patio furniture,...
Help! I Wrecked My House Season 1 Episode 1
Heather & Kevin
Before Heather and Kevin moved into this house, they were DIY addicted when it came to updating their previous home. They were confident they could pull off a lot of projects in this current home, only one thing was different – they had a baby with them this time around. But that didn’t stop them from trying. They attempted to DIY their own kitchen reno, including cabinets and backsplash, they tried to add electrical outlets to their bar seating area, they demoed their master bath, they ripped out their bedroom closet doors… the list goes on and on. Let me put it this way: It’s safe to say Heather and Kevin aren’t afraid to start a project… but they couldn’t point to one single thing in their house and say “this is a project that we started, and it’s finished.” Suddenly they had what felt like a million unfinished projects all over the house. And as Kevin even put it, the house wasn’t one giant project, it was “death by a thousand cuts.” Yikes! They needed my help, and they needed it immediately.
For me, the theme of this entire renovation was “a million little things.” I made one GIGANTIC checklist (or punchlist, as we call it in the construction biz) so we could address every single unfinished project in this house and cross it off once and for all. My goal was to make everything safe and finished for the family’s one-year-old baby and two dogs, while incorporating their timeless traditional style. I wanted to do what would take Heather and Kevin probably 3 years to complete and finish it all in 6 weeks. It was time to relieve Kevin of his title as DIY contractor and Heather from her reluctant position of project manager and help them finally enjoy their home and each other – without any more house-related stress.
When you walked into this kitchen before, at first glance it looked like everything was fresh and new. But looking closer, you could see all that was unfinished and unsafe. A gaping hole in the kitchen peninsula was the abandoned project of trying to put more electrical outlets where the bar seating would be. DIY cabinetry was pretty, but not even, and there was no backsplash to speak of, leaving raw drywall open to water splatter every day. There were light switches intended for pendant lights that were never installed, and wouldn’t light up even if they were installed because the electrical was done incorrectly.
We came in and kept the existing footprint of the kitchen, but we made everything safe, beautiful and functional. Adding a gorgeous patterned tile backsplash gave the kitchen a traditional but fresh feel, while protecting the walls from moisture. Even better, the colors in the backsplash tile complement the tones of Heather and Kevin’s existing marble countertops while seamlessly tying in the cabinet color. A poplar box beam over the peninsula and wood corbels supporting the countertop below add warmth and a finished feel to the whole kitchen. Now when you walk into their kitchen, your eye goes to all of these pretty features, and not a huge hole in the side of the peninsula. I’d call that a major win!
Backsplash & Countertop
I picked this Andessi Antico Grigio Matte Porcelain tile, which is awesome because it’s made to look like cement but doesn’t come with the upkeep of cement. These patterned tiles were the perfect complement for the Carrara marble countertops that were already there.
Cabinets & Hardware
Existing cabinets painted in Shoji White by Sherwin-Williams paired well with oil rubbed bronze pulls that have a modern shape, with just a hint of a curve to make them feel a little more traditional. These warmer tones played perfectly off of the backsplash tile and wood tones we brought into the space.
Lighting, Furniture & Accessories
A more traditional lantern light fixture in the eat-in dining area, a poplar box beam and wooden bar stools all work together to bring texture and timeless warmth to the space. Carrying through these features makes the kitchen feel cohesive with the adjoining living room.
The eat-in dining nook was the perfect place to bridge the kitchen and living room together through design. Furniture with more traditional lines feels holistic with the more timeless vibe in the kitchen, while deeper colors in the artwork add contrast to the lighter warm tones used on the cabinets and countertops across the room.
Special Project | Hidden Microwave Appliance Locker
Before we took over this kitchen reno, the microwave stuck out of the cabinets and just looked really unfinished. To solve this, I took the cabinet that was previously there and repurposed it below. Then I put a taller cabinet above in its place and made a custom notch to house the microwave. A cabinet door that needed to be repurposed was the perfect solution for disguising the microwave and keeping it in its own little locker. Custom details like these make all the difference in a space feeling functional and finished!
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The Living Room
Before, the living room was lacking design layers – it felt one-dimensional, and baby toys and dog beds were already starting to take over the space. For Heather, who likes to have things organized and put away, this was less than ideal. I had my carpenter Brian create an entertainment system to house their TV, add dedicated storage for baby toys, and provide a place for the dog beds that incorporated with the whole room’s design.
I wanted to create a living space for Heather and Kevin that felt elegant and classic – two words they used to describe their style – yet was comfortable and effortlessly livable at the same time. Using materials like leather and reclaimed wood brings in that livable feeling, while lending a traditional spirit at the same time. Patterned rugs with an old world feel ground the space while relating it back to the kitchen at the same time: the blue tones in the rugs and on the curtains echo the blue tones in the kitchen backsplash tile.
For decor, it was all about texture, texture, texture (Baskets! Wood! Textiles!) to add in those design layers that were missing before. And don’t forget plants!
Special Project | Custom Doggie Door
Heather and Kevin previously had a doggie door in their home, but its location made it really cumbersome to use. Since we reclaimed six feet of space for the home’s property line outside, I decided to put this new custom doggie door in the living room wall next to the kitchen’s peninsula bar seating so the dogs would walk out into the newly reclaimed space.
I had an old piece of reclaimed wood that I cut into a triangle to make the roof of a little dog house design that would frame the doggie door. Corrugated sheet metal leftover at my warehouse frames the door perfectly while creating a unique design element. Pro tip: I dipped steel wool into vinegar to create a chemical reaction stain that I used to make the raw edges of the wood roof match the front of it.
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The bedroom was in pretty good shape before, it just needed some warmth and some more design layers. We added texture through timeworn decor pieces, a super cool wood-look wallpaper with a clean but vintage feel, cozy bedding textiles, and a custom mirrored closet.
The biggest problem with this bedroom before was that there were no doors on the closet. Heather and Kevin took them out when they moved in, and had every intention of replacing them, but it was another thing that never got finished.
Special Project | Mirrored Closet Doors
Heather told me she’d love a mirrored closet, but I didn’t want to just hang some basic mirrored closet doors and call it a day. I wanted to take that idea and elevate it. To make the new closet doors a signature design feature without breaking the bank, I added mirrors to plain slab doors to keep it in budget. Then I cut molding pieces to frame the mirrors and make them look custom.
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To keep the project within budget after discovering the massive plumbing issue, we kept the existing vanity and countertop, but elevated it by adding double mirrors, modern light fixtures and new faucets. I wanted to make the bathroom relaxing and luxurious enough to forget about the entire reno and all the time they spent not using this bathroom.
Special Project | Hidden Bath Storage
Heather waited a long time to get this dream tub, so I wanted to make it really special and functional for her. I had the idea to build a hidden cubby into the side of the bathtub deck to stow her shampoo, bubble bath, or as my carpenter Brian said, “her bottle of wine.” Brian, always looking to have hidden wine bottles all over the house!
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Heather and Kevin have this great space out in their backyard, but they weren’t using it at all. With a fence that was only being held up by overgrown ivy, it wasn’t safe for their baby and their two dogs. I wanted to overhaul this backyard to let the homeowners reclaim this as an adult space, while making it safe for their son and dogs at the same time. The first step was getting rid of the old, collapsing fence and replacing it with a sturdy brick wall. Removing the fence and adding a wall allowed us to push six feet out to the property line, giving the yard even more space.
An outdoor seating area was a must for making this yard functional for outdoor entertaining and some much needed adult time.
I also added a firepit and landscaping that’s beautiful and low-maintenance. The colorful shrubs we planted will last year round, so the yard will look pretty without any replanting needed from two busy parents.
Special Project | Outdoor Bowling Alley
The backyard had a random piece of concrete in the side of the yard that served no purpose whatsoever. I used it as the base for an outdoor bowling alley, and dressed it with reclaimed wood to save money while giving it a cool, vintage look. Now Heather and Kevin have a fun outdoor game to do with their friends and family when they’re entertaining!