Okay, so, for those of you who don’t know, I am a HUGE reader.  I also love a good fort (I mean, who doesn’t?).  This episode combines these two personal faves into one of the craziest before and after reveals yet.  If you didn’t catch this episode when it aired, I will never forgive you.  Just kidding!  You can watch it on iTunes HERE and on Amazon HERE.

If you’re wondering why I bother to blog about each episode, it’s because a half-hour of television doesn’t give me nearly enough time to share with my viewers all the behind-the-scenes details, tricks of the trade, bloopers, hilarity, and really special touches that go into making each home on this series so totally custom.

For Sean and Alexa, who sacrificed a wedding in order to save for this house, I wanted the design to be super special.

And look, they have a dog!  I like them already!

Sean and Alexa bought their home for it’s bright location on a corner lot in a quiet neighborhood.  The only problem?  There was absolutely nothing to distinguish their house from the dozens of other builder grade houses surrounding it.  Same dated, exterior finishes;  same compartmentalized interior floor plans.  It was time to put their $60,000 dollar budget to work!

I met with Sean and Scott of SC Homes to talk demo.

The homeowners wanted to open up the space in order to give it a more up-to-date floor plan which meant taking down the wall between the kitchen and the hallway.

And the wall-to-wall carpeting HAD to go.

During demo, good surprises almost NEVER happen, so when we found hardwood floors underneath the dingy carpet, and saw that they were in great shape, it was a serious score.

Not so much when we removed the kitchen linoleum, though.  We found not one, not two, but THREE different layers of flooring underneath.

Luckily, the thousands we saved by finding the hardwood underneath the carpet gave us the budget to patch in matching hardwood floors throughout the kitchen, as well!

With the interior design well underway, I went to talk to Micah Girelli of Girelli Designs to draw up plans for our coolest, swankiest, most ultimate special project of ALL TIME:  a speakeasy lounge accessible only by a hidden door. I KNOW, right?!

Michah knew exactly what I wanted and how to make it happen, so I was off to address the exterior of the house and cure its serious case of the BLAHS.

We went to work  right away removing the dated bay window, rusted screen door, and the odd posts framing the entry way.  We also addressed the garage door eyesore by treating it with a custom faux bois (“fake wood” for the non-francophiles) treatment.

Six weeks flew by and soon we were putting on the finishing touches and anxiously awaiting Sean and Alexa’s arrival to see their new home for the very first time.  I think their faces when they pulled up said it all.

And here are all the exterior details I didn’t have a change to get to into much, well, detail about on the show.

Here are a few of my favorite things:

I added a flag poll to for some hipster Americana curb appeal.

I painted the house a deep blue (Sherwin Williams: SW 6244 Naval) and added a seriously sunny front door (Sherwin Williams: SW 6635 Determined Orange).

We created an inviting front patio perfect for sunset cocktails with the neighbors.

Landscaping by Todd with PLC Pools and the hand painted garage door finished everything off just perfectly.

And then it was time to go INSIDE!

Obviously, the kitchen is so amazing that it needs it own blog post, which you can read here, but real quick: can you believe what a huge difference removing that wall made?  The white cabinets, open shelving, and apron-front sink all add to the bright, airy, design.

The homeowners especially loved the leather cabinet pulls.  Using unexpected materials always ups the design ante and in this case, it really paid off.

Off the kitchen, I created defined spaces for both living and dining, using a mixture of textures and materials to give the space warmth and character.

And you know I never forget to incorporate a special place for the four-legged family members!

And, last but not least, for the final reveal: the secret speakeasy!

The homeowners were blown away by this surprise.  I mean, who hasn’t dreamed of having their own secret room hidden behind a bookcase, accessible only by pulling down on a hardcover book??  Come on. I know I’m not the only one!

Don’t forget, for more info and eye candy regarding the kitchen, read my kitchen intensive post for this episode that gives the full DISH.  (Get it: kitchen, dish. LOL.) Also, check out the Pinterest board for this episode, but be ready for an inspiration overload.

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