When Anthony and Liz from Episode 4 of my HGTV show HELP! I Wrecked My House landed on a rustic industrial farmhouse design style for their renovation project, I was pretty excited. It's a look...
Help! I Wrecked My House Season 2 Episode 5
Mike & Sarah Help I Wrecked My House Season 2 Episode 5
We know we’ve all said this phrase before: “Life just got in the way.” Because that’s what life does. And in the case of Mike, Sarah, their 2-year-old daughter Jane and their 18-year-old daughter Emma, life getting in the way ended up meaning life wasn’t being enjoyed to the fullest. When the family purchased their dream fixer-upper, they had big plans to renovate it and get everything done before they moved in. But one thing led to another, and they ended up making quick renovation decisions (cutting corners, too) so they could move in before they had to be out of their previous home. The family vowed to finish the work, but it never happened. Next thing they knew, Mike, Sarah and their girls had been living in a construction zone for two years – the kitchen cabinets were falling apart, their temporary flooring they put in during crunch time was peeling up everywhere, and there was exposed electrical on just about every wall.
To remedy the home’s existing 2-bedroom floor plan, Mike and Sarah gave the designated bedrooms to Jane and Emma, took the den for themselves and made it into a bedroom. That all sounds well and good, but here’s the problem: Mike and Sarah’s bedroom had no door and was basically sharing space with the laundry room and pantry. Oh, and the entry to the backyard was also connected directly to their bedroom. The home previously had two bathrooms, but they ripped one out to create a more open floor plan – vowing again to add one and finish the work. Spoiler alert: that never happened. So here we had two adults, with no privacy to their bedroom, sharing one bathroom with a 2 year old and an 18 year old. To make matters worse, Sarah’s dad passed away suddenly, her grief magnifying the desire for her to have a home that’s safe and secure. After she and Mike woke up to the sound of sparks crackling due to a near electrical fire, they knew and finally admitted that they needed help.
I needed to come in and make this old, falling-apart-by-the-day home safe for this family. My first order of business was to make sure the electrical and plumbing were in good shape and done properly, because with an older house, that’s never a guarantee. I wanted to create a functional space for the whole family to enjoy, extend and elevate the kitchen, add a proper laundry room and back entry to the house, add a second bathroom, and make their bedroom a true bedroom (with a real door and everything!). Mike, Sarah and Emma were constantly having to keep Jane from parts of the house because it was unsafe, and I wanted to put an end to that. I wanted their girls to feel comfortable in their home in such an important time of both of their lives. If we could do all of these things within budget and without running into any disasters, they were going to have a brand new house when all was said and done.
This is an older home, and not only did that show on the inside, but the outside as well. We gave the exterior a fresh coat of paint ($6,500) and new landscaping ($2,000), and those two changes alone made a world of a difference. Replacing all the original windows with new ones (and adding some cute shutters to two of them) completely changed the style of the home’s exterior.
We also added a brand new Dutch door and removed the railing from the front steps. You can see how removing the overgrown plants that were here before also makes the home look bigger and nicer.
You know me, I never met a Dutch door I didn’t like 😉
The Family Room
Mike and Sarah’s family room was already a good size, it just wasn’t functioning properly for them as a family. Aside from the exposed electrical throughout, that big, original front window was not tempered glass. That immediately rose a red flag for me: not only would that be a problem with someone trying to break in (or a really bad storm), but 2 year olds like to bang on things. One wrong hit with a toy could send broken glass showering down on Jane. We couldn’t let that happen. These new modern vinyl windows are exactly what this home needed. They were a major upgrade while removing a main source of anxiety for Mike and Sarah. It cost us $30,000 to replace windows throughout this project, but it was a much needed investment on an older home.
The new windows changed how this home felt on the outside and the inside at the same time.
For the fireplace, we simply upgraded what was already there. The mantle beam was given a new stain, and we wrapped the hearth in a fun tile.
Special Project: Custom Family Built-In
When I first saw this house, there was stuff all over the place and it didn’t feel like anyone who lived there had a space that was truly meant for them. So I wanted to create this custom built-in family center where everyone had their own space (mainly Emma and Jane) while keeping their things organized.
This is Emma’s part of the built-in. My hope is that she can organize her homework, mementoes, books, games and other items here. I just love those photos of her and Jane!
This is Jane’s side of the built-in. It’s all ready for her books, art supplies and more!
My favorite part of this built-in? This framed chalkboard that pulls down and turns into a table! And we also incorporated toy storage in the custom built-in by adding rolling bins that tuck under the bench. The final cost for the custom built-in was $4,800. It was a great use of the budget to add storage and functionality to the family room.
This is the entryway on the wall opposite the family room.
The Dining Room
As far as the layout goes, this dining room was fine where it was – it just needed some TLC. We replaced all the windows, added new trim throughout, new paint, installed can lights, added a new door to the backyard from the sunroom (beyond the dining room), installed a new light fixture in the dining area, and added built-in cabinetry on either side of the sunroom.
This is now a beautiful place for the family to sit down and enjoy a meal together.
The built-in cabinetry flanking the sunroom makes the home feel elevated and custom at the same time. Plus we added more of my favorite thing: storage.
Before I got my hands on this home, Mike and Sarah removed the home’s second bathroom, which used to be located pretty much in the center of the “before” photo below. They found rusty pipes when they did that, but just covered them up instead of figuring out why that was. Before I could even tackle this project I needed to find out if those rusty pipes were caused by any hidden problems. My team and I ripped up the flooring to check out the plumbing below the kitchen, and everything was in surprisingly great condition. Since there were no glaring problems, I could really lean into the high-end finishes and make this the family kitchen they’d always dreamed of.
We installed a large island to anchor the space with three sides of cabinetry and seating on one side. I wanted this island to feel like a beautiful piece of custom furniture so it tied together with the dining room and family room in this open-concept layout.
When I first saw this kitchen, the cabinets were falling apart – no, really. Mike and Sarah were using tape to keep them together. There was nothing salvageable about the kitchen. And when we were demoing the kitchen I found a cut-off pipe that didn’t connect to anything. We were initially worried it could mean a gas or water problem, but after close inspection the plumbing under the kitchen looked great. Once again, a major win! So we were able to pull out all the stops with this kitchen. My team and I installed cabinetry all along the back wall. Then we got rid of the garden window on the far left and replaced it with a new fridge for better flow. A new, larger window was centered on the wall above the sink.
We spent $26,000 of the kitchen budget on custom cabinetry, which was well worth it. I think the end result is absolutely stunning!
Quartz countertops installed throughout give the kitchen a clean and modern feel. We also installed the upper cabinetry to have glass doors, and the material is a wood that’s made to look like metal. This detail adds the perfect about of edge to the kitchen. The total cost on the kitchen budget was $60,000.
Before, this entrance to the backyard could only be accessed through Mike and Sarah’s bedroom (which, if you remember, had no door on it). This is also where their makeshift pantry was. By adding a proper pantry to the kitchen, I could use this space and have it make sense for its relationship to the backyard. Now it’s a functional spot for coming and going.
The Main Bedroom
This room you see here in the “before” photo is technically a den in the original floor plan of this home. It didn’t have an ensuite bathroom, and that door on the left goes to the laundry room. It’s safe to say, when you add “no privacy” to that list, this room really wasn’t working for Mike and Sarah. So not only did they have the sound of the washer and dryer running in their bedroom, but with the pantry access right there, it was also a high-traffic area. This couple was overwhelmed, and their relationship suffered as a result. I wanted to make this the main suite of their dreams. Aside from moving the laundry room (more on that in a minute) and moving the pantry, one way we elevated this main bedroom was to remove the carpet. We found termite damage in the flooring, so we remedied that and the room was safer and more secure than ever. We also added brand new windows, trim, paint and lighting.
Mike and Sarah didn’t have a real closet before, so closing it in and making a custom closet for this room was a huge game changer. You can see the green cabinetry in the “before” photo outside the bedroom – that was the pantry! And what do you know, a door sure makes sense in a bedroom…
Special Project: Vintage Door
Mike and Sarah had never had a door on their bedroom in this house. While of course we planned to hang a door for their room, I wanted this door to be special. Since everything was so nice and new in the home now, I wanted to add something vintage to balance it all out. So I brought in an old vintage door from a farmhouse in Texas. This door was sourced by Junk Style Design – I get SO much good stuff from them! All we did was clean it up to remove the grime so the chippy paint and imperfections could shine.
Bye bye, laundry room! Hello ensuite bathroom.
The total cost on the bedroom project was $10,000.
The Main Bathroom
What is now the main bathroom used to be a scary laundry room – not anymore! It’s now a gorgeous retreat for Mike and Sarah while taking the home’s bathroom count from one to two. We added a brand new glass enclosed shower, a brand new vanity with quartz countertops and marble vessel sinks, solid brass plumbing fixtures, new flooring, new paint and trim, new mirror, new lighting, and a new window.
Special Project: Reclaimed Wood-Faced Vanity
Using the same concept as the vintage door, I knew I wanted to bring a vintage element into this now-brand-new bathroom. I took reclaimed fence boards I’d been saving for years and used them to face the cabinetry on the vanity. It cost $1,200 and was the perfect touch to tie the whole bathroom design together.
The Laundry Room
Last but definitely not least, we moved the laundry room outside the main bedroom and closed it off with a door. Adding plaid wallpaper and bold handcrafted tile makes this a more fun place to be when the laundry needs to be done.
We installed a custom quartz countertop above the washer and dryer to create the ideal spot for folding and sorting.
I could not have been more overjoyed to help Mike, Sarah, Emma and Jane create a special and safe place for them to make memories as a family. Mike and Sarah said to me, “This was the light at the end of the tunnel, we were buried,” and that to me is what it’s all about, folks.
A very special shout-out to Found Rental Co. for helping us style this home, from the furniture to the decor and everything in between!
Help I Wrecked My House Season 2 Episode 5 Help I Wrecked My House Season 2 Episode 5 Help I Wrecked My House Season 2 Episode 5 Help I Wrecked My House Season 2 Episode 5