There are so many things I'm proud of from my newest show, Help! I Wrecked My House, that it's kinda hard to really narrow down just one favorite. Apart from actual rooms that we demo'd, fixed and...
Help! I Wrecked My House Season 1 Episode 3
Ozzie & Lauren
Just seven months before I showed up to help, Ozzie and Lauren had purchased this home and were ready to move in. But not before they reworked their massive backyard, laid flooring in their dining room, and renovated their kitchen – all of this they planned to do on their own, DIY-style, to save money. That’s always an admirable goal, but here’s the problem: Ozzie’s a firefighter who works a ton of overtime, Lauren works full-time as an office manager, and they have two young daughters. When Ozzie gets home at 7 o’clock in the morning from a 24-hour shift, Lauren is getting ready to leave for work and they often pass each other coming and going. So, when exactly did they think they were going to finish this huge undertaking of a reno? Spoiler alert: they didn’t. They were exhausted, trying to work on stuff here and there while their to-do list expanded – and the only time they could devote to this work were nights and weekends. Their family time was being stolen by projects, and the amount of things left to finish left them overwhelmed and stuck.
I had one month to accomplish what would have taken Ozzie and Lauren YEARS had they kept at that same pace. My goal was to blend Lauren’s style of classic farmhouse with Ozzie’s industrial and modern preferences and leave their to-do list in my dust! I needed to create a beautiful kitchen that was updated and workable, update their dark living room, and tie the two spaces together by integrating them both with the dining room in between. Then I wanted to take on the beast of a backyard by making it the family space they always dreamed of. It was time for this family to take advantage of their precious moments together when they weren’t working around the clock (and for Ozzie, sometimes days on end spent fighting fires).
One thing Ozzie and Lauren did love about this kitchen when they bought the home was that it opened up to the dining space… but that’s about all they loved about it. They tried to remove the soffit themselves so they could add cabinets that went all the way up to the ceiling, but when they started hammering into it, they got scared. Lauren said I “make it look easy on TV” to smash into walls, which is why she tried to in the first place – are you saying this is MY fault?! Ha!
Ozzie loves being in the kitchen and cooks often for his family and fellow firefighters. The kitchen is a place that soothes his soul, but not when it’s an unfinished space. I went in and had my team remove that soffit to give them upper cabinets and tons of storage. We also removed the peninsula to add a better flow to the kitchen. A farmhouse sink and chrome bridge mount faucet bring in Lauren’s farmhouse vibes. All in all, we basically gave them a brand new kitchen: new lighting, new countertops, new backsplash, new sink, new dishwasher and new range.
Creating a hood for this particular kitchen design was out of my wheelhouse, so I had my friend John Moss, a metalworker and artist, build a custom industrial range hood. Paired with the airy and light floating shelves I had installed for Lauren, this hood now gives this industrial farmhouse kitchen just the right amount of grit.
Backsplash & Countertop
I chose a white subway tile backsplash installed in a herringbone pattern with a gray grout to match the countertops and the cabinets. This is the perfect kitchen for a herringbone backsplash pattern because there’s nothing for it to compete with. The kitchen was so simple and neutral that it needed a little bit of “wow.”
Cabinets & Hardware
We painted the shaker style cabinets a warm gray color that spoke to both Ozzie’s industrial leanings and Lauren’s wishes for a classic farmhouse design. Matte black cabinet pulls add touches of modern and industrial style and bring contrast while keeping the kitchen feeling timeless.
A classic and neutral palette meant we could really go for it with special details like a vintage salvaged door to the laundry room and a custom industrial hood made out of metal.
Special Project | Vintage Salvaged Door
One of my favorite things to do in my designs is to add something old to a fresh, new space. Since we were practically adding a brand new kitchen to this home, it was the perfect opportunity to bring in something vintage. I picked up an old, salvaged door from one of my go-to vintage stores and did a little work on it. My contractor Scott and I roughed it up a bit more to reveal flecks of the mint green paint layer underneath the off-white top coat and added an antiquing wax. A fresh set of black modern hardware tied the door in with the cabinet hardware, and Ozzie and Lauren now have a cool vintage door to close off their laundry area.
Shop Kitchen Decor
The Dining Room
Before, this dining room wasn’t really a room for anything at all. Ozzie attempted to lay hardwood flooring himself, but since he hardly ever has free time, it just never got done. In fact, it took him about 3 months to get as far as he did, and the flooring he installed didn’t match the flooring in the adjoining living room.
We brought in the pros to finish the flooring job (thanks, Lumber Liquidators!), and the material we chose is perfect for high-traffic areas. Oh, and yeah – we knocked down the dining room wall to open it up to the living room. What a DIFFERENCE!
Navy blue chairs bring a little unexpected pop of color into the dining room and tie into the art at the same time. In this blue color and shape they bring in the farmhouse style, while the pendant lights lean more industrial.
Shop Dining Room Decor
The Living Room
For Ozzie and Lauren, this room was last on the list of things to do and worry about, but it still needed some love. The fireplace was massive and dark with all its red brick, and they kicked around the idea of painting it or doing a German schmear to give it a refresh. But the size of the fireplace made the project feel intimidating. We gave the fireplace a plaster finish for a smoother, more updated look. This finish makes it less rustic and more industrial.
Special Project | Grout/Concrete Stain
While most of the fireplace brick was plastered over, we left some of it exposed to add contrast. I created a mixture of concrete and grout, and spread it over the bricks with a wet sponge. Once the brick absorbed the mixture, we washed some off, let the bricks dry, and then sealed them. The bricks went from bright red to gray – an easy and affordable transformation!
The living room was the darkest room in the house, so in order to add more natural light we took down the wall between the dining room and the living room. Doing this brightened up the room tenfold, while integrating it with the dining room at the same time – win-win! Another reason this room felt so dark was the ceiling. Yes, it was a traditional California wood ceiling, but all the orangey wood tones were working against the space. To bring in more of a farmhouse vibe, we painted most of the ceiling white. Multiple coats of bleach and multiple rounds of sanding eventually removed the orange from the beams. A lot of work, but totally worth it!
For the design of this room, it was all about blending Ozzie and Lauren’s industrial and farmhouse styles. I kept with a mostly neutral color palette while combining rich textures with materials like iron and leather.
Now this isn’t the darkest room in the house – not by a long shot! Before we came to help Ozzie and Lauren, they were still living out of boxes because they were waiting to finish their reno before they moved in completely. With the kitchen, dining room and living room finished – and ready for some cozy family time – this family could say “see ya later” to those boxes for good.
…And I couldn’t forget about the girls! I added a cute little craft table for Ozzie and Lauren’s daughters so they could create to their hearts’ contents.
Shop Family Room Decor
When Ozzie and Lauren first toured this house and saw the backyard, its view and the potential for some serious family time and entertaining, they said “yep, this is it!” The problem was that it’s a MASSIVE backyard, and the work needed to overhaul this space and take it from a dirt pit to an outdoor dream was way outside the scope of what time and energy the couple could realistically give. The yard was unsuitable for any sort of hanging out due to years of neglect, and there were rocks surrounding the pool, making it look more like a pond than a pool.
The size of this yard didn’t stop Ozzie and Lauren from trying to fix it. They bought three trees and got two of them planted… and one was “sleeping,” according to Ozzie (aka it was just lying there on its side!). And that’s only one example of the unfinished attempts on sprucing up this yard. Stuff just never got done, and for good reason: as a firefighter, Ozzie’s on call around the clock, especially in wildfire season. We allocated $26,000 of the budget for this huge yard project – the largest backyard project I’ve ever done!
We decided to keep the rocks (because they were good rocks, after all!) but we moved them away from the pool and put grass around the pool instead. This made a big difference.
Special Project | Stucco Movie Screen
I really wanted to add something to the backyard that would make it super easy for Ozzie, Lauren and the girls to be out there often. I had a large section of the yard’s wall stuccoed, creating the perfect smooth surface for projecting a movie. We installed a shade structure across from the wall that housed a projector, so Ozzie and Lauren can come outside, flip on the projector and watch a movie while the girls play in the yard. The movie wall is also visible from the pool, so YES – that means “dive-in” movies are totally in play! Oh, and under the shade structure is one of the places where we repurposed the rocks that used to be around the pool.
Dottie, Lauren’s mom, lives up the street from them and had bricks from the 1940s in her backyard that she said we could use for Ozzie and Lauren’s yard. Score! We salvaged a bunch of bricks for a firepit at no cost, and surrounded the pit with the repurposed rocks from around the pool. $0 project!
Special Project | Dedicated Kids’ Zone
I wanted this backyard to be the place where they’d finish work, come home, and retreat with their family to spend time together and relax. Every corner of this backyard needed to be about family and being together – and one of those corners was the kids’ zone for the girls. This cute little play area had two custom features to make it extra special.
Giant Chalkboard: I looked into buying a large chalkboard, and everything I found was expensive – I’m talkin’ $350 for a giant chalkboard, guys. There’s no way I was paying that, so I decided to make one. It was super easy! I poured chalkboard paint onto a large piece of primed plywood and covered it evenly with the paint. Leftover plywood + a can of chalkboard paint cost me $20. Now the girls have a fun outdoor space where they can draw!
Woven Fire Hose Swing: With wildfires, firefighters like Ozzie can be off battling fires for days on end, risking their lives to keep us safe. I definitely wanted to do something meaningful for him that he could share with his girls. We used some of his old hoses to weave a pattern around a wooden swing base, added eye hooks and ropes and voila, it became a swing!
Reclaimed wood planter boxes filled with herbs, veggies, blueberries, tomatoes and more were one of my favorite parts of this whole project. Now Ozzie and Lauren can teach their kids about growing food and where their food comes from. It’s safe to say the happy tears were flowing the second they stepped into this backyard – from all of us!