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 6
Martine & Scott
Martine and Scott have been best friends their whole lives since they were six years old, and then they got married. A fairytale, right? But instead of having a big wedding, they decided to buy their first home together, so they started house shopping. They fell in love with a beautiful Mid-Century Modern dream home, but they lost out on it in a bidding war. Martine was devastated. But they still managed to buy this Mid-Century Modern fixer-upper, knowing it needed a lot of work and secretly (probably) wishing it was the one up the street that they didn’t get. Scott had never seen Martine so upset after they lost out on the other home, so he started working on their house himself to make it nice for her. To sum it up, he started working on the bathroom, and the toilet ended up in the hallway, and then eventually the backyard. Yikes. When I saw the video they sent me asking for help, I described it as “sad but funny,” because Scott was just trying his best to please Martine but he wasn’t doing anything right, and he’d bitten off way more than he could chew (sorry, Scott!). They both work really hard and would come home tired and try to figure out where to fit reno work into their nights. Inevitably, they were newlyweds spending less time together because Scott was trying to fix the house. There was a lot riding on this house being their dream home and they were getting nowhere.
I needed to take this Mid-Century Modern fixer and make it even BETTER than the dream home they wanted to buy up the street. Creating a large, open kitchen with space for entertaining was at the top of the list, along with fixing their bathroom reno gone wrong and sprucing up the living room. The home was a hidden gem with lots of potential, I just needed to uncover it and bring it back to its original 1950s glory. We needed to take the sledgehammer away from Scott and make this the ultimate dream home that was undoubtedly Martine and Scott.
Before, this kitchen was super tight and closed-off to the living room. Scott thought about knocking down the wall between the kitchen and living room to create a more open concept, but he decided not to because he couldn’t tell if the wall was load bearing… good thing he didn’t! Leave that to the pros! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – don’t just take a wall down because you think you can! We have engineers for that, people. So I brought my team in and we took down the wall dividing the kitchen and living room. We also moved the sink and the dishwasher, added cabinetry in an L shape, installed a proper range with a hood, and left the fridge where it was.
The kitchen’s countertop used to be made of that old square tile that can never be fully cleaned because of all the grout lines, so Scott started smashing away at the tile and then stopped because he became intimidated. He also took off some of the cabinet doors, but that’s about as far as he got. Removing the wall between the kitchen and living room, relocating the sink, and adding a gorgeous new marble-look countertop are just a few of the things that made this kitchen look unrecognizable to its original state.
Lighting & Fixtures
Since this kitchen’s design is mostly very neutral and clean, it was the perfect canvas to add in some brass details. Carrying the brass through the pendant lighting, the plumbing fixtures, and even the cabinet hardware creates a cohesive pop of interest.
Flooring & Appliances
And speaking of a neutral canvas, that meant we could have some FUN with the flooring. I chose a concrete tile with a matte finish by Zia tile laid in a herringbone pattern to drive home that MCM look. Luxury appliances like a cream colored range bring in that “dream home” vibe.
This midnight blue cement tile laid in a herringbone pattern might just be one of the coolest floors I’ve ever done. EVER. We were joking that I hit my grout line quota with this floor, haha! But really, with a clean self-splash backsplash of continuous porcelain from the countertops to the wall, and crisp white Shaker cabinets, this was THE time to do a really fun and epic floor. I love this floor so much, and it almost feels as if it could have been in the home originally.
Before, this kitchen did have a dine-in eating nook, but I wanted to reclaim that to add in more cabinets and countertops. But in doing so, I essentially eliminated the dining area. Obviously, I didn’t want to leave them without a place to eat and entertain, so I came up with an idea to create an island that could also serve as a dining table…
Special Project | Dining Table Island
To give Martine and Scott an island that could function as a full dining table, I knew I had to get my carpenter Micah involved. He created this custom eat-in dining table with bench seating that could double as extra prep space when needed. Both the wood he chose and the cool Mid-Century Modern details he used in this table’s design made it such a special piece that felt like it could only belong in this exact home.
The wood Micah used for the table perfectly matches the beautiful custom range hood we chose to install above Martine and Scott’s badass new appliances. And speaking of appliances, Martine said her old oven was too small to fit her baking dishes and pans… I wanted to give them some slick new appliances that would function properly for whatever they want to cook up.
The last major change we made to this kitchen/dining space was to this wall off of the original dining nook. We removed the window and door, and installed a large slider. This brings so much extra light into the kitchen and really opens up to the patio outside, welcoming that indoor-outdoor living we love so much in California.
The finishing touch on this incredible MCM kitchen? Well, retro decor, of course! You know I always have to add something vintage to every space.
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The Living Room
They had just moved into this home 4 months prior to my taking it over, and there was a blowup couch in the living room and pretty much nothing else – need I say more? But that said, this room really just needed cosmetic updates and some personality. Oh, and we needed to cover up that hideous heater unit on the wall.
No more inflatable couch here now! Although, I must admit, I’d never seen one of those before, and it was pretty cool.
I had so much fun designing for this home and really leaned into its Mid-Century Modern roots. A blue velvet couch, retro lamps, and a sleek MCM style coffee table all felt right at home in this living room.
This ugly heater unit was something that made me frown every time I saw it. I knew it would stick out like a sore thumb in the brand new design for this room, so I had to get creative with making it disappear on a budget. We spent under $1,000 on this custom cabinet to cover up the heater while still allowing heat to pass through. The metal screen is both functional and in-line with the MCM design, and bonus: it was free because I just had it leftover at my Warehouse. Plus, we were able to add storage where there wasn’t any by making the other side of the cabinet a bar storage area. This heater haunted my dreams and now it’s hidden!
To add some architectural interest to this room, I used inspiration from my own home…
Special Project | Hanging Plant Holder
I was inspired by a shelf I installed in my own house that runs across windows and holds plants. The windows in my house are close to the ceiling, so the whole installation is both pretty and practical – because plants need light! Since Martine loves plants and already had this great big window in the living room, it seemed like a no-brainer. Plus, I wanted to add a cool custom element to this otherwise box of a living room. I asked my carpenter to add caning on it to bring all the MCM vibes, and voila – this is now an unforgettable space!
Special Project | Dog Bed Side Table
You know I can never forget about the dogs! My carpenter took this idea I had and ran with it. At first glance this looks like it’s just a funky Mid-Century Modern side table with a circle cut-out in the front, but when you look closer you’re like, “No way! There’s a dog bed in there!”
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Like the kitchen, Scott tried renovating this bathroom himself but quickly got derailed. I mean, the toilet was in the backyard when I got there. So when he got stalled on the bathroom project, that left only one bathroom in the house for the couple and anyone who came over: the one in their bedroom. That means if they had people over, their guests would have to walk through their bedroom to use the only functioning bathroom in the house. Not necessarily the most convenient thing, by any means. We needed to get this one back up and running! The shower tile carried over onto the vanity’s countertop – which is something I’d never seen before! The vanity, the light fixture – it was all super rough and outdated. It had to go.
We kept the bathroom layout the same but fixed all the things that Scott had undone. That meant a new sink, faucet, mirror, vanity, and light. We needed to keep the shower as-is and save the subway tile but remove the tile that extended beyond and onto the wall and original vanity – not an easy feat! But Scott Cross (my contractor Scott, not homeowner Scott!) is the man and he got it done! Also, I had a blue vanity picked out and literally in place in this bathroom, but when I started to look around at the other blue tones I had going in this house, it started to feel a little too matchy-matchy. So we went for this cool wood MCM one and I was obsessed. It really makes all the white tile pop.
The only thing Martine loved about this bathroom when they moved in was the original tile flooring. But it was in rough shape. The labor needed to bring those original tile floors back to their glory would have been more expensive than just replacing it with the exact same tile, but new. So that’s exactly what we did!
We added a pocket door to the bathroom so we could install a full-size toilet with the extra space. That means there isn’t a toilet in the backyard anymore, so you can all rest easy about that now – especially Martine and Scott!
To add a bit of drama to this space and make the ceilings feel taller at the same time, I installed the shower curtain all the way up to the ceiling. Most people only think to put their shower rod right above the shower head, but if you take it all the way to the ceiling instead, it really accentuates the room. That’s a little design tip for ya – you’re welcome!
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This patio was already in great shape, it just needed some love and some seating. The backyard is clearly why they bought the home – it’s beautiful! But we needed to help them see this as a place to hang out with each other and their friends and family and just relax.
I had so much fun getting to know Martine and Scott and transforming their home. They kind of reminded me of Brett and me when we bought our first home – we wanted everything to look perfect and be done right away. But you need to take the time and get it done right. And I’m so glad we were able to help them do this so they can enjoy being married in their Mid-Century Modern dream home!