10 years and over 400 transformations later, Drew and Jonathan share top renovation takeaways.
This year, we celebrate our 400th renovation over more than 10 years of Property Brothers on shows like Buying and Selling, Brother vs. Brother, Forever Home, Celebrity IOU, and more. We’re so grateful for the work we get to do and honored to have the opportunity to enter others’ lives and share an amazing milestone: creating their dream homes.
There’s no better feeling than helping people solve a problem and making things better for them, and when you go from doing that for a dozen families to several hundred—what a gift! It has opened our eyes to the many different ways people live and what’s important to different families.
In our shows, we’ve worked all around the continent: Calgary, Alberta (where we did our first renovation at 18 years old!), Nashville, San Francisco, Galveston, New York State, and many more. These locations hold a special place in our hearts. The architectural styles charmed us and the technology and building science we applied excited us, but it’s always the stories beyond the design that we remember most.
One renovation that stands out is New Orleans. We can still taste the beignets and recall how it felt dancing down the streets to a Second Line band. The people we met in New Orleans inspired us. Despite so much devastation from Hurricane Katrina, they persisted in celebrating life, history, culture. The family we helped on Brother vs. Brother had been living in an unfurnished house for a decade. They’d paid a contractor who stole their money and never did the work. We gave their home back to them, fully furnished, fully functional, and with a style that was true to them. It felt great to be a part of it.
We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and the people around us over the past 10 years, and perhaps the most important lesson is that no matter where the job, no matter who owns the house, everyone’s looking for the same thing: home. When a family can comfortably live in their own place and relax and be themselves, then we know we’ve helped them achieve their goal.
We are still learning new things about what home means every day. We got to design a kosher kitchen for a family in Toronto; until that point, we had no idea what that was! It’s laid out so that when prepping a meal, dairy and meat are stored separately—which for this family meant two refrigerators, two cooking ranges, two dishwashers, and double sinks. If you think it’s hard fitting everything in your kitchen, try getting twice the appliances in. (Spoiler alert: We pulled it off.)
We had another family whose teenage sons were serious about cycling—like, training-for-the-Olympics serious. So we found an elegant, practical way to dedicate some space to training and bike storage. To date, it’s the only house we’ve done with a bike room. The best part: We hid it behind sliding barn doors off the entryway so you’d never know it was there unless you were ready to ride!
The meaning of home can be very different from one family to another. It’s never a one-size-fits-all approach. But we have learned some practical, universal truths about renovating homes since we took on our first job at age 18. After 10 years and more than 400 reveals, we thought we might pass along a few things we’ve learned:
Money tips: You don’t have to customize everything to make it look high-end. We often make standard cabinets pop with unique hardware or paint or by splurging on statement backsplash tile.
Beware of trends! Typically, the trendier something is, the shorter its life span. If you’re into a very of-the-moment color or design flourish, avoid using it on a mainstay feature (like a fireplace, flooring, countertops or cabinets), and apply it to something that can be easily changed, like window coverings, area rugs, and lighting.
Thinking about DIY-ing it? We’re always fans of making a space your own, but some projects require special training and skills, and are better left to a professional for the sake of budget and sanity. A simple rule of thumb: If you need a permit for it, hire a professional.
By Drew & Jonathan | Photographs courtesy of HGTV