Jenny and Dave Marrs, the hosts of “Fixer to Fabulous,” are experts at adding color to their renovations. But on the latest episode, they take a risk by going all-in on a very dark-horse hue.
In the Season 3 episode “Lakehouse Dreams Do Come True,” Jenny and Dave are helping their friends Michael and Kathleen Coughlin renovate a lakefront home in Bella Vista, AR. This 1980 build has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a great view—but the decor is rather dated.
With a massive $270,000 renovation budget, Jenny and Dave turn this ’80s home into a modern masterpiece with a chic exterior, glamorous kitchen, and a secret bar. Find out how Jenny and Dave pull it off, which might make you fall in love with their favorite new hue, too.
A dark house looks modern and chic
While this house has great lake views, Kathleen and Michael aren’t thrilled with the ’80s exterior. They’d like the home to get a new, dark color to stand out from the surrounding trees. So the team paints the house gray, giving it a more modern look instantly.
“The exterior is now a rich and modern charcoal that really makes the house stand out,” Jenny says.
“You’d asked us to paint the exterior a dark color so I had debated painting it black,” she tells Kathleen and Michael when they finally see the house. However, she soon learned there was a local rule against it.
“In Bella Vista, you can’t actually use black,” Jenny explains.
Still, the homeowners are glad Jenny ended up using gray. The color gives the home a soft, natural look while still seeming unique and modern.
A great door makes a statement
To finish the exterior, Jenny makes a special request for a unique front door.
“I would actually really love a big glass and iron door, so that when you walk up, you see all the way straight through to the lake,” she says. “I just think it’s worth splurging on because it’ll make a big impact, and I know Michael and Kathleen will love it.”
Dave and Jenny go to a craftsman who agrees to make the door out of steel. He constructs the piece as a pivot door, which rotates on a spindle, creating a modern feel for the entrance.
This door ends up looking great, with elegant black lines and glass allowing for a peek of the lake. This key addition makes a dramatic difference to the entry.
Stair railings can bring another touch of black
Jenny and Dave want to carry the dark theme into the house, so they start with the stair railing in the living room. Not only is this railing dated, it’s also a little low, making it seem perilous for Michael and Kathleen’s twin toddlers.
Jenny chooses a sleek, simple design incorporating wood and metal.
“Not only does it complement the metal front door, but it’s also safe for the Coughlins’ twins,” she explains.
Black works great in a big kitchen
Before Jenny and Dave start on the renovation, Michael and Kathleen say they’d like either all white or all black for the kitchen. Jenny decides to go the more dramatic route even though one member of the renovation team is worried the dark finishes will make the kitchen look small.
While many designers warn that dark colors can make a small space look smaller, Jenny knows this space is large enough to handle the black finishes. Jenny adds black cabinets, a black backsplash, and even a black countertop.
“The black honed granite countertops add texture to the kitchen,” Jenny says.
To finish the kitchen, Jenny chooses a brass faucet, which she says “pops” against the black kitchen.
When Kathleen and Michael finally see the kitchen, they’re thrilled. The dark kitchen is bold and dramatic, and it doesn’t feel too small. While some small spaces can feel tiny when filled with dark colors, this kitchen proves that it can pay to play with darker tones.
Break up black with a little bit of white
While Jenny is excited to add dark features throughout the home, she knows a good amount of light finishes is needed for contrast. She proves this when designing a bar area, which Dave cleverly sets up behind a set of secret doors.
Since Michael and Kathleen have twin toddlers, Jenny and Dave know that they might not want a bar out all the time. Dave constructs doors that look like simple wall panels.
Inside, the team adds a black cabinet and white tile up above.
“In the hidden bar, white subway tile adds contrast against the black cabinet base,” Jenny explains. It’s a good reminder that dark features often need some light touches to brighten them up.