Jenny and Dave Marrs, the hosts of HGTV’s “Fixer to Fabulous,” usually have clients who ask for open layouts and clean sightlines—but some homeowners want a cozier design.
In the Season 3 episode “City Family, Country Roots,” Jenny and Dave meet with Tom and Sondra Puorro, a couple trading life in Dallas for rustic living on 62 acres in Avoca, AR. The couple have $175,000 to create a country home with city charm where they and their three children can gather for years to come.
Jenny and Dave create a family-friendly home by upgrading the exterior, building a new kitchen, and designing a cozy living room.
Read on to see how Dave and Jenny update this old country house—and get tips for making your own family home extra comfortable.
There are many ways to give any house some cottage charm
Tom and Sondra’s kids are growing up (and moving out), so the couple are hoping to make their new house into a place their kids will want to visit often. But unfortunately, the current exterior design isn’t inviting.
Sondra hates the narrow entryway, and she and Tom disapprove of the pink brick all around the house.
“The arch is cool, but it does kind of close it off,” Jenny says of the entryway.
Jenny makes a plan to remove the closed-off entry and create a big front porch—the perfect place for visiting kids to gather. Then she chooses a soft blue color to paint the old brick.
“I know you liked a lighter blue, and so we just wanted something that’s cottagey and welcoming,” Jenny tells Tom and Sondra.
By the end, this home’s exterior is completely transformed. The new, softer color makes the house look more inviting, while the big front porch makes for a fantastic place to spend time together as a family.
An archway can add that cottage look
Inside the house, Jenny and Dave find even more dated brick, in the form of an archway separating two living rooms.
“I like the brick archway,” Sondra says when first giving Dave and Jenny a tour. “I’m not a huge fan of the color and the way it kind of fits in the house right now.”
Jenny comes up with a plan to whitewash the brick to freshen up the look while preserving the elements Sondra likes.
In the end, it’s clear that whitewashing was the right choice. The lesson here: Painting the brick inside and outside made a dramatic difference to this home.
Bonus: This arch just might provide some inspiration to anyone looking for a little extra character between rooms.
Use colors that make you feel at home
This house was built in the 1960s, so Jenny and Dave know that the kitchen will need some modern updates. Still, they are aware that Sondra doesn’t like an ultramodern look, so they give the kitchen a more charming, country aesthetic with cabinets in a color they know Sondra and Tom will love: blue.
“One of the most exciting things for Tom when we bought this is the barn out back and the steel blue,” Sondra mentions when first showing Jenny and Dave the property.
Jenny and Dave take the hint and give this kitchen new custom cabinetry in a light blue that matches the barn. It adds to the comfortable, rustic feel in the home.
Don’t be afraid of modest, cozy living spaces
Jenny and Dave decide that Sondra and Tom’s old formal dining room would be better used as a pantry, so they put up a wall to make room for storage. While some homeowners would be disappointed to see a wall go up in the middle of the living space, Jenny and Dave are sure that enclosing the front sitting room and making a more private space will create a more sensible layout.
“Closing that off actually helps the space to feel cozy and just to kind of give it a little bit of definition that it needed,” Jenny says to the homeowners once the home is done. She also points out the trim work on the walls, which adds “a little bit of sophistication.”
The updates here prove that an open layout isn’t always the way to go. Sometimes a little separation between rooms can help a family home function a little better.
A country cottage can still feel modern
Jenny and Dave focus most of their renovation budget on the common areas of this house, but they still want to make sure Sondra and Tom’s main bathroom gets the attention it deserves.
Not only do these HGTV stars manage to completely change the layout and increase the square footage, but they also replace the cramped shower with a wet room with blue porcelain tiles. This feature even includes a unique shower wall with steel squares that add some industrial style to the space.
“I really want to make it feel both modern and cozy,” Jenny says of the design. “They’re coming from the city, and so I want them to have that balance.”
Dave and his brother weld the black frames, then add three panes of glass to finish this modern feature. Once the shower door is installed, Dave is proud of the look.
“It leaves it open, but it’ll be kind of a cool divider for the shower,” he says.
In the end, it’s a beautiful shower that proves it’s OK to include some modern touches in a country cottage.
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