Watch out, HGTV: Netflix now has a slew of hit home design shows, and the latest features a cute couple in Utah who, much like Chip and Joanna Gaines, are rapidly building a home design empire.
“Dream Home Makeover” follows Shea McGee and her husband, Syd McGee, as they juggle their interior design business, Studio McGee, and their furniture and decor brand, McGee & Co.
With Shea in charge of everything creative, and Syd pulling double duty as CEO of both companies, this power couple has their hands full.
And although their show just premiered on Oct. 16, they’re already working on Season 2, set to air in 2021.
So what’s reality TV’s latest design duo all about? Check out some of Season 1’s makeovers below, which might inspire you to tune in and maybe even make a few changes around your own home.
Use wall paneling to combine light with dark
In the first episode, “Forever Home,” the McGees’ clients, Emilee and Zann Call, want to update their bland living space.
Emilee tells Shea that she wants the style of the space to be a little bit moody. However, Shea is hesitant to use moody tones, because the rest of the house is light and bright. She knows that dark colors in the living room might make a jarring contrast with the rest of the house.
So, Shea compromises by using dark-blue paneling on the lower two-thirds of the living room walls, and by leaving the top third white.
“I created two different sensibilities, using contrasting wall treatments,” Shea explains. “The dark paneling is moody, but the clean, white upper wall is light and bright.”
When the paneling is finished, it looks amazing. The dark color gives the living room the moody feel Emilee likes, without overwhelming the space. It’s a perfect compromise.
Add personality to an all-white kitchen
In the episode “Manor House Designs,” Shea and Syd work with Linley and Nate Hutchinson, who are moving into Shea and Syd’s new neighborhood.
Linley tells Shea that she wants an all-white kitchen, but Shea knows that this look has been done to death. So, she gets to work trying to find ways to make this kitchen feel unique.
“I think that there’s so many all-white kitchens out there, that if you’re going to do it, you’ve got to make it different,” Shea says.
One way she pulls this off is by adding giant brass pendant lights over the white island, to add some dimension to the space. To finish off the look, she chooses oversized cabinet pulls, for an extra custom look.
While the all-white kitchen look may be overused, Shea finds a way to make it feel fresh again.
Dark walls work great in a movie room
In the third episode in the season, “Movie Room Remake,” Shea and Syd help a client, Trey Ennis, create an edgy movie theater room, with a projector screen and large couches, that is perfect for entertaining.
The space Ennis has chosen for his theater isn’t very large, so it’s surprising when Shea decides to use dark colors on the walls. After all, dark tones are known to make a space feel smaller.
However, Shea knows that the room needs to give the impression of an authentic movie theater ambience.
“Typically, when you have a dark space already, ’cause it doesn’t have very many windows, you think ‘Oh, we should paint it white,'” she says. “But we want this to feel like a theater experience, so we went dark on all the walls.”
When the work is done, Ennis is surprised to see how open and stylish the space feels, even with dark walls. The blue looks stylish and masculine in the light, and the paneling adds dimension.
Wood tones can warm up a space
In the episode “Los Angeles Hideaway,” Shea and Syd head out to California to help Oscar and Diana Ramos with their home design.
Shea does a great job designing the whole house, but she runs into a problem when she finds out that Diana and Oscar have a hard time making style decisions.
Diana and Oscar are excited about their kitchen, but they can’t decide on shelving. While Oscar wants two wood shelves, Diana is leaning toward having just one marble shelf.
Shea knows that the wood will work best in the kitchen, because it will warm up the space. She also tries to explain that two shelves would fill the space better than just one.
Eventually, Diana is able to get on board with the two wood shelves, and they look amazing. The extra shelf brings the eye up, making the space feel bigger, while the wood warms up the kitchen.
“I’m so happy that we went with wood, because I know that Shea and I were going back and forth,” Diana says, “but I think had we done marble, it would’ve looked too plain.”
Not sure about white paint? Try whitewash instead
In the episode “Historic Home Renovation,” Shea and Syd get to work on a unique old home that was once an actual barn.
The space is gorgeous, with high ceilings and original wood. But the homeowners, Sarah and Dave Wangsgards, know that there’s a difference between historical and dated.
So, they want to freshen up the loft space, which feels dark and awkward, with green carpet and mismatched furniture that doesn’t quite fit in the space.
Shea replaces the carpet and the furniture, but the room isn’t finished until the ceiling is painted. This ceiling spans the length of the loft and the living room below, so painting it would be a big change.
“I’m actually really nervous about this decision, because this isn’t just paint in one room, it’s like their entire house,” Shea says.
So, to brighten the space and keep the character of the wood, Shea decides to whitewash the ceiling instead of painting it solid white.
In the end, the new ceiling brightens the space and makes the home look more modern. Plus, the white really makes the original wood beams stand out.
As Dave says, “I love the contrast. It just makes you notice that historic part of the home.”
Backsplash tiles can add texture
In the season finale, “Grand Kitchen Deployment,” Shea has to renovate a kitchen for their clients, Melanie and Leo Lozano, before Leo heads out on deployment.
Shea opens a wall and repositions the kitchen so that what was once a small, closed-off kitchen with an awkward peninsula is now a wide, beautiful gathering space with a large island.
With the layout much improved, it’s time for Shea to choose design materials, and since Melanie and Leo want a light and bright cooking space, Shea plans to use lots of whites.
However, Shea doesn’t want the space look boring, so she decides to add a little something extra to the backsplash. Rather than using a plain white backsplash, she chooses a mix of whites and grays, to give the space some extra dimension.
“I just want to give them a little extra texture in here,” Shea says, “so this tile is the perfect way to do that. It has a little bit of white, a little bit of gray, and it ties all the tones together really nicely in the kitchen.”
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