Drew and Jonathan Scott of “Property Brothers” know that nearly all of us could use more space (particularly as the pandemic drags on and on). Now that the new year’s first episode of “Celebrity IOU” has arrived, they’ve broken out their top tricks for opening up a small house without breaking the bank.
In the Season 2 episode, “Rainn Wilson’s Surprise,” the Scotts meet the actor Rainn Wilson, of “The Office,” who wants to give his beloved nanny, Leslie, a living-room makeover.
Leslie’s Los Angeles home could definitely use it, given that the space is seriously dated and undeniably cramped. With her kids (and nieces and nephews) often running around the house, Wilson knows that this living space needs to be more kid-friendly, too.
Read on to find out how Drew and Jonathan open up this small living space, which might inspire some upgrades around your own home, too.
Remove kitchen cabinets to open up more space
When Wilson brings Drew and Jonathan to Leslie’s home, one of the first things the brothers notice is the kitchen’s cabinets.
The row of cabinets blocks sightlines to the living space and makes the kitchen feel separated from the rest of the house. Jonathan explains that the style is typical of the era the home was built in, but says it’s not a great feature for those who are making the meals.
“Whoever’s in there, all of a sudden, it feels like a cave,” Jonathan says.
So, the brothers remove some cabinets and, to make up for the missing cabinet space, add smarter storage to the rest of the kitchen (like adding lots of drawers to the island).
In the end, the kitchen is beautiful, functional, and flows with the rest of the living space. Leslie will never miss those cabinets!
Create more storage with built-in benches and hutches
Wilson knows that Leslie and her children could always use more storage.
“One thing is, there’s a lot of kids bouncin’ around in here,” Wilson tells the Scott brothers when they first tour the house.
Luckily, the brothers have a solution to help this family organize its stuff: stylish built-ins.
Drew and Jonathan add some built-in benches under the living room window, providing plenty of storage space under the seats. Then, they expand on the built-in dining room hutch, making it twice as big, for holding twice as much.
These two built-in storage solutions are perfect, because they don’t take up space, as a bulky piece of furniture would, and they leave the whole room open as a kids’ play space. It’s a great workaround for this family’s storage issue.
Brighten beams to make a room seem taller
Jonathan and Drew like the wood beams in Leslie’s living room, but they worry that the dark color makes the room feel more closed in.
“From the moment we walked in, we noticed the dark beams and that high, recessed, rough-ridged ceiling. It was sucking the light out of the space,” Drew says.
But the color isn’t the only problem. The brothers notice that this room doesn’t have any ceiling lights, which makes this room even darker.
So Jonathan and Drew paint the beams white and add white shiplap-style ceiling panels.
“Not only do they add brightness,” Jonathan says of the panels, “but they’re also going to be dropped down to accommodate new recessed lighting.”
In the end, not only does the new color make the space feel brighter, but the added lights literally light up the room.
Large doors make a small house feel bigger
While Leslie’s living room is laid out well, the space is relatively small. Although the brothers can’t add to the square footage of the house, Jonathan has the idea to expand the living space by improving the flow into the back patio.
“We could do something really cool with these sliders,” Jonathan says of the existing doors. “We could swap them out for, like, collapsible glass panels. They could flow in and out. It would be great.”
The brothers open up the walls and install large, collapsible window doors from two sides, making both the family room and dining space open onto the backyard.
To complete the effect, they update the patio by adding new flooring and new furniture. In the end, the living space feels twice as big!
Don’t go overboard with too much white
While the Scotts know that it’s important to brighten up a space, they also know that with the walls, ceiling, and kitchen all in white, the space could use some contrast. So they redo the white fireplace with a unique brown finish.
“This is just made out of marble powder, lime, and sand,” Jonathan says, as he applies a clay mixture to the fireplace face.
Some techniques, he says, come from Italy, and from different regions of Europe, but this one, from Morocco, is called tadelakt.
The light-brown color looks perfect in the space. The finish adds dimension without darkening the area, and the modern fireplace shape is much better suited to children, because there’s no mantel to climb on or base to trip over.
Best of all, this modern fireplace looks clean and elegant.
“I love that it looks like a five-star hotel,” Drew says of the new finish. “That’s the kind of feature you want to have.”
When Wilson finally brings Leslie and her family back to the house, she’s amazed by how spacious and elegant her living room looks. Let this serve as a reminder that just a few small changes can make even small spaces feel huge.