My Houzz: Kristen Bell’s Surprise Renovation for Her Sister

My Houzz: Kristen Bell’s Surprise Renovation for Her Sister


To me, home means the place
that you’re drawn to. Home should in some ways feel
like a vacation from the world. It shouldn’t be some place
that you wanna escape from. It should be a place
you wanna escape to. I’m Kristen Bell,
and this is my Houzz. I grew up in Detroit,
I’m the runt of three girls. and my sisters and I
are all three years apart. They’ve seen me at my worst,
they’ve seen me at my best. They treat me
the exact same way. I’m doing this renovation
for my sister Sara. She’s honestly in my eyes, a superwoman, always the glue and the mortar
of our family. She is married to Tom
who she started dating in high school, she has four kids. She’s one of the hardest workers and never ever complains. Sara takes on a lot
of the responsibility for the whole family on her shoulders. She takes the kids to volunteer
at the local animal shelter. She takes care of my grandmother and it leaves her almost no time for herself. Getting the chance to spoil her
and create a space that functions better for her family would just be such an epic surprise. And I think it’s gonna be overwhelming
for both of us. I’m really excited. Sara’s house was built in the ’60s,
it’s smallish and it has three bedrooms, one toilet,
and one tiny sink. And then there’s this huge basement, Sara set up a great couch area,
toy area, but in truth,
they’ve outgrown everything down there. The biggest portion of the basement is
this huge unfinished laundry area which is mostly just storage. And then sort of tucked into the corner
is the kids’ art centre. And then there’s an office,
it’s a lot of wasted space. I specifically chose the basement because, Sara hasn’t had the time
to re-imagine it, so I just wanted to figure out a way to
sort of maximise their house and make the basement some place
they would all gravitate towards. Sara’s very self-sufficient,
me stepping in and saying, “Hey, can I have the keys to your house and give you a special surprise,”
is a little overwhelming for her. She thought about it and she said,
“Yeah, you know what? Why not?” So I’ve arranged that they stay
out of the house during the renovation. I’m thrilled that she trusts me and I really hope that I make the decisions that she will love and
enjoy in her home. I’m 2,000 miles away. I live in Los Angeles and
Sara lives in Detroit. So I turned to Houzz to
redesign every detail of my sister’s basement. Houzz is basically a design hub, a website and an app where you can get
everything done for a renovation, start to finish. You can look at inspiration pictures and then you can actually
shop those pictures. So in choosing a designer,
I went to the Houzz website and looked at a bunch of different profiles
of designers in the Detroit area. I found designer
Melissa Kennedy from Meadowlark, that does both the design
and the build. And I thought that Melissa’s aesthetic
was really great and once I looked at her profile and saw she had really amazing and
stellar reviews, I knew she was the one that I wanted to trust
with this project. Melissa has flown out to Los Angeles, so we could meet in person to go over
the design ideas for Sara’s house. So living in this three-bedroom house
is my sister Sara, her husband Tom,
and their four kids. But it’s really tight. There’s three bedrooms.
There’s one bathroom. And they have this amazing basement
and a lot of it is not finished. The kids don’t wanna go down there, ’cause it’s dark
and it’s, you know, sort of grody. So I just wanna make that
something that’s welcoming and something that will basically double the space
they have in the house. Hopefully, if we make it comfortable
and inviting. Spaces where each kid
feels like it’s their own. Yeah. They’ll start to own it and
go down there more. That would be ideal. Another thing that’s really important,
Lucy, my 11-year-old niece
is growing into being a teenager with three boys in the house. I feel like there’s space in the
basement to build her a bedroom. Yeah, and it’s a great idea. I think this will give Lucy
a lot of freedom to come into her own, she’ll have a space where
she can think about who she is and not really have to think about picking up
after her brothers. Okay, and add a bathroom there
so that they have a second bathroom. Let’s look at some of the inspirations
for the basement space then. So you put this picture
in the Ideabook. Ideabooks is a place where you
can store pictures or products for your design and
you can share those with other people. So, Melissa and I started an ideabook
for each room and then we’re able to pull pictures
or items into each folder and then view it
whenever it works for us. It saves us a ton of time
where we have one design file where we can both add to it,
delete, or edit. I think this picture, it feels like we are
maximising all of this space, love the idea of how welcoming
this couch feels, using the inspiration from this picture with a little bit more colour
would be really ideal. I really wanna create a seating area
that like beckons them, that just feels like a gigantic bed… Yeah. For all of them to pile
on top of each other. So this picture
really resonates with me when I think about Sara’s space
and partly because the open ceilings, let’s talk about
the ceiling treatment in the basement. Yeah. The basement at her house has a
fairly low ceiling and it gets even lower
with the dropped-in ceiling that they have right now.
Yeah. What do you think about the
open ceiling? As opposed to keeping it finished,
I don’t know. So Houzz has this great function called,
Design Dilemma. So a Design Dilemma on Houzz can be quickly solved
by posting a question. If we’re undecided about where to go with the open ceiling or
the closed ceiling, we can post it to the Houzz community
and get feedback. That would help me
make the decision, yes. Okay, good. I’ll post it. So let’s look at Lucy’s room. So tell me why you added this picture. I really like how there are aspects to this bedroom that can grow with her, and I also really love the, like, whimsical bedding to give it, like, a really girly feel. So let’s talk a little bit about the bathroom. It will be the guest bathroom basically. I think I put this picture in,
specifically for the mirror, what do you think of that mirror? I do like that mirror. One of the great things about Houzz is that if I find an object that I like,
like this mirror. If I hover over it,
and a white square appears, I can click on that and it takes me to
the shop on Houzz to purchase it. – Let’s get it. – Let’s do it. And let’s keep shopping. So I put this in
our ideabook because, I know my nephews,
they’re wild animals. I feel like they would really gravitate towards
a game table, so I’d love to get one down there. Do you think it will fit? I think we can make it fit in the space. Yeah. And we’ll also have access to Tom,
my brother-in-law. He, I know is really excited about sort of helping
deliver this for Sara, so you are gonna feel like a member
of the family ’cause he’s gonna be involved
every step of the way. Okay. So I think this all looks great and I hope that we can really perfect
this space and make it something that
they will want to live in. Yeah, I think we can do it. I’m up for the challenge. The idea of spoiling my sister
when I know how good she’s been to me, it’s gonna be really fun. Today, Melissa is meeting my
brother-in-law Tom at his and Sara’s house to get started on clearing everything out before finalising the
renovation plan. Getting through today is a big deal. It’s gonna take a lot of emotional energy and a lot of choices to make,
what to keep? What to get rid of? What memories to hold onto? You guys moved in here how many years ago? Twelve. It was just the two of us so, I mean, it was perfect and now six, it’s really… It’s getting tight. This house is where they’ve made
all their memories and now they’ve built
this big beautiful family. But it’s just busting out of
the windows of this house. This living area space, it’s gonna be a
completely open palette, all the interior walls come down, it all goes. So we’ll go into the laundry room area… Yeah, this is the laundry room. – Oh, here’s half your basement.
– Yeah. – It’s a little bit of space here, yeah?
– Yeah. Kristen really wanted to give your boys
a reason to come downstairs, so we’re gonna have a wall that separates the fun room from the laundry room. Oh, okay.
– Okay, into the office. This is gonna become Lucy’s room.
– Wow We’re gonna be able to put
an egress window in and so right over here on this wall is gonna be a large window
to let a lot of natural light in… So it won’t feel like she’s
in a basement bedroom. No kidding, yeah, that’s huge
– Yeah, it is. Anything that has meaning? This dresser,
this was Sara, her mom and dad, you know, they’ve had it for years. I know for sure Sara
would want to have this. – Keep this. – Yeah. Okay, so there’s a lot to do
to get this place cleaned out. Let’s start packing. My brother Tom and Melissa
are moving everything out and getting ready to start the demo. If you’re ready, we’re gonna start by
demolishing everything around here. Tom, I think is gonna be the most excited
about all of this. – Every boy’s dream,
I get to demolish some stuff. – Good. And we’re gonna hook Tom up with the sledgehammer, so he can take the first
punch at the walls. Have at it? All right, cool. Let’s tear it off. It’s been four weeks since
the renovation started on my sister’s house and today Tom and Melissa are stopping by
to get a progress report. – Wow!
– Holy cow! Look at this thing. This is crazy, look what you’ve done. This is crazy, look what you’ve done. This looks amazing. Look at this. Sara had told me a few times that she likes this sort of nook bed
in my living room and it’s a place where
the kids always gravitate. So we wanted to build exactly that
underneath their stairs. That, that is gonna be huge. The kids are gonna love that,
I mean, I think that after all of this, they’ll probably love to fight
over that the most. So this is gonna be the living room area. Okay, so the TV is going here, right? I kind of need HDMI cables and stuff. Running the wire would be difficult if we had already drywalled the ceiling. Kristen and I polled
the Houzz community to ask them, should we or should we not
drywall the ceiling. And in my opinion we won,
the Houzz community has spoken, they said to leave
the ceiling open. So this is gonna make it really easy for us to add HDMI cable
or whatever you need. You wanna move into Lucy’s room? Sure. What do you think? Oh, my god, look at the window, all right. Amazing that how much light is in here. Lucy’s room is
really developing nicely, the way that the egress window lets light into the space
just really expands it. All right, so, there’s a ton to get done. We’ll get paint samples
on the wall, hopefully, we’ll be able to
talk with Kristen a little bit. Let’s get to work. This is the colour
that I think Sara likes. So you wanna call Kristen? Yeah, she’s done this mess so far,
so let’s give her a call. Let’s do it. Melissa and I talk about every other day, about measurements or paint colours, things that I didn’t know anything about
before I started this renovation. Hi, brother. Hey, hey, hey. What’s going on? What’s going on with you? Just in the basement that’s empty. Oh, my gosh. And we started to play around with some
paint colours. We wanna show you the colour
around the TV wall. So what do you think about this one? I like them both. Tom, are you favouring one or the other? So I like the one above. I kind of like the one above too.
Okay, good. Okay, so let’s look at the
stairway loft space, that’s where that bed is going to be. Uh, great idea, by the way. Right now, I have painted a green. Oh, I like that. So there’s one more colour,
can we look at Lucy’s room? – Yeah, yeah. – Great. Well, that’s bigger
than I thought. So that colour on the wall,
it’s a pretty pale pink colour. So I like the pink but I’d love to
put it into the ideabook that we have on Houzz where
we sort of can see everything that we’re putting in her room,
I don’t wanna use too much pastel… Yep, that’s great. I’ll edit it. And I just wanna make sure
she has the space that can transition to when she gets older. Okay, well, you guys, this looks fantastic. I cannot wait to actually see it in person. I will be there in a few weeks. – Bye. – Bye. I’m finally here in Detroit. I am really excited to see everything. I’ve just seen all the pictures and I’m excited to really get
my hands dirty today. Hello. Guys, do you need help? Oh, good to see ya.
Oh, good timing, yeah. Do you need help?
Or are you all done? No, there’s more to move.
How are you? – I’m good, how are you? – Good. I cannot believe how good
it looks down here. Melissa killed it. Walking downstairs,
it felt like a whole new house and we found everything on Houzz. It was so difficult for me
even with the pictures to, to really picture everything but this looks better
than I expected. Does it even look like, yeah, the same house now? – No, not at all. – So different. We’ve got work to do. I think the family’s life is hopefully
gonna get easier. I’ve got most of the weight, Tom,
so you should be good. I see the kids playing down there. This is great.
You can put your feet up on it. I see the boys staying out of
my sister’s hair for more than a minute and a half. Yes. Perfect. I can see Lucy feeling like
she has her own space, not feeling cramped
by her little brothers. Our parents didn’t have
the purple knobs. No. That’s an upgrade,
just for Lucy. Okay, then these tables get moved on either
side of the couches. Can you guys put this over here,
please? – Oh, Tom it’s so heavy.
– Yeah. I lived with my sister 20 years ago. I’m pretty sure I know her style,
but she lives in Detroit. I live in L.A.,
we do have different likes and dislikes, so I could be way off base here. Okay, this is it. Last thing to place. Nice.
– Exhausting, we did it. Think Sara’s on her way. Oh, god. Okay, get out of here. All right. I’m out. – Okay. – Good luck. Thank you. I’m nervous. Okay, take a deep breath. When Kristen said,
I had to get out of my house for longer than I was comfortable with, I had a lot of questions and just had
to be prepared for a surprise. I didn’t know what was gonna happen. Oh, I love it. You do? A little sister always
looks up to her big sister. No matter what age you are. And I want her to be happy. I want to please her. I want her to think
I did a good job. It’s so different. Right. I love it.
I love the open ceiling. I love whatever’s happening
next to our TV. I wanna get into it, all of it,
this is crazy. We wanted to re-imagine the nook
that the kids like in my house, So they can go into a little cave but you
have toy storage underneath. Let me show you the living room. I do love it,
it’s very homey. It’s me. Love. Obviously, we kept
my very favourite painting. I kind of took a big swing here. This is a convertible pool,
air hockey, ping pong table. They’re gonna love it. Okay, I’m hoping that they do. So homework desk, arts and crafts. I’m excited, I’m excited,
this is crazy. Do you wanna see the new bathroom? – Yes. – Yes. Oh, my gosh. I love the vanity. The vanity is amazing. Yes, yes. That was the goal. Okay, so I’m most excited to
show you the next thing, I hope I did a good job. Oh, this is crazy. She is gonna love it. This is amazing. This is awesome. Tried to update
mom and dad’s dresser. Oh, it looks good. She is going to love it. It looks so good. – I’m so happy.
– So good. I love it. When I look around the basement, I see a lot of Kristen down here. I feel like she’s put her special touch in a lot of different spots
for everybody. I know you poured your heart into this
for me and all of us, and thank you is not enough. I saw her face and I saw her welling up. She’s always been very quiet and very calm. That was a huge reaction for
her which is exactly what I wanted. – Melissa? -Yeah. – Do you wanna come down here? – Yes. Tom, come down too. This is your husband Tom. – Nice to meet you.
– Nice to meet you. How do you like it, baby? I love it, I love it. – Hey. – The designer Melissa. – Nice to meet you.
– Nice to meet you too. This is amazing, this looks really, really good. – You like it? – Yes. Good. I’m so relieved. I’m so happy that Sara
loves the space, I’m thrilled. There isn’t one thing I said, I would change nothing. – Really? – Really? – No. – That’s huge. Yeah. Mason and Ben are gonna
love the game area for sure. Oh, my god. Oh, my god. Oh, my god. I think the kids are gonna be standing on all the furniture pieces
within five minutes, if they’re not,
we have a problem. – What? – Lucy, are you crying? And Lucy’s gonna think that this whole basement
is Lucy’s. Okay, open em That’s… Oh, my god. It’s mine. It’s yours. – No brothers. – So cool. This is her apartment and
you can come in if you have to. I love it. You look so happy. You deserve it. I could immediately tell that she loved it. Hi, guys. Do you like it? Oh, it’s beautiful. I have wanted to do something like this for my sister
and her family for a very long time. I cannot believe
this is finally over. This was such a crazy whirlwind. Sara, I’m so honoured to
be able to give this to you ’cause you really, really deserve it and
we all love you very much. Thank you, I love you. – Cheers. – Cheers. Cheers. To my sister, thank you for
all that you’ve done. I’m forever grateful. It’s a huge change for the family and I never would have been able to pull it off without Houzz. With this great technology that let us share all of this
designing between Michigan and California. Hopefully, it’ll feel like a sort of new beginning and who knows, maybe, they’ll have more kids.

100 thoughts on “My Houzz: Kristen Bell’s Surprise Renovation for Her Sister

  1. I really enjoyed this beautiful show, of her beautiful family, and houzz is amazing! Godbless beautiful Lucy too, she is a love👍🤗❤

  2. made me cry. well done kristen am proud of your love for your sister. i wish i could help my sister. my heart breaks cos am helpless i cant do much for her.

  3. Is Tom Canadian or does the "eh" seep across the border from Windsor? (I've lived in the States for 15 years and still say eh btw)

  4. Beautiful basement. I’m guessing it’s in Madison heights just outside of Detroit. It looks just like my aunts old neighborhood.

  5. Girl, stop with that Detroit nonsense. You grew up in Berkley. Though, to be fair, I wouldn't be surprised if what you actually said was "I' grew up in Berkely, a suburb of Detroit," and the editors did their thing. But still! Growing up in Detroit in the '80s/'90s and growing up in Berkley are two VERY different experiences.

  6. Did anybody else notice that beautiful necklace on the designer? Anybody know where it might've come from?

  7. I know this video is supposed to be about the house but I just kept thinking how can someone's face be so incredibly perfect and symmetrical.

  8. Everything was perfect, but the best thing that happened was the bond between the two of them. And somehow that reminds me that we are still human.

    I think God smiled up there.

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