On the new Magnolia Network show “Home Work,” Candis and Andy Meredith are renovating an old schoolhouse room by room, but their latest makeover makes us (briefly) wonder if they’re off their rockers.
In the episode “Family Room for Nine,” Andy takes the design reins from his wife, Candis. The results are pretty over the top, but their seven kids certainly approve! So if you’re looking for some family-friendly decor ideas, it’s worth checking out what he’s done—plus you’ll learn some smart, budget-friendly upgrades that work wonders for adults, too.
Save money by refinishing only the wood floors you see
Before renovations begin, a surprise rainstorm floods the house. While most of the floors in the home are undamaged, this family room isn’t so lucky. Much of the flooring is ruined, and Candis and Andy know this will be a pricey fix. However, Candis comes up with an idea that will save money and preserve the historic feel of the home: refinishing hardwood for the perimeter, while using simple plywood in the center of the room.
“We’ve actually seen this a lot in our old houses that we restore,” Candis explains. “The Victorians would just paint what you could see, or stain what you could see, and underneath the rug was left unfinished. So, just like them back in the day, I don’t really care what it looks like under the rug. I’ll save the money and spend it on something else that we really need.”
They salvage whatever parts of the original wood floor they can, lay it around the perimeter, then stain and finish these sections. Meanwhile, inside the beautiful perimeter, they simply paint the plywood center to seal it so it won’t get wet and warp again.
While these floors may look strange, once Andy adds two large side-by-side rugs to cover the middle of the room, the floors look fine. They save thousands of dollars with this trick, and no one would ever know the difference!
Red walls add a moody vibe
Andy and Candis are known for their moody designs and daring colors—and Andy doesn’t disappoint when he chooses a deep red tone for the walls of this room. It may not be a typical color for a family room, but he’s willing to try something a little different.
Once the red is on the walls, Andy is impressed.
“It is so rich and dark and beautiful,” he says. “It’s an amazing red. I thought it was a bit of a risk, but it turned out so good.”
Bring elements from your old home into the new
While this schoolhouse is much bigger than their last home together, Andy and Candis still love their old house, and Andy wants to bring a little bit of it into the new one. So he decides to copy the fireplace.
Andy surprises Candis by creating a replica of their old electric fireplace, on a bigger scale, and paints it red rather than blue.
“We’re going to paint it the same color of the rest of the room to give it that feeling of always being there and being built-in,” Andy says.
This fireplace may be brand-new, but once it’s painted, it looks like it has been in the room for years.
Design around a standout antique
Andy and Candis always set aside a sizable budget for antiques since they add tons of interest to a room—and they actually help save money on decorations and architectural elements.
“One old cabinet or an old island in the kitchen, for example, or a mantel or a big display piece could take the place of thousands of dollars spent on fancier trim or finishes,” Candis explains.
So, true to form, Andy buys a huge Italian cabinet early in the renovation process. It’s a beautiful piece that anchors the room and adds elegance.
“It’s fun to start with the antique piece instead of the other way around,” Andy says. “Because you get to build inspiration off of something that you know is historic and you know is full of character.”
Hide kids stuff inside an ottoman
Probably the oddest upgrade Andy makes that might make you question his taste is a massive ball pit in the middle of the room. Call it a design fail or call it genius, but to his credit, Andy does make sure to hide this weird feature within a large ottoman so he can cover it up when the kids aren’t playing.
This ball pit presents another challenge: With moody red walls, Candis explains, “You can’t add a lot of colors.”
Perhaps this is why the balls in the pit are a clean white, as is the ottoman. Candis upholsters this piece in a wool-like material that further softens the decor, pointing out that the entire DIY piece cost less than $300.
Lighting a big room doesn’t need to be expensive
To finish the room, Candis and Andy need to figure out a way to light this large space.
“It’s such a big rectangle, classroom-sized room, and so we really have to have lights that are the right scale and that have a really big presence,” Candis says. “The problem is lights that big are really, really expensive, so I’ve been scheming up this idea of using plastic lamp post globes, like oversized globes, and creating kind of a cluster light.”
The light ends up costing about $300—not cheap, but Candis says it’s a lot less than a typical light of this size.