HGTV’s ‘Married to Real Estate’ Team Transforms Local Couple’s House
Gwen and Dennis Massey had the experience of a lifetime when Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson, hosts of the HGTV series “Married to Real Estate,” took over the renovation of their “hot mess” of a house. The Masseys are metro Atlanta natives, and moved to Holly Springs in 1986, when they married. The children they raised there have stayed in the community, where they are raising their own families. The Masseys bought the 35-year-old Canton house in preparation for retirement, and to accommodate caring for an aging relative. Although they had experience renovating, they gladly gave control to the HGTV team, which turned a ranch-style house with potential into a warm, comfortable home.
Describe, as you called it, your “hot mess” of a house.
We could tell this house was built really well 35 years ago, but almost every room was in a state of disrepair. It was literally a hot mess everywhere you looked. We hoped we were getting into cosmetic renovations, and would not have a lot of surprises arise in the process. There was no flooring in the living room, and the 35-year-old carpet in other parts of the house had animals freely living on it. The bathroom faucets leaked, and the cultured marble sinks were cracked. The master bathtub was disassembled; the floor was missing tiles, and cabinetry was missing doors and hardware. The kitchen was big, but the faucet leaked; the 1980s garden window did, too. And, the handle on the oven had been replaced with a two-by-four and a towel bar, which a friend affectionately named “redneck chic.” Oh, and the pool … let’s just say it was a lovely shade of brownish green.
Are you and your husband do-it-yourself folks, or was this the first time you’ve tackled a project?
We built our second home from the ground up, and did renovations on our last home. We had a need for a ground level in-law suite. Considering the real estate market in the area, we needed to be open to another renovation.
At what point did you realize you needed help?
From the beginning of this decision, we knew we would need to hire a contractor for this work, to get it done in a timely manner. This was a big job, more than what we could handle on our own. We knew we would want to remove the popcorn ceiling, replace all the floors (including carpet in the bedrooms and hallway, linoleum in the kitchen and laundry room, and ceramic tile in the foyer and two bathrooms upstairs), as well as replace cabinetry in the kitchen, paint all the walls and ceilings, and get new windows.
Why did you decide to reach out to HGTV?
A mutual friend connected us to the producers. We had a lot of conversations about the scope of the work that needed to be done, things they wanted to do, our willingness to surrender the job to their team and to trust them to do what they do. For me, that was the easiest part, because our lives had some unexpected challenges. So, for them to take over all the decision-making, product sourcing and overseeing was a huge relief!
When did you buy the house and ask for help? How long did the renovation take?
I can’t discuss some of these details. What I can tell you is they started work on the house the first week of August, and our reveal was Oct. 8. They turned the project around in nine weeks! It was amazing!
What did Egypt and Mike do to your home?
Egypt and Mike took this hot mess and turned it into a beautiful, comfortable home for our family. They opened the wall from the kitchen to the family room, and installed an amazing gourmet kitchen. They changed a dark drab space into a bright joyful gathering space with a 10-foot island, with seating for five, and beautiful banquette seating. Our master bathroom is gorgeous! They listened to us and designed the space to be functional for how we live. I feel like they splurged on the right items and protected our budget. They were like working with good family members; we felt like they listened to what we liked and had our backs.
How would you describe the experience? What was your favorite part?
The whole experience was surreal. We were blessed to have a professional design team take over renovating our house, who told us to stay away and come see when it was all finished. We like surprises, so the reveal was our favorite part. It was overwhelming to walk in and experience that much change at once.
Another favorite part was Egypt, Mike and the production team. The first day we filmed, the producer told us to wear what we were comfortable in and to put on my makeup like normal, that this wasn’t that kind of show. I didn’t ask what she meant, but I soon found out. These were real-life, non-pretentious, down-to-earth, genuine people doing what they love to do. We got to be a part of that for a little while. Who doesn’t like to be around others when they’re doing what they love to do?