Price Was Right
Fixing it up with the Property Brothers
After The Property Brothers completed the renovation of four rooms in the Vinings’ Pound Ridge home, the couple set to work on the exterior. They restored the deck, re-stained the siding, and replanted the gardens.
Photographed by Hulya Kolabas
Suzanne and Kevin Vining had been avid fans of HGTV’s “Property Brothers” for years when a new professional opportunity for Kevin required the couple and their two daughters to relocate from suburban Albany to Westchester. Just as they put their sprawling upstate home on the market and secured a temporary rental in South Salem, they heard that the reality show was casting in the tri-state area. With nary a second thought, they filled out the extensive application, passed a series of interviews, and, lo and behold, were chosen for the next season.
While Suzanne and Kevin had previously lived in other parts of Westchester, neither was familiar with our neck of the woods until they did some searching online. “We had been living in Albany for seven years, and with my new job, we were trying to stay in a budget, stay close to work, and we wanted to be in a good school district,” explains Kevin.
“We loved our old home,” recalls Suzanne. “We weren’t necessarily looking for a fixer-upper; in fact, all of our previous homes were new construction. But when we started to search on our own, the other houses we considered were either not right for our needs or at the wrong price points.”
Enter the Property Brothers—Drew and Jonathan Scott, identical-twin brothers who help homeowners find and transform fixer-uppers on a strict budget and an expedited timeline, all under the watchful eye of television cameras. The Vinings told the brothers that with daughters Julia and Olivia heading off to college soon, they could get by with three bedrooms, as long as the girls had a getaway somewhere in the house where they could hang out and work on their art projects during school vacations.
Drew, the real-estate expert, took the Vinings to see a few houses. “When we fell in love with this house, we fell in love with the price,” Kevin says in reference to the 1980s Pound Ridge contemporary they chose. “The house was underpriced at $599,000, and we knew it needed work, but we also knew we’d have to bid higher.”
Higher is right: the Vinings ended up paying $741,000—closer to the true market value of the home, and gave Jonathan, a licensed contractor, a limited budget for renovations. “The appeal of working with the Property Brothers is that you have the expertise of Drew and Jonathan, and
they can make a dollar stretch,” says Suzanne. “Plus, they do some really nice, high-end finishes and get it done in seven weeks.”
(Property Brothers transformed this two-story foyer with fresh paint and new slate floors and hung Julia Vining’s butterfly painting under the stair railing. Their living-room design features new furnishings mixed with old family favorites. (After foyer on left; Before foyer on right)
Jonathan’s assignment was to open up and renovate the kitchen, update the dining room, living room, and two-story foyer, and to create a basement studio/lounge for Julia and Olivia. He went over Suzanne’s Pinterest boards of preferred styles and colors and reviewed all of the couple’s existing furnishings.
“We told Jonathan that we’re not afraid of color, and we wanted it to be different from the other things he was doing,” says Suzanne. “Our style is pretty eclectic, we have antiques, and garage sale finds and modern—we like a mix.”
“You guys have so many great pieces; you’ll see them peppered throughout,” Jonathan promised. And, then the Vinings walked out the door, crossed their fingers, and waited.
Staying away was hard for Kevin and Suzanne, especially when Jonathan invited Julia and Olivia to come by and paint a custom mural as a surprise for their parents. (Photo left.) “They were the only two people who were allowed to enter the house,” says Suzanne. “They weren’t allowed to say anything.”
On the day of the big reveal, the Vinings drove over from South Salem. As they peered in the door, smiles spread across their faces. The Property Brothers got it right. Phew!
The foyer, once dominated by an overhead fan and dated ceramic tiles had been brought into the 21st century with the help of new paint, flooring, and lighting.
Straight ahead, the living room boasted some big surprises. The old florescent lighting and shelving had been removed, and the flat fireplace had been built out with stacked stone and converted from wood-burning to propane.
The room was filled with a mix of new and familiar furnishings, including several pieces of Julia’s art that now hung on the walls. “These girls are crazy talented,” says Jonathan. (After living room on left; Before living room on right)
But, the big “wow” on the first floor was the kitchen. Formerly a dreary, dark space, Jonathan transformed it with white cabinetry and tiles, a contrasting gray island, modern lighting, and most important, by moving walls. The kitchen and vibrantly painted dining room are now part of an open floor plan.
The last Property Brothers’ surprise was the girls’ lounge. As the family made their way downstairs, they found the formerly rough concrete floors had been polished to a sparkly finish, and they could see a splash of color around the corner.
Jonathan had furnished the girls’ space with an eclectic mix of old—a stripped-down steel and glass cabinet from a garage sale and a drafting table from Kevin’s late uncle, along with new—an asymmetrical, colorful carpet and lime-green sofa bed. And, as Kevin and Suzanne turned fully into the room, they could see the girls’ mural. A white-on-black botanical illustration.
“Jonathan said to the girls, ‘Do what you want,’” says Kevin. “They did, and we love it!” Adds Suzanne, “The girls are down there all the time when they’re home. They put their music on loud and paint away.”
Inspired by the amazing improvements made by the Property Brothers, the Vinings decided to make more updates themselves and quickly got to work renovating bathrooms, bedrooms, and a first-floor office. They then turned their focus outdoors where they spruced up the exterior and replanted the landscaping. “Aside from the price, the other big draw for us to buy this house was the property,” says Kevin of the two-acre woodland setting.
During downtime, the girls disappear into their lounge, Suzanne is drawn to the kitchen, and Kevin is happiest in the new family room. But as the sun sets, they find themselves gathering together for dinner out back on the deck or roasting marshmallows by the fire pit and marveling at how seamlessly it all came together.
(The Property Brothers infused color into the dining room décor by blending the Vinings’ green mirror with new blue walls and vibrant fabrics. Their kitchen design embraced a more neutral palate. After dining room on left; Before dining room on right.)
Sibling Style - The Vining sisters, Julia (left) and Olivia, flank Property Brother Jonathan Scott during a behind-the-scenes moment of the HGTV television taping at their Pound Ridge home.