When the property brothers came to town
Jonathan and Drew Scott hang out with Jett in light-filled combination play space and family room. Jet proudly wears a Property Brothers T-shirt, custom-made by his mom, Carlie Tardino.
Photo by Jane Beiles
Carlie Tardino doesn’t use Facebook often, so when she happened to notice a post saying that the wildly popular HGTV show “Property Brothers” was coming to the tri-state area and searching for people to be on the show, she initially didn’t believe it. “I thought I was being punked,” says Tardino.
“It seemed too good to be true, but Drum”—husband, Drummond Smith— “and I were looking to buy a house. So even though I thought it was a long shot, I sat down and filled out the application.”
Tardino wasn’t the only one applying, either. More than 6,000 aspiring homeowners submitted applications over a five-day period. The process is not for the faint of heart. Tardino’s completed form was 17 pages long. “It was harder getting on “Property Brothers” than it was getting into college,” she quips with a wide smile.
The couple’s wish list included a home with character and an open concept layout with a centrally located kitchen that could serve as “mission control.” They also wanted a main-floor master bedroom because, thanks to six knee surgeries between them, they both hate stairs. They hoped for a house with a good balance of old construction and modern amenities that had plenty of natural light and sat on an acre or more of land.
Previously, the couple had lived in a small, two-bedroom, one-bath condo in Norwalk. There was virtually no closet space, which left Smith reduced to storing his clothing in a hallway armoire and their storage unit. It was time for a change. A big change.
Enter Property Brothers and the whirlwind, life-changing experience of being the stars of your TV episode, hosted by the charismatic identical-twin brothers, Jonathan and Drew Scott.
There are a lot of perks to being chosen—a fabulous design customized to your specific tastes, an accelerated renovation performed by trusted professionals, and, ultimately, an edited diary of your entire experience aired on national television. And did I mention the envy factor? Everyone, it seems, loves the “Property Brothers” and wants to be on their show.
When asked what others need to know about the process, Tardino says, “People think you have to relinquish all control and that there’s a lot of blind faith required. That’s only partially true. My advice is to know what you want and be clear in what you don’t want. I’d spent hours surfing HOUZZ.com, so when we were notified that we’d be on the upcoming season, and they requested our ‘inspirations’ we were ready within 48 hours.”
Aspiring applicants should also remember that exteriors and additions are not generally in the scope of what the show will tackle, and the production only has up to eight weeks to work their magic. “It’s important to budget for the things they can’t do within their time frame,” adds Tardino.
Drum recalls that when the couple first pulled into the driveway of the Downe Avenue property in Wilton (pictured left before) he was taken with the wooded 2.4-acre lot, but his wife didn’t even want to get out of the car. “I figured if the condition of the outside of the house was any indication of what was inside, I wanted no part of it,” she says.
But when Tardino was finally persuaded to enter the 1925 cottage she was able to appreciate its undeniable charm and enormous design potential. Tardino also liked the floor plan—that the kitchen was situated in the heart of the home and that there was a main-floor master bedroom. But at only 6’ 6” in height, the kitchen ceiling was way too low and made the room feelclaustrophobic.
The bargain-basement price, along with Jonathan’s vision for the renovation, sealed the deal and the couple stepped into home ownership.
The transformation of the house is nothing short of spectacular.
The design plusses are evident the moment you enter the house: a soaring 18-foot ceiling in the dining room with a two-story wall of Palladian windows and a mica-infused plaster ceiling in the family room that adds texture and brightens the space.
Other design elements that give warmth and visual interest include the clever built-in desk nestled under the stairs, a custom concrete fireplace, and working barn doors separating the combined family/play room from the living room.
The overall color palette is neutral, with the exception of two teal accent walls. The design team incorporated additional color in the furniture, rugs, and accessories, making sure that the navy and teal accent colors flowed from room to room for cohesiveness.
According to local lead designer Bobbie Sue Smart of Smart Design, who worked closely with Jonathan and Drew Scott, “The design sensibility is one of comfort, livability and unpretentious beauty. The house has an emotional, personal quality that was based on Carlie and Drum’s style.”
When asked how the couple navigated the challenge of undertaking a massive renovation over a short period of time while being filmed for a nationally broadcast show, Smart says, “Carlie and Drum were great! They were enthusiastic, excited to be a part of the show, and a lot of fun. They came up against some surprises and challenges but rose to the occasion each time. It was such a joy to see their reactions to their new home, where they would be creating family memories for years to come.”
(Pictured left, the kitchen before and below after.)
Overall, Tardino and Smith feel that their renovation expectations were 100 percent fulfilled. “It was exhilarating, nerve-wracking, and stressful at times, but totally worth it!” enthuses Tardino.
When asked about the biggest surprise of their renovation experience, Tardino takes a moment to think. Then she admits that the real surprise came months after the Reveal Day and is still continuing.
“It happens when I find myself taking in the whole property as I’m pushing Jett on the swing in the backyard, or when I’m walking down the driveway after getting the mail. I often pause to look at this house in front of me—a house that almost exactly a year ago caused me so much anxiety because there was so much that needed to be done! It was hard to look past the deteriorating roof, crumbling chimneys, and overgrown landscaping. I thought it would take us years to fix it up, but the show helped us get to this place so much quicker. And here I am, looking at our dream house, our dream home.”