Building a Dream House
Kari and Dave Hale were desperate for a Nate intervention. They sent in a video of their Seattle-area home, where they live with their 2-year-old son, Ty, and their three nieces—8-year-old Lily, 10-year-old Izzy and 11-year-old Jade.
Watch the Hale-Jo family's touching story.
Kari and Dave bought their 1960s tract house in 2004, a year before giving birth to Ty. The couple had big plans for their home, but their goals changed when Kari and Dave became the guardians of Kari's three nieces. "We really just all six of us have had to start from scratch to say, 'This is our new life. How do we get the laundry done for six people? How do we get dinner done every night?'" Kari says. "'How do we make sure everybody gets a hug?'"
Since doubling the size of their family, Kari and Dave say their tiny house just isn't cutting it anymore. "Every little piece of our budget that we have now, and all our energy, is really focused, really, basically, 100 percent on them, on the kids—all four kids," Kari says. "So the house just sort of became practically less of a priority. Family first, furniture second."
In order to keep the exciting news a surprise, Oprah Show producers told the Hale-Jos a little white lie—that they weren't chosen for a home makeover. Instead, producers sent the family on a small shopping trip to Pottery Barn as a consolation prize. What they didn't know is that while they were picking out new furniture, Nate was waiting in the wings!
When Nate told them the real news about their home makeover, they were ecstatic. "Oh my God!" Dave says.
When it's time for Kari to prepare meals for her family, the kitchen's setup leaves an awkward space for her to work in. "It doesn't work very well. I'd love a kitchen eating area," she says.
Take the house tour along with Nate!
When the tour is complete, Nate tells the family to pack their bags! For two weeks, the family will live in a furnished apartment. And, Nate has some very specific instructions—no driving by their house until it's finished!
With the family safely tucked away, it's time for Nate to get to work. "I promise I'll do a great job for you," he says.
To open up the house's living space, Nate is raising the roof and adding a second floor in order to almost double the square footage. "I feel like when life is that chaotic, you really need to be able to have some room—room to grow, room to learn, room to interact," Nate says. "And this open plan of this house, I think, really promotes that."
The massive makeover takes more than 200 gallons of paint, 750 pounds of nails, 40,000 feet of lumber and more than 100 crew members who worked 16- to 20-hour shifts for 15 days straight. "I've never worked this fast. My crew has never worked this fast. This was a lot, and I mean a lot," Nate says.
When Nate needed some extra muscle, he brought in some help from Kari and Dave's favorite football team—the Seattle Seahawks!
Jamie isn't in North America or Australia when Nate calls—he's on yet another continent! "I'm actually in Africa at the moment, filming this beautiful elephant," Jamie says.
"Is there any chance you can come to Seattle?" Nate says. "I'm actually standing in the back yard of the biggest makeover we've ever done for the most amazing family of six. Their front yard and their back yard need a full overhaul, like major."
Although he's thousands of miles away, Jamie says he's in! "I'm up for the challenge, and I'll see you soon," he says.
Over burgers and fries, Nate finds out everything he can about his four new friends—including Lily and Izzy's love of High School Musical 2. "When I was your age, what we had was Grease," Nate says. "Have you ever seen that? With John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John? Never? See, Zac Efron is a young cool guy, and I'm an old guy who watches Grease!"
Even though Nate isn't as young as Zac Efron, Jade, Izzy and Lily still want his autograph—in exchange for theirs! "Sounds like a good deal," Nate says.
After the fab foursome give Nate some artistic inspiration for their rooms, it's time for the kids to head home so Nate can get to work!
A large group of family, friends and neighbors has come out to cheer the Hale-Jos on. "We haven't been able to sleep for like three or four days now," Dave says. Their wait is about to end!
Kari says she would have been happy with a new towel rack and pretty candles—boy, did Nate exceed her expectations! "We sat around and we thought, 'Gosh, what could they possibly be doing?'" Dave says. "And I thought, 'Well, maybe if we're really lucky, Nate might have the outside painted and the inside.'"
The outside and the inside did get hundreds of gallons of paint, but that was just a small part of the radical renovation. The Hale-Jos can't wait to see inside!
What will they think of their new living space?
To give Kari, Dave and the kids a spacious area to gather for meals, Nate tore down a dividing wall and opened the kitchen into the living room. He recycled the family's old dishwasher and stove. "I wanted to open up this whole space so that people could do homework. You guys could eat over here. You could eat at the table. You could all hang out," Nate says.
In the main living area, Nate added special touches to make the family feel at home. He hung a blown-up black-and-white picture of the four children on one wall and made bookshelves for Kari's books. For those cold, gray Seattle nights, the family can cozy up by the new fireplace.
Even a few days after the big reveal, Kari says she is still speechless. "I still am examining everything," she says. "It doesn't even resemble what we had before, and I don't think we knew how dark and dingy and awful it was until we were set free."
When Nate spent the day with the girls and their cousin, Ty, their love of High School Musical 2 inspired him to concoct a dazzling surprise.
Watch Zac and Vanessa's message.
"We've heard so many wonderful things about you guys," Vanessa says.
"So we decided to give Nate a hand in decorating your rooms," Zac says. "Me and Vanessa pulled a few strings, and we got you some of our favorite props from the movie."
Now the girls can't wait to get inside their bedrooms! Lily used to share a room with Izzy, but now she has her very own space, with beautiful furnishings by Pottery Barn Kids. "This is all for you," Nate says. "This is your space, honey."
As for the surprise, Vanessa sent Lily a dress she actually wore in the movie High School Musical 2!
Zac and Vanessa sent Izzy a movie surprise, too—a pink robe worn by Ashley Tisdale in High School Musical 2. "She sent it just for you," Nate says.
Before the renovations begin, Nate consults with his young client. Jade says her favorite color is green. "I like green, too," Nate says. "My favorite color is Army green."
As promised, Jade's walls are painted pale green. Black-and-white polka-dotted sheets and a blue desk chair add splashes of color throughout the room. "Oh, my gosh," Jade says when walks through the door.
Jade didn't just get a bigger space...she also got her own bathroom! The bedroom design scheme carries over into the bathroom, which is wallpapered with a green circular pattern.
Nate doesn't have to worry about Jade messing up his handiwork. "She keeps it so clean, she could charge admission," Kari says. "It's museum quality."
What was Ty's only request? He wanted to trade in his crib for a big-boy bed.
Nate decorated one side of the room with a wooden shelving unit, which holds wicker baskets filled with Ty's favorite books, toys and stuffed animals. A green and blue Tyrannosaurus rex toy completes the look.
Dave admits that the before shots of their house didn't make it look so great. "We didn't think of it that way. We just thought it was our place, and it was a place of refuge for us," he says. "The way [the house] looks now, it looks like the place of refuge that we thought it was before."
"I come to my room, and as I open the door and enter, it makes me want to cry," Kari says.
From the beige carpet and purple walls to the cluttered closet, Kari says she hates pretty much everything about this room.
To give Kari and Dave the private space they craved, Nate had no where to go but up!
At the top of the new staircase, Nate created a landing, complete with a plush chair and beautiful candles. "[You can] just kind of relax and read a book in sunlight," Nate says. "I really wanted to give you guys a space so you could have a place to yourselves."
Before, their bedroom was dark and cramped. Now, it's open, airy and filled with natural sunlight. The mismatched furniture has been replaced by a leather ottoman, a beige Pottery Barn sofa and bed. "[It] is simple, classic, beautiful," Nate says. "I really wanted you guys to have a complete retreat."
Mission accomplished, Nate. "I feel like I'm in another world," Kari says. "Oh, my."
Watch Kari and Dave tour their master suite.
The surprises don't stop there. Through another set of doors, Kari and Dave discover their own private spa. This luxurious bathroom has his-and-her sinks and a bathtub big enough for the entire family.
Since moving back into their renovated space, Kari says she's learned to appreciate her retreat. "When I walk up the stairs, I can feel myself transforming," she says.
This deluxe playhouse is the perfect place for the kids to do homework or arts and crafts. Large windows also make it easy for Kari to keep an eye on things from inside the kitchen.
Tour the kids' surprise playroom.
Ty doesn't waste any time. Within minutes, he's coloring at the small table in the middle of the room, while his cousins check out the cork boards hanging on the wall. "I don't feel like this is real," Izzy says. "It feels good."
Nate says creating this room was a dream come true for him. "I thought it would be great for the girls to have a place where they could go that was completely their little world," he says. "You can kind of even leave it messy. ... It was a fantasy for me that I wanted to make for these guys."
Kari says their larger, more functional house has already changed the way they interact as a family. "One thing I love about it already is that there are these synched areas," she says. "There's kids' space, family space and grown-up space. That just loosens everything up. Everybody has more space."
Using 600 feet of grass, 14 tons of garden rock and more than 200 trees and flowers, Jamie transformed their sparse suburban yard into a lush garden. "I love the stones and the rocks," Kari says. "I love it."
Jamie didn't forget about his smallest clients. A sandbox and plenty of running-around space make this back yard kid-friendly.
In the front yard, a tall hedge creates distinct boundaries. "Everything back from there felt like it was a private part of the family's home," Jamie says.
Jamie's landscaping was a lot more than Kari and Dave ever imagined. When they left their home for two weeks, Kari says she just expected shorter grass when they returned. "Literally, we were like, 'Do you think they'll have to mow?'" she says.
"I've never worked in all the makeovers I've done with a group of people more dedicated to what wasn't just a project. It was a mission," Nate says. "You guys did an unbelievable job. Every time I came in and there was lumber missing or something else was going on or whatever it was, everybody solved every problem the second it happened."
Nate and Oprah want to thank another wonderful group of people for their cooperation in the project—the family's neighbors! They were patient and kind through all the long days and noisy nights of construction. "Thank you all for being so neighborly," Oprah says.
After all the hard work that went into creating their dream house, Dave, Kari, Ty, Jade, Izzy and Lily are very grateful. "We're speechless every day," Dave says. "We just can't thank everybody. How can we thank you guys?"
Special thanks to those who made this show possible