Kari and Dave Hale with Ty, Jade, Izzy and Lily

Nate Berkus is known for his amazing ability to transform any size space into a stunning home—but he has never done anything quite like this. In fact, his latest transformation is making Oprah Show history!

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. Watch

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."
Nate surprises Kari, Dave and the kids at Pottery Barn.

Nate was so touched by the Hale-Jo family's story, he decided to make their dreams come true with a complete home makeover! "One of the things that really touched me was in the e-mail that Kari sent to the show, she wrote, and the line will stay with me for a long time, 'When we bought this house, we were planning on redoing this house from top to bottom, but now we're redoing the lives of these three beautiful children,'" Nate says.

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.
The Hales' living room

Before the transformation can begin, Kari, Dave, Ty, Lily, Izzy and Jade give Nate a tour of their house. The first stop is the main living area, which is too small and cramped for the family of six. Since they live in the rainy Seattle area, Kari says the kids have to spend a lot of time inside. "We don't have a place where everybody can sit and face each other," 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! Watch

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.

Nate makes some big plans for the little house—and he only has 15 days to complete the massive job. "What I thought of when I first met with Mike, the architect, was to try and do something sort of modern, light-filled, bright, fresh, a tremendous amount of style," Nate 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!

While Nate's plans for the house start to take shape, he has yet to figure out how to handle the landscaping. He knows just the man for the job—world-famous landscape designer and Australian television star Jamie Durie!

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.
The girls tell Nate they are fans of High School Musical.

Once he has enlisted Jamie's expertise, Nate is able to take a dinner break with Jade, Izzy, Lily and Ty.

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!
The outside of the house before the makeover

After two weeks on pins and needles, Kari, Dave and the kids are about to see the result of all the work done by Nate, Jamie and the amazing crew. "I'm totally excited, and I have no idea what to expect," Kari says.

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!
The Hale-Jos' new house

When the gigantic screen hiding their new house is finally lowered, the Hale-Jos get the first glimpse of their gorgeous new home. It's not a small, one-level 1960s tract house anymore! The home is almost unrecognizable with its brand new second story and completely overhauled landscaping.

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!
The kitchen and living area before the makeover

Before the makeover, Kari didn't like the way her kitchen was laid out, and the main living space was performing multiple duties. "This is our family room, den, playroom, laundry room, breakfast bar, eating space area all rolled into one mix-matched space," Kari said.

What will they think of their new living space?
The new living area

Opening the front door, the Hale-Jos walk into the beautifully crafted, multifunctional living space dreamed up by Nate. "It's amazing!" Kari says. "Oh my gosh, it's amazing!"

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."

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Izzy and Lily's room before the makeover.

In their old house, 8-year-old Lily and 10-year-old Izzy shared a bedroom, where they kept their mementos in "memory boxes."

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.
Lily's new bedroom

Before the girls get to see their new bedrooms, Nate gives them a very special message from two of their favorite stars—Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens from High School Musical 2. Izzy and Lily are so shocked they are literally speechless!

Watch Zac and Vanessa's message. Watch

"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!
Izzy's new room

When Nate first met Izzy, she told him her favorite color was purple, so when she walks into her new lavender room she is thrilled! "Oh my goodness," she says. "I finally have my own room!"

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.
Jade's bedroom, before

Since Jade moved in with her aunt and uncle, she's been sleeping in a cramped bedroom with no closet. Her biggest complaint is that her bed is simply too big for the small space. This leaves little room to do the things she loves to do, like play the clarinet.

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."
Jade's bedroom, after

To give Jade more space to spread out, Nate transformed the room that was once Kari and Dave's master bedroom into a tween oasis. "This room is all for you," Nate says. "This is your special place."

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."
Ty's bedroom, before

Two-year-old Ty may be too young to care about paint color and High School Musical, but Nate still wanted to do something special for him.

What was Ty's only request? He wanted to trade in his crib for a big-boy bed.
Ty's bedroom, after

Ty got a big-boy bed...and a whole lot more!

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."
Kari and Dave's master bedroom, before

After a long day of working and caring for four children, Kari and Dave say they need a place to unwind. Unfortunately, their old master bedroom was not the sanctuary they imagined.

"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!
Kari and Dave's master bedroom, after

After running out of space on the first floor, Nate raised the roof...literally. Then, he devoted the entire second floor to Kari and Dave's master suite.

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. Watch

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.
The playroom

The Hale-Jo family may think their house tour is over, but Nate has another surprise in store. Next to the main house, construction crews built a special room just for Jade, Izzy, Lily and Ty.

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. Watch

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."
The Hale-Jo family in their new front yard with Jamie Durie and Nate Berkus

Now that they've seen the inside of the house, the Hale-Jo family heads outside to see what landscape artist Jamie Durie did in just five days.

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.
The home makeover crew

An amazing crew worked day and night in order to make the Hale-Jos' dream a reality—and Nate wants to say a big thank you!

"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
FROM: Nate Builds a Dream House
Published on June 24, 2009


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