The Watchman: Here’s the Story, of an Historic Home Renovation

Senior content producer Michael Malone's look at the programming scene
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HGTV begins A Very Brady Renovation, which features a dramatic overhaul of The Brady Bunch house in Los Angeles, on Sept. 9. The show was shot on a Paramount sound stage, and the exterior of a house in Studio City was shown at the start of each episode. But the cast never set foot in the real house.

Until now.

'A Very Brady Renovation'

'A Very Brady Renovation'

The Studio City domicile’s interior looked nothing like the one in the make-believe Brady house. On the set, that iconic stairway led up to the bedrooms. The real house is a split level, with no true second floor.

The two-bedroom, two-bath house was listed for $1.8 million, and HGTV bucked up a stunning $3.5 million. HGTV also grabbed the house next door to be Brady Command Center.

Over 9,000 hours of the demolition and renovation is caught on film. “It was by far the most difficult renovation I’ve ever worked on,” said Loren Ruch, HGTV senior vice president, programming and development.

The six Brady kids, fully grown now, take part in the renovation. Pitching in are Jonathan and Drew Scott from Property Brothers, Mina Starsiak Hawk and Karen E Laine from Good Bones, Leanne and Steve Ford from Restored by the Fords and Lara Spencer from Flea Market Flip, among others.

The crew built the bedrooms in the backyard, adding some 2,000 feet to the house, all without comprising the street view we know and love.

The idea came from a weekly HGTV development meeting, when Robert Wimbish, director of original programming and development, shared that the Brady house was for sale. “The entire room had one of those light bulb moments,” Ruch said.

Mike Lookinland, who played Bobby Brady, said he got about 20 texts and emails a day after the house went on sale. He builds concrete countertops, so he was a bit surprised to not be asked to pitch in with the kitchen.

Lookinland worked mostly on the master bedroom. He was happy to be Bobby Brady once again. “HGTV got all six of us for this show, and that makes all the difference,” Lookinland said. “It will make all the difference to fans.”

Eve Plumb, who played Jan, described herself as “a serial home renovator.” That helped her realize “the enormity of the project” HGTV undertook. She worked on the kitchen and family room, among other rooms.

Hanging out with the Bradys, Plumb said, “is like hanging out with great old friends.”

HGTV hasn’t decided what happens to the refurbished Brady house long-term. The plan was to renovate it, and share the rebuild with viewers.

“We tried to preserve a piece of American history,” Ruch said.

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