The untold truth of HGTV’s A Very Brady Renovation

The untold truth of HGTV’s A Very Brady Renovation

HGTV’s A Very Brady Renovation found success when it reunited the six actors who portrayed TV’s Brady kids and teamed them with an array of HGTV on-air personalities to renovate the series’ iconic home. And it proved that even five decades after The Brady Bunch‘s premiere the series was still a pop-culture touchstone. The project on A Very Brady Renovation would be no ordinary reno, mind you. The goal was to recreate the groovy 1970s interior of the sitcom’s set within the house that had been only used for exterior shots.

A Very Brady Renovation is the programming event of the year that Brady Bunch and HGTV superfans have been waiting for,” said HGTV president Jane Latman in the network’s announcement. “HGTV and the Brady Bunch house together is as big as we anticipated, and it’s been fun to see and hear how everyone lights up with excitement whenever we mention anything related to Brady.”

The show would go on to become one of HGTV’s all-time biggest hits, but there’s plenty you probably don’t know about how this unique blend of sitcom nostalgia and home-renovation drama came to be.

HGTV's A Very Brady Renovation house made headlines when it went on the market

After The Brady Bunch ended its five-season run in 1974, interest in the show’s house did not wane. In fact, the abode reportedly holds the distinction of being one of the most-photographed houses in America, second only to the White House. According to the Los Angeles Times, between 30 and 50 fans visit the home each day.

When the home went on the market with an asking price of $1.88 million in 2018, it marked the first time it was up for sale since the 1970s — while The Brady Bunch was still on the air. As memorabilia dealer Joe Magdalena told the Times, whoever bought the place wouldn’t just be purchasing a house, they’d also be owning “a never-ending attraction.” He added, “There are positives and negatives.”

The home’s realtor, Ernie Carswell, was hopeful that whoever bought it wouldn’t demolish a piece of TV history. “We’re not going to accept the first big offer from a developer who wants to tear it down,” he said. “We’re going to wait a few days, in case there are others who want to purchase it as an investment to preserve it.” Of course, it wouldn’t be long until HGTV bought the house to use for A Very Brady Renovation.

This NSYNC member really wanted to buy the house used in HGTV's A Very Brady Renovation

Shortly after the Brady Bunch house went on the market, before it was featured on HGTV’s A Very Brady Renovation, ’90s boy band hunk Lance Bass made a move to buy it. After putting in an offer, the NSYNC star took to Twitter to reveal it had been accepted. “This is going to be a fun project!” he tweeted, earning a reply from Marcia Brady herself. “Congratulations!” tweeted Brady Bunch star Maureen McCormick. “May all your problems from here on out always be solved in a half hour!”

While Bass assumed the deal was done, that wasn’t the case. As CNN reported, the “heartbroken” celeb later revealed another buyer with deep pockets swooped in with a more lucrative offer. “How can I compete with a billion-dollar corporate entity?” he wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. “I truly believe I was used to drive up the price of the home knowing very well that this corporation intended on making their offer and it’s not a good feeling.”

The identity of the buyer who outbid Bass was kept top secret, with EW reporting that the new owner “requested full confidentiality and executed an NDA [Nondisclosure Agreement].” 

HGTV was revealed to be the new owner of the house seen in A Very Brady Renovation

Us Weekly reported the mystery buyer of the Brady Bunch house was revealed in a conference call with Discovery Inc. CEO David Zaslav. “One of our projects for HGTV will speak to those Brady Bunch fans on the call,” he said during the conversation. “You may have heard that the house from the iconic series was recently on the market in California. I’m excited to share that HGTV is the winning bidder and will restore the Brady Bunch home to its 1970s glory as only HGTV can.”

According to Forbes, HGTV crushed the competition with its winning bid of $3.5 million — $1.6 million over asking. “As soon as the home came on the market, HGTV wanted it. We created a war room, strategizing on the best approach to get the property,” said Beverly Hills realtor Danny Brown, who worked with Discovery on the deal. “Initially the sellers received multiple offers and came back with a multiple counteroffer to around eight of the buyers. We then blew those buyers out of the water with our counter, which we upped considerably.” So that’s how HGTV snagged the house for A Very Brady Renovation.

One of the Brady kids wanted to buy the house before HGTV's A Very Brady Renovation


One of The Brady Bunch stars has admitted she had her eye on the house used in HGTV’s A Very Brady Renovation  — and she actually had inside info about it. “I heard about it before anyone did,” Maureen McCormick, who played eldest Brady daughter Marcia on the beloved sitcom, revealed in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. “I had a little insider knowledge and I really wanted to [buy it].” However, McCormick’s hopes of picking up the place were dashed when she “saw the whole bidding war” that eventually took place.

According to McCormick, HGTV’s over-asking purchase of the home created a ripple affect that reverberated throughout the entire neighborhood. “I’ve heard that everybody’s house prices have gone up in the neighborhood,” McCormick said. “Which [makes sense]. I would like to live in that neighborhood, right?”

After she was ultimately outbid by HGTV, McCormick no doubt assumed her experience with the famed Brady Bunch home was over and done, but, in fact, it was just beginning. 

HGTV unveiled plans for the groovy A Very Brady Renovation

In November 2018, HGTV unveiled its plans for the iconic Brady Bunch home. In a press release for A Very Brady Renovation, HGTV revealed the new series would document the “full-scale overhaul of the world-famous home” to give the place “a ’70s-inspired rehab that’s sure to have everyone saying, ‘far out!'” The series would also reunite all six Brady siblings: Barry Williams (Greg), Maureen McCormick (Marcia), Christopher Knight (Peter), Eve Plumb (Jan), Mike Lookinland (Bobby) and Susan Olsen (Cindy). The former co-stars would roll up their sleeves and undertake the renovation with the assistance of a variety of HGTV personalities and the occasional surprise guest star in what was billed as “one of the biggest programming events that HGTV has ever undertaken.”

“What’s so exciting about this project is that we are creating one of the most iconic homes from many of our viewers’ childhoods,” said Loren Ruch, senior vice president of HGTV programming and partnerships. “It will be the first time in history that the house from all of our memories will be created in a real brick and mortar location. It is certain to be a trip down memory lane.”

HGTV's A Very Brady Renovation made for a different kind of Brady reunion

Having all six Brady kids reunite for HGTV’s A Very Brady Renovation wasn’t just nostalgic for the show’s fans — it had the same impact on the actors themselves. Even better, they didn’t have to portray their iconic characters, as this project would allow them to simply be themselves and show viewers the real people behind the Bradys. “This has been a special one because we didn’t have to play Bobby and Cindy — we could be ourselves. And it’s the 50th anniversary [of the premiere],” Mike Lookinland told Variety. “It’s almost by divine guidance or something,” marveled Susan Olsen.

For the sitcom’s stars, A Very Brady Renovation presented a different kind of experience than previous reunions such as 1988’s A Very Brady Christmas. “I was interested because it was a different take on Brady,'” explained Eve Plumb.

“The memories are so powerful, the nostalgia is so strong — and this is a period of time we’ve talked about for our entire lives,” added Barry Williams of reuniting with his TV siblings in such a retro project. “It’s not like we lived it and it went away, it stayed with us all this time.”

HGTV enlisted a gaggle of its stars for A Very Brady Renovation

In its announcement for A Very Brady Renovation, HGTV revealed the Brady Bunch cast would be joined by an array of HGTV personalities, who would push the “pause” button on their own shows in order to participate in television’s grooviest, most nostalgic home reno.

The stars who’d be lending their renovation expertise to A Very Brady Renovation would be Jonathan and Drew Scott of Property Brothers, Good Bones stars Mina Starsiak and Karen E. Laine, brother-and-sister duo Leanne and Steve Ford of Restored by the Fords, Hidden Potential‘s Jasmine Roth, and Lara Spencer of Flea Market Flip.

After they became involved in HGTV’s A Very Brady Renovation, the Scott brothers revealed that Lance Bass and Maureen McCormick weren’t the only celebrities who had been interested in scooping up the Brady Bunch house — they had also put in a bid. “We all realized if we were going to do any house in the country, this would be the one to do,” Jonathan Scott explained to HuffPost. “So, fortunately, HGTV got it, put the money toward it, and really overpaid because they wanted to do it right.” 

Fans were asked to dig up hard-to-find '70s artifacts for HGTV's A Very Brady Renovation

Recreating the Brady home’s 1970s sitcom decor came with multiple challenges, not least of which was the scarcity of vintage 1970s furniture, appliances, and other items. With most lava lamps and beanbag chairs likely rotting in landfills, 1970s stuff in good condition had become tough to locate.

“Many of these 1970s items are very rare and hard to find,” said Abbi McCollum, vice president of convergence and social media for HGTV, in a press release seeking the assistance of viewers to help dig up the vintage stuff required for A Very Brady Renovation. “We’ve seen an incredible response from Brady Bunch fans across social media since we first announced the series. Now, we need their help to get the renovation of the house just right.”

In-demand items included “the living room couch and credenza, Greg’s attic radio, the front door handles and several of the home’s legendary tchotchkes, such as the horse statue, fish trivets and stuffed animal giraffe.” Added McCollum, “If you have or know where to find similar items that appeared on an episode of The Brady Bunch, let us know!” 

Recreating the Brady home required major construction in HGTV's A Very Brady Renovation

According to the Los Angeles Times, the split-level ranch-style home seen in The Brady Bunch and renovated in HGTV’s A Very Brady Renovation was built in 1959, designed by architect Harry M. Londelius. Londelius died in 1960, and he wouldn’t live to see his home become a cultural touchstone.

When actor Christopher Knight first learned of the plan to renovate the house, he was skeptical the home could accommodate the iconic Brady Bunch stairway, given that there was no second level. As Knight explained, “You had to have the stairway, and if you had the stairway, how do you not destroy the front elevation — which is what America thinks of the Brady house,” he told CNN. “I thought it was absolutely impossible.” Added co-star Mike Lookinland, “I said, ‘You guys are crazy, and this is the best idea I ever heard.’ And it turned out that both of those things are true.”

In order to achieve that, reported the Times, an extra 2,000 square feet of space was added to the 2,500-square foot home. In addition, the entire structure had to be lowered one foot — “a massive undertaking” — in order to add a second story and allow room for the staircase without altering the home’s now-famous front facade. 

One lucky fan won a vacation in HGTV's A Very Brady Renovation house


As if Brady Bunch fans weren’t already psyched about the show, A Very Brady Renovation sweetened the pot by announcing a contest, with one lucky winner getting to “live like a Brady” by vacationing in the newly renovated home. “Brady Bunch superfans can submit their grooviest, most creative 30- to 90-second video that shares why they deserve to win the ultimate Brady fan prize — a six-night stay at the Brady Bunch house,” HGTV declared in its announcement. The prize would also include “coach roundtrip airfare for the winner and up to six guests, a curated L.A. tourist experience and $25,000 cash.”

In November 2019, HGTV announced the contest’s winner: Lisa Shaw of Charlotte, N.C. whose winning video included a visit to a local butcher — named Sam, of course — and a stop at a beauty salon for a Carol Brady-inspired 1970s-style hairdo. “Some people say I take it too far and even live like a Brady,” said Shaw in HGTV’s announcement. “But I grew up with the Bradys, and it brings me back to a better, wholesome time in my life and reminds me of my childhood.”

Why the Brady kids initially didn't care about the house before HGTV's A Very Brady Renovation

While the home used for exterior shots throughout the show’s 1969-to-1974 run became a destination for fans, that certainly wasn’t the case for The Brady Bunch‘s cast. “It’s just a picture,” Barry Williams told CNN. “A picture that The Brady Bunch had seen never in person.”

In fact, Christopher Knight hadn’t actually laid eyes on the building until 1998. “I was told where it was and I just drove by,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “And I lived really close by, too.”

As it turned out, the cast had far less of a connection to the house than viewers did. As Susan Olsen told CNN, she hadn’t given the place much thought until the day it hit the market and “everybody was texting me, going ‘Don’t you want to buy the house? It’s for sale.'” She shared, “No — why would I want to live in a house that has Brady fans going by every day? But then when there was talk about it possibly being purchased, and then the wrecking ball going into it, I thought ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa — wait a minute! That’s like putting a wrecking ball into the American family.'” 

We’d guess the stars’ feelings toward the house grew after starring in HGTV’s A Very Brady Renovation.

Ratings for A Very Brady Renovation were the highest in HGTV history

Any concerns that viewers had lost interest in the long-in-the-tooth sitcom The Brady Bunch were shattered by HGTV’s A Very Brady Renovation‘s record-breaking ratings. After the final episode aired, HGTV issued a press release to announce that not only were ratings through the roof, but that the show had “become the highest-rated series in network history” in key demographics, registering “a 156 percent increase over year-ago levels” while resulting in “a 104 percent lift over the prior six-week time period.”

The viewership numbers were clearly an indication that 50 years after The Brady Bunch made its TV debut, viewers’ obsession with the wholesome clan had not diminished one iota. “We knew A Very Brady Renovation would deliver tremendous ratings and it sure did,” said HGTV president Jane Latman in the press release. “Both Brady Bunch and HGTV superfans faithfully tuned in week after week to see the extraordinary renovation and replication of the iconic television home. It’s a milestone moment in HGTV history for the team who gave their all to this fun, massive and rewarding project.”

The runaway success of HGTV's A Very Brady Renovation spawned a holiday special

HGTV had a major hit on its hands with A Very Brady Renovation. To capitalize on the show’s success, the network announced A Very Brady Renovation: Holiday Edition, a “holiday extravaganza” featuring the six Brady Bunch kids reuniting — again. This time, they’d be joined by Ree Drummond of Food Network’s Pioneer Woman “to whip up 70’s-inspired treats, including fondue-style potatoes, a gelatin fruit salad and ‘santapes.'” Also on hand would be Jasmine Roth of HGTV’s Hidden Potential and Rock the Block, who would help add some groovy holiday flair to the decor.

According to the network’s announcement, the Brady Bunch stars “will help Ree prep the feast in the famous orange-and-green kitchen” while Roth “will work with them to complete several DIY holiday projects, including transforming shutters into life-size toy soldier lawn decorations.” The statement noted, “After decor is in place and the tree is trimmed, everyone will sit down for a celebratory holiday meal.”

“We have remarkable star experts across every area of lifestyle content, so of course we’re inviting Food Network star Ree Drummond to HGTV’s Brady holiday episode,” declared HGTV president Jane Latman. “Along with Jasmine Roth and the Brady siblings, we’ve assembled a dream team to create the ultimate holiday programming event.”

What's next for the house that was featured in HGTV's A Very Brady Renovation

As of December 2019, HGTV had yet to reveal its plans for the Brady Bunch house. While fans had hoped HGTV would offer tours to the general public, that seemed unlikely. “It’s in a residential area. It’s not zoned commercially,” explained star Barry Williams of why tours weren’t feasible, speaking during a July 2019 appearance at the Television Critics Association press tour, as reported by USA Today.

However, a number of celebrities have been allowed to tour the renovated home, including the property’s almost-owner Lance Bass, comedian Cedric the Entertainer, Jon Hein and Gary “Baba Booey” Dell’Abate of The Howard Stern Show, and the late Steve Irwin’s family Bindi, Robert and Terri Irwin of Animal Planet’s Crikey, It’s the Irwins.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Discovery’s chief lifestyle brands officer Kathleen Finch said in January 2019 that the company “hadn’t formalized” what it would be doing with the house. When asked months later about HGTV’s plans during the panel for Very Brady Renovation at the TV Critics Association press tour, network president Jane Latman offered a cryptic response. “We’re making plans,” she said, according to USA Today. “We don’t have a set plan yet, but watch this space.”

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