HGTV is about to launch a new show aimed at the current environment of staying at home more. Episodes were filmed during the coronavirus pandemic this spring by homeowners who used their cellphones.
“Design at Your Door” premieres at 8 p.m. June 11 with a family from Austin in its first episode.
Kelly and John Greenway and their children, Cooper, 9, and Griffin, 5, worked with designer David Bromstad, whose credits include “My Lottery Dream Home,” to redo the boys’ room.
The family moved to Austin from Los Angeles in mid-March, right as the stay-at-home orders began. For them, it has been a difficult time because the boys have not been able to really explore their Circle C neighborhood or make friends. Cooper enrolled in school after spring break, but the classes have all been virtual.
The Greenways decided to move from Los Angeles, where Kelly was a writer and former producer and John was a director in film and TV, for a change of pace, she says, and to have more room for the boys.
“We started to feel like cogs in the wheel,” she says of their Los Angeles experience.
In Los Angeles, they lived in a one-story midcentury home with an open floor plan. They had embraced color with a blue and white striped living room. “We’re big fans of color; we’re big fans of midcentury modern,” she says. “David Bromstad said it was ’very Californian’ of us.”
They bought their house in Circle C without seeing it in person.
“I came after we closed and saw it for the first time,” she says. “I was texting my husband John, ’Oh, my gosh, what have we done?’”
Before Los Angeles, they lived in Manhattan. They were not used to suburbia, where the houses are built with similar floor plans and designs.
Their new Austin house was very beige, with textured walls. “It’s got a ’90s vibe,” she says. “It needs some personality. It needs color and updating for sure.”
They have seen some signs of what their new life here will be like. “When we moved here the first day, the boys were riding bikes in the middle of the street,” she says. “It was like a whole new world opened up for them.”
The Greenways saw a casting notice online for the show, and it resonated with Kelly.
“I knew we had an interesting story,” she says. “As I was staring at my sons’ bedroom, I was desperate to make it better,” she says.
The room had three beige walls and a lavender wall. She knew it would make the best transformation, and she says, she “wanted to do something for our boys. They’ve been through a lot.”
The boys were 4 and 9 months old when John was diagnosed with brain cancer. They also lost the family dog, Bernie, right before their move. The things they told the boys to be excited about for the move, like making a lot of friends in their neighborhood and going to the neighborhood pool, haven’t happened yet.
The things that scared them about the show were filming it themselves, even though they have TV and film experience, and doing the actual renovation work.
Painting the boys’ bedroom was the first time Kelly Greenway has painted a room, and they were asked to not only paint the room but to create a mural of waves and a sunset on the walls. John Greenway had more experience and comes from an artistic family, but he wondered, “How long is this going to take? How good is this really going to look?” he says.
Bromstad gave them clear instructions about how to use painters tape to create the geometry of the waves, as well as how to use string tied to a pencil to create the circle of the sun.
The designer says he did simplify the mural. At first it had a lot of curves in it, but then he pulled back. If you can put up a piece of tape, you can do this mural, Bromstad says.
“It was fun to see them accepting being pushed,” he says. “If it wasn’t going to work out, we would have gone to plan B.”
He thinks of the work creating the mural as both meditative and tedious, but he is hoping they will step back and say, “Oh, my gosh, I did this.”
The Greenways received packages delivered from Walmart and a design from Bromstad to complete the look.
On the show, Bromstad has an initial meeting with them on Zoom, some video check-ins during the process for the family to ask questions and a video conference again for the reveal.
“It was so strange,” Bromstad says of doing the show virtually. “It was kind of like the best thing ever. I get to make people's lives better, but they have to do all the work.”
The planning for the show wasn’t much different from any other show, he says. He still is using measurements to plan out the design and then ordering items to arrive in time for filming. The difference is he’s trusting the homeowners to get the measurements right, and he’s never physically in the space.
Doing the show by Zoom wasn’t bad, he says, because Zoom has become part of his daily life when he works with other clients, even though he had never used it before the pandemic.
“It's basically like being in person, except I wasn't able to give them hugs,” he says. “I prefer being in person; everyone does.”
On the show, Bromstad is one of several designers. He’s been working with a second family on an episode that will air later.
The Greenways, he says, were “the coolest family ever ... I was inspired by them.”
They were troopers, for sure. They had 48 hours to complete this project without the help of a TV production crew or the designer on-site.
“I put a lot of pressure on them,” Bromstad says, but “they killed it. I thought the room turned out beautiful. ... they did a great job accessorizing and hanging.”
One hiccup, though: The rug didn’t arrive on time, but that’s typical. “Rugs are always the bane of my existence,” Bromstad says.
“All of it came together literally before the reveal,” Kelly Greenway says.
While they were preparing for the show and filming it over Mother’s Day weekend, they also were trying to parent and do virtual school.
“Our challenge was just being able to focus,” she says.
They let the boys help paint in the beginning, when it was just covering the beige and lavender walls, and then the boys got to tie-dye pillowcases in the backyard. It was so fun, they also did a T-shirt later.
The Greenways had furniture to put together, such as a cactus bookshelf, but Bromstad also used some of the things they already had like the boys’ blue velvet beds and a dresser.
A lot of the work was accessorizing and finding the perfect spot for everything.
“We loved so many aspects of it,” John Greenway says. “There are so many aspects of it that were so cool. We knew our kids would love it.”
It was a lot of work, but the end goal of making a great room for the boys kept them going.
“To be able to step back and say what did you do during quarantine? We did a whole show,” he says.
They’ve started working on other aspects of the house like painting the guest room, but, of course, they’re also working on finding work here.
“HGTV is cool that it’s come up with this new platform,” Bromstad says. “People are dying for something new. There’s nothing on. Such is our life.
“I’m super pumped for when it airs.”