When I moved back to Texas in early 2020, I imagined fulfilling the Fixer Upper fantasy: buying a historic house with unique charm that just needed some TLC. Instead, taking into account proximity to workplaces and schools, we settled into a suburban neighborhood in Flower Mound. Our home is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but it hasn’t been updated since it was built in the late nineties—think linoleum countertops, dark oak cabinets, and a stovetop with one working burner. We wanted to put our own style into the space, which meant doing away with the same builder-grade greige backsplash and built-in kitchen desk that our neighbors have.
For inspiration, my husband and I binged HGTV’s No Demo Reno on Discovery+. The show, which is filmed in North Dallas, is hosted by designer Jenn Todryk, who got her start by renovating her own home and sharing her expertise on social media. In the new podcast You, Me & Mike, she and her husband, Mike, bring their quick wit and sense of faith to subjects ranging from a miscarriage when Jenn was nearly three months along to how to have a working relationship with your spouse (the couple co-owns Armor Coffee in Allen). On Instagram, where the Burleson native has 1.1 million followers, her stories are filled with the antics of her three children, home decor tips, and peeks behind the scenes of the show.
The premise of No Demo Reno, which has its season two finale on September 1, is pretty much as the title suggests. Dallas-area homeowners come to Todryk with the desire to renovate at least three rooms, with one catch—Todryk’s team can’t demolish anything larger than kitchen cabinets. Some clients have just moved in; others have spent twenty years in the home. All want to put their own spin on their homes. What Chip and Joanna Gaines did for shiplap and the dream of fixing up an old home in a great neighborhood, Jenn Todryk has done for those who want suburbia without the cookie-cutter. And you can keep those walls.
On the show, Todryk shares tidbits about how to design a room, such as using vinyl tile flooring for those who want the look of hardwood without the price point. She advises homeowners to pick a spot for “movement” in kitchens to break up monotony, such as a countertop with lots of veins in the marbling or a herringbone backsplash. On a recent Zoom call, she shared some more suburban style tips that take a house from cookie-cutter to (the feeling of) custom-built.
Find a room’s best feature, then design around it.
As her massive following would suggest, Todryk spends plenty of time on Instagram, where “design trends move quickly,” she says. But even though she draws constant inspiration from what she finds on the app, Todryk doesn’t make many decisions about how to design a space until she walks into it.
“Honestly, it’s the house. That sounds cheesy, but when you step in a house, it’s, ‘Am I looking at a huge bay window? That’s amazing. How do we build off of that; how do we accentuate that?’ ” Todryk says. “Find the really cool spot in the room or space, and things just fall into place after that.”
Throw your money into your kitchen.
I’m not even finished with my question about which area to splurge on when Todyrk interrupts: “Kitchen.”
“It’s one of the first rooms the buyer enters. It’s your ‘wow’ moment and sets the tone for the rest of the house,” she says. “It gives you the most value.”
Yes, that fancy light fixture is also worth the splurge.
Todryk suggests switching out standard, builder-grade light fixtures for ones that will make a statement. Sometimes the prices of chandeliers featured on her show can be eye-popping, but she says those are costs that can be recouped when selling the home. If the fixtures are up to date, there’s even a section on an appraisal where that can be noted.
Design by layer.
In some episodes of her show, Todryk takes a plain, square room and transforms it into the main feature of the house. She’ll add trim around windows and create bigger baseboards to make it feel more luxe.
Her trick is thinking in terms of layers, which can easily be added or subtracted to change the feel of a room. “Layers of trim, layers of paint, layers of wallpaper, new lighting. Furniture is a layer.”
Don’t fall victim to the trends.
Designing an Instagram-perfect home in 2022 is a great way to have a space that looks outdated by 2023. Todryk never lets trends override her own taste. “There was a hot moment where just last year they were saying crown molding is out,” she says with a laugh. “Crown molding is not out.”
Use Facebook Marketplace to sell any items you’re replacing. Chances are, people are looking.
With an HGTV star on the line, could anyone blame me for asking about my own home renovation? On the show, Todryk sells everything she can in order to put more money in the budget, and I was curious if I could sell the cabinets that are about to be ripped out of my kitchen. I knew of Facebook Marketplace for selling smaller used items, but she says that’s also what she uses to get rid of perfectly good but outdated cabinets.
“Right now, we are in a crazy spot that we’ve never really been in in the housing market,” she says. People buying large items such as cabinets have finally landed a home and are trying to save money because they paid top dollar for the house, or have purchased a home to turn into an Airbnb, or are adding on to their home because of increased equity. Your trash just might be another homeowner’s treasure.