The Better Buy Podcast: Remodeling Advice with Dave & Jenny Marrs

On this episode of The Better Buy, Dave and Jenny Marrs share tips on creating an inviting home and reveal how to preserve a home’s character when remodeling.

Portrait of Dave and Jenny Marrs seated on stairs from promo for Episode 1 The Better Buy Podcast from Better Homes and Gardens
Photo: Better Homes & Gardens

The Better Buy, a new podcast from Better Homes & Gardens, explores all things home—from decorating and DIY to renovating and budgeting. Each week, we'll talk with homeowners from around the country about the highs and lows of home ownership, and share stories, advice, and practical tips you can put to work in your own home. We're on a mission to inspire and empower you to create your dream home. New episodes every Wednesday!

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On This Episode

Host Mélanie Berliet talks to Dave and Jenny Marrs, the husband and wife duo turned HGTV stars, who have transformed 300 fixer-uppers into amazing homes. The two talk about how their marriage helps their business, being enneagram sevens, and some of the most memorable homes they've remodeled. They share their deal-breakers when it comes to house hunting, where to save and where to splurge when remodeling, and why they use white paint with five young kids at home.

dave and jenny marrs outdoor porch swing
Aaron Menken, Hatch & Maas Collective

Meet Dave and Jenny Marrs

Dave and Jenny met in 2002 while working in the same corporate office. They married three years later and moved to Arkansas where Dave began pursuing a career in construction. He started his company, Marrs Developing, and he quickly became known for his custom woodworking and designs. In 2012, Jenny joined the team as a designer. Today, the couple continues to build, design, and remodel homes in the area. In addition to their developing business, the couple stars on HGTV's Fixer to Fabulous where they help homeowners create their dream homes. In April, they launched a collection of furniture and accessories for Better Homes & Gardens (sold exclusively at Walmart) and recently opened a charming Airbnb, The Welcome Inn, near their hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas.

Advice from the Episode

Creating your dream home from a fixer-upper can seem overwhelming. Read on for Dave and Jenny's best tips for transforming the bones of a home into a welcoming, family-friendly abode.

Dave Marrs

When we're looking at these homes, we really like to keep the same style of the home that it is. So, if it's a Craftsman home, or if it's a Victorian home, or modern home—it's really hard to go in and make a Victorian home this ultra modern house. I really love classic architecture. So, a deal breaker for me is if we go into a house and the homeowners really want to completely change what the house is. I just want to look at him and say, 'You know, you just brought the wrong house. I'm sorry. It might be a great location, but it's just not something I wanna get involved in.' The way that these houses were built, and the way that they were done, and to take and destroy that is just something I'm not interested in.

—Dave Marrs

Consider the Style of Home Before Buying

  • When tackling a fixer-upper, it's easiest to restore a home to its original style rather than completely transforming it. If you purchase a Victorian home, it's very difficult to create an ultra-modern space.
  • A home's style is just as important as the location when it comes to remodeling. It's Dave's number one deal-breaker when considering a home.

Jenny Marrs

I think the first thing is really trying to figure out what we can keep, particularly if it's an old house. So, when we go in and we talk with our homeowners, we're asking them what do they want to see changed, what do they wanna update? We talk through all of that, but then we also talk through, 'Okay, but what can we keep in this house?' What can we keep original—if it's the flooring? If it's even just the structure? I love how old houses have all the nooks and crannies and weird angles and really embracing that. Ninety nine percent of the time we do update a kitchen, for example, and bathroom. Because those are the spaces that really date themselves the quickest. But we do try to incorporate the same style of the house.

—Jenny Marrs

Start Remodels with the Kitchen and Bathrooms

  • A strategy for preserving the character of a home: think about what you want to keep first and then plan for the changes you want to make. This helps preserve the original elements of the home.
  • The kitchen and bathrooms of a home date themselves the quickest. Tackling these will help give your home a new, updated look.

Jenny Marrs

Choose where you want to spend your money. Like, in your living room, you may not wanna spend a ton of money. But in your kitchen, you may find these amazing pendant lights that you have to have, and that's where you spend your money. You want, like, a focal point. You want a moment, not in every space, but I think in most spaces you want some sort of, 'Oh, that's the thing right there!' Whether it's a really amazing handmade faucet, or a beautiful light, or beautiful countertops, or tile, whatever it is that is gonna be that focal point for you in the space, I think, it goes a long way.

—Jenny Marrs

Choose a Focal Point when Designing a Room

  • When planning an update to a room, first consider your overall home renovation budget. You may want to invest more in your kitchen and save on other rooms.
  • Invest in things you love. Having one focal point in each room (like lights or a faucet) helps elevate the look of the entire space.

Dave Marrs

I think a lot of people buy a house or they move into a house where there's a designated space, 'Okay, this is supposed to be a dining room.' But you need to figure out what your family uses. Like, if your family just sits up at the island every night, why do you have a dining table sitting there that you don't use? Change it into an office, or a playroom, or something else that is functional for your family. Who cares what it's supposed to be?

—Dave Marrs

Get Creative with Your Space

  • When buying a house, think about how you'll use the rooms rather than how they are currently set up. A dining room can easily become an office.
  • Don't be locked into conventional floor plans. You can absolutely use the dining room as a play area while the kids are young and transform it once they outgrow the space.

Jenny Marrs

For me, also for our house, I chose to do white paint. It makes everything feel a little bit brighter and a little bit bigger, because we have a small house. And although people think it's a bad choice with kids, it's actually the easiest choice with kids. In an ideal world I would touch up our paint more often, but I just use a magic eraser and I call it a day. Where, if you have a really dark paint color, and it gets nicked, you're in trouble.

—Jenny Marrs

For a Clean Look, Choose White Paint

  • Jenny's go-to paint color is white. Even with five children at home, she finds it the easiest to keep clean.
  • White paint helps the rooms look bigger and brighter and doesn't show nicks as much.

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