‘Renovation Impossible’ Russell Holmes Is Warned About a Home’s ‘Dirty Little Secret’

On “Impossible Renovation”, entrepreneur Russell Holmes has seen houses in pretty deplorable condition, but it’s rare for owners to warn him of a “dirty little secret inside” before he enters.

In the episode “That ’70s House”, Holmes agreed to help the owners Nathan and Marianne Reed in Denton, TX. Although the house looks good from the sidewalk, the interior is a time capsule, with a yellow Formica and linoleum kitchen, a dark paneled family room, and even gold carpeting.

“A vulgar little secret? Understatement! It’s a tragedy,” says Holmes.

Holmes’ job is to help the Reeds renovate their home in 10 days for $40,000.

Worse still, Nathan and Marianne can’t agree on how to fix their house.

“The trade-off is different in any home renovation, but not impossible,” says Holmes. “It’s my job to make sure everyone is happy at the end. With the Reeds, it’s going to be a challenge. These two? They couldn’t be further apart.

As we now know, however, Holmes is the master of compromise, as well as recycling and bringing in a little sweat to make everyone’s dreams come true.

Find out how Holmes pulled off its latest renovation and also note what might work around your own abode.

Broken appliances can kill

70s yellow ugly kitchen


When Holmes enters the kitchen, he sees red tape on one of the oven knobs.

“That is why ?” he asks.

Marianne explains that it’s to remind her not to turn on the oven, because the heat sensor is broken.

“And it gets hotter and hotter and hotter until it explodes,” she continues.

“You have broken appliances,” says Holmes, “that are actually dangerous to you, home, and family.”

“But it still works,” Nathan offers. “I think we can get another five years out of it.”

“Hey, Nathan, when you start cooking, then you can have an opinion about it,” Marianne retorts, then shares a high-five with Holmes.

Incidentally, Holmes remedies this situation by taking Nathan to a pizza-making class. Nathan is so stunned by all the food preparation that he finds another $9,000 to add to the budget for high-end appliances.

For more storage, raise the cabinets to the ceiling

Renovated kitchen with storage up to the ceiling
Renovated kitchen with storage up to the ceiling


Designate Paige Poupart suggests getting rid of the kitchen partition and raising the cabinets to the ceiling.

“Not only will the cabinets be walnut, but they will solve the storage problem,” says Holmes.

“Aesthetically, with these taller lines, it changes the dynamic of the kitchen layout,” he continues. “It actually looks bigger because it looks taller and it looks like you have a higher ceiling.”

Upcycle by turning things around

Living room with recycled wall unit and hanging basin lamp
Living room with recycled wall unit and hanging basin lamp


Holmes and Poupart visit a vintage shop for cheap accessories. Holmes finds a gold bowl planter that he wants to knock over and use as a hanging lamp. Paige thinks it’s awfully big.

“A nice mid-modern light fixture would normally cost around two thousand dollars,” he says.

This recycled light, on the other hand, is only $125 and it looks great.

Reuse old cabinets and shelves

New wall unit made from recycled materials.
New wall unit made from recycled materials


Crude as the kitchen cabinets and old shelves look, Holmes insists that they be carefully removed and preserved.

“Normally we would take a hammer on all these cabinets,” says Holmes. “But the only way we’re going to make that budget here is to reallocate some of the hardware. What are the cabinets made of, it’s good wood. But everything else can be thrown away.

The savings are huge: “A new wall unit can typically cost around $2,300,” he explains. “But by using old metal, plus wood from the old Reed library, we’ll save about two thousand dollars.”

From these scraps, he builds an elegant wall unit for around $300.

Laminate Veneer Wood Beams Save Money

Cheap LVL Beams
Cheap Laminate Veneer Wood Beams


During the renovation, Holmes’ team finds a bow in the ceiling – and while trying to fix it, they find the ceiling beams are cracked and need to be replaced. Oh oh ! We’ve seen on many renovation reality shows that replacing beams can totally break the budget.

But Holmes has a thrifty solution. They don’t need fancy solid wood beams. They will use LVL or laminate veneer.

“LVL is actually a bunch of very small slices of wood glued together with a special epoxy to make it really stiff,” says Holmes. “The installation of these beams will correct the sagging of the ceiling.”

And get this: two LVL wood beams are only $600!

How does this latest renovation end?

The Reeds, who have been relatively tough customers, can’t believe what they’re seeing after just 10 days of construction.

“My mind is blown,” exclaims Nathan. “Everything looks brand new.”

“I’m so thankful for everything they’ve done,” says Marianne. “Everything is perfect.”

In the end, Holmes admits that this house “had the potential to be a nightmare, and it was. It didn’t go super well. But look how it went: within the confines of the budget, on time, reused, recycled, reused, and Nathan and Marianne love it.

About Martin Aaron

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