Watching these one-hour episodes fly-by floods my brain with all of the memories of each renovation. There are so many people, cares, concerns, trades, and artistry that have gone into each of these renovations that there is absolutely no way to capture it all in one hour, with commercials, on TV. Especially when you have a renovation as big and as complicated as “The Big Fish House”. The Design and Construction teams referred to it as “The Big Beast” and later on shortened it to “The Big B.” Depending on the day, you can allow that term to be as cynical as you needed it to be. The renovation was big in every way – size, expectation, reputation, and impact on the Town.  It HAD to be good, but it was the perfect recipe for everything to go bad. It is one of those projects that, in a normal circumstance, contractors would really be wary of even taking on the challenge. These renovations typically happen to a home that the “bones” are good, but it needs life breathed into it again. The Big Fish Bones were not so good. They were actually really, really bad. {insert dramatic music here}

Demo day is always fun because you get to destroy things, but I was truly anxious at the Big Fish Demo day to figure out what we were going to find in the structure of the walls and ceilings, without causing the house to crumble. As a Contractor, we gather information from what we know from drawings and history, and what we can see when we inspect the home. It was clear that “movie set” construction did not exactly meet standard codes and we knew they surely didn’t spend the extra time or money to correctly add foundation and structure to something that was simply going to be a movie set at the time. We just couldn’t tell how bad the damage was going to be until we opened up the ceilings. Once the walls were down, but supported by temporary framing and shoring, we were able to make a plan, with Charlie Brown (yes, his real name), to ensure that the structure would support the new design. The plan was also strategic as we were opening up a main wall from the kitchen to the dining room on the interior as well as a supporting wall on the exterior in the same area to turn a window into large French doors.  We didn’t want to take too much structure out at one time. This would have created pinch points on a home of this age. We had this wonderful design that we really wanted to stick with and we couldn’t determine 100% until demo day that we could make it happen! Heartburn #1.

Heartburn #2 was the exterior of the home. It is a real wood siding, and while there is nothing prettier, it is also subject to rot. The Big Fish House had a lot of rotten siding, particularly on the large cupola up high. We knew the rot was there, but what we didn’t know until removing several pieces of siding was how the siding pieces fit together. This siding was actually hand-milled and not something you can buy at a store today. We were able to rely on our friends at Russell Do It Center to find us the right guy to match the hand-milled pieces so that we could still repair the rotten places and match them to the rest of the home. They were also able to help us match some existing spindles on the front porch that had rotted out. An interesting fact is that there are few spindles on the front porch that are exactly the same. The spindles have been replaced many times over the years, but only individual spindles. They look *almost* the same throughout but actually have minor differences here and there. We chose the style that had the most spindles and matched it. Speaking of this massive front porch, Erin started a trend that we kept throughout every home renovation with a porch – all porch ceilings are what we called “Edward Bloom Blue” after the movie!

You saw the big reveal on the show so I’m just going to highlight a lot of the little things that maybe you didn’t catch. You can easily see Shellie and Wade’s bright personalities and how they bring sunshine into every room. We wanted to capture that as well as Shellie’s love for her family, art, history and all things quirky. The floors at the Big Fish house were installed at different times and in different eras, so when we opened up the kitchen to the dining room and removed the tile from the kitchen, the original wood floors in the kitchen were actually laid in a different direction from the dining room floors. We thought Shellie would love it so we kept them in their original form. We had the same stain made for all the floors, even though throughout the house we had white oak, red oak and pine species. The subtle differences in the color from room to room added even more flavor that just screamed “Shellie Whitfield.” As a tribute to the wood decoration that only old Victorian homes can give you, we saved all of the rosettes that were placed in the right and left hand corners of every door and window casing. The new door and window casings had these original rosettes added back to them. While the Big Fish House caused a lot of heartburn, it was so rewarding when Reveal Day arrived. It was like we blinked, didn’t sleep for a month, and it was done. I was in the back bedroom listening to the reveal on our headsets as it was happening and just vividly remember holding back tears and having chill bumps all over because we conquered the Big Fish House together and it is SO good.


The expansiveness of the Big Fish House was sure not to shadow the Barbershop, though. These were the perfect pair! The barbershop building was the gift that kept on giving. Every time we opened up a wall, we found a surprise. First, the gorgeous original brick walls on the left and right of the building. Not to mention the original writing for “Bros. Grocery” on the right-hand wall just makes you want to travel back in time and see what the store really was. We discovered the back wall of the renovation was actually the front wall of the existing building a long time ago that had three doors for the entrance and this area in the front was added on at some point in history. The Mayor remembers covering up the transoms and original doors in that wall when he added the paneling for the original barbershop. Last but certainly not least was the gigantic transom in the front of the building that just needed new glass and a little wood repair. One of our guys, Lee Waid, really took charge of making that transom come back to life and it transforms the space from the inside out completely with the amount of natural sunlight it lets in. This renovation brought the history of Wetumpka back to light and consistently reminded us of why we were here and doing this: to revitalize a town that once was bustling on the Coosa River and a main stop for those traveling, to remind the younger generation of what once was and what Wetumpka could be when we all pitch in to make it a place that we want to live. Nothing just happens, we have to make it happen. The space the barbershop is in offered us so much history in just 400 square feet, and every other building in downtown Wetumpka could too. I said many times in this project, as well as Big Fish, “If only these walls could talk.” Could you imagine what we would know?!

Regardless of what happens to the Big Fish House or the Barbershop space tomorrow, five years, or fifty years from now, the revitalization that happened is going to benefit whoever walks through the doors next. It is going to show us that if we keep walking in the direction of prosperity and economic development, the next generation will come and stay. The next generation will be able to learn of the history that has made Wetumpka what it is today and be the spark that keeps the town on the map for years to come.

Until next time,


Photos by @bethbryandesigns


Hardwood Floors:  Refinished by Hardwood Solutions, Mark Sharpe, 334-215-4504

Appliances: Cohens

White Kitchen-Aid Selections. Need Specifics? Reach out!

Lighting:  Inline Lighting

Design Carpentry – Long Leaf Woodshop

Staging: Staging items provided by Design Team, Set to Sell@settosell and Beth Bryan Designs | @bethbryandesigns

Countertops: Olympia Quartz, Henry Tile

WallPaper: Jarrod Parrish, 205-229-3472

Paint Colors 


Body: Valspar Swiss Coffee

Front Door: Valspar Harpswell Green

Porch Floor: Valspar Sea Song

Porch Ceiling: Valspar Pale Flowers


Wainscoting and Trim: SW Cool Avocado

Walls and Backsplash: SW Rice Paddy

Living Room:

Walls: Valspar Paper Moon

Wainscoting and Trim: Valspar Sparkling Sage

Ceiling: Valspar Country Whitewash


Walls: Valspar Tea Stain

Wainscoting/Trim: Valspar Nuance

Ceiling: Valspar Country Whitewash

Barbershop Selections:

Flooring:  Gardner Flooring & Design, Karndean Carrara T90 White/Midnight T94

Lighting: Inline Lighting

Design Carpentry: LongLeaf Woodshop

Staging: Staging items provided by Design Team, Set to Sell@settosell and Beth Bryan Designs | @bethbryandesigns

Paint Colors: 

Exterior Body: Valspar Dutch Licorice

Interior Walls: Valspar Noir