Coming at you straight from the turn of the ’70s, the first episode of “A Very Brady Renovation” ran Monday on HGTV. For fans of “The Brady Bunch,” which ran for five seasons from 1969 to 1974, it was a walk down memory lane guided in part by the Brady kids themselves.
In the first episode of the four-part miniseries, “Property Brothers” stars Drew and Jonathan Scott tackled the house’s exterior, living room, dining room and iconic staircase. Maureen McCormick, Christopher Knight and Susan Olsen — who played Marcia, Peter and Cindy Brady, respectively — lent their expert memories, and in one case, a little professional expertise.
Here are seven highlights from the 90-minute debut episode.
It doesn’t get much more fun than watching half a dozen middle-aged former child stars completely trash the interior of a perfectly good home with sledgehammers. The show started out with all the Brady kids and the HGTV designers yanking out the supports on a big exterior awning. Boom!
Good thing the production team had brought gift bags and rose bushes to all the neighbors before the work started. In no time, the interior of the house was hollowed out and it was just a matter of shoving an imaginary two-story TV interior set into a small, split-level Studio City home. What could go wrong?
Who can’t envision the Bradys all lined up on their living room staircase? Problem was, there wasn’t enough height available with a new 2,000-square-foot addition to squeeze all 12 steps in there.
McCormick was consulted about whether to go with a different angle to the stairs, or cut back and have only 11 steps. She helped the Scotts build a mock-up of the staircase so she could step onto it and remember the view. In the end, TV’s Marcia Brady opted to keep the angle and ditch the 12th step.
Toward the end of the episode, Barry Williams (who played Greg Brady) joked that the network had to cancel the show because all six of them didn’t fit on the living room couch anymore.
For the renovation, that camelback couch was custom-built and, most important, its distinctive fabric was re-created using a computer and a digital printing process. McCormick signed off on the design of the fabric.
The exterior color
Knight got involved in some forensic home building as he fixated on finding the exact shade of paint seen in “The Brady Bunch.” The home had been repainted at least once since it was filmed for the show, and it was a slightly different shade.
“I call him Sherlock Chris, because he investigated until he found the perfect area to match,” one of the Property Brothers said off-camera.
Turns out Knight found original paint by unscrewing the light fixture on the front porch and revealing what was hiding behind. Also important to the exterior look: a new window here, and no window there, plus the proper landscaping and removal of a low wall that had been installed to keep fans at a distance.
Remember how Carol Brady always told the kids not to play ball in the house, until they played with the basketball that bounced down the stairs and shattered her precious vase? The production wound up asking Paramount Studios to share items they thought might work in the renovation — “I feel like I’m in the Wayback Machine,” Olsen said — and that vase was among the finds.
“I feel like we have a moment here when I’m Indiana Jones and we’ve found the Holy Grail,” declared Lara Spencer of HGTV’s “Flea Market Flip.” (Other items were crowdsourced from people like Patty in Michigan and Tom in San Diego, fans who provided the curio cabinet and the decorative grapes, respectively.)
Both Scott brothers found horses to go on the cabinet in the living room, but neither horse was perfect. One had its head pointing in the wrong direction; the other was missing most of its legs. Peter Brady to the rescue. Knight took the Scotts into a huge 3-D scanning truck, where both horses would be scanned by 210 cameras arrayed in a booth so the parts could be printed out and brought together like two halves of a whole.
“I was in technology for 20 years,” said the former Brady brother, “and I was in 3-D.” That’s pretty dang convenient.
The former cast members all came back for a reveal of the new exterior plus the living room, dining room and staircase. Essentially, every one of them said some variation of “wow!” as they took it all in, even McCormick, who’d been kicked out early to preserve the surprise even though she’d worked hard to get the rock-wall design right. “I feel like I’m on Stage 5,” she said, marveling at the natural light they’d never before seen streaming through the windows.
On the next three episodes, the kitchen, the kids’ rooms, Mike Brady’s den and more will be tackled. “A Very Brady Renovation” runs Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern time.