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Extreme Makeover 'Farragut' Edition
Grove, FHS grad, has design role in ‘makeover’

Mandy, Silas and David Watson being interviewed by local media prior to work beginning on their new home.- Alan Sloan/farragutpress
Design a two-story, 3,200-square foot home and adjacent duplex in roughly six weeks, then build both in seven days.

The design part was a “Welcome to Knox County” assignment for architectural designer Kristin Lee Grove, a 1991 Farragut High School graduate playing a key designing role as officials from ABC Network’s hit show, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” made possible a new free-of-charge home for David and Mandy Watson near Middlebrook Pike.

“I felt like it was a blessing from the beginning to be involved with a family who in themselves are so incredibly charitable to our community,” Grove said about the Watsons, who had sacrificed improving their home off Robinson Road in order to put more time and money into Restoration House, a organization they formed to house and help take care of struggling single mothers and their children.

Having stayed in the Watson’s upstairs rooms, Restoration House families have now moved into a new two-unit duplex, adjacent to the Watson home, also part of the Makeover project — and also part of Grove’s challenge as a partner and project manager with Johnson Architecture.

“What we’re doing in two months’ time is a small gift to give back to a family that does something every day for people that we’re surrounded by,” Grove said. “I felt like it was a small sacrifice to help some people that are so amazing for our community.”

Saying she was contacted in early November by Christi Branscom, owner of Grace Construction, about contributing, “I was very excited,” said Grove, one of her company’s three designers on the project.

Among Grove’s tasks was “specifically working in the play room.”

Grove and the other Johnson designers met with “Makeover” designers in December, a “day-long process” ending with a “concept for the house.”

“It’s amazing, something completely different,” Grove added about the challenges. “You don’t ever build a house in seven days, let alone design one in a month or a month-and-a-half.”

In fact, Grove said there were moments “several weeks ago” where she wondered if they would get the home designed on time. “This site posed some unique challenges … we had to deal with the grades on the site,” Grove said.

Replacing a two-story home where the foundation was “crumbling” according to David Watson, “The main house is a little bit larger” than the one replaced, Grove said.

As for guides on what the Watsons wanted in a home — no direct contact between designers and the family is allowed by show executives — “The Watsons wrote various stories about themselves” left “in each bedroom about their likes and needs,” Grove said. “That was very helpful.”

Annouced by Makeover officials Tuesday, Jan. 10, their selecion, David Watson said, “We never knew until they came with a bullhorn.”

Along with children Atley, 7, Ava, 6, and Silas, 2, “Our lives are going to change,” he added.

Mandy Watson called it “a whirlwind of activity, and we are just really thrilled and excited and overwhelmed and super blessed by such an opportunity.”

She added, “It was a bit surreal, I’m not going to lie.”

As for details of the new home, built on the same site as their now demolished former home, “Each room, in terms of bedrooms, has a unique theme,” Grove said, adding the play room “will have a very fun, loft space in it. Kind of an outdoorsy, jungle theme.

“They wanted play space for all the children, whether it be the children that live in the main house or the children that would be temporarily staying in the duplex, to be able to come together and play together,” she added.

“The overall exterior of the house was kind of based off of a French country-Mediterranean mix, with a lot of covered porches and a lot of outdoor living space.”


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