7 home renovation lessons from the movies

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This past fall, A Very Brady Renovation premiered on HGTV. The show features one of television’s most recognizable homes getting a makeover from some of the most famous house flippers, including Jonathan and Drew Scott from Property Brothers and Flea Market Flip’s Lara Spencer.

Naturally, this got us thinking about some other famous home renovations throughout pop culture history. Because if there’s anything we enjoy more than a home from the movies, it’s a movie home that’s been upgraded. In fact, the movies can teach us a thing or two before we start renovating our own homes. Here’s a look at seven of our favorite flicks featuring home reno – and the home remodeling lessons you can learn from each.

The Money Pit: You’ll likely run in to problems

Before home renovation shows hit televisions across the globe, we had The Money Pit. The 1986 comedy is actually a remake of the 1948 Cary Grant film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, but the remake has something crucial the original doesn’t: Tom Hanks laughing like a maniac.

The movie finds Hanks’s Walter and Shelley Long’s Anna looking to restore a house they’ve recently purchased. However, things don’t go quite as planned. Various parts of the kitchen catch on fire, somehow propelling a turkey out of the oven and into the upstairs bathroom. A slightly singed Walter comes into the room and tells Anna he just wants a nice relaxing bath. But as the pair fill up the tub, it breaks through the floor and crashes into the living room below. At that exact moment, Walter’s spirit completely breaks and he begins laughing hysterically at the absurdity of it all. Sometimes, laughing it off is all you can do.

Want to avoid falling into a pit of despair? Do a rigorous third-party inspection before closing on your new home to check for any major structural issues.

Home Alone: Be smart about security

Having a smart home is all the rage these days. With security cameras, alarm systems, and other tools, you can always keep yourself safe from harm. Or you can just hire an eight-year-old to do it.

When Kevin McAllister’s (Macaulay Culkin) family forgets him during a family vacation, he becomes frightened by Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern), a pair of not so intelligent criminals. He booby traps the house with creative deterrents, like icing the stairs, making the doorknob unbearably hot, and dropping an iron from the ceiling when a light bulb switch is pulled. This probably isn’t the ideal way to renovate your home, but as far as keeping you safe, it’s hard to beat.

Want to see some of the best technological advancements coming down the road? Check out our Smart Home 2030 piece for more.

The Notebook: Dream big

When Ryan Gosling’s character Noah meets Allie (Rachel McAdams), he’s immediately smitten. At one point, he asks her what her dream home would have. She wants a white house with blue shutters, a room overlooking the river so she can paint, and “a big old porch that wraps around the entire house.” Because you gotta have a place to drink tea and watch the sun go down!

Noah says he’ll make it happen, but life throws a lot of obstacles his way. Allie’s family doesn’t think Noah is right for her. He isn’t well off and comes from a different social class. Oh, and he also gets shipped off to war. But Noah isn’t one to make a promise and not follow through – he spends years renovating an old house into that dream home. Allie sees a picture of him in the paper and gets overwhelmed by his sweet gesture, rekindling their relationship. Don’t be afraid to dream big.

Dreaming big is great, but so is planning your dream home purchase. Save up your money and talk with lenders to figure out which financing plan is best for you when purchasing or renovating your home.

The LEGO Movie 2: Have a vision

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part has a song literally called “This Song’s Gonna Get Stuck Inside Your Head,” which is used to great effect within the film. It’s a good reminder of the overall lesson of LEGO blocks: You can create some amazing things, but it helps to have a plan for them.

Main character Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) shows his brick lady Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) the new house he just built. Each room serves a specific purpose; the living room is “for livin’,” there’s a double decker porch swing on the patio, and there’s even a room dedicated solely to his cat.

Whether your house is older or brand new, picture how you’ll use the updated space. Walk around and even feel to draw what you’re envisioning. It’ll make life easier when it’s time to renovate your home. 

Life as a House: Don’t be afraid to ask for help

When George (Kevin Kline) gets fired from his job and then discovers he has terminal cancer, he sets off to his father’s old abandoned shack with one mission: Build something he can be proud to give his estranged son, played by a young Hayden Christensen.

Tackling a home rebuild on your own is tough, so George enlists the help of the neighborhood. His son, ex-wife, neighbors, policemen, and even his son’s stepfather all join in to help turn a 20-year-old dream into reality. The home gets built and George’s son accepts it, eventually paying it forward by gifting it to a woman in need. 

Sites like NextDoor and Fiverr can provide potential workers, but don’t be afraid to ask your network for help! Offer some pizza and beer to make things even more enticing.

Field of Dreams: Cherish the magical moments

Field of Dreams tells the story of Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) building a baseball field on his family’s farm. Along the way, a bit of magic starts happening. Famous ballplayers from the past begin playing on the field, and Ray even connects with a younger version of his late father, repairing their strained relationship.

A home renovation can allow for lots of great time with family and friends. Don’t overlook the little moments along the way, such as painting a room together, finishing a piece of furniture, or fixing a broken fence. Those memories can last a lifetime.

Take a photo or video of your home renovations being done. Not only does it provide a nice memory, it also offers you a break during your hard work.

He’s Just Not That Into You: Contractors? How about a marriage expert, instead?

He’s Just Not That Into You depicts a number of interwoven couples and stories, but we’re focusing on one in particular: Jennifer Connelly’s Janine and Bradley Cooper’s Ben, who spend a good portion of the film renovating. But they often end up fighting, leading to plenty of tense moments.

During the renovation, Ben starts falling for Anna (Scarlett Johansson). As he becomes more distant toward Janine, she pours more of her heart into redoing their home. Really, though, the couple should be seeing a marriage expert, or at least talking about their issues. Instead, everything comes to a head when Janine finds a pack of cigarettes in Ben’s clothing, indicating he had been lying about his smoking habit. She shatters a mirror on the floor – and, because nobody wants a mess in their new home, she quickly grabs a broom and dustpan to sweep up. 

Home renovations can be great, but they can also cause strain on a relationship. Be sure to communicate along the way about your hopes for how the new home will look, and don’t be too stubborn to compromise.

Your home renovation might not be the stuff of cinema, but the lessons from these films are the same offscreen. Planning, budgeting, bonding, agreeing on the home buying process, and creating something you can be proud of – they’ll help you realize your off-camera dreams. And when you have your world premiere of your new home, the reviews will be certified fresh.