Big Brother: Inside the Colorful, Contemporary Season 16 House

This season’s “Urban Treehouse” features a contemporary design with inspiration from the elements. (You don’t want to miss the “fire bedroom” or the “water bathroom.”) Production designer Scott Storey shares his insight behind the season 16 home.
Treehouse: Big Brother House, Season 16

Treehouse: Big Brother House, Season 16

Photo by: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

By: Susan Hornik

Everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure, the uber-popular CBS reality series Big Brother, is back for its 16th season. Who can resist watching total strangers live together in a house full of high-definition cameras and microphones? HGTV spoke to production designer Scott Storey about the impressive, nature-themed house where the contestants will eat, sleep and play this summer.

Tour Big Brother's "Urban Treehouse"

Living Room

Photo By: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Kitchen

Photo By: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Earth Bedroom

Photo By: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Earth Bedroom

Photo By: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Water Bathroom

Photo By: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Fire Bedroom

Photo By: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Honeycomb Room

Photo By: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Hallway

Photo By: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Treehouse

Photo By: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

What is your theme this year for the Big Brother house?

This year’s theme of the house is “Urban Treehouse."

How do you pick the theme for each year?

Every April, I meet with the executive producers and pitch a few different concepts. “Tokyo Pop,” “1964 World’s Fair” and “Through the Looking Glass” have been some past concepts. I discuss what I think these concepts would look like and we all choose one from my list. I like to make the house look and – more importantly – feel different every season.

Living Room: Big Brother House, Season 16

Living Room: Big Brother House, Season 16

Photo by: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

What are some favorite colors, textures, fabrics you like to use?

I don’t have any personal favorites; I change my style for each show I design.  Last season, Big Brother was styled with the 1964 World’s Fair in mind, so I was working with midcentury furniture, brass and wood, and deep jewel tone colors. This season, I wanted a more playful home and something that was based more in nature, so you will see the color green dominating the set and unfinished surfaces throughout.

Are there any special considerations you have to take into account when designing a room for TV?

Designing for television is entirely different than any other sort of design. While I need to be aware of angles and shots in all directions, I also have to consider all the technology used to get the show in the can. Lights, cameras, microphones and speakers – so many different crews with different needs “move into” my set when I am done, and everyone has certain needs that have to be met.  

What does/doesn't work on camera? 

Television is changing as the technology improves. Big Brother is now in high definition; it has been in standard definition before this season. That impacts the attention to detail, it lowers the level of lights needed to shoot, and that means I can use brighter colors. Patterns in fabric and in wallpaper are always tricky to work with on television; in some instances they can moiré on camera and look like they are vibrating.

Earth Bedroom: Big Brother House, Season 16

Earth Bedroom: Big Brother House, Season 16

Photo by: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Tell me about some of the highlights in each room.

When I design the house, I keep coming back to this year’s theme. So when it came to the bedrooms, I thought about the treehouse, and thus nature. So, each of the rooms is based on an element. I have an “earth” room, a “wind” room and a “fire” room. (Yes, Earth Wind & Fire, like the band!) The bathroom is a “water” room. There is even an actual treehouse on the second floor. The earth room is so massive, with all the carved stone walls. It was tricky to come up with a look for “fire”, so if you look closely you will notice that the wood slats on the walls have all been burned – we really burned the lumber with a roofing torch before we built the room. I have match sticks in the lamps and fire alarm bells on the walls, so it wasn’t really “fire,” but more “what fire can do.”   

The bathroom has a lovely simplicity to it. Because the bathroom was my “water room,” it should feel like you are in a pool of bubbly, cool water. The bathroom is always a very popular room!

What do you like about the kitchen/hallway? 

The hallway between the kitchen and the bathroom is built simply from different sizes of lumber with a nice stain/wash and seal over them. I think it looks great; one of the guys on my team (Scott Welborn) chose those colors. The palette is pulling from a green and natural base. When designing the kitchen, I wanted something that felt like it was in a treehouse, no decoration for decorations’ sake. It is all very industrial and honest with open shelving and professional equipment.  

We can’t wait to see the Head of Household room! Can you give us a sneak peek?

The HOH (head of household) room has nearly 1,000 birdhouses on one wall, and a queen sized “nest” as a bed.

Next Up

Inside the Mod Sets of Showtime's Masters of Sex

Production designer Michael Wylie shares how he brought timeless midcentury style to this period drama, which stars Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan.

At Home With Ólafur Darri Ólafsson

The actor, whose credits include The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and HBO’s True Detective , tells us about his favorite spots in his Icelandic apartment and scenic summer home.

At Home With Reggie Lee

Get a glimpse at the Grimm actor's life at home.

At Home With Eric Mabius

The actor gives us a glimpse into his life off the set.

At Home With Fashion Designer Galina Sobolev

The fashion guru – whose dresses have been worn by Eva Longoria, Katie Couric and other stars – gives us a tour of her luxe Los Angeles residence.

At Home With Steve and Rachelle Wilkos

He hosts The Steve Wilkos Show , while she executive produces both his show and The Jerry Springer Show . Find out where the busy TV power couple spends their downtime.

Roxy Sowlaty of '#RichKids of Beverly Hills' Talks Interior Design

The reality TV star and aspiring interior designer tells us about her favorite room and what she absolutely can't live without at home.

At Home With New York Giant Terrell Thomas

Check out the stylish contemporary condo (with million-dollar views of Manhattan) that the NFL cornerback shares with his girlfriend, Ashly Sells.

On Set With CBS's 'Mom'

Set decorator Ann Shea takes us inside the comfy homes and charming Napa Valley restaurants featured in this new CBS sitcom, starring Anna Faris and Allison Janney.

At Home With Atlanta Falcon William Moore

Even though Moore is notoriously one of the hardest hitters in the NFL, deep down he’s a fairly chill, stay-at-home kind of guy. And pouring champagne on the floor? You’ll never catch Moore doing that – he’d much rather enjoy it, one sip at a time.
More from:

Celeb Style

Stories We're Following

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.