Fixer Upper: Touchdown for a Family in Need

The Copp family's small Waco apartment doesn't meet their two sons' special needs. That's where star footballer Tim Tebow comes in: He asked Chip and Jo to join him and his charitable foundation in creating a home that will truly welcome those little boys. The Gaineses have a property in mind, but it isn't ADA-compliant...yet. "I feel like if we put our heads together, we might be able to figure out how to make this house work for this family," Chip said. Teamwork like this requires a lot of players, and the Fixer Upper team—and the Copp family—are in for some surprises.

Photo By: Jeff Jones

Photo By: Jeff Jones

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Photo By: Jeff Jones

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Photo By: Jeff Jones

The Dream Team

The Tim Tebow Foundation’s mission is "to bring Faith, Hope, and Love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need." Tim knows Chip and Joanna are just the teammates he needs to create an ADA-compliant home in Waco for the Copps. "We really believe this family [needs] us to come behind them to support them, to love them, and to have their back," Tim said.

The Copp Family

Nine-year-old Calan and five-year-old Lawson have a life-threatening genetic condition that compromises their ability to stand and walk on their own, and both boys began using wheelchairs when they were very young. "A home with wheelchair accessibility would mean the world to us," their mother, Melissa, said. "We couldn’t be more grateful for what [Tim, Chip and Jo] are going to provide for the boys, to give them true independence in their home for the first time," their father, Jody, added.

Before

This 2,225-square-foot home was built in 1961 and currently has zero bedrooms and bathrooms—it’s been taken down to the studs and left that way. "From a structural standpoint, the shell, the roof, and the foundation couldn’t be better," Chip said. "The interior is literally like a blank canvas, which I think is going to work in our favor." Joanna plans to lighten up the top-heavy porte-cochere and add a poured-concrete circular drive, which will make the home’s front doors feel more like a main entrance (and less like a back porch).

After

With its expansive new approach and a reimagined gable complete with a window, new shingles and a delicate shade of gray, the Copp family home is finally putting its best foot forward. Crisp new shutters harmonize with the roof, the front door and the new gable, and landscaping donated by local Waco businesses accents Joanna’s clever cosmetic changes.

Welcoming Foyer

"I love the entry," Jo said. "Right when you walk in we have this large, open area to make it functional for the boys." Less is unquestionably more in this light-filled space, since Calan and Lawson can roll straight over to their ADA-compliant desks to the left of the front door.

Side-by-Side Study Area

The boys' desks and mudroom area are both practical and pretty, thanks to the turned-leg details Joanna added to accent each one. Their mom’s heart melted when they made a beeline for the desks and started drawing. "That was such a precious moment to me, that they felt at home and that they immediately felt they could go and start doing things," Melissa said. "That made me feel amazing."

Living Room, Before

"For demolition most of the hard work is done—which is sweet, because that leaves Duke plenty of room to rummage through some scrap metal and copper," Chip said. Duke did his dad proud: He found more than $160 worth of salvageable material, which he redeemed for cash he then used on gifts for the Copp boys and a donation to charity. (And ice cream. Hard work deserves a reward.)

Living Room, After

Chip impressed Joanna by turning an unexpected find—four panels of leaded, diamond-paned glass that had been original to the home and left there by its previous renovators—into character for the Copps’ home. "Not only is it an amazing design decision, but it also helps with the budget," Jo noted. The finished living room features a pair of doors that lead to the yard and add natural light, a wall of built-ins for storage and entertainment and three see-through room dividers featuring Chip’s glass.

An Office With a View

Jody Copp’s personal request for the house: "A small office, where I can still see out to make sure that everybody’s safe and sound." Chip and Jo granted his wish with some of the leaded-glass panels Chip found among the on-site construction materials.

Kitchen, Before

"I just get great joy out of having [the boys] around me all the time," Melissa Copp said. "We would love to have a kitchen big enough where they can be with me." There’s plenty of room to build an eat-in kitchen with a massive island.

Kitchen, After

Melissa’s new kitchen island drops down to a huge, custom-built white oak table that’s just the right height for Calan and Lawson in their chairs. "It’s 50 percent practical—this is for her boys to wheel up to, to be a part of what she’s doing in the kitchen—but then with beautiful turned legs it’s also a beautiful design element for the kitchen as well," Joanna said. On the left side of the kitchen, Joanna added a wheelchair-accessible sink with a touch faucet that’s also especially for the boys. "They are going to wash their hands all the time!" Melissa said. The kitchen also features all-new upper and lower cabinets, a custom tiled backsplash and all-new appliances.

Inspiration Wall

Calan and Lawson’s shower area is the first room they’ll enter in the morning when they’re getting ready, and Joanna wanted to start their day on an empowering note. These metal letters were traced on a sign, then punched out and powder-coated black. "Melissa said over and over [that] when the boys were young they kept saying, 'I want to do it, I can do it'," Joanna said. "I think I CAN AND I WILL is a perfect saying for these boys."

Sporty Statement Wall

The storage area outside the boys’ bathroom’s wet area was a decade in the making: Joanna found these two sets of lockers more than 10 years ago and had been keeping them in her warehouse to add to the right project. The installation is both a stylish nod to the sports hero who brought the Gaineses in on the project and a clever way to make the room even more functional.

Wet Room

Contrasting tile on the floor climbs up the wall to give Calan and Lawson’s shower area a striking design feature. A bench and grab bars, in turn, make the room ADA-compliant.

Calan's Room

Calan’s mom told the Gaineses that he loves anything with wheels, so the jar of antique cars Duke chose for him while shopping with Chip is extra-special. (Duke loved cars when he was little, too.) Joanna said she was most excited about designing the boys’ rooms: "I want to keep it really inspiring for them, so when they’re both in their own rooms, [they’re in] their favorite space in the house," she explained.

Lawson's Room

The three wall panels in each of the boys’ bedrooms are cork, a massive LEGO DUPLO wall and a metal space for magnets. Melissa told Jo her sons were especially fond of the bricks, which double as therapy tools. Thanks to the grab bars Jo installed beside the panels, the boys can interact with the walls outside of their wheelchairs—and they waste no time doing just that. "They’ve immediately connected with this home," their mom says.

Back Yard, Before

The Copps’ lot boasts plenty of space, but that space isn’t functional for two active boys who need to be able to burn rubber. There’s another surprise in store for them: The Make-A-Wish Foundation partnered with Tim and the Gaineses to build an accessible outdoor space that’s just for them.

Back Yard, After

Lawson and Calan now have a brand-new playhouse, a paved racetrack that crosses a bridge and circles the perimeter of the yard and an all-weather, indestructible turf area where they can leave their chairs behind and get down and dirty.

Wheelchair Ramp

A gentle slope between one of the living room doors at the rear of the house and the yard’s paved surface allows the boys to access their personal stadium whenever they please.

Finis

"To see my boys with all the hardships that they’ve gone through and to know that Tim and Chip and Joanna—and everyone at Make A Wish—that they came together to let my boys just be boys, I’m so happy," Jody said. Lawson and Calan won’t soon forget their new teammates.

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