Young Mom Gets Surprise of a Lifetime on HGTV's Cousins Undercover

Cousins Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri teamed up with The Ellen DeGeneres Show to surprise one deserving young mom with a complete home overhaul. Check out Elizabeth Brehm's full story here.
By: Jennifer Brake
Related To:

Photo By: Chris Amaral

Photo By: Chris Amaral

Photo By: Chris Amaral

Photo By: Chris Amaral

Photo By: Chris Amaral

Photo By: Chris Amaral

Photo By: Tricia Messeroux

Photo By: Tricia Messeroux

Photo By: Tricia Messeroux

Photo By: Tricia Messeroux

Photo By: Tricia Messeroux

Photo By: Tricia Messeroux

Photo By: Tricia Messeroux

Dilapidated Residence

Elizabeth Brehm, a single mom and teacher, bought this older house so her daughter could be the fourth generation of Brehms to grow up in this community, but the yard was littered with stumps, the roof leaked and the upstairs was unfinished. After being laid off, she couldn't afford to make the necessary repairs.

The Cover Story

During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Elizabeth was surprised with footage of Anthony Carrino tearing out the retro blue tile and ripping up the hideous yellow tub in her bathroom. She was told the cousins would only be renovating this one room, but it was really just the beginning.

Starting From Scratch

The second floor was nothing more than a shell with exposed studs and insulation. The cousins decided to knock out some of the existing studs and rework the floor plan to include a master suite and nursery for Elizabeth's baby daughter, Juliette.

All Hands on Deck

A renovation this big requires a lot of manpower. Friends, family members, Boy Scout troops and local volunteer groups showed up to get Elizabeth's home makeover finished in just seven days while she and Juliette were occupied in Disneyland.

Divide and Conquer

Moments after Elizabeth pulled away, the cousins divided the volunteers into groups and got to work. John and his team packed up Elizabeth's belongings and noted several leaks and cracks in the ceiling that had to be repaired before demolition could start.

No Time to Waste

Anthony and his team took to the roof, which had to be completely re-sheathed because it was caked in moss and threatening to cave in. The flimsy 3/8-inch plywood was replaced with more sturdy 3/4-inch plywood to protect all the work the cousins would do inside the home.

A First Glimpse

Elizabeth noticed the cousins had renovated a little more than just the bathroom when she first pulled up to her new home. She held back tears as she excitedly said hi to Ellen before making her way inside.

Big Reveal

Elizabeth's parents were kept out of the finished home until after Elizabeth made her first walk-through. They were just as shocked by the end result as she was and couldn't wait to have their first family meal in the renovated home.

Entertaining Space

There would be no more invading her family's homes to prepare and serve meals. The new open-concept dining/living room offers plenty of space for Elizabeth to make new memories with her family and friends in her own home.

Wine and Dine

The cousins probed family and friends for Elizabeth's likes and dislikes to add personal details like this custom wine wall that make this house uniquely hers. Other custom additions included a book-exchange mailbox at the end of her driveway and bookcase wallpaper in the living room to reflect her love of teaching.

New Nursery

A nursery for baby Juliette was essential in this renovation. Elizabeth's cousin painted pictures and Juliette's name on the wall to customize the space. A princess crown light fixture and comfy rocking chair complete the decor.

Family Touch

Because the Brehms are so close, John and Anthony added a final touch to Elizabeth's home honoring and thanking them for all their hard work during the makeover. A wall near the kitchen displays photos of Elizabeth's family members using sign language to spell "family." To make it even more special, Juliette's tiny hand forms the "a."

Home Sweet Home

With the stumps and moss removed from the front yard, Elizabeth's home went from dumpy to beautiful. A fresh coat of paint, new upstairs windows and a sprinkler system will help Elizabeth maintain her new home for years to come.

Shop Related Products

Next Up

Remodeling Your Master Bedroom

Giving a fresh look to your master bedroom can help you create the perfect retreat and add value to your home. But when do you know it's time to take the plunge?

Remodeling a Kitchen for Resale

A kitchen can make or break the sale of a house. Get six tips on turning your kitchen into buyer bait.

Tips for Remodeling a Bath for Resale

Boost home value by choosing quality materials that appeal to the masses.

Budgeting for Your Bedroom Remodel

How much will your master bedroom remodel cost? Let HGTV Remodels' experts help you plan your retreat while staying within your budget.

Kitchen Remodeling and Renovation Costs

Expect nearly a third of your budget to go for cabinets and hardware.

Picking Materials for a Bath Remodel

Learn how to shop for everything from vanities and fixtures to countertops and lighting

Choosing Kitchen Cabinets for a Remodel

Weigh look, quality, details and cost when choosing the cabinets that will go in your kitchen.