A Modern Farmhouse-Style Duplex in a Brand New Community

The Palmdale, California community comes together to build the first duplex ever tackled by the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team. That's right — this time, they'll give back to not one, but two veteran families, and they'll also install something extra that the entire neighborhood in this new housing development will be able to enjoy.

March 16, 2020

Introducing the Merlos and Olivares Families

Lifelong friends Mario Merlos and Ernesto Olivares achieve the dream of homeownership for themselves and their families. With the support of the Extreme Makeover team, Homes 4 Families and hundreds of volunteers, their new, modern duplex is the inaugural home in a new development raised in an effort to make housing affordable and accommodatable for veterans. By building this community, the hope is that it's easier for veterans to transition back to their families, and have an immediate built-in support system through their neighborhood.

This is the first duplex completed by the Extreme Makeover team of Breegan Jane, Darren Keefe, Carrie Locklyn and host Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Special guest Ty Pennington makes an appearance, too! See what they did to customize this new construction for both families.

Meet the Design Team: Meet The New ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ Design Team

The Duplex, After Construction

The newly constructed duplex home is the first house in a new development. Its design will be used throughout the community to offer residing and visiting veterans a familiar layout, and make it easier for those with disabilities to embrace the neighborhood and foster friendships as they reacclimate into a civilian lifestyle. Despite the similar mirror-image three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,360-square-foot floor plans, the interior finishes are customized for each family.

The Front Porches

Rocking chairs and a porch swing are used to design a welcoming entryway for each family's respective home. The families have their own private spaces, but can continue to enjoy shared time together, and with their future neighbors.

Inside the Olivares' Entryway

"Coming into a home like this is definitely the American dream," exclaimed Ernesto, as he choked back tears. He and his wife Amy, and their son and daughter finally have a place to call home. Stepping inside the new house and seeing photos of their family hung on all walls was especially emotional, as they were never able to hang artwork and feel completely settled in the apartments they've rented.

The Olivares' Living Room

Within this fresh, open concept living space, the design team integrated lots of storage, bright colors and modern, family-friendly furniture. The view from the entryway leads all the way back to the kitchen, which will make it possible for the whole family to be together, and entertain together.

The Olivares' Dining Room

Nestled between the living room and kitchen, a modern table and set of chairs offer a comfortable place for the family to dine together. The abstract framed art offers contrast inside the white-walled home, and adds visual interest to the bright, open space.

The Olivares' Kitchen

Wooden floors extend from the entryway all the way through the house. The open space and lack of thresholds make the home a welcoming place for all of their friends and neighbors. To make the kitchen even more functional for the family, the team designed a laundry center along one wall so that Ernesto and Amy could tackle chores while still keeping an eye on their young kids.

The Olivares' Kitchen

The bright, open kitchen offers the Olivares family plenty of space to entertain. Frosted glass upper cabinets promise to reflect light, while disguising any mess behind the doors, and white Shaker-style lower cabinet doors coordinate perfectly with the farmhouse sink. Adding ambiance and style, a farmhouse-style pendant is positioned over the large island. Modern appliances make it a kitchen in which the whole family can gather to prep and bake.

The Olivares' Kitchen

The stylish kitchen includes beautiful finishes such as a farmhouse sink, clutter-diffusing frosted glass cabinets, beautiful countertops and a highly-functional faucet that will serve this busy family well.

The Olivares' Laundry Area

Along one wall of each kitchen, the design team constructed laundry centers to conveniently house each family's washer and dryer. Added storage and a permanent wrapping countertop helps it blend into the rest of the kitchen's design. This feature was intended to make it easier for the families to keep up with chores without sacrificing time together.

The Olivares' Master Bedroom

Ernesto and Amy received a bright, modern master bedroom outfitted with natural wood finishes and various metallic accents. The metal framed mirror hung above the dresser mimics the geometric inlay on the drawers, and a variety of textures in the area rug and bedding make the space feel comfortable and ready to be lived in.

The Olivares' Master Bathroom

Ornate floor tiles were used to tie the master bathroom into the home's modern farmhouse style. A large walk-in shower makes this room a standout compared to Ernesto and Amy's previous apartment bathroom. After years of renting, this new master suite is a part of the home where the couple can really settle down.

David Olivares' Bedroom

This future astronaut was given "the best room ever," outfitted top to bottom with space-themed design features and accessories. With a lofted bed over a study space, and stylish but comfortable accents, Ernesto and Amy's son, David, will be able to grow with room for many years.

Elizabeth Olivares' Bedroom

Ernesto and Amy's daughter, Elizabeth, needed a room she could play in and grow in. In her previous apartment bedroom, she shared the space with her dad's drum set, so the design team set out to create a sweet space that a toddler could more easily enjoy. Customized with wallpaper, a fluffy area rug, a low toddler bed and plenty of open storage spaces, she'll have no trouble filling this room with energy and joy.

The Olivares' Garage Band Space

By reinventing the Olivares' garage space and repurposing it as an area for Ernesto's drum set and musical equipment, the design team gave importance to Ernesto's well-being. As a veteran who has leaned on musical therapy to manage anxieties, Ernesto was limited in how he could practice the drums in the apartment. He now hopes to be able to bond and give back to other veterans who value this method of therapy.

Inside the Merlos' Entryway

Mario Merlos, his wife, Stephanie, and their two daughters are welcomed by modern lighting and furnishings upon entry into their new home. The design team chose romantic elements by embracing texture in the chosen accents, a cozy color palette and incorporated many family photos into a striking gallery wall. The proximity of the living room to the dining area and the kitchen will make it easier for Mario and Stephanie to keep an eye on their girls and foster togetherness as a family.

The Merlos' Living Room

Family-friendly furnishings make this open concept space livable and functional for this family of four. The floor plan also allowed the design team to install a sliding barn door, which conceals an opening in the wall and repurposes it for storage nearby the entryway. The clear line-of-sight through the home will make it easy for the family to live and entertain.

The Merlos' Dining Room

Cozy pendant lighting and a welcoming farmhouse-style table and chairs connect the living room to the dining room. This is the first year either household will have space to host extended family during the holidays, and the open-concept area will make it easier to accommodate a large group.

The Merlos' Dining Room

A piece of custom art adorns a wall in the dining room. Inspired by Mario and Stephanie's love story, designer Carrie Locklyn made it personal by incorporating a quote from one of the couple's love letters. The duo wrote daily letters to each other while Mario was in boot camp, and they greatly cherish those personal keepsakes.

The Merlos' Kitchen

The large open-concept kitchen in this new house will serve Mario and Stephanie well. With extra seating at both the peninsula and at the center island, there's plenty of room to navigate the space, entertain and spend time together as a family. On the opposite wall, the design team installed an in-unit washer and dryer for added convenience.

The Merlos' Kitchen

A bold tile backsplash complements the gray cabinets in the kitchen. Modern stainless steel appliances, and a farmhouse sink fit right into the style of the home, and the movable center island offers flexibility in the room, whether the family is hosting their neighbors for dinner, or a holiday party with 40 family members.

The Merlos' Master Bedroom

After years of living in apartments with minimal furnishings and accents, the design team offers Mario and his wife a cozy retreat for their master bedroom. Designer Carrie Locklyn added wooden accents to one wall to add dimension and modern, geometric appeal to the couple's home. Dark gray paint was used on the walls including over the wooden accents to add an extra layer of interest to the custom feature in this bedroom.

The Merlos' Master Bathroom

Bold floor tile, large mirrors and a variety of lighting sources work together to create a beautiful master bathroom in this modern farmhouse-style home. Separate vanity and makeup areas add function to the room, so that both Mario and Stephanie can claim their own counter space.

Leah and Camila Merlos' Bedroom

A shared bedroom for these close-knit sisters was an easy option for the design team. While they could always transition into separate bedrooms in the future, a shared bedroom now made it possible for the third bedroom in the home to become a playroom. Leah and Camila received matching beds outfitted with cozy pillows, linens and a shared dresser.

Leah and Camila Merlos' Bedroom

Farmhouse-inspired decor including wallpaper, a round woven rug, framed artwork and light, transparent curtains make this bedroom feel instantly liveable. As another room in the home can be used to occupy toys, this bedroom can remain a calm, clean and relaxing bedroom.

Leah and Camila Merlos' Playroom

The design team put the third bedroom in the Merlos' home to use as a children's playroom, and filled it with lots of new toys and art supplies. Colorful watercolor-inspired wallpaper adorns the walls, rainbow wall shelves display items and two teal chairs and a matching table offer a surface for the girls to make art all day long.

Sam's Doghouse

In the backyard of the duplex, designer Darren Keefe built a doghouse for the Merlos' dog, Sam. The large doghouse was built in the same modern farmhouse style as the main house, and also constructed in two pieces with one half belonging to each family so it could be moved, if need be in the future.

The Community Playground

The new neighborhood is expected to fill with young families as more homes get built, so to make it even more family-friendly, the Extreme Makeover team brought in special guest Ty Pennington to build a large playground in a center lot of the development. The playground's construction required a second team of volunteers, and amazingly, was built on the same timeline as the main home, completed in just five days.

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