April is a big month for Mike and Denese Butler, a Boston-based husband and wife duo. They will not only be celebrating family birthdays and their 11-year wedding anniversary, but also the premiere of their new show “Fix My Frankenhouse” on HGTV. The six-episode season will show how the Butlers worked together to renovate hodgepodge properties and turn a “Frankenstein” house into a stunning space.
The couple works in harmony. Mike puts his construction expertise to work by creating updated floor plans, while Denese uses her design skills to curate an aesthetically-pleasing space that the homeowners will love.
“Once we have the updated layout in place, I restore flow to the home with cohesive modern design,” she said.
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When Construction and Design Match
Since they are celebrating their 11th wedding anniversary days before the premiere of their show, the couple reflected on how they met. “We met in Boston,” Denese said. “I had just finished my senior year of high school [and was] going into my freshman year of college. We met that summer, and I knew right away that I was going to marry him.”
Mike, on the other hand, is a third-generation contractor. “My dad is in the industry. His father was in the industry, and all of my cousins and uncles are in the industry,” he said.
Together, the Butlers form a dynamic duo.
“We have a good balance,” Mike said. “I handle one part of the business, and Denese handles the other part. We’ll have a floor plan that is approved by the client, then Denese will take over and run the aesthetic, while I’m managing the construction.”
It is no secret that working with a significant other can be challenging; however, the Butlers have found a way to navigate it. According to Mike, the key to their success is simple: communicating effectively. Denese shares the same sentiments and attributes their well-maintained balance to how intentional they are as a couple.
“We’re very intentional as parents, as husband and wife and as business owners,” she said. “Because of that, we’re able to do what we’re able to do successfully. We have a staff that we’re delegating work to, and I feel like Mike stays in the construction world, and I stay in the design world. If we drift into each other’s worlds, we always find a middle ground.”
What is a Frankenhouse?
A frankenhouse is outdated and features wonky layouts. Over the course of time, multiple people can own a house. Each owner makes changes and puts their own touch to this house. Eventually, this house turns into a collaboration of all of those different ideas, which creates what is known as a frankenhouse.
A frankenhouse is not hard to spot. Mike describes them as “hodgepodge houses” with “sloppy floor plans [and] disconnected rooms.”
Fixing Homeowners’ Frankenhouse
On the show, the husband and wife team will work together to fix and turn homeowners’ frankenhouses into beautiful homes.
“Our approach to all of this is to meet the client and listen to their problems and their needs. From there, Mike, like a mad scientist, reworks the entire floor plan within the four walls,” Denese explains. “It’s my job to listen to keywords of clients and figure out a way to elevate the space and make it look well designed. Every single client in each home has their own different personality. It’s my job to bring that out, which makes what we’re doing very special.”
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When it comes to the design element, Denese uses her travels and life experiences as inspiration. Growing up as one of the only Black kids in her class allowed her to push herself out of her comfort zone, which has helped her with clients.
What Viewers Can Expect
The series will start with the couple renovating an early 1900s family property. Viewers will get to follow the duo as they tear down walls, create an open-concept kitchen and dining area, and build spa-like bathrooms.
Denese hopes to inspire aspiring designers with each episode of “Fix My Frankenhouse.”
“I just ultimately hope that we are able to encourage other people who want to start design businesses,” she said. “I want people to see that you can have three kids, be married and still do your thing.”
“Fix My Frankenhouse” premieres on HGTV and discovery+ on Sunday, April 23 at 9 p.m.
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