Jasmine Roth is trying to make fence benches fetch. Make that #fencebench, because she believes in the look so wholeheartedly that she’s created a hashtag for it. In case you missed Monday night’s episode of her hit show on HGTV, Hidden Potential, the design was just one of a series of transformational surprise-and-delight moments the builder created to turn a dated, cookie-cutter house into a one-of-a-kind home brimming with personality.
While the concept of a bench built into a fence is cool in and of itself, the story behind why it was designed makes it even cooler. You see, all of the kids on the homeowners’ block love to play in each other’s front yards, but the parents tend to just stand around as they hang out and watch them. “The mom suffered hearing loss a while ago, and she loves to chat, but it’s easier for her to read people’s lips when they’re sitting still,” Jasmine explains.
That’s what makes Jasmine’s designs so special: She’s obsessed making things that are fun and functional. “When I meet families, I just go and hang out in their house for a while,” she says of her creative process. “It’s easy for families to walk through and tell me what they don’t like, but naming what you do want your house to be is tricky. If they could define it, they’d probably just do it themselves.”
She’ll ask them to walk her through what a typical Sunday morning’s like at their house, or what happens when the kids come home from school, or how they get ready for work in the morning, just to understand their pain points and must-haves. This house was no different.
In addition to the #fencebench, Jasmine quickly learned that a low, l-shaped wall cordoning off the living room and kitchen had become a constant headache for the homeowners, Brianne and Joey.
“It’s important for [Brianne] to be able to see her kids to know that they’re safe, since she can’t hear them,” Jasmine says. If the kids were in the living room and she was cooking, she couldn’t easily keep an eye on them, so they tore it down.
They also upgraded the fireplace, which was such an eyesore the family kept a projector screen constantly pulled down, blocking it from view. The couple and their kids love movies so much that the projector is a regular fixture anyway, but Jasmine’s team upgraded it with a set of Bluetooth hearing aids donated by Starkey Hearing Technologies. Instead of hearing the movie through her speakers, then through her hearing aids, these aids connect directly to the stereo, so she hears the movie as clearly as everyone else does, Jasmine explains.
The smoke alarm also got an upgrade, switching over to ones that’d flash, so the mom can easily detect when they go off. (A while ago, the husband came home to the alarms blaring, but the frequency was so high that his wife couldn’t hear them.)
While the house underwent a lot of tech upgrades, it also got a facelift to have a cleaner, more California coastal vibe, instead of the pink, pink, and more pink it previously had. One of Jasmine’s design hallmarks—images printed onto wood, from Social Print Studio—can be found in the entryway, along with a clever idea you’ll want to borrow for your own home. Between the studs, Jasmine built cubbies, which she covered with the wooden pictures. There’s one to store keys, another for the dog’s leash and toys, another for sunglasses and a tablet—and even one that serves as a window to another Jasmine-designed surprise: a hidden playroom for the couple’s kids.
“They had a coat closet they weren’t using, so I turned it into a kids’ fort,” she says. “Then I had the idea to add the window, so the mom can easily see the kids while they’re in there, and when they’re not, she can hang the photo up and hide it.”
In the end, Jasmine wanted to make sure that the whole family was happy—and that the home could make mom feel truly at ease.
“Even if it was really pretty, if it didn’t function for her, it wouldn’t work for anyone,” Jasmine says. Achieving a mix of style and substance? “That’s the biggest win for us.”
You can catch new episodes of Hidden Potential on Mondays at 9 p.m. EST on HGTV, and catch up on season 1—or see even more of Jasmine’s work—at HGTV.com.
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