• December 9, 2023

The Property Brothers on a Popular Design Rule You Should Break

Property brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott know that most people crave a bit more space around the house—and on the latest “Celebrity IOU,” they show how better design can magically make that happen without adding square footage.

In the Season 3 episode “Anthony Anderson’s Ultimate Thank You,” the brothers meet with Anthony Anderson, the star of “Black-ish” and other TV shows and films. The actor wants to help his younger brother, Derrick, renovate his home, which has fallen into disrepair.

“When you’re as busy as Derrick, working in the ER and raising a family, jobs around the house can just fall to the wayside,” Jonathan explains.

But at just under 1,000 square feet, this house is cramped, so Drew and Jonathan need to not only update the style, but also make the home feel more functional.

“A house that has a smaller footprint means you have to get extra creative to find the best solutions,” Jonathan says.

The brothers take down a kitchen wall, make big upgrades to the home’s only bathroom, and even put up a family photo display that brings Derrick to tears.

Read on for tips on making a small home big enough for the whole family—and get plenty of smart ideas on upgrades you might want to try, too.

It’s OK to remove a window—or a door

Property Brothers and Anthony Anderson
The property brothers and Anthony Anderson talk design.


Since this house is small, the property brothers want to maximize every single inch, especially in the kitchen.

“Smart design adds square footage, basically,” Jonathan says. “This is a little under 1,000 square feet for this place here, so you need every square inch in order to feel functional.”

Anderson knows Derrick and his wife, Joy, love to cook, so he wants to take down the walls blocking the kitchen from the living room. Jonathan loves the idea and suggests removing a window.

While many designers might say you should always keep windows for maximum light, Jonathan points out that this is a rule you can sometimes break.

“Technically, we’re reducing the number of windows. But now, because that wall is gone to the living room, there’s going to be way more light already,” he reasons.

kitchen door
Before: This kitchen door wasn’t necessary.


Jonathan also suggests removing an unnecessary kitchen door, allowing them to extend the cabinetry. When the work is done, the room is bright and light, with a lot more storage.

“The thing for me, that’s the biggest difference, is that useless door that we didn’t need over here,” Drew says after the changes are made. It “gives us so much more space and flow for this kitchen.”

dining area
After: This room has one window and one door, leaving lots of space for everything else.


Whites brighten up a small home

modern kitchen
The white counters keep this kitchen looking airy.


When planning the design, Anderson says he doesn’t think Derrick would want white finishes in the home. So while Jonathan is happy to go for darker selections, he explains that some lighter tones will be important to make the small home look bigger.

“Counters are a good area where we can reflect light up, and it keeps it feeling bright,” the HGTV star says. “So maybe we avoid, for the counters, going too dark. Keep it a little lighter.”

Anthony Anderson
The team shows Derrick and Joy their new kitchen.


Anderson and Jonathan choose a white stone countertop with gray veining, and in the end, it’s clear they made the right choice. The counters aren’t a pure white, but they do provide the brightness this kitchen needs.

living room
Before: Derrick and his family had very few photos up.


Drew and Jonathan want this house to feel like a family house, so they include a family photo wall in the living room design. They arrange the photos and the TV (which looks like a landscape painting when not in use) on the wall so they’re easily viewed from the couch.

“Before, this house just had one photo on the wall or a couple of photos over here, mainly in the hallway,” Drew says. “We want to make sure that we cluster all the photos and the artwork in a way that’s purposeful.”

photo wall
After: Now, the TV is hidden among the photos and precious family art.


But the brothers want to make sure the photos are not just displayed, but displayed well. Drew selects a unique silver and wood frame for the photos and TV in a tone that works with the rest of the living room and the kitchen.

“These frames are great,” Drew says. “The front facade of the frame, it has a bit of a silver look to it so it’s not just a typical black frame. And then the sides, it actually ties in with the countertops and the floors.”

It’s a good reminder that a family home should have a prominent spot to display pictures. Plus, it shows that family photos can be shown in a way that works with the rest of the home design.

Storage makes a big difference in a bathroom

dated bathroom
Before: This dated bathroom had no storage at all.


This home has only one bathroom, so the Scott brothers want to make this space count.

“It needs to be durable for the two kids but also spalike for Derrick and Joy, so we have to make it versatile,” Jonathan says.

The brothers make some layout changes, switching around the toilet, to make sure there’s no wasted space. Plus, they replace the dated vanity.

“I’m not a fan of pedestals,” Jonathan says of the sink style. “They need storage, so we can put a cabinet in with actual storage.”

contemporary bathroom
After: Now, this bathroom has a property vanity with valuable storage.


Of course, changing the layout does make a big difference in this space, but the smartest upgrade is the storage under the sink. This small change will make a big difference for this family.

Black-and-white tile adds sophistication to a floor

bathroom tile
Before: This bathroom tile was seriously dated.


While Drew and Jonathan are able to improve the function of this bathroom, they also want to update the overall look. Anderson picks out a bold black-and-white floor tile that he knows will modernize the space while also making the bathroom feel comfortable.

“The pattern that I chose kind of looks as if there was a throw rug on the bathroom floor,” Anderson says. “It’s going to add a little bit more elegance to the subway tile that they’re putting on the wall. I think it’s going to come together really nicely.”

bathroom floor
After: Anderson loves this bathroom flooring.