When Hollywood Called
Flowers add the finishing touch to an ‘Extreme Home Makeover’
By Heidi Anderson, editor of Michigan Florist magazine
When Hollywood called, Hyacinth House co-owner Jim Schmidt was happy to take the call. The television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” was coming to Holt, Mich., and wanted fresh flower donations for a finishing touch on the new home they were building.
“The show’s design manager called and told me about the family who needed a new home, and they certainly sounded deserving of a break,” Schmidt said.
The new home was for the Nickless family, who lost husband and father Tim, leaving wife and mother Arlene and three young sons to struggle in a 148-year-old falling-apart farmhouse. Per the show’s theme, the old house would be demolished and a brand new home built for the family.
“Being a fan of the show, I wanted to be a part of it,” Schmidt said. “The idea of working with Ty Pennington sounded fun.”
With the family selected and the florist confirmed, it wasn’t long before the show’s stars came to Michigan and got to work.
“I was happy to meet with show designers Michael Moloney and Paige Hemmis,” Schmidt said. “We scheduled a meeting with the designers and production people to discuss the flowers.”
In that meeting, it was decided which areas in the new home would need flowers and which varieties and colors the show wanted.
Hyacinth House Design Manager, Dinah Hollek, and Designer Sarah Bissell, MCF, created all the floral designs for the home.
“When I found out about the show, I was so excited I couldn’t even believe it,” Bissell said. “My designs were going to be on TV and everyone would see what I could create. I told everybody I knew!”
Hollek too was excited to create designs for TV.
“I was excited to help the family out and make their new house beautiful,” she said. “Flowers make a home look richer and more complete. Flowers make you feel special, and flowers mean good things, especially in this case.”
Many hours of hard work and careful consideration were put into the designs, which included Banksia Protea, Birds of Paradise, Pin Cushion Protea, red and green Anthuriums, Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Monkey and Oncidium Orchids, Heliconia, Tulips, Calla Lilies, Hydrangea, Roses, a mix of greens including Croton leaves, Lily Grass and Philodendron Xanadu, and accents such as Curly Willow and River Rocks.
The roses especially played an important role in the Home Makeover.
The late Tim Nickless planted yellow rose bushes for his wife, Arlene, so 36 single long-stemmed yellow roses in clear glass vases adorned a custom-built headboard in the new master bedroom. Four arrangements of 24 yellow roses were placed in the master bathroom, and eight short-stemmed yellow roses were placed around the master suite.
“That was a special way to honor the remembrance of her husband,” Schmidt said. “And hopefully it provided some comfort to his wife.”
In the new gourmet kitchen, big cylinders held fans of Mokara Orchids on the island that coordinated with a long-and-low tropical centerpiece on the kitchen table. Two large and two small tropical arrangements adorned the living room, and a high-style tropical was a main focal point at the front door.
“The tropicals were very high-end, very new-style designs,” Bissell said. “The volunteers on set stopped to admire the flowers. They got a lot of attention and seemed to make people smile.”
The oldest boy’s new bedroom was designed with an electrical theme, and Hollek housed French Tulips in a container that had glowing wire balls in the water. Purple Calla Lilies and Orchids added freshness to the new bathrooms.
“Dinah and Sarah really took charge and were able to produce some exquisite stuff,” Schmidt said. “The head interior designer said that of all the fresh flower arrangements they’ve used in all their homes, the ones from Hyacinth House were absolutely by far the best. We did the job right. My designers used their skills and creativity and I was proud of them and their work.”
Van’s Floral Products and Battle Creek Flower Exchange helped lower costs with some discounted rates.
The controlled chaos at the site produced a beautiful home for the Nickless Family, whose episode aired on ABC November 30, 2008.
“Everyone called me during the show, wanting to know when they’d see all the flowers,” said Bissell, who watched with her family. “I was so proud.”
Hollek too watched the show with her family and was happy with the presentation.
“The flowers looked beautiful on TV,” she said. “They looked perfect with the house. It was very exciting!”
And hopefully the Nickless family was excited with their new home and the flowers inside.
“The show didn’t consider the project done until the flowers were in and the flowers were perfect,” Schmidt said. “We were the last vendors allowed in. After all, a home isn’t complete without flowers.”