The DIY network’s popular show, Kitchen Crashers, follows host Allison Victoria, who surprises a renovation-minded family at a local home improvement store. Victoria offers her designs services, the show provides the contractors, and within a matter of days, the lucky homeowners score a brand new kitchen. In the show’s sixth season, Oak Parkers Candi and Joe Carter experienced the magic of an on-camera makeover when they were discovered shopping at a Chicago-area IKEA.

Makeover-ready

The Carters and their two children, Lily and Emerson, had been living with a kitchen that was less than ideal for over 10 years ever since they bought their Taylor Avenue two-flat. Candi thinks the kitchen’s dysfunction was what won over the show’s producers. 

“It was super, super tight in there,” she said. “You would have the dishwasher open and the oven open and you couldn’t walk through the room. It wasn’t the ugliest kitchen in America, but it wasn’t working well.”

Supervising Producer Rachel Sobel agrees that the Carter’s kitchen needed an intervention. 

“It absolutely made no sense the way it was laid out,” Sobel said. “We literally started from scratch and created a whole new space. Oak Park kitchens can have a lot of issues because there are old-house issues to deal with.”

The Carters went on a shopping trip to IKEA in Bolingbrook to brainstorm about ideas for their kitchen space, when they ran into Victoria. To Candi, the meeting was serendipitous. “She really grilled us about what we wanted in the space. I’ve watched the show, so I know that the kitchen crashers like to open up walls, and I knew our kitchen was a prime candidate for that. We had a laundry area in there that I knew we could move to the basement, which would allow us to open up the space.” 

The plan

Once Victoria selected the Carters’ kitchen for a “crash,” she came up with a design board, replete with computer renderings of the space, tile and cabinet color samples and even a choice for a sink and faucet. Candi still keeps the board, and says that while the plan was exciting, it doesn’t compare to the end result. “Even with the board, it was hard for me to envision what the space would look like with another window and the room opened up.”

As is typical of the show, the majority of the items that went into the home came from IKEA, the store where the Carters were discovered. Candi thinks an IKEA-based kitchen is a natural fit for a show like Kitchen Crashers in which a lot of ground is covered in a short amount of time. 

“The good thing about IKEA,” said Carter, “is that they literally have everything for the home. Not only do they have cabinets and sinks and faucets, but they have everything else for the kitchen. We got all new dishes, glasses and knives — even a teapot.”

Once the design plan was complete, the elements of the kitchen were ordered before the crash officially began. Notes Carter, “Everything arrived in boxes before the workers got here. Our entire first floor was covered with boxes.”

The Crash

The appeal of Kitchen Crashers lies in the show’s ability to take what is normally a months-long process of remodeling a kitchen and condense it into a few days. While the process may be shorter, the time compression makes for good television viewing, if not a comfortable living situation.

The Carters knew what they were getting into as they gave up complete control of their home, says Candi. “During the crash, they literally take over your house. They’re working late into the night. Our kids slept in the basement but that was a production area too, so we had to share the space. Every morning, the crew was here by 6:30 ready to go, and at night, we’d have the playoff games on the television in the basement for everyone. We were exhausted by the end of the process. The contractors and crew were amazing. They worked super-hard to get this done.”

While Candi and Joe were put to work unloading boxes, the contractors tackled large projects like installing new flooring, new drywall, new electric and new plumbing. As Candi predicated, they removed the wall to the separate laundry area, giving the kitchen a new window and needed square footage.

The contractors revamped the kitchen’s floor plan, creating a peninsula seating area and customizing a cabinet area above the room’s existing radiator for extra storage. A glass tile backsplash and two-toned cabinets round out the space.

Sobel says the Carter crash was one of the biggest in the show’s history. “It was huge in terms of what we had to do,” she said. We had to work in new plumbing and new electric and push back the laundry room wall to open up the space.”

Today

The Carters couldn’t be happier with the newly redesigned space. 

“We went from 1990 to 2014 in the span of a few days,” notes Candi. “The kitchen is so much easier to clean and so much easier to move around in now.”

An added bonus was the remodeling of the kitchen’s breakfast nook. 

“We didn’t even remember we had that room in our old kitchen. They put a great light fixture in there, and we built a wall hanging for planted herbs, and now you really notice the space.”

Best of all for the Carters, their kitchen has been transformed into a space for the entire family. “Because the kitchen was so small, we never really ate together before. Now we like to be in the kitchen together. Lily can color and Emerson can sit and talk and have a snack. My husband can fold laundry while I cook.”

The Carter’s episode of Kitchen Crashers first aired on Monday, June 23, and will be replayed frequently on the DIY Network, with later re-showings on HGTV.

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