North Carolina custom design house Zig Zibit handled the design of a multi-purpose/media room for ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” the popular TV show that refurbishes and remodels homes for worthy recipients who don’t have the means to do so themselves.
Show producers reached out to Zig Zibit last summer saying they had done some internet research, seen its capabilities and thought it would be a good fit for a local project—reimagining the Steps-N-Stages Jubilee House for homeless women veterans in Fayetteville, NC.
The new house was for Barbara Marshall, a 15-year Navy veteran and a former chaplain. Marshall opens her home to homeless women veterans, offering them housing, support and resources to help them get back on their feet. At any given time, Marshall housed up to three veterans in the modest, 1,500-square-foot house. The new home is more than three times the size and able to accommodate more families and services.
A team of Zig Zibit employees worked almost around the clock to build the media room in a week’s time.
“We told our staff about the project, told them it was a volunteer effort, asked if they wanted to be involved, and everyone’s hand went up,” says Zig Zibit president Jake Merzigian. The project was all-volunteer, and producers said the company could contribute as much or as little as it
The media/multi-purpose was to double as an office and resource room where the veterans could search for jobs, educational opportunities, housing and online resources. The room could be converted into a play area for children and could also be used as a conference room.
Zig Zibit created eight-foot tall, 12-foot long and two-foot wide movable walls/workstations on wheels that defined the space both functionally and aesthetically.
“We designed tracks in the ceiling so they could be placed in the middle of the room to be used as computer stations. Laptops, shelving, sliding keyboard trays and stool seating that could be stored within the units helped with functionality,” Merzigian says.
When it wasn’t being used for that purpose, the units could be slid to the outer walls of the space, revealing an interactive projected media display on the floor. As far as the design process, the show’s producers were pretty hands-off.
“They gave us some overall concept images and told us what they wanted this room to do. They really put a lot of confidence in the companies they work with. We started building in mid-July and worked through the weekend. We had people from our office outside painting and nailing things—everybody put their hands into it,” Merzigian says.
A team of four from Zig Zibit installed the units amidst the hundreds of contractors rebuilding the house during the install phase of the project.
“It was very similar to an exhibit design—you’re taking a plan view floor space, you have a goal and an objective. I think that’s why the show turns to companies like us—because they know that’s our normal though process. We’re a custom house, so we don’t think about systems or things we’ve done before; it’s all a blank sheet of paper,” Merzigian says.
Those who have seen the show know it aims at pulling the heartstrings of viewers with its emotional storylines. When the project was finished and the show finally aired, the Zig Zibit team was extremely proud of their contribution.
“The biggest thing was how everyone was willing to sacrifice their weekends and stay late to get this project done as a volunteer effort. Seeing the conclusion, the show is so emotional and seeing your part in it is really cool,” Merzigian says.