When it comes to home makeover shows in Central Texas, most here think of Chip and Joanna Gaines.
However, two Fort Hood spouses have their own version of "Fixer Upper" with a military spin. Maria Reed and Chandee Ulch are using their creativity and their military connection to surprise soldiers and their loved ones. They are doing a room makeover each month at posts around the country.
This month, they did a special makeover close to home on Fort Hood, for their newly created show Moving with the Military.
It's a labor of love, according to the spouses. They want to expand the makeovers to families in all military branches. But for now, they're designing for little McKenzie.
They're designing to give McKenzie a taste of Paris, and a room design she can grow into and take with her wherever the next duty station calls.
"I feel like the one thing they should be able to have is home, is home no matter where you're at. And that's their safety net," Ulch said, the cinematographer for the online show.
But before the major room redo, six-year-old McKenzie is treated to a makeover and photo shoot in the heart of Killeen. The spouses tell McKenzie they'll be sending the pictures to her dad who is deployed overseas for Valentine's Day but it's just one part of a larger surprise. McKenzie and her mom Kimber will be the latest military family featured on the 5th episode of the online show.
"I think it's all about embracing and uplifting and recognizing and that's exactly what Maria and her husband and Chandee do," McKenzie's mom, Kimber said.
The show celebrates military families.
"Because we hear so many negative things, but there are just so many great things and wonderful things about being a military family," Ulch said.
"Most military families have great stories, have amazing stories, have incredible victories that should be celebrated. The world should know, we should shout it out from the rooftop," Reed said.
The goal is to make the homes feel like more than just another duty station. Once Reed and Ulch choose a family, they conceptualize the goals for the space.
"We don't ask, they have to really trust us, 100 percent," Reed explained.
Then, the Fort Hood women shop until they drop.
"I have no idea what I will use this for, but I love it, so I'm gonna buy some and we'll see what happens," Reed said, on a trip to Target.
"Mixing metals, so not just all golds," she said in one of the aisles.
Reed explained most military housing never has enough storage, so she finds unique ways to design for the needs of the military family, even repurposing items.
Moving with the Military is all done on a budget, and from sponsorships from community businesses and organizations. The video work, sound work, and postproduction have all been completed by volunteers.
"But we definitely have to stay within our budget. I cannot go over," Reed said, after a run through Target.
They find cost-effective ways to add a pop to the walls, which cannot be painted most colors in military housing. So, Reed and Ulch make three-D paper wallflowers. It took them four hours to make.
With shopping complete, the work begins, emptying McKenzie's room and getting the new furniture in and deal with any hiccups along the way.
During the redesign this time, they noticed the purchased chandelier was bent out of shape. So, after returning the item, buying a new version and placing it into the fixture, the design continued for a few hours before McKenzie's return.
Then, the moment the spouses prepared for has arrived.
"All the way up to the reveal, I think I did a great job. I'm like yes, this is great. It's perfect. That moment right before they see it, I question everything," Reed said. "In like 15 seconds, I'm like what if they hate it, what if the color's wrong, what if we did everything wrong?"
But all that hard work paid off.
"I'm so excited," McKenzie said, after seeing the redesign. She squealed at the first sight of the Paris-themed creation. "This is so awesome!"
"I'm seriously speechless, this is so incredible, thank you guys so much," McKenzie's mom said.
McKenzie explained why she likes Paris.
"Because Paris is on the other side of the Earth and dad is on the other side of the Earth, so that's why I like Paris a lot," she said.
Because when you dare to dream, military families grow even stronger together.
To check out recent episodes of "Moving with the Military" and learn more about the spouses' story, click here. You can also check out design tips for your home.