|Many moms were celebrated by their kids and partners this past Mother’s Day weekend, but probably few families pulled off surprises as elaborate as the one Ashton Kutcher arranged for his mom.
Kutcher, an investor in the home remodeling site Houzz, used the technology platform to provide an update to his childhood house in Homestead, Iowa (population 148). Kutcher had originally helped his stepfather to build the house when he was 13 years old, and his mom, Diane, had long dreamed of redoing the basement space.
Houzz is a website and community that connects homeowners and professionals, as well as allowing users to browse and share ideas. It also does a number of surveys and studies on numerous and sometimes minute details of the remodeling process (for example, according to a 2013 Houzz survey, more than 16% of participants prefer to incorporate their appliances into their cabinetry).
Kutcher lives in the Los Angeles area, but used Houzz to create a digital “ideabook” and find a local Iowa designer, Catherine Thomas, to oversee the project. He even bought most of the new furnishings through the Houzz Shop. Along with Thomas and his stepfather, Mark, Kutcher created a plan to knock down walls, raise the ceiling, add windows for natural light, and create more usable living space to turn the dark basement into the family and entertaining space his mom had always envisioned.
As the Time money section pointed out earlier this month, that’s a smart move from a financial perspective, as well. Adding living areas in previously unused or underused attic or basement space can give quite the boost to a home’s value.
But how did Kutcher’s mom feel about her surprise basement remodel? Houzz has produced a four-part video series so viewers can see the transformation for themselves, but her reaction probably won’t be a surprise to anyone watching: “Oh my God,” she says, as she walks down the basement stairs and immediately starts to cry. “It’s beautiful.”