Design juggernaut turned internet celebrity Brittany Jepsen and her husband Paul are the stars of the latest episode of “In With the Old” on Magnolia Network.
The television hour features Brittany and Paul renovating the exterior of their Provo, Utah, home, as well as the kitchen, their son’s room, the staircase and the kitchenette in Brittany’s basement studio.
“In With the Old,” now in its third season, typically features the renovation of old homes. The Jepsens’ home, however, was built in 1992. It’s not new, but it’s younger than most millennials, therefore not old, right? RIGHT?
What qualified the home for the show’s title is the style in which it was built — Federalist Revival. The original owners built the house to replicate the early Latter-day Saint pioneer homes in Nauvoo, Illinois.
During conversations with the show’s production team, Jepsen mentioned that her great-great-great-great-grandmother Patty Sessions — a renowned midwife — crossed the plains from Maine to Nauvoo, then eventually Bountiful, Utah, delivering thousands of babies along the way. To Jepsen, who was raised hearing stories about her pioneer ancestors both in her home and at church, this information hardly felt newsworthy. But to the producers, it felt like a story coming full circle.
“We kind of made everything an ode to her,” Jepsen says, explaining that after she realized the significance of the home and the ties to her ancestors, many of the design choices in their remodel were made to honor Sessions. The Jepsens also incorporated a number of Scandinavian designs to honor Paul’s Danish heritage. Their staircase, for instance, is a Scandinavian-inspired flat baluster, common in Denmark and Sweden, carved into the birth flowers of each family member.
Jepsen says. “This felt like a very big personal trek, for lack of a better word. Like a journey into representing our family.”
The Jepsens had a very short time frame and a very small budget for the renovation. Due to ongoing supply chain issues and the scarcity of contractors, Brittany and Paul did much of the work themselves with help from their nanny Pat and friends and neighbors.
Filming began in February 2022 and concluded in July. There were moments when getting everything completed in time seemed impossible. But Brittany is no stranger to using creativity to get the job done.
She started her blog, The House That Lars Built, as a grad student at Corcoran College of Art and Design where she was studying interior design. She used the blog as a portfolio and wrote about her life and projects. She married Paul and they moved to Denmark in 2013. The blog became popular and generated enough income for her to pay off her student loans. When she and Paul moved back to the states, sponsors began reaching out. She searched for what she calls a “real job,” but nothing panned out. Her blog continued to grow and generate income, so Brittany turned it into her full-time job. “Looking back, I view it as being guided to do what I do,” she says.
Today, The House That Lars Built is a craft and design website with tutorials and inspiration for projects, and Brittany has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. “When you make things with your hand, you get in touch with your soul. So I feel like it’s really important to make things with your hands,” Brittany says. But she understands not everyone is craft-inclined. So she’s cultivated a whimsical online store. “If you don’t want to make something you can maybe buy it,” she says. The store includes collections of cellphone cases, agendas, planners and so on.
In addition to running a business from the basement studio, Brittany is raising her two boys, Felix (5) and Jasper (2). As any parent working from home can report, there are highs and lows to have one’s workspace in their home, and Brittany has experienced her fair share of obstacles with the arrangement. But the in-home studio has allowed her the flexibility to see her kids and do her job, sometimes by working at night if her day was unproductive.
Brittany has forged her own path both as a mother and as an entrepreneur, much like Patty Sessions did generations prior. “She did what she did, not because people told her to do it, but because that was what was innate in her,” Brittany tells me. Then, as tears well in her eyes she says, “I just look at her as strength. I came from Patty Sessions, therefore, I can do anything I want to do.”
It took an outsider to tie the story of Patty Sessions to the Jepsen house renovation. ”It makes me wonder what other ties are out there that I’m not seeing or that other people are not seeing in their own families,” Brittany says. Many of us are resistant to diving into our own family history, Brittany explains, due to lack of time, or a perception that genealogy is for the elderly. “But I really feel empowered by my own family’s story,” she says. “And I hope it’s something I can give to my children.”
It’s a story she channels into all her work, and that she channeled into her home project to create a space for her family to gather, remember those who came before, and enjoy the beauty of good design.
“The storytelling aspect of family history is something I can get behind,” she says. “I think there’s a real transformative quality to that.”
You can find that transformative power put to work on “In With the Old” on Discovery+ and HBO Max.