Denese And Mike Butler: Everything We Know About The Couple Hosting HGTV's Fix My Frankenhouse

Most of us, whether we realize it or not, have likely encountered a "Frankenhouse," a poorly laid-out home with dysfunctional design features and elements that are just plain weird. Typically the result of ill-conceived DIY renovations and/or wild corner-cutting, these off-kilter abodes are understandably frustrating for those who live in them.

Help, however, arrived in the spring of 2023 with the premiere of HGTV's "Fix My Frankenhouse." Featuring husband-and-wife renovation team Denese and Mike Butler, the show's mission statement was detailed in a network news release. "Over time, different owners can make changes to a home and eventually turn it into a 'Frankenhouse,'" Mike said in the release. "Solving problems for families living in these types of homes is my favorite part of the job. To fix the houses, I shake up the floor plans and build new layouts that actually function." To accomplish that, Mike brings his experience as a contractor and builder, while Denese offers her own expertise in interior design to re-imagine each home in a way that will better suit the individual family who lives in it, creating a more functional flow from room to room while beautifying eyesore elements.

The Butlers' journey to the HGTV lineup has been unique and fascinating. To find out more, keep on reading for a look at Denese and Mike Butler: everything we know about the couple hosting HGTV's "Fix My Frankenhouse."

Denese and Mike Butler fell into home renovation by accident

Viewers who watch Denese and Mike Butler fixing badly designed homes on HGTV's "Fix My Frankenhouse" would have certainly witnessed the couple's expertise in design and renovation, and that's not by accident. In fact, the two had been flipping houses for years before being tapped by HGTV. 

However, home renovation wasn't originally the plan they'd set out for themselves. As they explained in an interview with HGTV, their journey began after buying their first house together, in Jersey City, New Jersey. "I have a fashion background so interior design wasn't really what I had my eye on. I just fell into it," said Denese of how their own DIY home-reno efforts proved to be a source of on-the-job training for their eventual gig with HGTV. 

Of course, in hindsight, it makes perfect sense that the couple would forge a future in home renovation, given their respective family backgrounds. "We actually didn't know that we came from a background of carpenters and builders when we first met," Denese told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. While Mike had grown up with various family members involved in construction, early on he decided he wanted to take a less hands-on approach, and studied architectural design. "I have navigated between the design world and the construction management world most of my career," Mike told Boston Magazine.

Denese envisioned a career in fashion before pivoting to design

As Denese Butler noted, her original career aspirations were targeted at fashion, not interior design. While studying fashion merchandising in college, a pivotal moment came when she and some other students visited the flagship location of furniture retailer Lillian August during a field trip. When they'd completed their walk-through, a vice president of the company approached Denese and invited her to send a résumé and cover letter. "I guess apparently I was asking the right questions," Denese recalled in an interview with Designers Today (via YouTube).

She wound up working in the Lillian August design studio for several years, eventually transferring to the Big Apple when the company launched its New York City location. Still pining for a career in fashion, she took a job as a personal shopper at Saks Fifth Avenue, and then shifted gears entirely for her next gig, working in the insurance industry at State Farm.

"The biggest takeaway from working at State Farm was learning how to be content in your situation," she said. She then veered back into design when she landed a job at Romo Fabrics; while working for the textile company, she found herself gravitating further toward home décor, ultimately launching her own design studio, The Perfect Vignette. "I have a background in fashion," she told Boston Magazine of her shift from fashion to décor. "Interior design is similar — it's home fashion."

The reason they're committed to fixing Frankenhouses

For Denese and Mike Butler, helping homeowners revamp their frustrating Frankenhouses isn't just the basis for an HGTV series, it's also a mission to which they've committed themselves. As the couple told HGTV, it was after they moved to Boston that they increasingly came across these types of homes. 

"They're hodgepodge houses that don't flow," Mike explained. "A Frankenhouse could have ... 10 different types of flooring on one level or bad sightlines, e.g., you open the front door to a view of a toilet down the hall. The layout and features just don't make sense or lend themselves to modern-day living." Helping to transform these homes by adding flow and functionality provides the pair with a high degree of personal satisfaction, knowing that they're not just doing a job but bettering someone else's life. "Solving problems for families living in these types of homes is my favorite part of the job," Mike told HGTV in another interview.

Each Frankenhouse has its own unique problems, meaning that each project they undertake is different from anything they've done before. As a result, there's no one-size-fits-all solution — something that's particularly true when working on older homes. "We did some minor additions in one house, but besides that, it's mostly fixing flow and re-orientating homes so that it works to modern-day living and then just keeping that charm that's always been there, in some cases for over 100 years," Mike told Showbiz Cheat Sheet.

The couple actually lives in a Frankenhouse

It may seem strange that the couple who star in "Fix My Frankenhouse" actually live in their own Frankenhouse, but that's precisely the case with the Boston home in which Mike and Denese Butler live with their three young children.

"You walk into our house and you wouldn't think that an interior designer or builder lives here," Denese admitted while speaking with HGTV. "We live in our own Frankenhouse, that's it!" In fact, the dynamic duo attempted to redesign their home three separate times, but still hadn't landed on a plan with which they were satisfied. "I keep going back and forth on what we should do," Mike admitted. 

Experiencing the unique issues inherent in a Frankenhouse on a daily basis has definitely given the Butlers a deep level of insight into how they approach projects for their clients. As they explained in an interview with House Digest, the most important part of the process is listening to clients so they can respond to their needs, while also gaining an understanding of the alterations done to the home that led to the current level of dysfunction. "Based off of those things, Mike is able to rework a floor plan, and I'm able to get to work on the aesthetic," said Denese.

They were discovered by HGTV via social media

HGTV has increasingly been seeking out new talent via social media; "Home in a Heartbeat" star Galey Alix and Jenn Todryk of "No Demo Reno," for example, were both discovered by the network after establishing themselves as Instagram influencers with sizable fanbases. 

That was also the case with Mike and Denese Butler. As Denese explained in an Instagram post, when she first launched her design studio, the notion of starring in an HGTV series hadn't even crossed her mind. "But after being approached by a handful of production companies back in 2019, I finally made the choice on a company that aligned with our vision and goals," she said.

That company is High Noon Entertainment, which produces such HGTV series as "Fixer Upper," "Good Bones," "Restored by the Fords" and several others. "The Butlers are the kind of folks you want to work with," Daniel Henningsen, High Noon's casting director, told the Boston Globe of collaborating with the couple on "Fix My Frankenhouse." According to Henningsen, Boston and other parts of Massachusetts have become fertile breeding grounds for new HGTV talent, with Massachusetts-based series such as "Farmhouse Fixer" and "Houses With History" (both produced by his company) serving as other examples. "There's such great talent out there," Henningsen said of the state. "There's history. The houses you see in Massachusetts are different from what you see in other places."

Mike and Denese Butler are assisted by their dads

While Mike and Denese Butler are clearly the stars of "Fix My Frankenhouse," there are two other series regulars who upstage them on a regular basis: their fathers, John Butler and Peter Doyle. "We are so fortunate to be able to work with [our dads]," Denese told Boston Magazine of working alongside her dad and father-in-law, both of whom are former master carpenters. "I was able to pull them out of retirement," she quipped.

Having these experienced elders participating in their projects has been a real boon for the show, both in terms of the familial entertainment value and also the workmanship that the two contribute to the renovation process. "They bring a different perspective," Mike explained while speaking with House Digest. "Both our dads are basically in their retirement years now, so they have a different outlook on the way we look at things. ... We'll push them out of their comfort zone. It's fun."

Of course, the "different perspective" the dads bring to the table may not always be greeted with enthusiasm. "They helped us out a lot — but they'd also give us opinions we didn't necessarily ask for," Mike jokingly told

Fix My Frankenhouse keeps Denese and Mike Butler stretched to their limits

Running their respective businesses while raising three young children, and then throwing in the typically long hours that go into producing an HGTV series, it's not difficult to understand how shooting the first season of "Fix My Frankenhouse" placed enormous demands on the already busy schedules of Denese and Mike Butler.

For Mike, appearing on camera for the first time in his life not only presented a time-consuming learning curve, but also pushed him to learn some new skills he hadn't even considered pre-HGTV. "I'm a behind-the-scenes, get-it-done type of personality, and I'm an extreme introvert, so it has brought me out of my comfort zone and challenged me," he told House Digest. "Overall, I've grown from it."

For Denese, those demands pushed her into uncharted territory. "I'm superwoman, okay?" Denese jokingly told HGTV, referring to juggling all the various responsibilities that are part and parcel of running her design studio, filming an HGTV series, and parenting three kids. "We're dealing with Latin tests, parent-teacher conferences, things like that. That's my version of superwoman — balancing the business and construction aspect with my kids and my husband too."

They're all about making design choices that offer maximum impact

Denese and Mike Butler face some very specific design challenges in the homes they tackle for "Fix My Frankenhouse," but also face the very familiar conundrum of getting the biggest bang they can from an always-tight budget. As Denese told Home Digest, the most effective way to make a big impact without spending much money is with paint. "Paint colors are so vital when it comes to a space," she explained. She added later, "Picking colors that are a little warmer in tone instead of bright white definitely gives a different feel."

Denese is also a big fan of using drapery to add a finishing touch to a space, dressing up a room, and taking the design to a whole other level. "Drapery is like putting on mascara, and for men, it's like adding that tie to your button-up," she said. "Not only is it aesthetically pleasing and can make a space feel comfy, but incorporating such adds privacy as well."

For Mike, it's all about coming up with a functional layout that allows for a comfortable and logical progression from one space within a home to another. "When I walk into a home, I can visualize the floorplan — it just speaks to me," he told "I just have that ability, and my job is to make it all flow."

They've witnessed some truly weird Frankenhouses

Repairing the damage from ill-conceived DIY renos in "Fix My Frankenhouse" has led Denese and Mike Butler to experience a wide array of dysfunctional homes. "We've seen houses where, to get to a bedroom, you have to walk through a bathroom," Mike recalled in an interview with "There are misplaced staircases in the oddest places, several different floor types on just the first floor, many paint colors — let's just say a lot of wonkiness in these 'Frankenhouses,' strange, strange things," added Denese. 

Speaking with MassLive, Denese shared her own definition of a Frankenhouse. "They're pretty much hodgepodge properties and additions and piecemeal redesign, that have been added over time by the homeowner," she explained, pointing to ill-conceived layouts and bizarre features such as varying types of flooring that clash with each other, or doors that bang into other doors when opened. 

Fixing these problems not only makes for good television, but also leaves the Butlers with a sense of satisfaction, knowing that at the end of the day they've brought their clients an ease of living they may not have even realized they'd been missing. "Mike and I create a new identity for their house and show them that the home of their dreams was there all along," Denese told HGTV.

The biggest mistakes they've seen homeowners make

As home renovation veterans, Denese and Mike Butler have struck gold by fixing someone else's reno mistakes, often from decades earlier. Speaking with, the "Fix My Frankenhouse" couple offered some well-earned advice for anyone looking to fix their own Frankenhouses. 

"A lot of people will just focus in on, like, a kitchen renovation or a bathroom renovation," Mike said, explaining that homeowners would make more headway by taking a look at improving the home's floorplan and issues with flow. "Take a step back and look at your bigger picture," he advised. "Sometimes that will help you focus in on what you can afford and what you should do now."

In fact, homeowners who feel their abodes don't have enough space may not realize they actually do have the space they need, but it simply isn't being properly utilized. That, Denese told, is where clear communication with clients becomes crucial. "Because not everyone knows what they want," she shared, "and it's my job to help them navigate through that process and give them what they want."

Their top tips for fixing a Frankenhouse

Each time they encounter a new Frankenhouse, Denese and Mike Butler are confronted with a fresh set of problems to solve. As viewers of HGTV's "Fix My Frankenhouse" have no doubt noticed, no two Frankenhouses are quite the same, with each having its very specific issues. As a result, there's no uniform strategy that the Butlers can fall back on when tackling one of their renovation projects for the show. 

That said, they have identified what works and what doesn't. One thing that often needs to be done is tearing down walls to create larger, open-concept spaces. "Moving walls around or opening up walls can give you a drastic, different layout, a different feel," Mike told MassLive, explaining that by focusing on how one space should flow into another, a home's floorplan can be dramatically improved in terms of both form and function.

The key, Mike explained in an interview with, lies with gaining an understanding of the architectural history of the home, something that's particularly true when tackling an older, historic home. "Design-wise, it's just understanding the bones of the house," he said, emphasizing the importance of respecting the integrity of the home while updating features for modern living. 

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