Candis And Andy Meredith Dish On Their New Show Home Work - Exclusive Interview

If you're a romantic at heart, you've probably admired a gorgeous but timeworn vintage building and daydreamed about restoring it to its former glory. But if you seriously investigated making that dream a reality, you learned the hard truth: Renovating a historic structure is a daunting and expensive proposition, not to mention wildly unpredictable — old buildings come with decades or more of hidden surprises, not all of them good.

None of this stopped Candis and Andy Meredith when they spotted and fell in love with their future dream home, an abandoned century-old schoolhouse. In their new Magnolia Network show "Home Work," they share in detail how they painstakingly converted the schoolhouse into the home of their dreams — from undoing an earlier renovation of the second floor, which had been converted into office space, to choosing unique vintage decorative touches to honor the building's history and their family's personal style. And for the Merediths, the project is truly a family affair — the couple shares seven school-age children who are getting a crash course in the joys and challenges of building a dream home.

In an exclusive interview, Candis and Andy opened up about "Home Work" and their family life.

Their Brady Bunch-sized family inspired the show

How did the show come about? How did you guys come to do this?

Candis: Oh, man, I think it started with us accidentally having seven kids. So he had three boys, and I had three boys. So we had this giant Brady Bunch of six boys. Then we had a baby girl together, and we were living in the most adorable little cottage, more or less. And we knew we needed someplace bigger.

Andy: Yeah. And years ago, when we were first married, we actually did a short series on HGTV. So we had done a renovation on TV before. After that, we left that world and we started our own production company and our own digital company, where we were producing home renovation series on our own. And we did that for several years.

Candis: And then we found the school, and it was like, you know when things kind of just all come together, and there's this big building that needs love. And we have this big family, and we were doing content. We're like, "Oh, wouldn't this be the best show?"

And I swear, the second we kind of put that out there, Joanna Gaines called us and said, "You guys want to do this show?"

Andy: "You want to come back to TV?"

Candis: So that's kind of how it all just fell into place like that. I mean, a lot of hard work and a lot of getting to that point, but that's kind of the overall story.

Candis and Andy share the biggest challenges — and joys — of renovating the schoolhouse

And that leads to my next question. What has been the most difficult part of renovating the schoolhouse? What was the coolest part of it?

Candis: Well, money's always the worst part. It's always like, "Oh, I wish they had just a little more ..." The school itself was not really very expensive, but everything that went into it really started to add up, and we had structural issues.

Andy: Yeah. I think it was just the scale and the scope. We renovated a lot of old homes, but we've never done anything this big. And on a project like this, when you run into a structural issue, it's not like, "Oh, we need to add a beam." It's like, "Oh, we need to add another house inside of this house."

Candis: Yeah. That was rough. And then we had a big flood too that almost wiped us out, literally and figuratively. And that was a lot to handle.

Andy: Basically, when you have problems on a job that size, you have big problems. And the good side, I think, just watching our kids as we go finishing room by room and seeing how much they love it and just the family feeling we have down there.

Candis: We work a lot, and we don't hide that at all. This job takes time, and it takes a lot of our time. But I think for them, seeing something go from nothing to something, I think it's very fascinating to them. I think they're very proud of us. And even like guestrooms, they were excited to see those get finished. So it's been a fun journey for them.

Restoring the schoolhouse is a hand-on family project

What do your kids feel about being on the show? Do they like it?

Andy: Yeah. I mean, we're pretty open with them. You'll notice in some of the scenes, we're missing a kid or two. They always have the option, if they're doing something else or they don't want to come down to the school. But they're such hams. Most of the time, they're like, "Can we be in the reveal? Can we come see this room?" And so, we just let them be involved as much as they want. And they honestly —

Candis: They love it.

Andy: If there's a chance for them to get their hands dirty and help us, they love jumping on board.

Candis: Our boys put together our kitchen, for real. Our big kitchen in the school, our boys put together every single cabinet. We're so proud of them. They'll kill me for saying this, but like three of them went through puberty while we were filming the show. So like on a cut, you'll see one of our sons with his little kid voice. And then the next scene, he's got his big kid voice. And it's like, "Oh, we're really watching them grow up right in front of us." And the show did take too long. COVID, everything made it take too long. But the positive of that was really seeing our kids grow up. In a space of an hour, you see them grow up. It's pretty special for us. It's a good time capsule for us.

For Candis and Andy, working together has its pros and cons

I know this isn't your first round in TV, but what have you been your favorite and least favorite parts of filming where this show is concerned?

Candis: We work together. So we love each other very much. But when your wife is your director and producer, there are times when I'm like —

Andy: "Just do it."

Candis: "Can you just give it to me? Can you just give me what I need?"

Andy: And unlike the first time we did a TV series, this time we own the production company. So Candis is the director. We're executive producers. She's involved in every edit in every scene. She picks the music for the show. All the sound, the shots, the transitions, that's all her.

And so, it's kind of funny, because the good part is we really got to create the kind of show we always thought could be made in this genre, more of a docu-follow kind of picture of a family. But the hard part is we actually had to make the show.

So it's me and Candis, working long weekends in edits, and it is just been a lot of work being involved in every aspect.

Candis: Yeah. We have no boundaries and no balance, but it's also kind of beautiful, because what we're sharing is authentic and it really is ours, our true life. And so, I think it's a good trade off.

Andy: Yeah. There's nobody standing on the other side of the camera telling us, "Hey, why don't you tell us about this? What are you feeling? What are you doing?" It's literally us talking to our camera guys. It's real.

They're not done with the schoolhouse yet

So, you are dropping hints for my next question. What can viewers expect to see when they see your show?

Candis: Well, we do edit out all the swear words. So there will be no swear words on our show.

Andy: It's a very family-friendly show.

Candis: But I think you see a lot of realness with us. Obviously, we want to put out there an hour for people to just relax and take a journey with us and see something transform. We also don't want to hide anything, really. But I would still say that you should expect to see beautiful reveals. I want to see before and after. Give me all the before and afters, every satisfying shot. Those are the shots I crave. And so, we've put a lot of that in there. You see a lot of our family.

Andy: One of the biggest things I enjoy about our show is the takeaways. Candis has this mind where she can walk into a room and see not only what it's going to look like finished, but what she needs to do herself to make that happen.

And so, she walks the viewers through that. If you look at this, we've got these giant art pieces. And how do you do that? And the show explains, and it shows her thought process, and it shows us walking through the steps.

So I think in addition to those reveals, which are only a few minutes, if you think about it, those before and afters, the rest of the time, you're going to actually see what it took to get there. And it's not an army of employees. It's not people we're tasking with these things. You get to see us and how we manage to juggle all of this.

And finally, what is next for you after this?

Andy: Even with the school itself, I mean, it's such a big space —

Candis: There's always more to do.

Andy: Thirteen episodes weren't even enough. We have an underground tunnel that goes out to a secret bunker underneath one of the other buildings.

No way!

Andy: We have bathrooms and hallways and things we never got to show. And there's just always more for us to do in our school as well as other projects.

Watch all episodes of Magnolia Network's original series "Home Work" now streaming exclusively on discovery+ and the Magnolia app.