Theressa Freeman hugging "Build It Forward" host Shane Duffy after hearing that her home was going to be renovated. Photo courtesy of Hope Haven Inc.

When HGTV offered to renovate Theressa Freeman’s home, she agreed with one condition: they couldn’t touch her late mother’s room. 

Freeman had left her mother’s room untouched since her mother’s passing 27 years ago. She said her mother’s room is where they had conversations and where Freeman found peace after her passing.

Ultimately Freeman said she prayed about it and decided to permit the entire renovation.

The renovation was filmed on HGTV’s “Build It Forward,” a show that profiles five “community heroes” and surprises them with home renovations. 

Finished exterior of Theressa Freeman’s home. Screenshot from HGTV Instagram

Freeman serves as laundry manager and training manager at Hope Haven Inc., a nonprofit that assists individuals and families impacted by substance use. She’s been at the organization for 12 years. 

Hope Haven Inc. director of development Christy Baker said the organization wanted to honor a longtime employee and felt Freeman was deserving because she exemplifies humility and selflessness.

The interior and exterior of Freeman’s home were completely transformed during the six-month renovation process. Freeman and her twin grandsons, whom she cares for full-time, stayed in an Airbnb that the show paid for during construction. 

When the project was complete, a relieved Freeman said she was thankful that she took that “blind step of faith.” 

“There were a lot of concerns and fears [about the renovation]. We discussed a few things, but I didn’t exactly know what they were going to do,” Freeman told QCity Metro.

A meaningful addition

Freeman’s episode, titled “A Strong Foundation,” also features Charlotte visual artist Makayla Binter. Binter told QCity Metro the opportunity to be part of the episode came after a referral from local arts oganization, Charlotte is Creative. 

The show gave Binter one month to paint a custom piece for Freeman’s home. The painting was placed inside the room that Freeman’s mother stayed in. 

Binter painted viburnums, the favorite flower of Freeman’s mother, and added her own personal touch to the piece by painting the meaning of the flowers and song lyrics to emphasize the painting’s significance. 

Screenshot from Makayla Binter’s Instagram

“[I added the words] purity, innocence, and also perseverance because those flowers can grow in some really intense climates,” Binter told QCity Metro. “Music is pretty influential to me, so I added a couple of songs on the back of the piece.”

Freeman said she cried when she saw the painting Binter created. “That was very thoughtful. I can always look at that picture. The flowers won’t be here all year round, but that painting will [be],” she said.

“I only saw her reaction via TV,” Binter said. “[Seeing her reaction] made me feel so good. Whenever I get the chance to see someone’s reaction to a piece, I feel so warm and fuzzy because not only do they see the piece how I see it, but they’re formulating their own story behind it.” 

Although Binter wasn’t familiar with the show prior to its team reaching out, she says she plans to watch the show moving forward. 

Freeman told QCity Metro that before the renovation, the home felt like her mother’s home, but now, it feels like her own.

“I feel her presence,” Freeman said. “She’s very proud of me [for] allowing this to happen.”

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Daija Peeler covers arts, culture, and faith in Charlotte.

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  1. I am a disabled Army Veteran, Age 65. My wife is also disabled@ age 63 stroke surviver. We have a small amount we have saved to renovate our home of 38 years. We will give all to you if you help us please. Thanks &God bless.