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Vol 57 No. 2 | Jan. 2005
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CSULB Frat House Gets Makeover from Discovery's 'Monster House'

Fraternity HouseIt is a home makeover of "monstrous" proportions. Actually, it is a house makeover -- a fraternity house, to be exact.

The two-story, four-bedroom house belonging to the Kappa Sigma Fraternity at CSULB was selected for a special two-hour episode of the Discovery Channel's "Monster House," a super extreme makeover show that bills itself as "a home show on steroids."

The 16 Kappa Sigma brothers living in the house were relocated to a nearby hotel and were not allowed to enter the house during construction, which took place during the week of Oct. 4. The resulting episode will air on Monday, Jan. 31, beginning at 8 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.

At the kitchen"This was the largest, most ambitious and most challenging episode we've ever done," said "Monster House" Producer Brian Knappmiller. "I definitely think the people who watch the show at home are going to be really blown away by everything we did. The whole build, in general, was just amazing, and as a whole, I think it is one of the coolest things we've ever done."

The Kappa Sigma brothers seem to agree. "It was an awesome experience," said Ryan McCoy, president of the fraternity. "This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and to have the Discovery Channel and 'Monster House' come in and do something like this was amazing. It was cool to see what these builders were able to do."

"They've done some things in our house that I didn't think would be possible," he added. "I know (watching the episode) is going to be a shock to many of the people who have seen the house after the remodel but hadn't seen it before. I've told them they don't even realize the difference because they don't know what the house looked like before."

"Monster House," now in its third season, usually features a team of five builder "contestants" who have just five days to pull off an over-the-top remodel based on a theme selected by the homeowners. The builders "monsterize" two or three rooms, transforming them into a casino, a speakeasy, a tropical paradise -- and adding features found nowhere else: a hydraulic bed, a drawbridge table, an indoor ice rin, etc. If they succeed, the builders each win a $4,000 tool package.

For this special, two-hour event, however, the show's producers brought back 10 builders from previous episodes and formed two five-person teams of all-star builders to remodel the fraternity house. In addition to the expanded number of crewmembers, there were also an expanded number of projects. The builders were given eight assignments within three rooms inside the house and the backyard area to complete in seven days.

Even the theme of the remodel was pre-selected, unlike other shows, and the project was dubbed "The Discovery House."

Students"Basically, with 'The Discovery House,' we wanted to go with a theme that embodied a lot of the different elements that have made the Discovery Channel so successful over the past 20 years," Knappmiller explained. "So, we went with a lot of successful themes and shows that have played on the Discovery Channel -- from prehistoric and dinosaur themes to automotive themes to historical themes, both European historical themes and American historical themes.

"At the same time, we tried to have a lot of fun with it," he continued, "and tried to find ways to incorporate those themes into some really cool, fun elements to have inside the fraternity house -- elements that would be fun to live with and would create an enjoyable environment."

Renovations were completed in the frat house's kitchen, living and dining rooms and the backyard area. The results of the monster remodel includes a "gear-head" kitchen that includes the front half of a Porsche 911 which serves as a cabinet complete with the hood that opens hydraulically and a medieval-themed chapter room complete with a meeting table that lowers from the ceiling and a three-chair throne.

Outside, the Kappa Sigma brothers now have a balcony that looks like the deck of a Spanish Galleon ship, a Greek theatre/Parthenon stage that includes concert lighting for events, and a barbecue area that resembles a prehistoric dig site and includes a modern BBQ grill surrounded by giant dinosaur bones, including the skull of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, the mouth of which doubles as a beverage cooler.

"This experience brought a lot of excitement to the fraternity," said Kappa Sigma brother Mike Johnson, who is also president of Associated Students at CSULB. "On the day of the reveal, hundreds of people came by the house, including a lot of alumni of the fraternity. I mean, there were just generations of our (fraternity) brothers who came back to see the new look of the house."

"The most outrageous part of the experience was just seeing what they were able to do with the rooms and outside areas they worked on -- what they started with and what they were able to turn it into," Johnson added. "They had five separate builds, and everything was extraordinary, but I'd say cutting a Porsche in half and getting in through the front door was quite an accomplishment."

McCoy, the fraternity president, said his favorite part of the remodel is the kitchen, which he said was amazing. "They tore out a wall and made it into a functional kitchen, " he said. "Before (the builders) came in, it wasn't very functional, and now, it is like a full-blown kitchen with a sink, an oven, a refrigerator, everything."

But for the producer, Knappmiller, his favorite addition was in the backyard. "I think the prehistoric barbecue area that we built is hands down one of the most amazing-looking builds we have ever done in the history of the show," he pointed out. "I've been with the show since the first episode, and it is definitely one of my favorite things we've ever built."

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