“The premise of the show is you have these old, 50s-style homes in the south,” Brad Metzler says. “They’re huge, but all chopped up, so we wanted to find interesting ways to give those homes function and space.”
Launching its third season this month on the Home & Garden Television network, “Elbow Room” is hosted by Chip Wade, a carpenter and contractor who renovates homes utilizing inventive designs such as movable walls, or tables and beds that collapse out of site.
“Wade creates crazy pieces of furniture that allow the space to be more functional within a tiny amount of space,” he says.
Before working on “Elbow Room,” Metzler was a producer for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (EM:HE). The show’s goal was to renovate the homes of families who have endured hardships or tragedies.
Metzler mentioned that one of the more memorable episodes featured a volleyball coach by the name of Carrie Prewitt, who took in three foster children after their parents passed away.
“The three kids had been abused at almost every house they had been to,” he says. “They were going to be put into foster care and split up, and the oldest girl, who had been in volleyball with this volleyball coach for a while, said: ‘Call my coach. She’ll know what to do.’”
Prewitt and her three foster children were living in a small, cramped, double-wide trailer near Jacksonville, Florida. Then EM:HE came along. Working with almost 3,000 builders, designers, and volunteers, a new, spacious home was built for the Prewitt-Brewer family in only seven days.
“It feels almost like I got the brass ring early in my career,” says Metzler, who still keeps in contact with some of the families featured in the program. “How often do you get to be part of a show that legitimately changes and affects lives in such a great way?”
Metzler said his upbringing in rural Colorado has been a huge help working in Los Angeles. “It’s so vastly different in every way. Colorado has given me so much on how to deal with this industry.”
Metzler grew up in Yuma, a small town about 140 miles northeast of Denver with a population of roughly 3,500. When he was 16, Metzler moved to Fort Morgan, which has a population of
“Little towns in Colorado are the absolute best place in the world to be from,” says Metzler. “They teach you how to be a good person, they really do.”
Metzler added that he learned a strong sense of community and looking out for each other growing up in rural Colorado, something he lives by to this day.
“A handshake is your word,” he says. “I run into people so many times out in these big cities who are always looking over their shoulder. I just feel like there’s a certain amount of niceness from anywhere in Colorado.”
But Metzler was worried about how far that niceness would extend once he came out as a gay man. When he flew home to visit his family for his 21st birthday, he made a promise to himself to kick that closet door down.
“I didn’t get the nerve to tell anybody,” he admits. Then he was outed in a most peculiar and — only years later — amusing way.
“My sister is gay, too, and we knew about each other,” Metzler says, adding his sister is seven years older. “My parents called her and said: ‘We know you’re gay, you can come out of the closet.’ She replied: ‘I’m not gay, but Brenton is.’ She totally threw me out of the closet!”
Much to Metzler’s relief, his family and his hometown embraced him for who he was, true to the small-town kindness archetype.
“It’s been nothing but support from that town,” says Metzler. “They all kind of looked, I think, subconsciously to my dad, a staunch Republican and a farmer who worked as an investigator for the Colorado Public Affairs Office. He was so amazing about it that I think they felt like they had to be.”
Metzler has advice for any LGBT youth growing up in a small town who might feel isolated or alone.
“The thing you don’t realize is that there’s somebody out there who is completely going to appreciate you for you. It might not be in the town you’re in, but you’ll find those people in your life, people who are genuinely drawn to what makes you you.”