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Extreme Project

Tony Thibodo smoothed out the concrete, a mix of cement water and sand or gravel1 / 4
At Sculpture by Design in Nisswa earlier this week, Tony Thibodo (left) and his 2 / 4
Brenda Thibodo said much of the firm’s work comes with builders and people who a3 / 4
The Thibodos say concrete is no longer a uniform gray. Through mixtures and arti4 / 4

NISSWA - Casual watchers of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" Nisswa business owners never expected to have their work become part of an episode.

That will change at 7 p.m. on Jan. 2 when Sculpture by Design's cement work on a featured planter in front of the home is expected to air across the country.

The show involved building a home for a family in Moorhead with two children with disabilities, including a son who uses a wheelchair. A feature in the home involved a community effort involving a photo with a world record number of wheelchairs spelling the word "hope."

The Moorhead family - Bill and Adair Grommesh, with their two children, Garrett and Peighton - operate Hope Inc. a Moorhead area charity that helps disabled children be active in sports and other activities.

Sculpture by Design owners Tony and Brenda Thibodo and their son Ryan weren't able to disclose some of the interior features that will be displayed with the show's airing, but they took part in efforts to get the home ready as well as donated materials and labor for the planter.

They didn't expect their part to have any prominence until they learned the planter was a centerpoint at the front of the home. They were given a tight deadline and size specifications and were asked to provide updates on the project every two hours. They were sent a photo to work from and then went to work putting their own spin on the design.

The Thibodos used a salad bowl and sink as molds for the mixture. By a sheer miracle the slate color they picked matched the home's exterior exactly.

Fitting the project in amid other work they were doing meant working until 11 p.m. Friday and getting up at 5 a.m. Saturday in order to get the 300-plus pound planter delivered on time.

"It was extreme pressure," Tony Thibodo said, noting the first attempt failed. "We were really under the gun. We got our concrete to set up real fast.

“They want that Frank Lloyd Wright look, but we had no molds to work off of.”

Making the concrete means building everything upside down. Often the mix has to set for several days after the concrete is poured. The tiered planter was 18 inches in height with a 36-inch wide base.

“That was pretty scary bringing it there,” Tony Thibodo said, noting worries that something would happen to damage it en route. 

Once at the scene, the Thibodos had to pass through several security check points before they were cleared to the home project. The building area is shielded from view from neighbors and curious onlookers. The Thibodos said hundreds of people were onsite working with electricians cutting holes for light fixtures right down to the last minute. 

“There are hundreds of people working on that house all the time, it’s total chaos. I don’t know how they get anything done. It’s wall to wall people. Everybody is working.

“Somehow they put it all together.”

Trailers and motor homes lined the blocks. 

Tony Thibodo said it’s amazing what is accomplished given the time constraints. In this case, the original house wasn’t demolished but was moved to provide a home for another family.

Because of their efforts the Thibodos were given a VIP pass to go back on Sunday and be part of the show. They helped with interior work inside, with design elements from decorative pillow placements changing depending on which designer was in the room. 

As different projects popped up, volunteers were pulled from the waiting ranks to work on them. Brenda Thibodo was given the task of hanging stacks of thank you notes related to feedback from the family’s nonprofit organization’s efforts. Designers wanted the thank you notes to hang from specially designed ceiling fixtures. 

The Thibodos spent four or five hours inside the house getting ready for the unveiling. They worked with Eduardo Xol and spent some time with Ty Pennington and Paige Hemmis among others. 

The home comes entirely furnished with food in the cupboards, clothes and accessories right down to fingernail polish. 

For the family’s first inspection, volunteers on the site spent time cheering as the limo arrived so several angles could be filmed before the actual family was on the scene. 

The Thibodos were recommended for the work by Architectural Enhancements, where they buy concrete and sculpting materials. 

“It was quite an experience,” Tony Thibodo said. 

“Everything just had to be picture perfect,” Brenda Thibodo. They worked on fruit trays and moving furniture. Thibodo noted the home design elements included high-tech secrets and remarkable personalized features. The home was built in 106 hours. 

“It was fun,” she said. “They supposedly had about 8,000 people there. They said it was their biggest turnout. 

“We were right next to the house for the reveal. They practice bringing the limo in a four or five times. And then they practice the bus going in and out a couple of times. 

“The whole crowd is practicing yelling and screaming for two hours. They film about 500 minutes and they condense it into 44 minutes of air time.”

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at or 855-5852.