"Love was put into this place and you can feel it," Henson says
When Taraji P. Henson‘s dad met her step mom Angie, it changed his life — and hers.
“I met my step mom Angie when I was 16. She just made my dad a better man,” Henson says in a new episode of My Houzz that premiered exclusively with PEOPLE. “My dad was just lost. He was homeless at one time when I was really young. She stepped into his life and she was everything he needed. I was so happy. I just loved her right away.”
Angie and Henson’s dad got married and purchased his dream house in Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C. Henson says this house is always where they entertained together, hosting parties and family gatherings.
But in 2006, Henson’s dad got sick and passed away, leaving Angie alone in the house they’d built together.
“When I went home this past time, I went in the kitchen and pulled out the drawer and it just disintegrated in my hands — fell apart, like in two or three pieces,” Henson says. “I was like, ‘We’ve gotta do something.'”
So the Hidden Figures star enlisted the help of interior designer Stephanie Gamble, a member of the Houzz community, to help her give her stepmom the home makeover she deserved. Henson’s original ideas were to open up the wall between the kitchen, dining and living room to make it one open floor plan.
“I’m a big feng shui person,” she says. “I’m really into energy, and the energy is stagnant.”
So together, with the help of Henson’s cousin Nikki, they knocked down the dividing wall and placed a center island in the kitchen to make the space flow.
While they updated most of the furniture and furnishings in the space, Henson wanted to be sure that some of her father’s artwork — like a custom glass-topped coffee table he made out of driftwood — remained in the home.
“I just want to bring more life and light into that house because when my father first passed it was really hard for my stepmom,” she says. “He was so still in the house. So we just want to make the house hers now and still keep my dad in it.”
“My dad always said, ‘If you have been blessed, then it is your duty to go out into the world and be a blessing,'” Henson continues. “So I feel like I’m doing what my dad told me I should do.”
Henson also made sure that they incorporated Angie’s love for color, using a blush and gold color scheme on the inside, and painting the exterior door her favorite color: red.
When Henson finally unveiled the home to her step mother, they both started crying.
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“Although everything is new, it still feels familiar,” Henson says. “The essence is here but we just dressed it up.”
“Love was put into this place and you can feel it,” she continues. “I’m blessed to have two moms. She never treats me like a stepdaughter, ever. And I love her.”
For Angie, the makeover is overwhelming, and she admits that she will probably be crying for days.
“The way the house is is very comfortable to me because the artwork my husband did is still in the home,” Angie says while wiping away tears. “Deep down in my heart, I really really appreciate it. I’m sure he’d appreciate it too, what [Taraji] had done for us.”