Please take a moment, and say your goodbyes — to your own home. Bachelor Nation fans get to watch every dramatic moment that takes place within the Bachelor mansion when The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are filming there, but what about the 10 months out of the year when the popular ABC franchise isn't in production? As it turns out, the palatial estate is home to Marshall Haraden and his family, and he tells Us Weekly exclusively what it's like to share your abode with a dating show, along with how it feels to have people you don't know getting frisky on your property for all to see.
Haraden's Agoura Hills, California, pad has been the base camp for The Bachelor and The Bachelorette since Brad Womack's season 11, which launched in September 2007. (The exception was Emily Maynard's Bachelorette season 8, which was filmed in her hometown of Charlotte.) Haraden was first introduced to the show's team when someone involved with The Bachelor was scouting a nearby residence for a scene in the 2001 David Spade comedy Joe Dirt, back when Haraden's property was just a newly graded dirt lot.
"[The show's location scout told me,] 'I might use it — I might not. Give me a couple high ceilings, some extra power and some extra bathrooms, and we'll make it work,'" Haraden explains. "And two years later [once the home was complete], he sent an agent around."
As gorgeous as the home is, it's a bit of a task to make it camera-ready. "They're here 32 days, twice a year," says the 59-year-old Haraden, who is president of his construction company, The Marshall Group. "Everything leaves — everything that's not tied down, that's not part of the home. Curtains, TVs, pots and pans, clothes — everything in one day goes out. And then they take two weeks to put it together the way they want it, and they shoot for X amount of days, and then they spend two weeks to put it back."
The conversion requires a lot of paint — two coats per season, to be exact, with the shade depending on the gender of the person handing out the roses. "They'll paint it to the colors they want, whether it's a man or it's a woman — Bachelor/Bachelorette, they'll change the motif," he reveals. "They paint it back and forward a lot, so [in total the show has given it] about 44 coats of paint."
Nick Viall and Chris Harrison ABC/Rick Rowell
The mansion's interior looks quite a bit different when Haraden, his wife, Joanna, and their four children are living there. The rose ceremonies are held in Haraden's den, where he normally has a pool table, plus a bar in the back. (The show chooses to cover up the bar.) The deliberation room — where the Bachelor or Bachelorette gaze at portraits of the remaining contestants while agonizing over who to eliminate — is a bedroom when cameras aren't rolling. A walk-in closet off of the upstairs master bedroom ends up housing a mound of suitcases during production, and host Chris Harrison has been known to nap in here when filming stretches late into the night.
Haraden won't specify the exact compensation that his family receives, but he points out that the deal — which gets renewed at the start of each season — includes the show putting his family up at a nearby hotel for the duration of the shoot.
Of course, letting a show take over your home is not without its challenges. There was a time when constantly uprooting their lives was too tough for the family members to take, especially when the kids were younger. (The children are now ages 26, 25, 19 and 17, with only the youngest still living at home.)
"It's definitely a hassle," Haraden says. "There's a period where we moved out for six years because it was tough on our kids. Because kids start school right when they start filming, and it would disrupt them going back to school. And then [for Bachelorette], it's right when they're getting ready to go back to the next [semester]. So we moved out for six years to get them through middle school and get them to high school, grades 10, 11, 12, and at that point, it just didn't bother them so much. [Plus,] the hotel that we move into is only two blocks from their school."
Haraden, who says he can't help but be a fan of the show, admits it's strange to turn on the TV and see people flirting — or even occasionally suffering a medical emergency — in his place. "You'll come back in and put stuff together, and it's like, 'Oh, that just happened right here,'" he says. He cites Jillian Harris' sexy Bachelor season 13 discussion with Jason Mesnick about what he likes on his hot dog as one scene that is odd to have happened where in the home.
All in all, the show's team is "fantastic" to work with, according to Haraden, who calls Harrison "a super nice guy." In fact, Haraden wouldn't necessarily be opposed to one his kids taking a shot at finding love on the show one of these days: "They'd probably be pretty good at playing the game, after having seen it so many times."
The Bachelor season 21, starring Nick Viall, premieres on ABC Monday, January 2, at 8 p.m. ET.
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