Like the rest of us, Keith Bynum sometimes needs one or two — or more than three dozen — tries to decide where a couch looks best in a room.
“I will move a couch around 40 times until I get it right. Evan has seen it. You just have to do it,” he says.
But when Bynum and his partner in life and home renovating, Evan Thomas, do something like move pieces of furniture around, change lighting fixtures or repaint kitchen cabinets, it makes for good television.
“Bargain Block,” their popular Detroit-filmed show, returns for a third season at 9 p.m. Wednesday on HGTV (with episodes available to stream the day after on Max). As usual, the dynamic design duo will be buying run-down houses in Detroit neighborhoods and restoring them in inventive ways.
Their ultimate goal is to create and sell stylish starter homes with the help of their friend, Detroit real estate agent Shea Hicks-Whitfield.
Although they’re reluctant to reveal spoilers, Bynum and Thomas do drop a few details, such as the fact that they turn to Shinola’s downtown hotel and store for inspiration on a classic Detroit-themed house this season.
Says Thomas: “That is obviously a stunningly beautiful hotel and their sense of style is immaculate. It’s a very aspirational place.”
They’ll visit a nearby amusement park (but not Cedar Point, they concede) for ideas for a physics-themed house, which Bynum assures is nothing like those old roadside Mystery House attractions that featured balls rolling uphill.
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“I will say that it’s probably the funniest episode, mainly because there’s so much to poke fun at with physics in general and me,” says Bynum. Luckily for him, Thomas has a doctorate in the subject.
And they’ll face a major shocker during Wednesday’s season opener, when they discover that the first home they want to tackle is slated for demolition.
“It is quite dramatic,” says Bynum, who adds that the production crew was on hand to film their reaction to the news. “They happened to be there when we opened the letter. It captured these really real moments of, ‘My God, what are we going to do now?’ It should be a good one.”
“Bargain Block,” which debuted in 2021, drew more than 19 million viewers its first season and more than 18 million the second season. Even better, it has performed well with the key 25-to-54 viewer demographic.
Lots of things have changed over the past two seasons, according to Bynum and Thomas. Their business, Nine Design + Homes, has grown substantially and moved from a Ferndale location to its current site on Detroit’s Grand River Avenue.
They also say they have learned much from their past seasons.
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“We have a lot more help now than we used to, and I think that will show on the new season. I think you’ll see designs that are better, houses that are overall better and more impressive, and I think that’s due to our company growing and maturing over the years as we get better and better at what we do,” says Thomas.
Although they tackled some bigger homes during their second season, the new season will return to the roots of the first season’s small bungalows. This time out, their most expensive house is priced at about $165,000.
Bynum and Thomas relocated from Colorado to Michigan in 2017 to pursue their dream of rehabbing houses in unique ways. Bynum, who’s originally from west Texas, handles much of the design ingenuity, while Thomas does more of the carpentry.
Both have noticed that their fans are “bargain blocking” their own homes, not in order to sell them necessarily, but just to revive them, style-wise.
“We hear that daily, and it is really nice to hear,” says Bynum. “People have done a lot of the projects that we’ve done and their versions are really great. … (The show is) a fun thing to look to when you’re trying to spruce up your house without breaking the bank.”
For those interested in bringing home “Bargain Block” approaches, Bynum recommends starting by changing the layout of a room. “Even before paint, a good reconfiguration of the space can do wonders. … I talk about that this season and in general with clients. Just by rearranging, sometimes you suddenly don’t hate anything as much. I know it works for me.”
It’s not easy to come up with a new floor plan, especially in smaller abodes. But Bynum says it is worth the effort, even if it’s just shaking off the tendency to place furniture right up against walls.
“I definitely push myself to remove the sofas from the walls. I push myself literally to not have the window with the couch underneath it, kind of semi-looking at the fireplace or wall unit that’s the focal point of the room.”
With kitchens, Bynum suggests one change can make a huge difference. “I think backsplashes have a huge impact and almost anybody can (install them).” He advises taking a tile class like the ones offered at their Nine Design + Homes site because backsplashes are “amazing to change it up.”
In the painting department, Bynum and Thomas encourage trading in those plain eggshell white walls for a bold color or maybe even an affordable, hand-painted mural.
“When I do wall murals, normally, a quart of paint will do the entire thing, maybe a couple of quarts. You’re talking about $7 a quart. And if you do oops paint, it’s a dollar a quart,” says Bynum, referring to marked-down paint that failed to match a requested shade.
If you’re worried about taking a painting risk, follow Bynum’s guidance. “What if I screw up? What if it looks stupid? You get the roller with the original wall paint and paint over it, and all the fears are gone.”
Contact Detroit Free Press pop culture critic Julie Hinds at [email protected].
9 p.m. Wednesday
Episodes are available for streaming the following day on the streaming site Max, which also carries the show’s first two seasons. In addition, more “Bargain Block” content is available on HGTV’s digital platform at HGTV.com.