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Before and After: HGTV’s “Rock the Block” Takes Identical Living Rooms from Bland Box to Stylish Spaces


How do you make an identical space unique without breaking the bank? That’s the question that “Rock the Block,” HGTV’s star-studded competition series, attempts to answer with the help of some of the network’s savviest talents. Hosted by Ty Pennington, “Rock the Block” pits four teams of HGTV stars — Leslie Davis and Lyndsay Lamb (“Unsellable Houses”), Dave and Jenny Marrs (“Fixer to Fabulous”), Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas (“Bargain Block”), and Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson (“Married to Real Estate”) — against each other. With a budget of $225,000 per pair, each team is tasked with renovating one of four identical houses in Charleston, South Carolina. 

In a recent episode of “Rock the Block,” the teams remodeled the entryway and living room areas of their respective houses. For the foyer and living room, all teams were careful not to put too much of their budget into the project, keeping the renovations between $15,000 and $35,000. Standouts for the challenge were the Marrs space and the Sherrod-Jackson space. Both teams, according to episode judge and “Rock the Block” Season 1 winner Jasmine Roth, reworked the areas in unique ways that helped change the layout and square footage of the homes.

The Marrses put most of their attention into the living room, a light and neutral space that was built around a new fireplace. The living room flowed freely into the kitchen (which the teams renovated in the previous episode) and utilized simple wooden features (including light wooden shelves) to blend the two areas together. A white couch helped tie the whole room together without dominating the space.

In an effort to balance their vintage and modern house, the couple also added a small powder room back into the living area (after removing a bathroom in the prior episode). They found room for the powder room by repurposing some of the house’s porch space and increasing the overall square footage. The couple kept the entryway work pretty minimal and added a simple, handy cubby space in the foyer so that potential homeowners could hang their belongings as soon as they stepped inside.

Like the Marrses, Sherrod and Jackson made a stylish fireplace the focal point of their living room. The coastal and historic house utilized white furniture with darker, more dynamic accents (including a driftwood-styled table and ocean-themed accessories). While the main wall color was white, they added dark accent walls by the fireplace and the entryway to make a bolder home. They also replaced the original windows of the living room with beautiful french doors, combining luxury with practicality and livability.

Sherrod and Jackson knew that they wanted to add some sort of storage space to the entryway area. They bumped out the foyer wall by three feet to create a hallway leading from the house to the garage. At the foot of the hallway, they added a mudroom. The couple also added a small bathroom to the area, which provided a much-needed dark blue pop of color with tiled walls.

“I know it’s just a hallway, but at the end of the day, it makes the whole house connected,” Roth said, “And I think that that’s a lot of added value.” The addition proved to be a simple way to make the house stand out while keeping the renovation within budget.

“Rock the Block” airs new episodes on Mondays at 9/8 central on HGTV.


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