HGTV’s hottest stars are heading to the beach! In its new show “Battle on the Beach,” Ty Pennington (of “Ty Breaker”), Alison Victoria (“Windy City Rehab”), and Taniya Nayak (“Restaurant: Impossible”) each mentor a pair of renovation novices competing to fix up a house along the Alabama Gulf Coast.
While each team has a $75,000 renovation budget, the resulting makeovers are bound to be very different, given their own distinct styles.
At the end of the season, judges Mike Holmes (“Holmes on Homes”) and Mina Starsiak Hawk (“Good Bones”) pick a winner—and, in the process, teach us plenty about how to make the most of any home, whether it’s perched on the surf or anywhere else.
Curious to know more about this new show, which premieres on Sunday, we chatted with Pennington, Victoria, and Nayak about their most memorable moments behind the scenes, and more that’ll leave you eager to make some changes around your own abode this summer.
None of you are strangers to competition shows. Ty and Alison, you were even on ‘Rock the Block’ together. What makes this different?
Victoria: In “Rock the Block,” you’re doing everything. Whereas this one is a true mentor role where you’re letting others really spread their wings and giving them tools be successful with their own businesses. It’s nice because I got to take a step back and truly just kind of watch and learn and hopefully teach them a little something.
Nayak: It was a challenge for myself to pull back and be the mentor and try not to insert my own personal thoughts and design decisions too heavily into what they wanted to do. I mean, I grabbed a sledgehammer and I was anxious to get in there and do the work because that’s what my brain is used to.
Pennington: Yeah, that was definitely a new role for all of us. I’m sort of used to Alison being very headstrong about a project. We saw her in a whole new light, because she seemed to be in a Zen moment where she’s like, “I’m not sure where this is going. But I’m not in control of it. And I guess we’ll just have to see.” And I’m like, “I don’t know what meds you’re on, but I want whatever you’re taking.”
The teams have just $75,000 each to renovate their entire beach homes. What renovation advice do you have for homeowners working on a budget?
Nayak: Everybody has a budget, right? And when you know and feel comfortable with that number, you’ve got to make a spreadsheet and break it down, room by room, every single thing that needs to be done. When you look at that, you can say, “OK, I have enough to do all of it.” Or, “I don’t have enough to do all of it, I’ll address just this for now.”
Pennington: Think about where you want to spend your money. Of course, usually that is the kitchen or dining room, the one big living space that everyone’s going to be in. But wherever you can save money and not do renovation right now, that’s great! Focus on the things that immediately are the most important to you, because that’s going to give you the most satisfaction, and probably add the most value.
Victoria: Also, you don’t have to spend your whole budget. You can save in certain places. Instead of going and getting all new slab, you go and find some remnants at different slab yards and save money that way. Or you can switch up your countertop material, put butcher block on your island, and then do stone on the rest and save money there. So it’s all about being crafty, and understanding what kind of time you’re going to have to put into it.
Pennington: And of course, the main thing, which is really what this show is all about, is saving your money by trying to do the labor yourself. But be careful. Don’t get into areas that you’ve never done, because then it’s going to cost you twice as much to pay someone to fix what you’ve done.
Beach homes have been a hot commodity during the pandemic. Any tips to make these homes feel like a true getaway?
Pennington: Your beach house is your chance to really interact with the indoors and the outdoors. One thing that you can do is to add an outdoor shower. And if you could figure out a way to connect it with existing bathrooms, so that, like, you can walk through your bathroom, but then you also can walk an extra foot and you’re outside, you have that choice of taking a shower outside or in private. It changes your whole mentality of life on the beach.
It’s often really affordable. And I’ll be honest, it feels great naked!
You guys are working with couples who are mostly new to renovation. Do you recall any mistakes you made when you were first starting out?
Victoria: I was supposed to get 10 dining chairs for a client, and I ordered 10 lounge chairs, and I had to eat the loss of $26,000.
Pennington: Mine are mainly things like, “Oh, I made a beautiful bed.” And then I forgot that I had to make it small enough to actually get in the doorway.
Are there any style mistakes that you see a lot in homes?
Nayak: I’m not a fan of a bold accent wall. To each his own. I see that especially for flipping, where you want to make an appeal to the masses. So I’d suggest sticking with neutral colors.
Pennington: When it comes to flipping, I think playing it safe is really dangerous in a competitive selling market. Because, sort of contrary to what Taniya just said, I don’t think you need to have an accent wall, but you need to have some type of artwork that really catches your eyes that says, “Wow, this place is different.”
But if everything is just safe and neutral and looks like, “Oh, we just kept everything clean so that it felt normal,” I don’t think it’s going to be as popular or is going to feel as fun or warm and inviting. So I think it’s important to bring in items that are really unique and fun that make it look homey and lived in.
I mean, look at Alison. She goes to these antiques markets and finds some of these old items that are just crazy. Find items that are really rare that I think you just can’t find anywhere else, because that’s what people are going to be drawn to.
Do you have any stories about showing your competitive side on set?
Pennington: I’ve never seen women more competitive than these two.
Victoria: It was in such a fun, playful way. It got dirty during the judging and when the stakes were higher, and every week got more challenging. Because it’s not just you trying to win something, it’s you feeling a connection to these contestants that are here to win, and to win money that will change their lives and to win bragging rights that will change their business. It was like the wins were that much bigger. And the losses were that much harder.
Nayak: At the end of the day, all I wanted was to peek in their windows and see what they were doing. But shockingly, we all kept our boundaries. And then we would grab dinner together, and we never talked about the competition once we left the property. I think it was good for our own sanity.
Do you guys have any memorable stories from behind the scenes?
Pennington: Alison’s karaoke is so underrated. I mean, I thought she was just a great competitor and a great designer. But the quality of her voice and her vocal range, it’s almost like she was a trained opera singer in another life.
Victoria: We had some fun behind the scenes. I love juicing. So I have a juicer and I was making my juice at my hotel room. And then I would bring them to set, and everyone was like, “Can you make us some juice?” And then before you knew it, I was running a full-blown juicery out of my trailer. And then Taniya opened up a coffee shop next door, and she was taking all my customers.
Nayak: It was very much a competition. I was stealing her customers. I was offering coupons and specials, and I had free Wi-Fi!
Pennington: And I was collecting driftwood that had washed up on the beach, until I had about a pile of 100 sticks. So I started having driftwood sales next door as well. But the most important thing you should know about all of this is that we came up with an idea to re-create the “Baywatch” scene of all of us running, so I spent half the show wearing a red speedo and carrying those little torpedoes around. That really lifted the spirit and the mood on set.
Nayak: Alison and I bailed—we never showed up to run.
Pennington: Yeah, they left me alone to do it!