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‘Rock the Block’ Reveals the Most Valuable Upgrade a House Can Get


HGTV’s “Rock the Block” not only shows viewers some amazing ways to make a bland old house look better. It also highlights how to raise a property’s value—and the latest episode reveals what may be the best investment that renovation dollars can buy.

For the series, four teams of designers are each given $225,000 to renovate identical, brand-new homes on the same block in Charleston, SC. In the end, the winner of the overall competition is decided by whose house is valued at the highest price.

In the episode “Living Room Showdown,” the competitors turn their attention to the entryway and living room. Everyone is psyched when the host, Ty Pennington, introduces this week’s judge, who’s also Season 1’s “Rock the Block” winner: Jasmine Roth of “Help! I Wrecked My House.”

Unfinished living room
All four teams start out with the same empty living room.


The winner of this round will get $2,000 extra to spend on the next challenge, so as you can imagine, the competition is fierce. In the end, though, it’s quite clear who deserves to win. Find out why—as well as some smart take-home lessons to keep in mind when renovating your own digs.

Add faux beams to the ceiling

faux ceiling beams
Faux ceiling beams add character and depth.


When Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas of “Bargain Block” check out their living room, they note that the ceilings are high, so it makes sense to do something to draw the eye up. Rather than default to the obvious, like hanging a chandelier, they decide to add wood beams instead.

While these beams don’t do anything in terms of support, once they’re installed, it’s clear that they add a homey, finished feeling to the room. By highlighting the ceiling’s height, they also add a sense of space. It’s a winning look that does much to impress Roth, the judge.

Lay bricks in an eye-catching pattern

Unique brick fireplace
Unique brick fireplace


The “Bargain Block” duo also decides to add a brick fireplace to the living room, but just laying those bricks horizontally on top of each other is not nearly interesting enough for them.

“We had the idea to do a really cool pattern on the fireplace,” says Thomas.

They alternate between stacking the bricks horizontally and vertically, making this fireplace much more unique.

Repurpose old building materials

Repurposed mantle
Repurposed mantel


Meanwhile, Leslie Davis and Lyndsey Lamb of “Unsellable Houses” decide to add character to their new house, by installing an old feature salvaged from an earlier time.

“We were in Charleston and we stumbled across an estate sale, and we actually picked up an 1813 mantel that was in one piece,” says Davis. “This is like gold to me. At over 200 years old, it screams history.”

Use maps for wallpaper

Entryway papered with old maps
Entryway papered with old maps

Lamb and Davis also decide that old maps are just the thing for the front entryway.

“One of the fun things you’re going to see when you enter is a play on Charleston history, with a wall of maps,” says Davis, as she adheres vintage maps of Charleston to the entryway wall.

It’s a really clever, attractive, and original way to add visual interest to walls, which will prompt visitors to pause a beat before entering the house.

“There is a superstition in Charleston that says when friends come to your front door, you want to stop them,” explains Davis. “And one of the ways to stop them is to put something on the wall that they stop and read, and get distracted by.”

Add tons of storage to the entryway

Organized front entry
Organized front entry


One of the first things people do when they enter a home is drop off their shoes, keys, mail, coats, and more. So Jenny and Dave Marrs from “Fixer to Fabulous” (whose bright white kitchen won last week’s competition) focus on making this space as organized as possible.

“It’s an area that we can make pretty but functional,” says Dave. “We’re going to maximize the value of our entryway. We’re going to create some built-ins—a little drop zone where they can drop jackets, backpacks. It really takes all of that stuff that comes off the kids and puts it in a nice, neat built-in.”

And sure enough, they create an attractive yet functional place to hang outerwear, baskets for hiding shoes, as well as discreet spaces for just about everything else that drops. It’s a pseudo mudroom, suitable for any front entryway.

Use sheetrock for a fireplace on a budget

Sheetrock fireplace with white oak accent beam
Sheetrock fireplace with white oak accent beam


When Jenny tells Dave she wants to add a fireplace to their living room, he winces, concerned about time and budget.

“It won’t be expensive, because you’re going to build it out of sheetrock,” she points out. She’s right—this would be a deal, compared to a fireplace made of brick, stone, or fancy tile.

They then decide to use the $1,000 they won in the last challenge on a stunning white oak beam that they extend across the wall, to serve as both fireplace accent and built-in seating.

When in doubt, add more square footage

Entryway with additional hallway and mud room
Entryway with additional hallway and mudroom


Rather than focus solely on design, husband-and-wife team Mike Jackson and Egypt Sherrod of “Married to Real Estate” decide to up the ante by adding square footage to their entryway.

“We pushed the entire foyer out,” Sherrod explains to Roth, as she judges the team’s work.

“We were able to create an entire room—120 square feet of it,” she says.

“Oh my goodness!” exclaims Roth. “That’s a lot of square footage! I think you all are right on track with this addition. You have a beautifully built-out mudroom that’s going to show up on appraisal. But in this case, a hallway that connects the garage. Genius!”

And this week’s ‘Rock the Block’ winner is…

Elegant living room
The winning living room


While Roth finds much to love in all four teams’ makeovers, in the end, size does matter. She declares Jackson and Sherrod the winners, for creating a space that’s not only beautiful but bigger than before. It’s a good reminder that no matter how nice a home looks, having ample room to stretch your legs is hard to beat from a homebuyer’s perspective!

The post ‘Rock the Block’ Reveals the Most Valuable Upgrade a House Can Get appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

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