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The ‘Fixer to Fabulous’ Stars Share Their Winning Edge on ‘Rock the Block’—and What Inspired Their New Show

Dave and Jenny Marrs have been busy lately. In addition to restoring homes in Bentonville, AR, on HGTV’s hit show “Fixer to Fabulous,” the husband and wife star in Season 3 of “Rock the Block,” HGTV’s buzzy renovation-competition series. And to top it off, they’ve spun off a new series documenting their renovation of a vacation rental, “Fixer to Fabulous: Welcome Inn.”

“We were filming all three this fall, so it was a really hectic, crazy season of our lives,” Jenny tells Realtor.com® in an exclusive interview.

Curious to learn more about their recent ventures, we caught up with the Marrses to hear about the highs and lows of renovating today. Check out how they pulled off their season premiere win on “Rock the Block,” and get plenty of tips on surviving the current real estate market.

The ‘Rock the Block’ competition happens over the course of six weeks. Is that enough time to renovate a whole house?

Jenny: It’s very intense. We went into it thinking, “Oh, this won’t actually be that bad,” because the timeline didn’t scare us. But it was more intense than we ever anticipated: the fact that we’re out of town so we don’t have our normal resources, and then also that there are three other teams right next to you, and you don’t know what they’re doing. And so it’s a little bit of a mind game.

Dave: Every week you have someone judging you. If you don’t win, you just literally want to judo chop them and say, “My kid is better than yours!”

Jenny: You’re pouring your heart into this, and then you set your heart on a platter and let someone shred it. I’m going to need therapy for years after this experience! But we did enjoy it. [It] forced us to come up with creative solutions, which we both really love.

Dave and Jenny Marrs win the kitchen competition on Rock the Block
Dave and Jenny Marrs give their “Rock the Block” kitchen a coastal Carolina aesthetic.

HGTV

On the season premiere, you won the kitchen competition. What upgrades do you think gave you the edge?

Jenny: The kitchen is what many homeowners see as their No. 1 priority when they come in to buy a house. So putting a lot of value into that space was really important to us. We didn’t really focus on the game or what other competitors were doing. But we wanted to focus on timeless design and functional spaces.

What was it like competing against other HGTV designers?

Dave: It’s a fun competition. You’re competing for your name on a street sign, but I think where the competition stops for me, it was so much fun interacting with the other teams. I’m very blessed that I was raised to really know a lot about building and furniture and creating things and fixing things. So other teams on the block, when they had an issue, when they needed tools, when they needed help with anything, I loved doing that.

Jenny: We got in trouble a few times because we kept helping other people.

Jonathan and Jordan Knight appear as judges on Rock the Block
Jonathan and Jordan Knight judge the kitchen competition on HGTV’s “Rock the Block.”

HGTV

Rock the Block season three contestants
The design teams of HGTV’s “Rock the Block” Season 3, with the host, Ty Pennington

HGTV

In your upcoming spinoff, ‘Fixer to Fabulous: Welcome Inn,’ you turn your own investment property into a vacation rental. How did this project come about?

Jenny: You just walk through a house sometimes, and you just know it’s really special. We didn’t want to move into it, but we knew we wanted to do something with it, and the layout of the house and the way it’s set up just lends itself really well to a vacation rental or place for out-of-town folks to come and stay.

Dave: We really saw this house as a way to preserve the history in our area. You see so many homes, just ’cause the dirt underneath them is getting so valuable, getting torn down. And this home was on a big, big lot, and so that’s probably where it was destined to go. We just bought it knowing that it was going to be a good and important project, and then it kind of grew into that.

You bought the home as is. Did you face any surprises once you got in?

Dave: A whole trainload of surprises! We found some beehives right in these front columns that we thought we were going to be able to keep. We literally almost collapsed the house before we started. It was built in the 1870s, so it was just one catastrophe after another.

Jenny: It had been really lovingly cared for for almost a century … [but] the last person that lived there just let it go and then it sat empty for a while. It was very sad to see this former beautiful home be in such a dilapidated state. We were just really passionate about bringing it back, but then as we got into it, we were like, “Well, this is a terrible idea.”

Any advice for someone who is looking to buy a fixer-upper?

Jenny: If you’re wanting to do the work on your own, and you’re not a contractor and you don’t have the experience, I would really take some time to evaluate if it’s a project that you actually can do. Get a home inspection. Talk to experts. Have folks come and look at it before you decide to really start the project, because it could be a lot bigger than you think.

What tips can you give for renovating while preserving a home’s original character?

Jenny: One of the things that we really love when we buy a historic home is keeping and preserving all of the original doors and original hardware and stripping off all the layers of paint. So don’t discount something because it looks a little ratty.

Incorporate vintage pieces where it makes sense. I try not to go overboard with it. If you can mix modern contemporary pieces with historic pieces, I think that really helps to create a balance.

Dave: Even if you can’t find the original vintage pieces, try to find the lights and fixtures that looked like them. Bring it back to its glory. Those houses were built by true craftsmen.

Dave and Jenny Marrs renovate a kitchen on "Fixer to Fabulous"
Jenny and Dave knock out a wall to create a banquette seating area.

HGTV

What is your No. 1 piece of real estate advice?

Dave: There isn’t a better investment, taxwise, that I know of, so I would encourage everyone to buy. Find something and buy it. Start small, and then just start working your way up.

Dave: It’s a place where you can go with your entire family, with your kids, where no one’s going to get offended. Everyone can sit down and enjoy it. And you get some great ideas along the way. I think so many people can sympathize when something bad happens. Because everyone’s been in that place where the toilet overflows and you don’t know what to do, you’re trying to figure it out, and it’s chaos. It’s relatable.

Jenny: We’ve had a really hard few years in the world in general, and so I think watching something that is all about creating a home—a joyful place of safety and comfort and rest—is something I think we all are craving at a soul level. It’s deeper than just four walls and a roof.

The post The ‘Fixer to Fabulous’ Stars Share Their Winning Edge on ‘Rock the Block’—and What Inspired Their New Show appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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