‘Bargain Block’ Recap: Minimalist and Dollhouse

Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas add a minimal design to a new house

By |2022-07-07T09:36:12-04:00July 7th, 2022|Michigan, News|

The boys are at it again! Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas, the personal and professional partners who take some of the most rundown houses on Detroit’s northwest side and transform them into stunners, serve up two more remarkable makeovers this episode. The couple purchased the Dollhouse for $25,000 and set a reno budget of $80,000. But they didn’t originally intend to sell this one. Instead, they planned to reno the home, which was a duplex, and rent it out for steady monthly income to help when funds for other projects run low.

The plan sounded solid but soon collapsed when Thomas discovered the house had never properly been set up as a duplex. They would need two furnaces, two electrical boxes and two HVAC units to rent the home as two separate units. An estimate of $15,000 for the additional work causes the couple to rethink their strategy. In the end, they design to make the Dollhouse a single-family home.

Even amid their disappointments, it’s charming to see the easy chemistry between the couple. Bynum and Thomas make each other laugh and frequently exchange remarkably clever catty jabs. Bynum, the designer with a headful of dreams, often finds himself trying to be pulled back down to earth by his partner. But in the end, he usually wins, and Thomas is forced to admit Bynum was right.

For the new Dollhouse, which was originally dubbed by Bynum the BoHo House, the new plan is to take a cue from the pink exterior. Bynum, as always, is a bit whimsical when sharing his vision for the house. “Imagine dreamy pink and other bright colors, pop art inspired furniture … it’s going to be like a 10-year-old girl’s fantasy world inside,” Bynum said. When finished, they ended up putting $90,000 into the house, which totaled 1,780 square feet and has five bedrooms, and listed it for $169,000.

An after look at the dining area at the dollhouse. Photo: HGTV

The couple’s second project this week is the Minimalist House, a small two-bedroom, one-bath, 1,000-square-foot home. The front entrance has been overtaken by giant bushes that appear to have not been trimmed in a decade — maybe two. The inside of the house is somewhat better. There’s no mounds of trash or holes in the floor. All four walls are standing; the roof is in good condition. 

Bynum laments that two-bedroom houses are “not the most desirable in this market.” But Thomas points out it would be perfect for a single person’s first home. They paid $25,000 for the house and set a tight reno budget. They hope to sell it for $99,000.

As they renovate the house, the couple shows sheer ingenuity in basically using every scrap of material they can find. Leftover butcher block countertops are repurposed as a one-of-a-kind headboard. Bynum even makes a structural piece of art using leftover caulking as a sculpting agent because, if you’ve been watching, you know that’s just how resourceful and clever these guys are. 

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael joined Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. He has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author for his authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," released on his own JAM Books imprint.