The boys from the HGTV hit series “Bargain Block” — Evan Thomas and Keith Bynum — are back and smack dab in the middle of Season 3. Busy as they are, they took time to catch up with Pride Source and share with our readers the five destinations that most inspire their fabulous Detroit home designs.
If you’ve watched the show, you know that Evan and Keith, both 36, have been together 10 years and moved to Detroit from Colorado — sight unseen — in 2017 to begin transforming decrepit Detroit houses into stylish starter homes sold at affordable prices.
Their show, an instant hit, has opened multiple doors for them. Most recently, they had a chance to work on a real-life Barbie Dreamhouse on HGTV’s “Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge.” “It was a wild experience,” said Bynum. “They fly you across the country, and you go you to this house, and you paint everything pink.”
Here in Michigan, the couple just bought a second home in northern Michigan, so “that makes us true Michiganders, according to the internet,” said Keith with a laugh. The couple has little free time for long weekends up north, though. Their business is booming and busier than ever. So busy that the couple no longer goes out — in fact, it's been over a year since Keith has been to Soho in Ferndale.
When the couple is out of town, whether for business or pleasure, the two are getting recognized a lot these days, but they're still humble Midwesterners at heart.
“I don’t think we’re that famous,” said Evan. “I think we’re very much like a D-list kind of thing. The work itself affects our relationship more than anything. It can be stressful and difficult.”
“Evan always tells me to stop waving when people wave at me,” Keith remarked. “But I’m from the south. My adoring fans must be waved at. In my mind, I’m much more famous than I actually am.”
Now that they’re good Michiganders with a home up north, are they settled in Detroit for good? Or might they someday take the show on the road and give another city a try?
“‘Bargain Block’ is Detroit,” said Keith. “You’re not going to be able to find this type of renovation show in any other city. Detroit is special, and we love it here.”
On to their top destination inspirations!
It’s cliché but true. You can take the boy out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of Keith. His tiny hometown, population 13,000, felt confining growing up. Instead of living in the middle of the desert, he dreamt of looking out the window and seeing trees and water. That’s not to diminish Andrews’ appeal. The beauty of West Texas influences a big part of how Keith paints, and his painting, he said, influences his style as a whole. “It’s still a really beautiful place to go,” he said. “Some of my favorite color palettes come from a West Texas sunset. And who doesn’t love a bit of turquoise?”
Porte Saint-Antoine, Versailles, France
Though Keith has never actually been to France (Evan has), this part of France inspires them both, and thoughts of it work their way frequently into the couple’s designs.
“We did a house in Season 2 that was like a Paris apartment,” said Evan. “There’s a lot of French influence again this season.” That’s in part, Keith said, because there’s a lot of French influence in Detroit — it was French military leader Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac who established Detroit in 1701, after all.
“French provincial is my favorite style of home,” said Keith. “We just did our house, and we have French doors everywhere.” When he does get to Versailles, Keith knows directly where he will go. “I want to see everything Marie Antoinette related,” he said with glee. “Her summer house is kind of what I dream my life would be after retirement.”
Evan and Keith will always take inspiration from their time living in Colorado, where the two met. The essence of the rugged, natural beauty of the state can often be found in Keith’s murals and paintings.
“Nature and beauty have been huge inspirations,” Evan said. “Having that for all the houses we’ve done, they’re all, inevitably, a bit of that play into nature.” Living now some 1,000 miles away from the Centennial State, the couple enjoys exploring northern Michigan now, and while not quite the same, they’re finding Mount Boyne a reasonable substitute for Colorado’s Mount Elbert.
“Michigan now has turned into as much of a destination for nature,” said Keith. “It’s great to live in a state with such beauty.
Neither Evan nor Keith have ever been to Denmark, Norway, Sweden or any other part of the Scandinavian region. “But I think the design sense is one of the most noticeable and strongest design senses out there,” said Evan enthusiastically.
Season 3 promises to offer a few examples of the Scandinavian influence. Known as the epitome of simplicity, the Scandinavian style places an emphasis on function and beauty. Evan enjoys the minimal yet cozy feel the style offers and, as with other destinations on their list, it’s the natural beauty of the region that calls to him. “It makes houses very beautiful, and it’s actually easy to pull off,” he said.
Los Angeles (and the rest of Southern California)
Evan and Keith enjoyed spending some time on the West Coast over the last year. But they took inspiration from more than just the beach and ocean. It’s the variety of architecture that moves them, particularly the Spanish revival style.
“It’s such an iconic design,” said Keith. “It fits the climate perfectly.” Keith went on to say that whenever you’re in a Spanish revival-style house, you’re transported “to a warmer climate. We’ve really played with this. The very beautiful, bright spaces with all the sunlight. I love it.”