HGTV's Bargain Block: 20+ Facts About The Home Reno Show

On April 14, 2021, HGTV debuted a new kind of home renovation show, "Bargain Block." The Detroit-based series features some familiar elements of your favorite HGTV shows — like the usual home renovation designer/contractor duo — but in a whole new way. According to HGTV's official press release for the show, "Bargain Block" stars Keith Bynum, the designer, and Evan Thomas, the carpenter, who aim to restore Detroit's neighborhoods "one house at a time" by buying "run-down and abandoned properties and [transforming] them into affordable, stylish starter homes for first-time homebuyers."

A few things make this show stand out from other home renovation series. First of all, Bynum and Thomas do almost all of the work themselves, just one factor which keeps their costs down — the other being their use of low-cost materials, second-hand items, and lots of DIY. Secondly, each home the team renovates is truly unique with its own theme. And last, but certainly not least, the duo lived in each home they renovate, that is, until they finally purchased a home of their own.

It turns out that there's a lot to learn about the show and its stars, which also include Detroit real estate agent Shea Hicks-Whitfield. Here are some facts about the popular HGTV series.

How did Evan Thomas and Keith Bynum meet?

If you're like us when you watch a new HGTV show, you want to know all about its hosts. And, when the series' stars are roughly the same age, you may wonder if they're a couple. Well, it turns out that Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas of "Bargain Block" are, in fact, a couple. As noted by PrideSource, the two met via online dating site while they both lived in Colorado and have been going strong ever since. In addition, the engaged couple does not appear to have any children — except, that is, for their dog, Belle (via The Cinemaholic). 

While you might think that both living and working with your significant other could present a problem, for this pair, the arrangement has been good for the couple's relationship. "This has been one of the best experiences because you really get to know somebody in this type of environment," Bynum shared with PrideSource. "It's about finding a respectful balance." We love to see it.

How did Bargain Block's Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas end up in Detroit?

Neither Keith Bynum nor Evan Thomas of HGTV's "Bargain Block" is originally from Detroit. So, where are they from, and how did they find themselves in this city? According to an interview the pair did with The Detroit News, Bynum is originally from Texas, while Thomas hails from South Dakota. They were each living in Colorado, where Thomas was attending graduate school, when they met and later partnered together in renovating homes.

However, Bynum decided to look into other markets that would be better-suited for their business, as he told EstateEnvy. Detroit first landed on Bynum's radar after hearing that a friend of his "had a good amount of success" flipping houses there. Additionally, the city's "really cool energy" and art scene appealed to him. As he told The Detroit News, "For the art community and creatives, Detroit is a mecca."

In January 2017, Bynum flew to Detroit, where he bought a house for $12,000. "A house in Denver in similar condition would be 20 times that amount," he explained (via EstateEnvy). So, after a bit of "convincing," Thomas agreed to join his partner and venture out to this new city.

You can call this Bargain Block star 'Doctor'

He may be the carpenter on HGTV's "Bargain Block," but this is a relatively new career for Evan Thomas. According to his bio on his website with partner Keith Bynum, Thomas actually holds a PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Yes, this HGTV star is actually a "Doctor"! "Congratulations DOCTOR Thomas," Bynum captioned a pic of him and the newly-minted doctor on Instagram at the time.

Not only is Thomas super smart, but he's also super modest. In an interview with EstateEnvy, he shared only that he has "a degree in physics." So, how did he go from scholar to carpenter/HGTV star? "I had just finished graduate school, and I was sort of at a crossroads," he revealed to the outlet. "I could try and get a job with my degree or start this business with Keith in Michigan."

Obviously, we know which path Thomas followed. However, he still puts his physics degree to good use in his current work. His "analytical and research experience" comes in handy to ensure their renovation projects are finished on time and on budget (via Nine Design & Homes).

This Bargain Block host is a serial entrepreneur

Though his partner holds a PhD, "Bargain Block" designer Keith Bynum's background is also pretty impressive. The artist's bio on his website with partner Evan Thomas reveals that Bynum started his first business at only 14 years old — and that this business "went on to become a nationally recognized retail and manufacturing chain." Apparently, he's just as modest as his partner, which must be why the two of them work so well together.

Like Thomas, Bynum also uses his academic background in his work; he studied entrepreneurship at Texas Tech University, where he received his MBA (via TheCinemaholic). However, although Bynum's business skills are keen, he couldn't quite let go of the creator in him. After selling his successful business, he began doing carpentry and woodworking and selling his work online. What a way to combine both his passions for business and design!

This Bargain Block host is no stranger to HGTV

Keith Bynum of "Bargain Block" admitted to PrideSource that "the TV journey has been a long and winding road." Though you probably never saw the hosts of "Bargain Block" on HGTV before their series premiered, one half of this Detroit house-flipping team actually appeared on HGTV before. While Bynum and Evan Thomas were renovating houses in Denver, a friend of Bynum's asked for his help in building a tiny house for HGTV's "Tiny Paradise."

It's all about connections, not coincidences, however. Bynum's experience on "Tiny Paradise" was able to expose him "to a few production companies that followed [his] work for the next few years," his partner, Thomas, explained to PrideSource. Though the two weren't initially certain about doing television, ultimately they were convinced. HGTV wanted the production team to produce a pilot in 2019 and then ordered an entire season of "Bargain Block." We're certainly glad they did!

The Bargain Block cast and crew received a warm welcome from the Detroit community

Launching their business in a new city, Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas had no idea how they would be received by the Detroit community. "Neither of us had ever been to Michigan before we moved here," Bynum told PrideSource. Soon after they arrived, however, they realized they had little to worry about — the neighbors were grateful for their support in helping revitalize their community. "Never one time has so much as an eyebrow been raised," noted Bynum, "which was sort of shocking and not our experience in other parts of the country."

This reference is a nod to the duo's previous experience renovating homes in Denver. There, "construction was looked at as a nuisance," Bynum told The Detroit News. "Here, people were excited about the neighborhood transforming," he said, adding, "Every neighbor — and there have been a lot — we've met in the city has been kind and amazing."

From Bynum's Instagram page, it's clear the pair has gained fans outside of Detroit as well, with one user commenting, "What a great series! Different styles and not just the same style for every house." We think so, too!

Giving their homes a distinct personality makes Bargain Block unique

A few things about "Bargain Block" make it stand out from other home renovation shows. But it's hard to ignore the fact that the finished homes we see on "Bargain Block" are not the usual cookie-cutter looks we typically find. Not that there's anything wrong with that — while it's important that the properties' designs appeal to the masses, it's refreshing to find renovated homes that feel fully customized.

At the end of each "Bargain Block" episode, prospective homebuyers tour fully-customized homes that feature a unique theme. And these homes are not just staged; the furniture and decor you see are included in the price of the house. This includes items like retro pieces and decorative items from the guys, themselves, as well as custom art pieces that designer Keith Bynum incorporates in each home (via PrideSource). "I hate the idea of duplicating designs because each house has so much personality and charm and each has a very unique energy," Bynum explained. "So I try to custom tailor each one. It's the most fun putting them back together and seeing renewed life in the house and the neighborhood."

The Bargain Block team renovates homes that first-time homebuyers can afford

We all have watched episodes of HGTV shows where we admire the designs but know we could never afford such a place ourselves. However, the "Bargain Block" team renovates and designs their properties with a specific audience in mind: first-time homebuyers. According to The Detroit News, Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas focus on smaller, more affordable homes. They give each house a unique, fun design that typically appeals to new homeowners and list the completed properties for around $100,000.

Detroit-based real estate agent Shea Hicks-Whitfield, who was born and raised in the city, is the perfect partner for the guys who are Detroit newbies. "She's incredibly well-connected, and she's really the perfect person for our demographic of first-time homebuyers," Bynum said to EstateEnvy. "She just has an infectious energy. She brought us an amazing amount of people to help build this business."

Hicks-Whitfield loves what the guys are doing for these neighborhoods and the opportunities it presents to homebuyers. "It provides the perfect opportunity for a first-time buyer because the homes are still affordable to purchase within a neighborhood where they were raised or maybe their grandparents live" (via HGTV).

This is how the Bargain Block duo purchase homes at such low prices

If you're like the rest of us, you probably watch "Bargain Block" and wonder how it's possible to purchase a house for $1,000. It turns out that Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas find these affordable fixer-uppers from the Detroit Landbank, which makes it possible to purchase a house for as low as $1,000 — as long as you're willing to put in a little sweat equity, that is (via EstateEnvy).

This presented Bynum and Thomas the perfect opportunity for their business, with the two mapping out a plan. "The strategy was to go in and buy as many houses as we could in a single area," Bynum explained to EstateEnvy. Since the start, the pair has flipped over 25 homes in Detroit, most of them situated in two Northwest Detroit neighborhoods — and the guys are nowhere near finished yet.

Bargain Block stars Evan Thomas and Keith Bynum run their own design firm

There's more to the work that Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas do than just what you see on "Bargain Block." The home renovation experts also run their own design firm called Nine Design & Homes. Their business philosophy is centered on their passion for "elevated, affordable style." 

"We combine handmade, vintage and repurposed pieces to create a space that is distinctly yours," reads the Nine Design homepage. "We are committed to the revitalization of Detroit one home and one client at a time."

Though the team's primary focus is on renovating and selling homes in their target neighborhoods of Detroit, they also design for private clients (more on that soon).

In May 2021, Bynum shared with his Instagram followers an exciting new business development: He finally gained a warehouse to store all of his creations. "Finally having a warehouse space to create new things has been a long journey but we're finally there," he wrote. "I've practically moved in."

You can purchase original furniture and art from the Bargain Block duo

On "Bargain Block," Keith Bynum has created some unique art pieces for the homes he and Evan Thomas renovate in Detroit. If you love Bynum's creations, it turns out that you can have them for yourself. The website for the guys' design firm, Nine Design & Homes, features his handmade art and decorative items available for sale.

A quick peek at the site shows that the guys' art selection has expanded to include canvases, fine art prints, and framed posters. You'll also find a selection of Bynum's original paintings, priced from $125 to $995. Thomas' photography is also available in the form of unframed canvases and framed prints. Decor includes everything from side tables and stools to decorative mirrors, trays, boxes, bowls, baskets, and vases. Additionally, Nine Design & Homes apparel – featuring t-shirts, hoodies, tote bags, sweatpants, and hats — is available.

In addition to offering original art and home decor for sale online through their website, Thomas and Bynum offer their pieces for sale at their brick-and-mortar furniture store and showroom in Detroit.

Bargain Block realtor Shea Hicks-Whitfield sometimes gives the guys a reality check

We know from watching "Bargain Block" that artist and designer Keith Bynum sometimes gets a little carried away with his ideas (like the animal-print painted dining room wall featured in one episode, remember that?).

Although Detroit real estate expert Shea Hicks-Whitfield loves the craftsmanship that Bynum and partner Evan Thomas bring to each property, she sometimes has to keep them in check. "[Keith] puts so much thought and love into these homes compared to an average flipper," she told HGTV. "I have to remind [Keith] that we are attempting to flip the home so you don't want to go too extreme with the design because you want to appeal to the masses," she continued, adding, "but then again you only need that one buyer to fall in love with the home and make it their home."

It seems that Hicks-Whitfield, a Detroit native, is the guys' perfect partner. "She's incredibly well-connected, and she's really the perfect person for our demographic of first-time homebuyers," Bynum shared with EstateEnvy. "She just has an infectious energy. She brought us an amazing amount of people to help build this business." Sounds like the perfect partnership!

The Bargain Block guys don't let obstacles stand in their way

Although "Bargain Block" did not make its HGTV debut until April 2021, the series' stars Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas began filming episodes in early 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic halted their plans. "We got about four or five weeks in before we shut down for several months," Bynum shared with EstateEnvy. "We had all these projects going, and we couldn't touch them."

With their business and new TV series at a standstill, what did the guys do to "stay afloat"? They switched to restoring old campers for the time being. Later, when filming resumed, they even put their newfound skills to good use for the show: On an episode that aired in May 2021 titled "Farmhouse and Schoolhouse," Bynum and Thomas worked on a property that came with an unexpected surprise in the backyard: an old camper. Though some flippers would see this as a negative, the "Bargain Block" team saw it as an added "perk" — a possible guesthouse or on-site rental apartment. "It'll be a really fun addition to a house like this," Bynum told Realtor.

Leave it to this creative duo to make the best of an unexpected situation!

The Bargain Block guys revealed what living in the homes they rehab is really like

Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas of HGTV's "Bargain Block" have seen it all (via The Detroit News). In one house they remodeled, for instance, they found a family of squirrels making the attic their home. "I was convinced we had ghosts for a bit with that one," Bynum revealed.

In the beginning, Bynum told Thomas that living in the houses they renovate wouldn't be that bad. However, when the two arrived, they realized that wasn't quite the case. "The bathroom was not functional at all," Bynum described to EstateEnvy. "The kitchen had like a half-inch layer of grease over every surface. And in that grease were roach bodies."

All this aside, with all the time the duo spend in the houses they renovate, Bynum confessed that he tends to become attached. "I kind of personify the houses," he explained to PrideSource, admitting that he can relate to being down and out and needing some support. "They just need someone to believe in them again."

As we know from watching "Bargain Block," Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas are no longer nomads — they purchased their own home on a block where they renovate, as seen in the Season 1 finale. "I don't miss that element," Thomas said in an interview with Hour Detroit Magazine, describing their former living situation in the homes they renovated. Thomas agreed, saying, "It just makes our lives so much easier."

The Bargain Block guys 'rocked the block' on HGTV

You'd be correct if you think you've caught Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas of "Bargain Block" on another HGTV show. The guys traveled to South Carolina to participate in the third season of the network's expert design competition series "Rock the Block" alongside twins Leslie Davis and Lyndsey Lamb of "Unsellable Houses," Dave and Jenny Marrs of "Fixer to Fabulous," and Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson of "Married to Real Estate."

The two shared their experience with The List. While Bynum assumed the production would be similar to their show, he was wrong. "It was a wild experience," he described, listing the new environment, never-before-seen project, and cast and crew they'd never met. 

Also different were the project's size and budget — both way bigger than usual. Bynum described the house's primary suite as being "about the same square footage as some of our houses [in Detroit]" and their HGTV-funded budget — $225,000 — as, while exciting, posing many challenges (via HGTV). The pair loved being able to include features typically way above their $45,000 "Bargain Block" budget — beams and outdoor kitchens — though Bynum admitted the options sometimes felt overwhelming. As he explained to The List, he struggled to "find something and make it cohesive for that much square footage and those big impacts."

In the end, though, the experience allowed them to go outside their comfort zones with an all-out, upscale design.

Their uniquely designed Rock the Block house sold for $950,000

So, we've already whet your appetite by describing the house designed by Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas on HGTV's "Rock the Block." It turns out that the 3,500-square-foot stunner was sold to one lucky buyer for $950,000, down from its listing price of $1.25 million, as shared by Realtor.

Sure, it was a hefty price, but the place is an art lover's paradise, with unique design features and handmade furniture. "Most people don't make their own furniture," Bynum shared with HGTV, explaining that he and Thomas hoped their custom-designed touches would stand out and outshine their competition. "I think the most crucial element of this house is that it would be impossible to find a duplicate because everything in it is custom."

Bynum described the five-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath single-family home as luxurious to the umpteenth degree. "In this house, we definitely want[ed] to take the design to the extreme end," he told the network. Because of their $225,000 budget, the pair experimented with high-end materials they aren't usually able to include in their "Bargain Block" flips, such as large slabs of marble. Their custom-designed dining room table, kitchen shutters, and "metallic and flat-finish" tile backsplash, as well as hand-painted murals and statement art installations, of which there are more than one, bring the accent wall to a whole other level.

The pair opened the doors to Nine Design + Homes' massive headquarters

While Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas finally purchased a home in Detroit, the two also have a new home for their construction and design firm, Nine Design + Homes, which now includes a massive retail showroom to boot. In October 2021, they moved into the 10,000-square-foot space on Grand River Avenue in the Old Redford section of Detroit (per Seen). The front of the huge space houses their retail store and showroom, designed with the guys' signature eclectic, vintage feel in mind — the unique decor includes a disco ball and a papier-mâché bird hanging from the ceiling, as Seen describes.

The back of the building houses Bynum and Thomas' workshop, offices, and a community space with a classroom (per Hour Detroit Magazine), now called Nine Studio. Their website describes the space as a "community art center" that acts as "a hub for local creatives to gather, share, and teach their talents." Bynum himself even teaches some of the classes.

Keeping with the guys' vision to transform entire communities through custom, hands-on design, the community center further serves as "an interactive space for our community to take classes from their favorite Nine designers and beyond."

We have to say: We are seriously impressed.

Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas aren't married yet

Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas of HGTV's "Bargain Block" have been engaged since 2017. However, while the twosome has been busy expanding their business and brand, they haven't had time to plan a wedding. In fact, they have never even set a date.

Bynum chose to call attention to the couple's lack of nuptials on the horizon in a March 2022 Instagram post. "Five years ago today, we got engaged, but we've been too damn busy to actually get married," he wrote. "One day!" he added.

And, as busy as the two are these days, working together day in and day out hasn't harmed their relationship. In fact, they're even closer. "We joke about being worried we have become co-dependent being around each other so much, but overall it's a great relationship and we are very fortunate," Thomas told Pride Source in April 2021.

Whatever happened to the 'Weird house'?

If you've watched "Bargain Block," you know that Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas renovate each house they flip according to a specific theme, as decided by Bynum. One house, which he deemed the "Weird house" in the Season 1, Episode 7 episode called "Detroit Pride and Weird House," truly was one of the house flipping couple's most bizarre designs. The official Zillow listing for the house describes it as "an instant mood-lifter, as it's filled with lots of fun colors." The listing goes on to describe the primary bedroom as "a spacious, private, calm oasis," while the main bathroom has "a sweet, illuminating, glow-light, floral design."

They say there's a lid for every pot, and this just may be true because the "Weird house" did sell. According to Zillow, the three-bedroom, one-bath bungalow on a 5,227 square-foot lot was purchased in November 2020 for $5,600, apparently by Bynum and Thomas, as Distractify reported. According to the listing, the newly-renovated house was put on the market in August 2021 for $114,990, an increase of 1953%, thanks to the guys' efforts. With realtor Shea Hicks-Whitfield's help, the house sold in November 2021 for $110,900 — just under asking price.

The 'Minimalist house' was temporarily back on the market

In Season 2, Episode 4 of "Bargain Block," called "Minimalist and Dollhouse Completed," Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas purchase a small house they name the "minimalist house" — with the intention to stick to a minimalist design to make the house appear larger. With the help of their realtor friend Shea Hicks-Whitfield, they get the house for $25,000 — $10,000 under its $35,000 asking price. While only 1,128 square feet, the two-bedroom, one-bath house (per Realtor) was in better condition than most of the duo's houses.

While Bynum had a hard time not going all out on design for this one, the strategy appears to have worked. "Light wood, neutral colors, soft textures, and tone-on-tone design elements will be perfect for this space, but a struggle for me," Bynum says during the episode (via Realtor). "I'm trying to keep it very simple, elegant, clean." Realtor agrees that his design instinct was on par, as the house, in the end, looks clean and uncluttered.

As the Manistee News Advocate noted in July 2022, the house was temporarily back on the market for $110,000 after originally being listed in March 2022 for $119,000. The house apparently has found the right buyer, though, since the listing, at time of publication, is off the market.

Shea landed her own Bargain Block spinoff

While "Bargain Block" has made stars of designer-and-contractor duo Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas, the show has also done the same for realtor Shea Hicks-Whitfield. The realtor, wife, and mom has even landed her own HGTV spinoff series called "Bargain Buys."

On July 29, 2022, Whitfield made the announcement on Instagram, asking her followers to check out her "new special" on HGTV and Discovery+. She started off her post by writing, "I've been a Realtor for more than 18 years. I have a true passion for assisting first-time buyers ... Over the past few years, I pinched myself daily, asking myself, "Is this really happening? Is this my real life?!!"

The August 3 special was a sneak peak at the series' first episode, per the "Bargain Block: Bargain Buys" official HGTV page. So far, there's no word on when the entire season will air.

Keith and Evan offer design consults to clients all over the world

While "Bargain Block" follows Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas' house flipping in Detroit, the guys do more than just flip houses. As part of their home renovation and design company "Nine Design & Homes," they also work with private clients on home design.

If you live in the local Detroit area, you can book a design consultation with the guys, who will come out to your house. However, the duo do not only offer their services to Detroit homeowners; they also offer virtual consultations regardless of where you live! For $500, you can book a virtual consult with them. In this 45-minute session with Bynum and Thomas, they will answer all your home design questions. In case you get a little star struck, don't worry: After the consult, you'll get detailed notes. You also have the option to continue working with them on design sketches and mood boards, which are available for an additional a la carte price.

What's new, noteworthy, and next for the Bargain Block team?

Over the past few years, the "Bargain Block" pair landed a hit HGTV series, moved into their first home together in Detroit, and expanded their business in the form of a large retail store, gallery, workshop, and community art space they call the Nine Studio. In a March 2022 interview with Hour Detroit Magazine, Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas talked a bit about their upcoming furniture line they describe as "moody and eclectic" and said they're excited for some design upgrades to their showroom — the highlight of which will be a huge mural.

Bynum and Thomas also have done their fair share of public appearances, including an appearance at NY Now, held mid-August 2022. You may have even caught Bynum serving as a judge on the finale of HGTV's "Battle of the Bling," alongside Alison Victoria of "Windy City Rehab" and Jackie Seigel of "Queen of Versailles."

If you missed these appearances, don't worry: The guys will be back on HGTV for a third season of "Bargain Block," set to premiere summer 2023, news Bynum announced on Instagram. Alongside a photo of himself, Thomas, and realtor pal Shea Hicks-Whitfield, he wrote, "Soooo happy to be back at it!!!! Bring on the heaps of trash and rotting everything!!! #bargainblockseason3." According to the official press release, the network has called for another 10 episodes of the popular series, which raked in over 18 million viewers in its second season.