Hunks, houses, and hammers: This pretty much sums up the juicy premise behind HGTV’s newest show.
On “Flip the Strip,” a select team of dancers from the Australian male dance show “Thunder Down Under” in Las Vegas shows how they spend their days renovating homes. And it’s not just a gimmicky excuse to watch gorgeously ripped Aussies handling big tools. These guys are actually experienced tradesmen.
“We’re not just dancers. We all ran our own companies at home,” says Benny, the carpenter on the team. “We love what we do, we love being tradesmen, and before anything else, that’s what we were.”
It’s apparent this toothsome team really knows construction. In addition to Benny, Dan is the project manager, Liam is the painter and finisher, while Malik covers demo and whatever else needs to be done.
Kelly, their designer, provides much-appreciated testosterone relief, but Liam often steps in to help with these finer finishing touches. (Is it our imagination, or is there some serious flirting going on there?)
In the premiere episode, “A Risqué Renovation,” they remodel the first floor of a four-bedroom, 3.5-bath home in Las Vegas owned by Melissa and Kelcey. Melissa has owned the place for some time, and Kelcey moved in a few years ago. However, Kelcey hasn’t really felt like he’s a part of it. It’s time to give the home some shine that will reflect both of them.
Their budget is $150,000, and they have six weeks to complete the job. Lo and behold, great renovation ideas fly faster than dollar bills when these guys enter the picture. You’ll certainly want to tuck some away for your next renovation project.
Make a big bang at the beginning
“There’s no sense of arrival,” says Kelcey as he shows Benny and Kelly their home for the first time. “We want to make that bang, right when you walk in.”
Kelly and Benny understand. The guys are all about making a big entrance.
They’ll add some glam to the entry with paint, wall treatments, a new banister for the stairway, and a statement chandelier that hangs down from the second-story entrance, looking like a gorgeous piece of modern jewelry. These guys got style!
Ban ‘builder’s beige’
Almost every wall in the house is a dreary beige, beige, beige. It was built in 2013, and that was good at the time, says Benny.
But now it needs something fresher, lighter, and brighter—like a pure white, which can be accented with pops of color. They’ll also use subtle wallpaper and black tile on the wall by the bar, to give it intrigue.
Convert the peninsula into an island
“There’s a way to update this peninsula in a much more modern, fresh, sleek way,” says Kelly.
They convert that peninsula into an island, which is a popular alteration these days for good reason: With an island, you can access the kitchen from both sides rather than just one.
Don’t forget the dogs
Kelcey and Melissa have three golden retrievers. They call them the Golden Girls. Cute!
“The dogs are such a big part of this family. We should incorporate something for them in this renovation,” says Benny.
Malik organizes a photo shoot, so they can decorate the home with photos of the Golden Girls, along with full family portraits
The team also moves the dog door to a more convenient spot and builds a water station with a pot filler (or “pet filler,” as another HGTV has called it). The station is lined with waterproof tile, because, you know, slobber.
Shutters block a lot of light
Shutters cover the sliders leading to the beautiful backyard, and they’re a hassle to open and close when you want to use the doors. Also, they block the view.
“While shutters were in style, I think a lot of people don’t realize how much light they block, even when they’re open,” says Kelly.
She says she’d normally cover the sliders with white, flowy curtains that let the light show through, but the dogs are bound to mess them up as they rub against them, and their hair would collect along the bottom hems.
So Kelly has pull-up Roman shades made to cover the sliders. They don’t go all the way to the ground, so there are no issues with dog hair.
In the end, this renovation is a hit with the owners.
“I love everything,” says Melissa.
“I’m super impressed that you took all the ideas from both Melissa and I and encompassed them into now something that is both of ours,” adds Kelcey. “And it really fits our personalities.”
We’re impressed, too. But why didn’t at least one of these guys peel off their shirt during construction? Maybe they want to keep all eyes on their work, rather than their muscles. After all, they like to joke that in their line of work, a famous Las Vegas saying holds true: “The house always wins.”