You’ve heard of modern farmhouse style—but what about modern schoolhouse? On the latest episode of HGTV’s “Bargain Block,” Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas show off this whole new look, and it’s bound to catch on.
In the episode “Farmhouse and Schoolhouse,” Bynum and Thomas renovate two run-down homes in Detroit, fixing one up in trendy modern farmhouse and the other in a unique, vintage schoolhouse vibe.
What’s more, they complete both homes on a strict budget, fixing the farmhouse for just $28,000 and the schoolhouse-inspired home for the even lower price of $20,000.
Wondering how a modern farmhouse or schoolhouse style—or both—would look in your home? Here’s how Bynum and Thomas pull them off, plus some take-home lessons you may want to apply to your own abode.
Window awnings can be a waste of money
Bynum and Thomas usually spend only a couple of thousand dollars on these houses, so they’re not happy when they get their farmhouse fixer for a (relatively) whopping $45,000. They need to stick to a very strict renovation budget of $25,000 if they’re going to make a profit.
Luckily, this house is already in good shape, with a good amount of curb appeal. Still, Bynum and Thomas want to make a quick but meaningful fix on the house right away: removing the awnings from the windows.
“As with most of the homes in this neighborhood, there are big aluminum awnings on them,” Bynum explains. “They block out all the light, and you can’t see out your windows.”
They remove the awnings, making the house look open and welcoming. To finish the exterior, they add bold colors, with green and light purple. The house ends up having a playful farmhouse exterior that buyers will remember.
In the end, it’s clear that removing the awnings was the right choice. Not only does the exterior look cleaner, but the rooms also benefit from the extra sunlight.
Use wood details to soften dark colors
Perhaps part of the reason for this home’s price is that it comes with a classic camper. It’s old and dusty, but Bynum and Thomas see it as an opportunity.
“One of the perks of this particular house was that it came with this vintage camper,” Thomas says. “It’ll be a really fun addition to a house like this.”
They fix it up as if it’s going to be.a guesthouse or rental property, using the same butcher-block counters and wood floors as they put in the house.
To make the space feel extra cozy, they paint the ceiling black and add a fun detail.
“Painting the ceiling black means that we probably need to add some kind of design feature to break it up,” Bynum says. “So, we’re doing this really great wood slat feature all the way down on the entire ceiling.”
The slats complement the wood tones from the butcher-block counters and wood floors, and they also keep the black ceiling from looking too intense.
When the renovation is finished, this camper looks almost as good as the main house. The buyers love the space, and soon after listing this property, Bynum and Thomas receive an offer for $85,000. After buying the house for $45,000 and going slightly over the renovation budget to $28,000, they walk away with a profit of $12,000.
Pass-throughs are back
Once the farmhouse and the camper are well underway, Bynum and Thomas move onto their next project. They buy a house for only $1,600, but they have only $20,000 for the renovation, explaining that most of their money is tied up in other houses.
“This might be our tightest budget we’ve ever had,” Bynum admits.
Still, he wants to make sure this house doesn’t look as if it was done on the cheap, so he works hard on a “schoolhouse” theme, which he describes as having sharp, clean lines, geometric shapes, and vintage accents.
“I’ll incorporate a lot of woodwork and exposed brick. It should be a very fun, nostalgic yet stylish house,” Bynum says.
One way he brings in a vintage feel is by adding a pass-through from the dining room to the kitchen, rather than giving the home an open concept.
“A lot of times in these houses, we like to do pass-throughs to the kitchen to make sure that we are opening up the space as much as we can,” Bynum says, “but the squares and rectangles get really boring, so I thought it would be a fun challenge to do a circle this time.”
It’s a fun shape that reminds Bynum of a schoolhouse clock, and adds some functionality to the house. It also makes the small kitchen seem bigger.
“It’s definitely a cool feature that you don’t see too often,” Bynum says.
Plain white cabinets allow for more playful finishings
Bynum and Thomas quickly run out of money on this project, so they need to install inexpensive white cabinets in the kitchen.
“I hate doing white cabinets usually,” Bynum explains, “but we literally have no money for cabinet painting.”
Still, Bynum knows he can give the kitchen interest in another way.
“If we punch up the countertop and the backsplash, that should give us enough of a design,” he says. “Because otherwise, it’s going to be a boring kitchen.”
He chooses a backsplash tile on sale for $200, with a fun geometric pattern that feels bold and vintage. In the end, the plain white cabinets and busy backsplash work perfectly together.
Expose a brick chimney for extra character
Bynum and Thomas find the brick chimney in the bedroom upstairs and decide, right away, to leave it exposed.
“Brick really is an awesome opportunity to have an accent feature for free that is actually right on point with the design that I’m trying to pull off,” Bynum says. “So, I like having those little free things pop up every now and then.”
Bynum and Thomas lightly whitewash the brick, adding to the aged look, and voilà! This bedroom now has an extra touch of personality.
The flippers are able to stick to their $20,000 budget, and pretty soon, they accept an offer of $69,000. After buying the house for $1,600 and putting in $20,000 in repairs, Bynum and Thomas make $47,400. Not too shabby for this modern schoolhouse!