Macon man getting home renovation from HGTV star

pramati@macon.comNovember 18, 2013 

Jonathan Scott

Steve Bell could have chosen to surround his house with a moat or have a retinue of guards protect his College Street home for a week.

Both were options in the Dove Men + Care Hair national contest, “King of the Castle Home Upgrade,” that will feature HGTV star Jonathan Scott going to Bell’s home Thursday to give his advice on upgrades.

Probably wisely, Bell chose to forego the moat and the castle guards, instead opting for $65,000 that will go to repairing and upgrading his 140-year-old house. Bell’s 100-word essay was chosen from about 25,000 entries from across the country to become the grand prize winner.

“Coming out of the blue, this is a wonderful blessing,” he said. “I don’t enter contests all that much, but I did enter this one.”

Bell and his family have lived in the house for the past 16 years. With a home that old, repairs are a constant concern, he said. He and his wife, Laura, already have identified the roof and the walls as two key areas in need of repair. But they also want to get input from Scott, who co-stars on the HGTV programs “Property Brothers,” “Brother vs. Brother” and “Buying and Selling” with his twin brother, Drew.

“It’s a beautiful 140-year-old Victorian house,” said Scott, who noted the work on the Bells’ house won’t be televised but instead will be promoted through Dove’s social networking. “The tricky thing with a house (that’s old) is that you do a lot of restoration rather than renovation. You can blow through your budget in two seconds flat with a restoration.”

Scott said Bell told him the most important thing to his family is to make the house safe and something that will last for a long time to come.

With so much of his time devoted to his various TV series, Scott said he rarely has time for side projects. When Dove contacted him to do the contest, Scott said he was excited.

“I said, if we’re going to do a contest, let’s go do it big,” he said.

Scott came up with some zany prizes, such as the moat, as well as some other slightly more practical prizes, such as a “smart home” automated system or an outdoor kitchen/dining area.

Bell said he hopes to incorporate an outdoor kitchen into the renovations.

“I’d like to do something in the backyard,” he said. “I’d like to do the outdoor kitchen. We’ll see what (Scott) thinks.”

Bell also would like to make some changes in his daughter’s bedroom, which used to be an upstairs kitchen from when the house was originally built.

“Maybe we can remove the sink and some cabinets, make it more like a room,” he said.

This is not the only construction project with which Bell is involved. He’s currently renovating space in the Dannenberg Building to serve as a downtown grocery.

In addition, while he has nothing to do with the project, the new roundabout that is being created at the College Street corner of Tattnall Square Park will cut into his property.

Bell and Scott said that while the Bells will tell Scott of their needs, they are also leaving him open to make his own recommendations once he takes a look at the house.

“I’m a very collaborative designer,” Scott said. “What’s important to the homeowners is the things we can do to bring in the character of the house.”

While Scott said he’d love for someone to choose one of the wackier options in future contests, he’s glad the Bells chose to make long-term home improvements.

“You need something that is lasting,” he said. “I’m glad the homeowners chose something that will add to the value of the house.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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