Rowhouse Showdown: Stomp the Yard

Anya and Alena are team AC^2 on Rowhouse Showdown.)
Rowhouse Showdown (Photo: FYI)

Episode 7: Battle of the Backyards — Cincinnati is gorgeous in the summertime, so the Rowhouse Showdown works on improving the outdoor spaces of the homes.

This week’s Rowhouse Showdown challenge had the three teams revamping backyards over two days and an average budget of $10,000. What tricks of the trade can we use to improve our outdoor spaces?

Eyes on Your Own Paper

Team Clean Hands—specifically Josh, but Geoff is enabling—is hellbent on destroying Team AC^2 (Anya and Alena) because…because. I’m not sure if it is insecurity, boredom, or a combination of the two, but Josh spends quite a bit of their limited time all up in the ladies’ business. The guys even sneak into the women’s house to survey the competition. Anya catches them as they snark on TLSITATYG(R.I.P.)’s disastrous kitchen. It’s awkward and rather pointless, as this show is not a social game.

Remember Who You Are Designing For

Team AC^2 wanted to bring Miami softness to the backyard, so they worked on a hotel lobby concept in their design. One of the main issues that popped up involved the painting of a wall that is shared with a neighbor. Remember: part of the purpose of this show is to revitalize the neighborhood, so ticking off the neighbors would probably be a no-no. Fortunately, Anya and Alena wanted to paint the wall white, so the neighbor was cool with the project.

Team Clean Hands was dead-set on two features: a fireplace and a pergola. The pergola struck me as an odd choice, given that Cincinnati does experience winter, but perhaps the fireplace would allow it to be functional year-round? The landscaping consultant brought in to assess the project also suggested skipping the pergola since the trees in the yard already created a canopy effect. Josh is sending all calls from reason directly to voicemail. We then hear the word “pergola” about 87 more times before the episode is over.

Team Minnesota1 have two advantages going into this challenge: an extra $1,000 because they won last week, and being from a place where a backyard may not be usable year-round. Their approach to the yard was to design a space that can be used by every member of the family who could be living in the house. There was a designated dining area, a designated sitting area, and a swing intended for the kiddies but solid enough to support an adult. The furniture looked like it was designed for outdoor use, but could easily be put into storage once summer is over.

Mind Your Money

Anya and Alena were working at a disadvantage this week because Katie and Dan stole $1,000 after winning last week. Although the women had established a rough budget earlier in the project, somehow they stopped keeping track of their spending during the first day. They instituted a spending freeze the second day, but still managed to complete the project to their satisfaction. However, once the receipts were tallied, the team discovered they had $1,000 leftover. Granted, any client would love having a remodel come in 10% under budget, but this is not that situation, particularly since there were so many ways that $1,000 could have been spent to make their design that much better.


Kathy Kuo had a strongly positive first impression of Team AC^2’s “Margaritas in December” cabana design. The Miami green/blue color scheme worked, particularly against the freshly painted wall. However, Carter Oosterhouse observed that once you leave the main patio area, it looks like the renovation stopped. Jim Bronzie agreed, highlighting the spaced out pavers as a landscaping challenge and tripping hazard. The lack of a privacy fence also raised a red flag. All of these issues could have been resolved with $1,000. This design was declared the most disappointing. Sorry ladies.

Team Clean Hands successfully pulled off the pergola/fireplace combination. The first thing Kathy noticed was the couches across from each other so people can have a conversation. Hehe. Although the major elements were designed and constructed well, a number of details were missed. The furniture and accessories were designed for indoor rather than outdoor use, so they will not hold up under any weather. There were also several elements composed of varying types of wood, none of which matched in color. Maybe if Josh hadn’t been wasting time tapdancing on Anya’s nerves they would have had some time to paint or stain. Just a thought.

I looooooooved Team Minnesota’s backyard. There’s not much more to add to what was already described, other than some of the critiques that were offered. There weren’t many surfaces for placing drinks and lighting was limited to two tiki torches.2 The major criticism came from Jim, who was concerned about the pathway from the dining area to the sitting area. There was a step up to a path, but the grade of the hill coupled with the stone path could make it difficult for someone to walk safely. It was tough to visualize what he was describing, though Kathy (who was wearing heels) did have some difficulty moving between the spaces.

This week marks the first time the judges split on their decision, though we don’t know who voted for what.3 Carter cast the tie-breaking vote and declared Katie and Dan the winners. Good job, team! This time they take money away from Josh and Geoff. “We gotta handicap ’em,” Dan says. Besides, they already know AC^2 won’t be hindered by a budget deficit.

Next week on Rowhouse Showdown: Guest bedroom! But there will be a twist…

  1. Katie and Dan  
  2. Easy to fix, I’m sure.  
  3. I suspect Kathy voted for Minnesota and Jim voted for Clean Hands.  

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About Mike McComb 1001 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: