Rowhouse Showdown: Finale!

Kathy Kuo, Carter Oosterhouse, and Jim Bronzie pass judgment on Rowhouse Showdown.
Rowhouse Showdown (Photo: Zach Dilgard / FYI)

Price Hill Cincinnati says goodbye to the three teams renovating residences on Rowhouse Showdown. Which team won $50,000 and a feature on Dwell that Carter Oosterhouse can’t stop talking about?

Awww, it’s the Rowhouse Showdown finale, y’all. I feel like we learned so much about home renovation from four delightful teams of two. Yes, the competition was a little wonky and FYI treated the show as D.O.A., but we all had fun, didn’t we?

This week, the format of the show is rather different. First, it looks like they shelled out for some HD filming—many of the shots look crisper than usual.1 The episode opened with the residents of Price Hill touring the three houses and sharing their opinions. After each tour, the community voted on which room or area is dragging down the rest of the house. Each team gets $2,000 and two days to redo the selected space. Then judges Kathy Kuo and Jim Bronzie will be joined by Dwell Editor-in-Chief Amanda Dameron to select the winner.

Team AC^2

The underdogs at this point are Alena and Anya, given how much of a hodgepodge their house is. Despite the unfinished kitchen left by Team Lumberjack Sexy is Totally a Thing You Guys (R.I.P.), the community voted on the Vampire Sex Den to get a redo. I wonder if the vote was limited to spaces that the team worked on, or if production determined that even $2,000 wouldn’t be enough to salvage the kitchen. Anyway, the redo did not require the room to keep all the repurposed items, so those were chucked immediately. The stark red walls were repainted to a much more pleasant sea-foam green, which should match with the master suite rather nicely. Kathy Kuo declared this the best redo of the three, which I think is fair. However, when Carter asked Amanda Dameron if she would buy the house, she flat-out says no. Alena starts to tear up, but even Kathy points out that inheriting a house that someone else was renovating is a tough obstacle to overcome. Although Ted and Krystal brought an interesting dynamic to the front half of the season, I think it would have been more interesting to see Anya and Alena do the complete project.

Team Minnesota

Katie and Dan were presented in the season review at the beginning of the episode as basically another team that was in the competition. Hmm, that’s not a good sign. As the community toured the house, the couple hopes they get a chance to redo the front yard, since their lack of budget really hurt them in that challenge. Instead, the community picked the master suite and its garish wallpaper. Good choice. Dan was more than happy to get rid of the improperly hung wallpaper and add some crown moulding. The room was painted a grayish clay color—a better choice than the damask but rather dull otherwise. During the walkthrough, Jim Bronzie wondered if the crown moulding was an addition or if he missed it last time because of the ugly wallpaper. Hehe. Overall, the judges appreciated Team Minnesota’s attention to detail and creative problem solving, though their design never seemed to push the envelope. I appreciate that the team kept the big picture and the eventual customer in mind throughout the project.

Team Clean Hands

In the season review package, Carter’s voiceover emphasized how Geoff and Josh avoided getting their hands dirty in the first couple challenges. I’m calling that a shoutout. The open house tour featured nothing but criticisms from the neighbors, particularly the unfinished master bathroom, the weird layout in the living room and the bonus room, and a few other choices. The room selected for the redo was the living room. The problems with this space included unfinished tile work, poor furniture choices, and an uninviting feel to the space. Now that the guys know what the judges like and don’t like, they know how to make the adjustments from the show’s very first challenge. The biggest obstacle for Team Clean Hands is that their carpenter Jason has an emergency and can’t work that day. That may be a blessing in disguise—I’m not suggesting Jason would sabotage the team, but one more outlandish request may have caused him to walk off the job. The redo gets praised for the new furniture choices—a love seat and chairs facing each other—and for being a more inviting space. The overall house would not be good for children, the master bathroom is a disaster, and the end-consumer never seemed to be considered. Also, I don’t think Bronzie likes Clean Hands (or Josh…probably Josh) much.

And the winner is…

To reveal the winner, Carter tells the teams to return to their respective houses. If the judges are inside, that means the team won. All three teams enter and look around. The judges are nowhere to be found. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if no one won? As Josh starts to say “Are you kidding me?”, the pocket doors to the dining room open and Carter congratulates Team Clean Hands. Aww, good for them. I think Minnesota’s house is a better fit for the community and will be the easiest to sell, but Rowhouse Showdown is more about design and Team Clean Hands did have a better execution of a point of view. I hope all three teams had a great experience and that good things come to them in their professional lives—there was a lot of good work on display. I also hope the show’s mission of revitalizing the Cincinnati neighborhood gets fully realized.

In closing, I want to give special thanks to Josh, Geoff, Katie, Alena, Kathy Kuo, and Jim Bronzie for favoriting and sharing our posts on Twitter and Facebook. Rowhouse Showdown is a perfect example of What Else is On. I hope you all enjoyed being on the show as much as we did watching.

  1. I’m not talking about the goofy Walk to Your Destiny shots, the whole episode looked less gritty.  

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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: