We’re thrilled to introduce you to Joshua Altman and Geoffrey Taft, Season 1 winners of FYI Network’s Rowhouse Showdown. These California real estate up and comers spent 10 weeks renovating historic rowhouses in Cincinatti’s Price Hill district. The pair went head to head with other designers to raise their home’s overall appeal and property value.
All of this renovation wasn’t just for competition’s sake. The designers were working hard to kickstart a neighborhood revitalization.
Josh and Geoff took inspiration from their Cali roots and infused the classic home with coastal style. The pair presented standout designs week after week, made us crack up with their sassy one liners and (spoiler alert!) were named the winners.
We caught up with the guys to hear more about the show, and what they’re up to now.
Renovating one room a week with limited time and money was incredibly trying, but you guys stayed loyal to your coastal style all the way through. What did you use for inspiration, and what helped you keep that consistency?
Geoff: Renovating with limited time and resources was certainly a challenge, especially when it came down to staying loyal to our coastal style. We went into the competition knowing that the end goal was to revitalize the Price Hill community through our design and renovations. That being said, we spent most of our time and energy making architectural modifications to the home. This would allow the next home owner put their own design stamp on the home without the “coastal theme” being too over powering. We let the accessories and furnishings take a back seat to the overall elements of the home that made it such a beautiful space. This really allowed each of the elements in the room to shine, which goes to show, you don’t need to fill a room to make a lasting impact.
Josh: Regardless of the challenges we wanted the home to have a uniform feel in the end. Staying true to an overall tone is a good way to keep consistency and bring calm to a space. Introducing coastal elements in a non coastal area was an additional challenge within itself. We chose a costal vibe because we wanted to inspire the community to think outside the box. We always kept in mind that our renovation and design was to benefit the community, which was very inspiring during the 10 weeks. Our game plan as well was to be the risk takers. We were thrilled that was rewarded in the end with the win.
While on the show you had a hand in revitalizing a community, and got to see formerly cringe-worthy homes completely transform. There were a lot of powerful moments. What was your favorite part of the experience?
Geoff: It’s always exciting to see a home transformed from cringe-worthy to show stopper, however this experience was more than that. The community members that we met were all so nice and welcoming and were truly grateful for the work we were doing. It means a lot when the community embraces our efforts as that’s what its all about.
Josh: My favorite part of the experience was getting to know the community personally and feeling all the warmth and support. The excitement and enthusiasm by the neighborhood every day was tremendously motivating and ultimately the largest reward. The neighborhood is in transition and it was great to see the residents embracing our ideas. They expressed how excited they were to adopt these elements into their homes – which I think is wonderful.
What’s something that didn’t make it into the final cut of the show?
Geoff: A lot of things didn’t make the final cut of the show. After all we had 7 weeks of footage crammed into 10 hour-long episodes. I would say one thing the show didn’t emphasize was how much time we really put into the space. Josh and I spent several 16-18 hour days, working tirelessly. The viewers at home don’t necessarily see the blood, sweat and tears that went into the project, but all in all I’m happy with the way everything turned out.
Josh: Oh gosh! Lots! Lol. Everyone has a personal story and journey for the viewers to follow. My grandfather is actually buried right in the local Price Hill cemetery. It was by sheer coincidence we were cast in that location. That really made the renovations and experience personal for me. Much of that unfortunately didn’t make the final cut of the show. Also, in watching the series viewers might think since it was a competition we all didn’t like each other personally. In fact we have all become good friends now.
You seem to have a magic touch when it comes to accessorizing. Any tips for getting the finishing touches right?
Geoff: Josh always seemed to be the one frantically placing accessories throughout while I was still trying to tie up the loose ends with the execution of the remodel. When accessorizing a space, it is very important to be mindful of scale, and volume. Let the architecture of the room be the focal point and accent with accessories, often times, people are so caught up in the accessories it overpowers the space.
Josh: Edit. I know it can be difficult. We all collect things over time but I suggest to rotate your keeps sakes to present. Keep in mind symmetry and scale. A sense of balance is really important in creating harmonious design. Properly scaled art and mirrors will do wonders for accessorizing a room. Lighting is huge factor as well, and a quick an easy way to alter the environment. Another tip is to try and to stick to an overall theme. Be careful to choose accessories that blend seamlessly within your design theme. Otherwise objects tend to stick out awkwardly. Walls are the ultimate accessory actually. You can paint them to add vibrancy to a room, wall paper them for a bold pattern, or dress them up with art and mirrors. In the end chose items you love as they will only inspire you in your design. Be creative and be different!
You two are not afraid to tell it like it is. What’s a design “rule” that needs to be buried once and for all?
Geoff: One of the biggest issues people seem to have with design is spatial arrangement. Often times, when people have a small space, they immediately feel the answer is to remove all of the elements from the space and sparsely decorate. The real answer to this problem is scale and proportion. Several manufactures have apartment sized sofas for this reason, as well as petite end tables and accessories. Having the right sized furniture in a small space will give the illusion of a much large space. It is also key to utilize storage as much as possible in tight quarters as well.
Josh: The most popular ingrained design idea is that you must paint small spaces light colors. I totally disagree. On the show we made a point to paint our smallest room in the house the darkest – the guest bathroom. Painting walls in a warm gray or deep blue will trick the eye into not knowing where the wall begins and ends, creating an illusion of depth. If you only have one window in the room paint that wall a dark accent color. It will only serve to highlight the view even more. Another trick is to add reflective elements, such as mirrors, mirrored furniture, and silver finishes and chromes. Lastly, introduce table or floor lamps to give the room a relaxing warm glow.
You two got to dress windows of nearly every shape and size this season. What’s your go to look for polished windows?
Geoff: When dressing a window it is important to look at the bigger picture. Are you looking for privacy, are you looking to filter light, or are you simply looking to add another element to the room to complement your design? These are the types of things you must think about before choosing the proper window treatment. Sometimes shutters are the answer, sometimes it’s as simple as installing a solar shade to not only provide privacy in the evening but light filtering during the day. Most recently we used the Blinds.com solar shades to complement the cool grey tones in the loft style apartment we just completed. It can be quite expensive cooling a space here in Southern California, so it is important to have a great light filtering product to minimize the impact on your electrical bill.
Josh: Another huge factor in design is to explore window treatment options. It truly is one of the easiest and fastest ways to change the style and mood of a room. Any room can be transformed from anywhere from bright and light to cozy and relaxed. Window treatments are excellent for filtering light which affects the mood and atmosphere of a room. The transformation of an environments lighting is very powerful design tool. Things we consider when designing for window treatments are: What style or pattern or colors will suit the room’s furnishings and designs. How much light is needed in the room? What is the size and shape of the window?
My personal go to look for homes are linen drapes. Love love love linen. The neutral palettes and softness they give to a room are unparalleled. I also love solar shades for commercial and loft style applications. The clean lines work seamlessly in the space. We just completed a beautiful loft renovation and used beautiful blinds.com solar shades for light filtering of 15 foot windows. So easy to install and was the perfect fit.
What are you working on now? Anything fun on the horizon? Details please!
Josh & Geoff: We have tons in the works! We have just closed on a brand new large commercial space that will serve as our main brokerage office for ApprizeRealty.com and our design firm. The buying and selling process of a home should be a beautiful journey from start to finish. Most real estate offices are bland and cookie cutter. We are majorly distinguishing our self by offering a beautiful setting for our clients.
On the TV front – Fortunately we were really well received by the viewers and have been offered a development deal for a new series featuring Geoff and myself. We are really excited to come back to TV and really saturate the viewers into our world of design and real estate.
Don’t You Love Them? We Knew You Would!
If you haven’t already, go watch Rowhouse Showdown on FYI and see Geoff and Josh’s designs in living color!