Interview: Ty Pennington Crowned the Season 3 Champion Mentor of 'Battle on the Beach'

HGTV sits down with the Season 3 winning mentor of Battle on the Beach for a detailed Q&A.

July 10, 2023

Third time’s a charm! After losing Season 1 and 2 of HGTV’s Battle on the Beach, Rock the Block’s Ty Pennington proved some things are worth waiting for. Coming off his Season 3 win, he exclaimed, “Never quit, never give up!”

Ty and his teammates Ashley Basnight and Steve Lewis of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, along with two other teams led by Alison Victoria (Windy City Rehab) and Taniya Nayak (Build It Forward), were each given a budget of $90,000 to renovate three beach houses in Fort Morgan, Alabama, over a six-week period.

Judges Bryan and Sarah Baeumler (Renovation Island) chose the best renovated space after each week's challenge — basing their verdict on overall design, craftsmanship and resale value. The competition was fierce, but in the end, the Baeumlers and local real estate experts chose the team that added the most value to their home: Team Ty. Ashley and Steve walked away with the winning $50,000 prize.

Ahead, Ty shares what it’s like being crowned the champion.

HGTV: You didn’t win Battle on the Beach Season 1 or 2. How did it feel to win this one?

TY: Winning feels great! I'm not a good loser. The other two seasons were challenging, and I was hoping this would be the one I'd finally win. I had no idea I’d be paired with such an incredible team. Let's face it, we all have an idea of what we think the perfect beach aesthetic [looks like], and you’re not always going to work with people who get your vibe and identify with what you think looks cool. Right from the start, Ashley, Steve and I understood each other. They had an amazing work ethic and a sense of humor.

HGTV: Is there a story behind how you got paired up with Ashley and Steve?

TY: It's all about casting — that's the fun part of the show. As a mentor, you don't know who you’re going to work with. I got really lucky getting teamed up with Steve and Ashley. Steve has such a great comedic sense to him and it’s really hard to be comical when you haven't slept in days. (Trust me, I've tried doing it my whole career!) Ashley is so creative and great at making decisions. From the beginning, I knew we had a really strong team.

HGTV: For the first time, not all the Battle on the Beach houses were the same. Two were identical and yours was 200 square feet larger. Did you feel the bigger house helped or hindered your team in the long run?

TY: When I first saw the house my team chose, it appeared to have been abandoned for years. I thought, 'This is going to be twice the amount of work.' But then I saw the other houses with all their issues, and I realized they were all in bad shape so maybe it was better this one was different. There was something special about our house.

HGTV: What did you love about being a mentor this season?

TY: When I was younger, I was always trying to prove myself as a creative person. Now that I've done that, it's really fun to inspire others to see what they can do — not to say being a mentor isn’t frustrating at times. In the end, all you can do is make suggestions. What I loved about Ashley and Steve was I could lead them in a certain direction, but ultimately, they chose what they wanted to do. I was always impressed with their decisions.

HGTV: Three words to describe Season 3 of Battle on the Beach?

TY: I would say challenging, rewarding and exhilarating. Battle on the Beach forces you to be better than you've ever been, because you have to compete against really talented people. It’s like running a marathon, crossing that finish line and going, 'Oh my God, I did it.' To win, well that takes the feeling to a whole other level.


Photo by: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

HGTV: Your team kept referencing “Mediterranean-meets-Morocco” when describing their design style. Was this a planned theme or did it evolve?

TY: It's Mediterranean-meets-Morocco-meets-Tulum-meets-Costa-Rica [laughs]. Organic, natural elements always warm up a space, and the goal was to create a Mediterranean vibe by using accessories like vintage doors, shutters and corbels. We got lucky, because we were able to visit a salvage yard that specializes in architectural gems, which helped us bring a weathered look to our house. We didn't want it to feel like Alabama but a completely different, more rustic place.

HGTV: What was the best design in your house?

TY: Sometimes your favorite concept comes from a challenge you didn’t win. We created this organic, linear headboard in the main bedroom using antique hurricane shutters so we could control the light coming into the room. We couldn't move the windows, but by putting the wood shutter doors and some other architectural elements in front of them, we created this cool light experience. It gave the room an amazing Bahamian feel.

HGTV: Speaking of beds, you pushed two queen-sized mattresses together in the guest room, creating a truly unique look. When you lost that challenge, you said, “It’s hard to describe what it feels like when you come up short in the biggest bed you've ever built.” Thoughts?

TY: Ashley showed me a photo of conjoined queen-sized mattresses. I really liked the idea and knew not everyone else would, but once we found the vintage headboards I thought, “This is going to be amazing.” It's a bit of a challenge to [create] a double queen-sized bed that’s up against a wall, but the fact a bunch of kids can sleep, play board games or talk into the night makes me think it could become a trend — especially in the vacation house rental market.

HGTV: Watching the show, you definitely felt the stress and anxiety coming through the screen. Creative editing?

TY: Nope, it was all very real. If you want to test a relationship, go on this show. Here’s what happens: You forget you’re dealing with Murphy's Law in every situation. If a countertop could show up in the wrong size, it will. If a sink has the possibility of not fitting, it won’t — and you don't have months to make changes or wait for things to arrive. So it's easy to shift blame on the person who’s helping you create, which can cause a lot of stress. If you can emotionally survive this, you can survive anything. Lots of things went askew for Ashley and Steve — poor Steve was still grouting on judgment day — but luckily, they found a way to laugh through it all.

HGTV: You've said your team was willing to go above and beyond and take risks.

TY: My goal this year was to have fun, but I also told my team they needed to challenge themselves and take risks to create the most unique-looking space.

HGTV: Any time your team went against your better judgment and proved you wrong?

TY: Ashley wanted to double the feel of the living room with a mirrored wall. I didn't know if mirrors were going to work with the Mediterranean look we were going for because it brought in a bit of a '70s lounge vibe. But in Ashley's defense, she made it work by mirroring only the top half of the wall and putting bamboo on the lower half. She really pulled that off.

Photo by: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

HGTV: Is there something you learned after walking away from this season you’ll never forget?

TY: Not to take myself too seriously and not to be [set] on making sure my team understands how important it is for them to do this or do that. What you’re trying to do is direct a ship, and now I realize I just need to be the wind that keeps them going. If the ship ends up going in the direction I want it to, great. If not, that’s OK, too.

HGTV: Let’s talk about winning the first challenge. The judges loved all the antique touches in your kitchen, but they weren't feeling the stone backsplash. Were you surprised you won?

TY: If we had another week or even another day, I would have taken an extra slab of marble and put it on the backsplash, but the stone wall really brought the Mediterranean feel to the room. It set the tone for the entire house — which is a huge win because when you walk into a home, if you're blown away by the kitchen, you're going to be interested in renting or buying that house.

The fact that we beat Alison made this win even more special. When it comes to winning the kitchen challenge ... It's all she talks about. I basically made an alliance with Taniya that one of our teams had to win the kitchen.

HGTV: How important was the screened-in porch when it came to adding usable space to the beach house?

Ty: So important. I grew up in the South and if you wanted a breeze but didn't want to be swatting bugs all day, you needed a screened-in porch. What's so lovely about our porch is it sticks out further than any of the others on the beach. I’m a huge fan of indoor-outdoor living. I love the ability to feel like you’re outside all year but still protected from the elements.

HGTV: You were judged by your friends. How did that feel?

TY: I love Bryan and Sarah. Judging is tough, because you have to say painful things so people understand why a team lost a challenge. But if there are two people who really understand living at the beach or what a stay in a beach house would look like, it would be these guys. Bryan and Sarah are really good at picking out the good, the bad and the other.

Photo by: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

HGTV: What do you think won over the Baeumlers and the realtors in the end?

TY: On any other season, I would have said, “Oh, it was clearly the added powder room,” because on makeover shows, design and charm don’t sell houses, square footage does. But I truly think some of the permanent vintage pieces we integrated in this house — like the cool doors in the bathroom increased its value. Our house felt like a warm hug, and in the end, the mood and [ambiance] is what sold the judges.

HGTV: Ready for Battle on the Beach Season 4?

TY: I was just thinking about that and how we would open up the show this time. We've arrived by air and by sea. How about bareback on horses [laughs]? We're just getting started on how many ways you can create the ideal beach house. The battle continues! But for now, I’m going to enjoy how great it feels to finally get a win under my belt.

Go Behind the Scenes of Season 3

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