When I last spoke to Sarah Keenleyside and Brian McCourt, their fledgling series, Backyard Builds, was set to debut. They had joined their fellow HGTV Canada designers and builders on Home to Win but that hadn’t been broadcast yet either. They were nervous, and excited, for both projects. Now the duo is back for the sophomore go-around on their renovation series.
“To call this a family is an understatement,” Keenleyside says over the phone alongside McCourt. “The whole HGTV crew takes you under their wing. Brian and I still pinch ourselves sometimes. We’re like, ‘Dude, we’re working with Scott McGillivray and Sarah Richardson!’ These are the people we used to watch and now we’re their peers.”
Backyard Builds returns Thursday with back-to-back episodes at 10 and 10:30 p.m. ET/PT with Keenleyside and McCourt once again blowing up bad-looking backyards and turning them into something amazing. And while the transformations are truly impressive—a family full of energetic boys sees their yard turned into a basketball court—the projects add value to the home and aren’t outrageously expensive for the homeowners. Last year, I wrote that the pair are almost criminally good-looking but know their stuff, are articulate, don’t talk down to viewers and have fun. That continues in Season 2, but McCourt says the projects have changed this time around.
“The projects were fun and whimsical [in Season 1] but didn’t relate to the viewer on a practical sense,” McCourt says. “This season we’ve done a lot more practical backyards and really dove into low-maintenance ideas for homeowners.” That’s a tall order when your episode clients vary from big and small families to single guys, but they relished the challenge. In Thursday’s second episode, the pair and their renovation team descend on a small bungalow owned by a dude looking to have space in the yard to entertain. The desert-like landscape and stubborn tree stump provided a challenge for McCourt but he triumphed and, with Keenleyside’s keen design flair, the homeowner ended up with a sweet outdoor pub-themed oasis.
“We have some really strong backyards this season,” McCourt says. “We did an outdoor kitchen with an outdoor pizza oven with two structures—one is a lounge and one is a secondary prep space—and in between we actually suspended a pergola. It’s really something special.”
Backyard Builds airs Thursdays at 10 and 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV Canada.
Image courtesy of Corus Entertainment.