HGTV's Taniya Nayak Talks Battle On The Beach And Keys To Upgrading A Property - Exclusive Interview

When renovating your property, a project's budget doesn't always correlate with the total value added to your home after the dust clears and the last piece of painter's tape is removed. Most homeowners understand this, so they take great pains to find the best contractor they can afford. But what happens when three design experts and teams of up-and-coming home renovators battle against each other to complete creative challenges with only six weeks and a modest $90,000 budget to upgrade a seaside home? According to "Battle on the Beach" host Taniya Nayak, you can expect stress, nail-biting timetables, and a healthy dose of friendly competition.

In an exclusive interview with House Digest, the renowned interior designer and electric host of "Build It Forward" dished on Season 3 of "Battle on the Beach" and offered sage advice for upgrading your home. Whether you're seeking ideas for a budget-friendly DIY project, a clever way to elevate the design of small spaces, or advice for injecting drama into monochromatic rooms, Nayak's suggestions are a breath of fresh ocean air that won't require a six-figure budget to put into action.

'A learning curve every season'

As a "Battle on the Beach" veteran, how would you say the show has evolved over the course of three seasons?

That's a good question. [For] Season 1, no one really knew what they were getting into — both the contestants and the mentors. Each season, we're learning how to mentor differently, from things that we've learned in the past. And the contestants now have the opportunity to watch previous seasons so that they have a better idea of what's coming at them. But overall, we throw challenges at them, and challenges are thrown at us, too, without even realizing it. It's a learning curve every season.

Season 2 of "Battle on the Beach" scored stellar ratings and attracted over 14 million viewers. What do you credit to the show's massive success?

It's a perfect combination of great chemistry. Ty [Pennington], Alison [Victoria], and I get along so well. We're all close friends in real life, and that comes across on camera. At the same time, there are these incredible ... Basically, everybody loves a beach. You're getting the combination of beach renovations, a beach, timelines, stress, and these people competing against one another.

Last season, we had three identical beach houses, so it's interesting to see how each house differed from one another. None of us peeked; none of us looked at any of the other houses until the very, very end. It was so fascinating to see the different styles in the same footprint.

Having appeared on "Battle on the Beach," "Designed to Sell," "Build It Forward," and other programs, you've quickly become a fixture on HGTV. What show challenged you the most as a designer?

They all are challenging. That's a tough question to answer. I feel like any one [show] that I'm doing in that moment feels like the most challenging right now. We just finished filming "Build It Forward," which we'll be airing shortly after "Battle on the Beach" on June 10. That was challenging because we were trying to do these major, gigantic renovations on these houses for these deserving people and trying to get that done in time so we could get them back into their homes. Whatever I'm immersed in, in the moment, feels like the most challenging at that time.

Upgrading your home on a budget

Having completed a stunning renovation on your one-bedroom Fort Lauderdale vacation home, what advice can you offer homeowners attempting to breathe life into smaller properties?

The best advice I can give to homeowners trying to breathe life into smaller properties is something I learned from an HGTV veteran, Candice Olson. She always blew my mind in the way that she would put oversized pieces of furniture in very small spaces. It goes against the grain. It goes against what we think we need to do. But in fact, when you put bigger rugs, bigger sofas, bigger chairs, bigger tables, and fill up the space, a small space actually tends to feel bigger. Most people think it would crowd it and make it feel tight, but that's not the case.

"Battle on the Beach" is all about adding value to a home while on a budget. As a renowned designer, what advice can you give homeowners who wish to accomplish this feat in their own homes?

I would advise them to research. If there's something they like, I guarantee, if they do the work and they research, they will find it for a fraction of the cost of what they first [found it for]. I would highly recommend, if they have a budget ... This is very not fun, what I'm about to tell you, but it's so important. Create a proposed estimated budget, and allocate various amounts for the big items that are going into your renovation.

If you're doing a guest bathroom, allocate a certain budget for your vanity, for your light fixtures, for your mirror, for every single thing you can think of in that room, and see what you come up with. Then look at how much money you have to spend and say, "Okay, this has to go. Can't do that." Stay on budget.

Regardless of the project you're working on, you always seem to showcase a dash of DIY ingenuity. What beginner-friendly DIY projects do you recommend for homeowners who are seeking to upgrade their space while gaining valuable experience?

Let me start by saying this: DIY is only good if you do it right — otherwise, it can go horribly wrong. Know your limitations, and know what you're good at. Practice. Maybe do a little practice run somewhere where it's not outwardly in front of everybody. Painting is a great DIY; it makes a huge difference. It's cost-effective. I love to use a good painter's tape, frog tape, to make sure my lines are crisp. Protect your baseboards; protect your window trim. Painting is an easy, go-to DIY that most people can hack.

Personalizing your space

In a past interview, you noted that you are a "play-it-safe girl with colors," instead prioritizing "long-lasting, timeless design." How are you able to achieve such dramatic results in rooms that eschew bold colors?

Dramatic results when you're a little afraid of color come through texture. I don't necessarily do wild, bold pops of colors; it's not my thing. When you look at your wardrobe and you open your closet, you can tell if you're a bold color person or not. My everyday go-to is monochromatic. I'm wearing gray, beige, black, white. All of these are my go-to colors, so I know that I'm comfortable [with] that for my home.

But what I do add both in my wardrobe as well as in my house is texture. Just because I'm playing it safe with color does not mean I'm playing it safe with texture. I have a wall in my home that's a concrete wall. I have wood, I have metallics, I have stone — there are a lot of different things. Even my throw pillows are very textural, my blankets are very textural, and my rugs. Mixing up the texture if you want to play it safe with color is going to give you a very, very dramatic result.

As someone who loves to entertain, what are some features in your home that keep guests comfortable and conversation lively?

For me, it's my layout. I try to engage friends when I have a get-together. My husband and I own restaurants. I love to cook. I love to entertain. It's super important to me that, as restaurant owners also, everything is accounted for: the music is the right music, there's accessibility to where they're going to get their cocktails, how we lay everything out. But most important is the layout of the furniture so that people can interact and hang out. There are little areas where they could sit, little areas where they can eat dinner, and other areas where they can chit-chat. Making it a space that's fully functioning for entertaining [is] a big priority for me.

Season 3 of "Battle on the Beach" premieres on HGTV and Max on Sunday, June 4, at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.

This interview has been edited for clarity.