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Hana Engroff McClatchy Newspapers, Published August 06 2012

Florida couple gets room makeover from Vanilla Ice

LAKE WORTH, Fla. – Nesty and Michelle Núñez couldn’t believe it. Vanilla Ice, ’90s rapper-turned-renovator, was outside the Lake Worth couple’s house.

Surprise, surprise baby.

The couple were chosen – from almost 1,000 photo and video submissions – to receive a $30,000 room renovation as part of DIY Network’s “VIP: Ice My House” special.

“I’m still shaking. I can’t breathe,” Michelle Núñez said, after Ice (whose real name is Rob Van Winkle) ambushed her house recently.

The Núñezes bought their single-family fixer- upper in 2009 after shopping around for “an ugly house in one of the better neighborhoods in Lake Worth.”

Being true DIYers, they redid the entire interior: replacing floors, installing cabinets and painting walls. But beyond an immaculate inside are a dilapidated screened patio and a backyard that the couple hides behind beige curtains.

“You don’t want to see what’s out there,” Nesty Núñez said. “We had lost steam working so hard on the inside and renovating everything in here. The backyard is just a constant reminder that there’s something more to do.”

That’s where Van Winkle and his crew of contractors come in. In less than a month they’ll transform the leaky patio and weed-ravaged yard into an oasis where the Núñezes can relax and entertain family and guests.

“This is paradise,” Van Winkle said of Palm Beach County. “This is why I live here.”

And a backyard is an essential part of South Florida living, he said.

In production for its third season, DIY Network’s “The Vanilla Ice Project” features Van Winkle and his team fixing up a run-down Palm Beach-area mansion.

The episode featuring the Núñez family is expected to air in early 2013 as a one-hour special.

The show, Van Winkle says, inspires people to renovate their homes in a bad housing market.

“A lot of people are in a mind frame of thinking, ‘My house is upside down right now. It’s not worth what I paid for it and I don’t feel like putting in a new kitchen or tiles because that’s just spending more money,’” he said. “It gets them back into that American dream, which is to own your own home and decorate it the way you want.

“This couple is a perfect DIY family to come over here and showcase.”