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Exclusive: Boyz II Men’s Nathan Morris on ‘Nate-a-cizing’ luxury flips in new DIY Hit Properties series

Nathan Morris is all about the house, literally on his new DIY series
Nathan Morris is all about the house, literally, on his new DIY series. Pic credit: DIY

Coming in October to DIY is a new four-part series called Hit Properties with Nathan Morris.

Boyz II Men founder and baritone extraordinaire Nathan Morris is a hard-working man who never ever let an opportunity pass him by.

The kid was ballsy in school, singing his heart out and, over time, the gifted singer connected with the rest of what would become Boyz II Men — creating an addictive sound and turning into the top-selling R&B act for a good chunk of the 1990s.

To date, Boyz II Men have scooped up four Grammy awards and 15 nominations, and even today they still sell out gigs in huge venues, with a residency in Vegas that is a hot ticket.

So why is the group’s main man Nathan Morris holding that electric hammer in the photo, you might ask?

This founding member and music icon was given some sage advice — as we learn in our interview —  to snap up real estate as a solid investment with his money.

Now Nathan croons over blueprints as he uses creativity and practical skills to make a killing house-flipping in the hot Florida market.

DIY has given Nathan four episodes to see how this popular singer grabs your attention while he explains and carries out his big vision of what could be in a house that needs his TLC.

Nathan’s smart design and refined finishes are interlaced with the inevitable and hilarious setbacks (at times) that construction brings. And the final result? A swanky abode fit for an R&B king..

The renovations are explained and detailed on the show. Nathan says: “I’ve invested in some lucrative real estate deals, and, on the personal side, I’ve done some construction, renovating and designing. But I’ve never brought the two together in one project. This was my chance to do that — on a massive scale.”

From gourmet kitchens to jaw-dropping master bedroom suites and resort-style pools with fiber-optic lighting to give the water a star-like effect, no little item is ignored, even adding smart home upgrades.

Make sure to watch as, he says in his own words, properties get “Nate-a-cized” and ready to sell for big money.

We spoke to him about this fun new reno series:

Nathan loves clean lines and luxury touches in his redesigns. Pic credit: DIY
Nathan loves clean lines and luxury touches in his redesigns. Pic credit: DIY

Monsters and Critics: So the obvious question is… how did you decide that flipping and investing in real estate was your thing outside of music?

Nathan: I was told from as a young kid by an older, older, older guy that if you want to make money in the world you’ve got to invest in real estate.

I didn’t really know what that meant years ago and as I got older I started to see what it meant. Another simple thing that he said was just always remember that they make a whole lot of things in the world but they’re not making any more land.

So you keep those things in mind over the years and you store them in your memory banks. Through that time I … obviously being in Boyz II Men, doing the things we do I’ve always been really into creative things.

Anything outside of Boyz II Men I wanted to do needed to be creative. It started with me just doing stuff at home and trying things. My dad always made sure we were really good with our hands so we had to do things.

To bring it up to today, I mean, I’ve always done a lot of building, reconstructing, design and stuff in my own homes and I’ve always invested in property on the side. This was kind of like the perfect marriage for me to kind of merge them both together where I could do them all at one time.

M&C: Yeah, so there’s a lot of property all over the country. Where do you personally like putting your money in? Do you keep it close to home or have you bought land and properties in other states other than Florida?

Nathan: I’ve bought stuff in other states. I think that it has a lot to do with the climate as well. Obviously, we can see that Detroit is a perfect example of that.

For a time it was great to buy in the Motor City but now it’s not and it’s also great … in a couple years or so it’ll be great to buy now for 10 or 15 years later because I don’t believe any metropolitan city will stay under forever.

A lot of it depends on the climate. Obviously, we talk about Florida a lot. Florida’s fun because it’s 90 degrees half the time so building can go on for more than six months out of the year even though it’s…you could still do it up North… it’s just more difficult. It depends on climate and what you’re really looking for honestly.

M&C: Florida climate is challenging. You’ve got weather, water challenges and humidity. It wreaks havoc on wiring. It wreaks havoc on wood, on a lot of things. Talk about some of these challenges that you have with this Orlando property in particular that is the focus of the episodes that we’re going to see.

Nathan: Yes! Yes, the toughest part … or maybe one of the things that we did run into was rain. I don’t want to give too much away of the show but we had a lot of rain. A lot of rain.

Like you said, it is very difficult to adapt to that. I mean, yes, you can go inside and do things inside but Florida is an indoor/outdoor living state so you really have to focus on the outdoors just as much as you have in the inside.

So the weather was a factor. The heat was a factor. Even though we love the warm climate, I mean, you know having people work in the heat all day is very difficult as well. We were able to overcome those challenges.

I think in some cases me and my partner other than just the whole crew, we prefer to work after everyone left, after sundown to when it was cool and it was a little bit warmer. We kind of adapt that way.

M&C: Okay, I’m thinking big. I’m thinking the show is a huge hit and it’s going to go on past a four-part series.

Nathan: I hope so.

M&C: Are you going to come out of your comfort zone and come West or are you going to stay close in that area?

Nathan: Well, you know what, we touched on that a teeny bit. We did notice that most of the show … Here’s the deal. We have the capability of pretty much going anywhere but we did notice that most of the shows on these networks normally stay in one area whether it’s Desert Flippers or a difficult place like that.

The only ones that really go around are places that people buy like what’s that show? Bargain Hunters where people are buying something in different regions or whatever.

So we have tossed around places like Boise, Texas, Vegas, even the Bahamas at this point. We’ve tossed around a lot of different things so depending on how the show goes it’ll dictate whether we stay local or not.

I do know that I got my compadre on the other side of the coast, Vanilla Ice who does properties over there and mine is pretty much more Central and West.

So it would be kind of interesting for us to take it to other places. I kind of like that idea because I think it’s good to have a diversity in the show and showing people builds in Montana when you’re dealing with the cold and the ice and the rain and Florida with the weather here and different climates like that.

I think that adds into the intriguing nature of the show.

M&C: How would you describe your style and your taste? Some people are mid-century but some people are traditional home types…How do you describe your flavor?

Nathan: I am a transitional modern guy.  I like to be able to dib and dab in all of them. Another reason why I really like doing this is that to me it’s really, really close to [creating] music for me, meaning that even though we learn what we’re taught about how door swings should be this way or certain things or whatever the design of it all really has no rules.

It’s like music. There’s something for everybody. The creative space is a canvas that you create what you feel you like to create and whoever likes that likes that.

That’s the fun thing about this because though something may be modern or traditional doesn’t mean you can’t throw accents of 20th century. You can always mix things up. It’s always a matter of what is appealing to the eye of the individual. That’s why I like this so much because there’s really never a right or wrong. It’s just what people like and what they don’t like.

M&C: Do you find yourself steering people who have ideas of what they think they like and then you know more then they do because you’re more versed in the construction process.

Nathan: Yep.

M&C: Functionality kind of trumps, not to use that word but …

Nathan: Yeah, right.

M&C: I know. He’s ruined it. He’s ruined everything. Anyway-

Nathan: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah, yeah. We got to find another word.

M&C: So functionality kind of bests grandiose design ideas. How do you reel people in from imminent design disaster … Do you show them on paper? Do you walk them through it verbally? Or do you just build to your liking and then present it?

Nathan: Well, the tough part here is I have to ride the fence because these are flip houses. I’ve seen some shows where people go far left, take a chance and people go far right and then it’s too boring.

In my case, I try to ride the middle because I believe that everybody likes a little splash of life even though they may be simple. It’s just a matter of where they want it. I think when you listen to the conversations of what people like a lot of times I would take those and dumb them down a bit so I wouldn’t go too far and I wouldn’t go too short of what they’re looking for.

You kind of have more of a neutral feel. It’s tough in this space because you’ve got to sell these places and you have to keep them as neutral as possible for people who … for the mainstream.

Though there are people like myself who would go way left on some different type of creativity, it’s not for everyone when you’re selling a house. So like you said, you try to sell them on an idea of what … you kind of get what their idea is and you just twist it just a teeny bit, but not too much to where one, they won’t accept it and then two, their idea won’t be good for everyone else.

M&C: I’ve got to slide in a Boyz II Men question here because some people love you and know you from that. You had such storied and amazing accomplishments in the 90s with your LP sales. You were top of the charts, you blew away Mariah Carey. You guys were it. And you still are. You still have a huge fan base which has gotten older as we all have.

Nathan: Oh, yeah. Older and younger actually. It’s weird.

M&C: Isn’t that wonderful? That’s telling of your talent and your writing and your product, your music. That’s a wonderful feather in your cap.

Nathan: I appreciate it.

M&C: Talk to me about what you guys are doing. 

Nathan: We’ve actually had a residency in Las Vegas for the last five years at the Mirage Hotel and Casino. We’ve been there performing at least anywhere between 20 to 22 weekends a year.

Being in Florida, I fly back and forth every weekend on connection flights but that’s another story. Anyway, it’s been fun for us because for most of our career we’ve always been all over the world.

It’s very difficult to have a lifestyle in that way meaning family members, you don’t know where you are from one week to the next. Vegas has given us some type of stabilization to where though we still do corporate gigs and we jump all over the place for those, my mom knows on December 1st, I’m going to be in Vegas that weekend.

Or the kids know … like you can kind of set up a little bit of a normal life where family and people can be a part of your life in a certain way to where they couldn’t before because they never knew when you were going to be home or where you were going to be. So we enjoy being there. We enjoy doing the corporate gigs and things like that.

Now, we just … as far as music, we record but we don’t do the typical recording of people’s albums and things like that because I don’t think that that’s the climate anymore especially for an artist of our age. We tend to try to be a part of specialty projects.

If somebody has a record that they’re doing for this movie or whatever and the song sounds good, we’ll jump on those. Somebody’s doing a tribute to somebody, we’ll jump on it. That’s how we keep the creative music part going.

Eventually, hopefully by the grace of God, if the music listeners of the world ever turn their focus back around to what we like to call real R&B music or real music, then we may go back in and really focus on a record. Right now, we just try to let people know that we still do it. We enjoy doing it and, you know, we’re still doing what we do for … as of last week, 27 years.

M&C: Okay. Lightning round. Biggest mistake that people that flip homes make is …

Nathan: Designing for themselves.

M&C: Artist(s) that you wish you would have been able to collaborate with who we’ve lost? A musician, someone that meant and still means a great deal to you…

Nathan: I have three of them. Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, and Prince.

Hit Properties with Nathan Morris premieres Saturday, Oct. 6, at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on DIY Network.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
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