If you don’t know Rob Van Winkle, you undoubtedly have heard his epic hit, “Ice Ice Baby.”
“I did ‘Ice Ice Baby’ when I was 16. I was in the tenth grade,” the rapper, now 45, said today on “GMA LIVE!” “I remember telling people, ‘I’m going to be on the Stop the Violence tour with Ice-T, Stetsosonic, and Sir Mix-A-Lot,’ and they didn’t believe me because I was the opening acting for the opening act for the opener for the opener. An amazing experience.”
The rapper, known better as his stage name Vanilla Ice, has traded his mic for his hammer, and reinvented himself as a real estate investor and so-called “DIYer.”
When the spotlight faded, Van Winkle found another passion in learning how to turn trash into treasure. He jumped into the then booming housing market and started flipping houses and renovating them.
“It wasn’t rocket science. You get in where you fit in and I just… I bought a lot of homes, I sold them and I said, ‘You can make money that easy? Let’s buy some more,’” he said. “I actually bought these homes and thought I was losing money and came back and said, ah man, I didn’t even use these homes, they have cobwebs in the corner, I said, young and dumb, let’s sell them. Sold them, made millions, and I was like, really? Let’s go sell some more.”
Now, Van Winkle puts his flipping and renovating knowledge to use hosting two shows on the DIY network, “The Vanilla Ice Project” and “Ice My House.” He also has a new lighting collection.
“I got into the decorative side later, but I aced woodshop in school. I got straight A’s, just loved it,” he said today on “GMA LIVE!” “When you get into the homes, I never thought I’d learn about throw pillows and fireplaces, you know, make it cozy and warm and earth tone colors. To my friends it sounds a little friendly, but when you see the money come in from people who appreciate it, it’s awesome.”
Since Van Winkle and “GMA” anchor Lara Spencer share a love of flea markets, the two took a trip to Florida to hunt for pieces of so-called trash to reinvent into treasure. They turned a mirror and an easel from the Salvation Army into a high-end mosaic mirror, and a globe light and table base into a repurposed light fixture, as well as a window panel and beam legs into a coffee table.
Van Winkle shared his top tips to increasing the value in your own home for a potential buyer: spend money on a master bath and closet and in the kitchen. “Kitchen is nucleus of the house. Everybody marinates in the kitchen. If it’s right, you’re feeling right,” he said, noting that the handles and cabinets are places to make easy upgrades and get the bang for your buck.