Emily Muniz, a 29-year-old from suburban Nashville, has been putting her name into HGTV’s dream home sweepstakes for over a decade.
“I enter twice-a-day every day,” Muniz said. “Sometimes my husband does too. I nag him to do it.”
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After 10 years of watching the sweepstakes winners on air, Muniz and her family finally were rewarded Monday for their dedication to the network. Muniz is the 2018 HGTV Dream Home Winner, with the home located in Gig Harbor. Living a luxurious life on Henderson Bay with a new home, a new car and $250,000 spending cash is awaiting Muniz, her husband Kevin and their 3-year-old daughter.
The annual HGTV Dream Home sweepstakes is set this year in Gig Harbor, bringing millions of pairs of eyes onlooking the bay.
“Last year we got 130 million entries,” said Matt Kothe, spokesman for Scripps Network Interactive, HGTV's parent company, in a previous interview with The Peninsula Gateway. “We do these dream homes in picturesque locations all over the country. We look for a town that is a good mix of sleepy and active. We have never done a home in Washington yet and Gig Harbor just seemed like the perfect fit.”
Emily and Kevin Muniz visited the Seattle region on their honeymoon five years ago.
“We took the train from Bellingham to Vancouver (British Columbia) then down to Seattle before flying home,” Muniz said. “We loved being there and being outside hiking and camping.”
Muniz and her family have lived all over the country, since Muniz works in television herself. She is currently the executive producer of a morning show in Nashville. Because of her line of work, moving to the Gig Harbor area may be a smooth transition.
Muniz found out about her win more than a week before the announcement. She said she was having a normal day at work, until she came home and saw HGTV star Tiffany Brooks in her home.
“I saw Tiffany, my family in my house and it was surreal,” Muniz said. “My parents worked with the HGTV producers to set up my ambush. They ambushed Kevin earlier that day. So he had to keep quiet for five hours before I got home.”
The Muniz family has never visited Gig Harbor before, but they will be taking a trip to the area in the next two weeks to film the “Winners Weekend” special. The family can either choose to take the new house, car and $250,000 cash prize, valued together at $1.8 million, or they can choose instead to take a cash prize of an undisclosed amount.
“We have been working with financial advisers to see what the best option is for us,” Muniz said. “We just found out about this 10 days ago and it’s been a whirlwind.”
The four-bedroom, three-bath home includes an expansive view of Henderson Bay with a two-level patio, full kitchen and will be given away fully furnished and decorated. The home has many modern embellishments and windows all over the house to let in natural light. Brian Patrick Flynn, the HGTV designer who put the house together, put various local spins on the decorating theme, including large murals in the home that highlight Mount Rainier and the Space Needle. The lower level includes an informal living room, a cocktail lounge, an exercise corner and a lower-level patio with access to the backyard. The master bedroom includes a window corner with a spare reading and lounge area to view the harbor on a rainy day. The furniture was provided to HGTV by Wayfair, an online home and furniture market.
The amount of free publicity the city of Gig Harbor has received while being highlighted for the sweepstakes is remarkable. Karen Scott, city’s Tourism and Communications director, believes the city’s work to paint itself as a welcoming and active community is part of the reason the national network chose Gig Harbor for its next destination point.
“We work really hard to welcome ourselves to tourists during the season,” Scott said previously. “Tourism is a huge benefit to the community.”
Kothe said besides receiving construction permits and filling out the usual paperwork, Scripps Network Interactive and HGTV don’t usually work directly with the cities where they build. Cities do not bid for a spot but are chosen by a team at the network.
“We had a few members of the network from the area who raved about Gig Harbor,” Kothe said.
Muniz said she fell in love with the home when she saw photos and video online. Her favorite part? The big windows and the pink decorations.
“We love the outdoors and right when you walk in the house you can see the Puget Sound from two big windows in the living room,” Muniz said. “Also there is a room that is just all pink and navy blue. With us having a daughter, it’ll be easy to transfer our family into that space.”