Bristol and Aubrey Marunde star in “Flip or Flop Vegas,” starting Thursday on HGTV. Bristol, an MMA fighter and Sequim grad, moved to Las Vegas years ago to pursue fighting, and after dating Aubrey, they began flipping homes together. (HGTV)

Bristol and Aubrey Marunde star in “Flip or Flop Vegas,” starting Thursday on HGTV. Bristol, an MMA fighter and Sequim grad, moved to Las Vegas years ago to pursue fighting, and after dating Aubrey, they began flipping homes together. (HGTV)

Sequim High School graduate in ‘Flip or Flop’ spin-off

SEQUIM — A Sequim High School graduate and his family will soon star in one of the most popular cable television shows in home improvement reality TV.

Bristol Marunde, a 2000 Sequim High graduate and mixed martial artist, and his wife, Aubrey, will fix up 13 worn homes in “Flip or Flop Vegas,” a 30-minute home improvement show running 13 episodes, airing weekly on HGTV starting at 9 p.m. Thursday.

“It’s a huge opportunity,” Aubrey said, sitting in the Sequim Starbucks during a recent visit to Bristol’s hometown from their home in Las Vegas.

“There are going to be a lot of eyes on us going into that franchise.”

The pair join the network’s plan for five “Flip or Flop” spin-offs. Other shows will be based in Atlanta; Fort Worth, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; and Chicago.

The Marundes’ show is first to premiere. The two got into the business of “flipping” homes — taking fixer-uppers and turning them into homes to sell for profit — about nine years ago. Their upcoming series has been heavily promoted on the network and other national media, but the pair said they’ve been too busy to notice.

“We’re so consumed in projects right now, we haven’t had much time to pay attention to it,” Aubrey said.

In July, their original show, “High Stakes Flippers,” premiered on HGTV and it got good ratings, the couple said. But it was put in limbo until the show went on to become “Flip or Flop Vegas,” which the Marundes presume might have been part of a plan for sometime.

They’ve been filming for the new series since September, with five episodes set to finish soon.

Aubrey said their show presents the design and construction process from beginning to end on a different home each episode, and they both have their hands in the entirety of each project.

“We’re not made for TV,” Bristol said. “We actually do the work. That’s unique to us. We enjoy the work and love getting our hands dirty.”

He said they’ll focus on the process and the products and how they are using them.

Construction is nonstop, Bristol said, and the pair is on the various sites daily readying for the show, with filming running four to five days a week.

“Las Vegas has a huge underlying element to the show,” Aubrey said. “We love Las Vegas and everything about it.”

A few years before he ventured to Las Vegas, Bristol spent his middle and high school years in Sequim bucking hay for Cy Frick and Ric Erickson, commercial fishing in Alaska during the summers and working at Tim’s Cabinets a few summers during college, said his mom, Gigi Marunde, who lives in Sequim.

Going into the trades industry isn’t surprising, Gigi said, because her son’s always been handy.

“I always gave him something I had broken and asked him to fix it,” Gigi said. “He’s just always loved it.”

Bristol’s dad, Chuck Marunde, also a Sequim resident, said his son is “very good at figuring things out and working with his hands. He’s an entrepreneur at heart. That’s the key. He would rather work for himself even if it’s harder.”

Chuck said the community of Sequim doesn’t believe in entitlement.

“If you want something, you have to make it happen for yourself,” he said.

Gigi said Bristol’s passion for real estate took off when he met Aubrey. The pair met at an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) mixed martial arts fight, where Bristol talked to Aubrey, a real estate agent, about buying a home. That led to a coffee date.

Aubrey comes from Milton, Pa., a town about the size of Sequim, where she competed in gymnastics and cheerleading and pursued a scholarship to University of Nevada, Las Vegas, before getting her real estate license.

The Marundes visit Sequim, where they bought a home in 2012, at least four times a year for mixed martial arts fights at Clearwater Casino Resort in Suquamish, which Bristol coordinates and promotes through his businesses.

“We love to come here,” Bristol said.

“With the trees and mountains, it’s a such a break for us,” Aubrey said.

The couple take their two boys, Kale, 6, and Kane, 3, to some of Bristol’s favorite spots such as Dungeness Spit and the Dungeness Valley Creamery when they have time.

They have flipped homes in Sequim, Aubrey said, and it’s not out of the picture for them to do it again.

“I love this market,” she said. “It’s very consistent for flippers.”

Pursuing television was not something the Marundes had in mind when they began flipping homes.

After Bristol fought in the show “The Ultimate Fighter,” he didn’t want to do reality TV again or be away from his family, he said. But interest continued to come in from different production companies after he shared images of his projects on Instagram.

From there, he did interviews that led to a deal with High Noon Entertainment, which produces other HGTV shows like “Fixer Upper.”

Bristol said he wanted more time with his family and they wanted a real show.

“We want it to come across as authentic,” he said. “We told producers we want something real without creating false drama.”

“There’s enough stuff that happens on a construction site every day that you don’t have to create stuff,” Aubrey said.

They began the pitch process for “High Stakes Flippers” and now “Flip or Flop Vegas” in May 2015, the couple said.

“We’re not afraid to say how hard it is to get here,” Aubrey said. “Some people think you show up and stand on camera for a few minutes.”

In some of their national interviews, they’ve been asked if they are worried about the fate of their marriage unraveling as they gain fame, but the Marundes aren’t deterred.

“We’re not worried about that,” Bristol said. “We work well together.”

“We’re not getting thrown into this after a few months or a year,” Aubrey said. “This is nine years in the making. We’ve got a strong hold on our business.”

The couple took solace in a quiet ride from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Sequim on March 24 when they were able to talk without interruption.

“We’re constantly coming and going,” Aubrey said. “We’re on set a lot so it’s a really cool thing we get to work together. If he wouldn’t be with me along for this ride, I would have pulled out a long time ago.”

With a tightening schedule, building projects become a place for the family to come together, too, Bristol said.

“We just juggle everything,” he said. “We’re busy all the time. We bring toys on the job site and give the boys brooms and they’ll help us. We don’t send them to a bab ysitter. It’s a family thing.”

Recently, the couple went out to dinner and were told soon they won’t be able to do it without being stopped by viewers.

Bristol’s parents feel he can handle it, though, since he’s been under the limelight before.

“That’s the easy part for Bristol,” Chuck said. “He’s been in front of tens of thousands of people watching him fight. People don’t generally understand the awesome pressure it puts on a person. He’ll be comfortable and have a lot of fun with it.”

Gigi sees Bristol as a humble husband, father and businessman.

“It’s really the grace of God [he was chosen for the show],” Gigi said.

“He didn’t set out to be on the No. 1 home renovation network. It presented itself to him for doing a good job, for his personality and for Aubrey’s business sense. She’s really a brilliant woman and a great wife and mother.”

Before the couple’s big premiere, though, back in Bristol’s hometown, they seemed content to sip coffee and enjoy the quiet before fame comes knocking on one of their new homes.

For more, see www.HGTV.com. Find the couple on Instagram at @Aubrey Marunde and @Bristol Marunde.

________

Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

For the homes seen on “Flip or Flop Vegas,” Bristol Marunde works on many elements of the project while his wife designs them. “We’re not made for TV,” Bristol said. “We actually do the work. That’s unique to us. We enjoy the work and love getting our hands dirty.” (HGTV)

For the homes seen on “Flip or Flop Vegas,” Bristol Marunde works on many elements of the project while his wife designs them. “We’re not made for TV,” Bristol said. “We actually do the work. That’s unique to us. We enjoy the work and love getting our hands dirty.” (HGTV)

Bristol and Aubrey Marunde’s show “Flip or Flop Vegas” originally started as “High Stakes Flippers” for HGTV but was rebranded to start the franchise for the popular home renovation show. (HGTV)

Bristol and Aubrey Marunde’s show “Flip or Flop Vegas” originally started as “High Stakes Flippers” for HGTV but was rebranded to start the franchise for the popular home renovation show. (HGTV)

Aubrey and Bristol Marunde keep a home in Sequim and visit at least four times a year from Las Vegas. Bristol runs mixed martial arts fights through his Reign Promotions at Clearwater Casino Resort. (HGTV)

Aubrey and Bristol Marunde keep a home in Sequim and visit at least four times a year from Las Vegas. Bristol runs mixed martial arts fights through his Reign Promotions at Clearwater Casino Resort. (HGTV)

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