Can I get an “amen!”? Is it just me or has this season of Top Design sort of fizzled out? Aside from Eddie, I haven’t really had anyone to mock relentlessly. It takes all the joy out of the process. Last week, Eddie was finally eliminated and sent back to Saint Martha. I’m sure her cars are filthy without Eddie around to keep them clean and waxed. The challenge last week required the designers to complete one room in a townhouse. The remaining designers will have to complete the rest of the house in this week’s final challenge.
Nathan was sure he was out in the last elimination. He knows the judges really want to see what he can do. He’s just getting that now? What was his first clue? Preston says he’s driven himself hard in the competition. He then gets personal, talking about addiction and how it tore his family apart.
The designers get ready to begin shopping to furnish the rest of the homes they began designing in the last challenge. They will have $60,000 to spend. Each designer seems to have a clear vision of their design. Nathan wants his house to be a hip, young, happening, art collector’s home. Preston is aiming to create a sleek, modern home with a twist and Ondine is going for Danish Modern chic. Good Lord, is Danish Modern back in? My parents designed their new home in that style when they got married….in 1957.
Like a Bad Penny
The next morning, the designers hit the ground running: they have just over two days to complete the entire house. The houses have all been painted and wallpapered over night. Each designer will have two carpenters and a seamstress to assist them. Still, they’ll need more support if they want to finish their work in time. Out come Andrea, Eddie and Natalie. They’re here to help the designers with anything and everything. Eddie has to caution them that they’re not assistants. No, honey, that’s exactly what you are. Eddie tells us he wants to slit his wrists and wishes he was on a beach somewhere. Finally, Eddie and I have something in common.
The designers are paired with their assistants this way:
Nathan – Natalie
Preston – Eddie (who practically swallows his tongue)
Ondine – Andrea
Preston claims to be happy with Eddie because Eddie is good at what he does. What he does is bitch and act like a diva so I agree: Eddie is good at what he does. To prove my theory, Eddie announces he will not be getting coffee for Preston. Ondine, on the other hand, is perfectly happy to be working with Andrea.
The teams all get to work. Andrea says it’s good to be back, but is frustrated because she thinks she would have been good at this challenge. Eddie gripes that Preston only wants to design hotels. Preston admits he needs Eddie’s help and knows this competition can open up his career. Eddie tells us he’s there to help Preston, but isn’t there to help Preston win. Nathan says the competition is very personal to him. When his parents split up when he was a kid, he and his mother moved into a townhouse, which he helped design: it started everything for him.
The carpenters and movers arrive to help the designers. Nathan bought that giant sarcophagus, which weighs about 900 tons, and not the movers have to get it into the house. Once it’s in place, Nathan knows immediately that it’s too big for the room. Even though he knows it shouldn’t be in the room, he doesn’t have the heart to have the movers take it out. He wonders if he could just torch it.
Each of the designers will receive $5,000 to shop in a dream store. As he leaves to go shopping, Preston naively tells us he feels fine leaving Eddie in charge. Meanwhile, Nathan observes that Eddie isn’t doing nearly as much work as Natalie is doing. Preston calls back to the house to ask Eddie to repaint some walls: he’s anxious about the color and wants to change it. Eddie, who’s basically just sitting around, tells Preston he has lots to do. I half expect Eddie to curl up and take a nap.
It’s Todd Time once again! He goes from house to house and gives his opinions and advice. He then tells us that there’s quite an overlap in look between the houses. Preston’s house is clean and masculine with somber colors. Nathan’s house has quirky elements. Todd thinks it could be a wild card. Ondine’s house is a mixing of beautiful ideas, colors and texture choices: he calls it a masterful balance. He can’t pick a winner.
Ondine’s house is really not coming together. No furniture has been delivered and the mirrored headboard is not finished. There’s a lot of work going on, but no real results.
At the end of the day all six designers are really tired from work and decide to hit the pool. Everyone splashes around and then Preston gets out, towels off and leaves the other five to probably talk smack about him. Preston explains to us that he’s just not getting the alone time he needs to recharge himself.
It’s the final day and the designers have 8 hours to work. Everyone is putting finishing touches on their work. Well, except for Ondine, whose house is pretty much empty. The carpenters are still working on her projects. Slowly. This whole segment was kind of a flurry of accessorizing and Ondine pacing around. Not much to write home about.
The next morning, the designers all imagine how their lives would change if they won the competition. Nathan muses about having a strong name in the design world and creating an empire like Saint Martha. Ondine says that, if she wins, she’ll open a storefront in Brooklyn and run her company from there. Preston says that the accomplishment of winning is more important than the money.
With only a few hours left, Preston just has a bit of styling left to do. Ondine is still worried: nothing she expected the carpenters to finish has been completed. Nathan works on creating some artwork for the dining room but dripping paint down a canvas. It actually turns out pretty cool and he hangs the painting so the drips are horizontal. Preston tell us he feels that he put together the house as best he could. Eddie tells us that Preston is a nice guy, but he likes Nathan and Ondine better: he thinks they’re both more creative. Mercifully (at least in the case of Eddie), the assistant’s leave the designers to their fates.
Like a Colonoscopy, Only Less Fun
The judges arrive to see the designers’ work and hear then justify their very existence. This episode’s judges are Jonathan Adler, Kelly Wearstler and Margaret Russell. Ondine is up first. The concept for her house is “retro glam.” She tried to create a space that was hip, young, stylish and comfortable. They begin in the living room, which features 1950’s Danish furniture with some modern touches. Ondine admits the upholstery on the sofas could be brighter. When asked, Ondine tells Jonathan her style is “eclectic modern chic.” Kelly asks Ondine if she looked for continuity when designing. Ondine replies that she did try to help things speak together. She then admits that she may have bitten off more than she could chew for her carpenters with both the mirrored headboard and the bed in the child’s room.
Preston is up next. His concept is “modern meets traditional”…. in a hotel. Jonathan says he would have wanted more color than Preston used. Why is he surprised? Preston is the king of gray. Preston explains that he changed the sitting room he designed in the last challenge and turned it into a dining room. Jonathan, like a dog with a bone, keeps harping on the splash of color. The judges all seem to love the various wallpapers Preston used.
Nathan gets the last visit from the judges in his “Bohemian bourgeois cottage.” Jonathan still hates the master bedroom. Nathan says he didn’t change the bed and Jonathan retorts. “You should have.” Well, MEE to the YOW. Nathan’s thinks his child’s bedroom looks just like a 7-year old’s room. Yeah, not so much…unless the kid is a member of the Young Republicans.
Jonathan is surprised, considering Nathan’s poor performance in the last challenge, that there weren’t any lows this time: he liked what he saw. Jonathan calls Nathan’s house incredibly chic and says Nathan has an intellectual approach to design that’s both creative and surprising. Jonathan asks Nathan what his least favorite element in his house was. Nathan admits the sarcophagus was just too big, but didn’t feel he could ask the movers to take it back out. Margaret scolds him: it should have been worth $100,000 to move it. Jonathan cites the painting and chandelier in the dining room as some of his favorite features. Kelly likes that Nathan searched out objects and art that, while different in style, all worked well together: the transitions between styles felt smooth.
Margaret tells Ondine she should be proud: this is her most pulled together work so far. She cites the pink sofas as her favorite thing. Kelly comments that there were a lot of accessories in the house: maybe Ondine could have pulled back a bit and ended up with a more beautiful space. Ondine whines a bit about her slow carpenters, but is taken down a notch or two when the judges point out that Ondine may have been a bit ambitious with her demands on the carpenters. Kelly says the little girl’s room was the most successful.
Margaret compliments Preston on doing a lovely job: each room felt different, but went with the others. She loved the guest room with the moldings. Kelly had problems with the dining room (this was the room he designed as a sitting room in the last challenge) and Preston admits he had problems with it as well. Jonathan tells Preston he was wowed by the details and how perfectly everything was finished.
Margaret tells the designers she knows that the judges all sound very critical but they do all know how difficult this challenge was. She congratulates them all on completing the challenge. Kelly says they all did an incredible job. Jonathan says he loved each house for different reasons: he’s wildly conflicted about who he’ll pick ass a winner.
The Big Winner
The designers are excused while the judges deliberate. Margaret thinks Ondine’s big ideas worked: the pink sofas and the mirrored headboard. However, she did have issues with the carpenter. Kelly thinks Ondine has matured well. Her story was cohesive. Although a few of Ondine’s rooms were a little sleepy, others were more fun. Jonathan would like to see Ondine let go a bit more and use more color: he loved the little girl’s room.
India calls Nathan a strong, individual designer. Jonathan admits he loved Nathan’s hoiuse. He calls it provocative and says it contained all the best of Nathan. Margaret calls Nathan an intelligent designer, and says he’s wildly creative, but his choices are sometimes a bit random. The best room, she says, was the front room that had no function other than to set the tone for the house. Margaret also hated the wallpaper that was just off the entryway.
Margaret calls Preston’s work the most polished, decorated and well thought out of the three. She loved the upstairs guest room. Jonathan thinks Preston needs to crank up the punctuation and give his rooms more “kapow.” Kelly cites the upholstered headboard and canopy that Preston added to the bed in the master bedroom. Margaret responds to Jonathan’s call for a punch of color in every room: that’s not necessary all the time. She then adds that “polished design” doesn’t have to be boring.
India congratulates all three designers. They’ve come a long way. Still, there will be only one winner. Jonathan sums up the competition. Nathan has made incredible progress from his first horrid Pop Design Challenge with the jagged glass. Ondine has also made incredible progress. The judges have said they wanted her to be more pulled together, but now Jonathan thinks Ondine needs to show a little more of herself. Preston’s journey has been equally impressive. He’s brilliantly talented and polished: a perfect designer who knows what his voice is.
India recites the prizes and then congratulates Nathan on winning Top Design. He claims to be both shocked and thrilled. Preston and Ondine smile and clap politely and then congratulate Nathan on his win. Preston tells us that this experience will change the way he designs. The show gave him more confidence to branch out. Ondine sings “Kumbaya” and says that there’s room enough in the world for everyone to be successful and she wishes all of the designers well.
A joyous Nathan celebrates his big moment and says his mom will be so proud. After this, he feels like he’ll never be afraid of anything again. He knows it better to go through life with bravery and he tried to approach the competition that way.