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Cabins in the Woods

With Team Red finally getting a victory in the Spanish-style makeover, the remaining nine designers head to the hills above Los Angeles for tonight's challenge: renovating two rustic cabins that are becoming increasingly unlivable.

The Uhle family property is used by three generations at the same time, including the matriarch Mary, who now needs a wheelchair to get around. Designer Darren steps up to lead Team Blue, which aims to update the cabin's look and make it accessible.

The Murray family cabin is also wracked by the ravages of time. What's more, the family is pestered by resident mice. Team Red's challenge will be to make the mice feel most unwelcome, while making the cabin most welcome for future generations. Dann, who visited a family cabin as a boy, takes the project personally and will step up to lead the charge for Team Red. Erinn will make over the living room and one bedroom; Lukas will tackle the front porch and exterior and help Dann with the kitchen, while Vanessa will take on the dining room and master bedroom.

Darren meets with his team and explains that his approach to leading is to simply do whatever it takes to help the individual designers do their best work. Jay will take on the master bedroom, front porch and landscaping; Andrew will rework one bedroom, and Elaine another. Elaine is also assigned the dining room, but when Nina is given the living room, Elaine balks, claiming that the living and dining rooms are really a single room. The seeds of tension are sewn once again. Darren decides to tackle the kitchen (which will including making it fully accessible for anyone who's handicapped). The team decides they should make the entire house ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. In addition they plan to unify and enlarge the outdoor space, utilizing some local river rock.

Dann and Team Red zero in on the key problems and decide to address them by creating more sleeping space, unifying the main and outlying cabins with a single color scheme and modernizing the kitchen. As for the mice, Dann has a trick: stuffing any existing entrance points with steel wool, since mice will not eat through it.

The teams put on their protective gear and get out the chain saws, sledgehammers and pry bars to begin demolition. As tired carpet is pulled up and failing concrete is chipped away, the cabins already begin to acquire a new lease on life.

Lukas sizes up his kitchen and decides that he must respect the traditional feel of the cabin, but make the kitchen functional for modern life. He reworks counters, adds shelving and more to help pull the form and function together. Team leader Dann is looking to make a bold unifying statement of his own on the exterior. He makes a controversial choice: repainting all the buildings woodland green. It could make or break him.

Andrew has his own bold color choice to share: his bedroom will be chocolate brown with pink accents. He knows that playing it safe led to Christina's demise last week, and he wants to make a statement.

Erinn determines her bedroom's big challenge is simple: not enough space for two people. She calls for a half-divider, to create a sense of privacy between the two beds, while avoiding creating two tiny rooms. Vanessa sizes up her stand-alone bungalow (bedroom cabin) and decides it isn't cozy enough. She chooses to cover one of the room's windows, to enclose the space and give it more focus. Immediately, Erinn declares it a huge mistake.

Nina starts imaging her living room but is quickly met with resistance from Elaine who doesn't want to take on the dining room assignment because she feels Nina's living room will necessarily inform whatever she does in the dining room. When Nina suggests using a pair of small trees to bring the outside inside, Elaine is dubious, to say the least. To Nina's credit, she cajoles Elaine into working with her; they install the trees in the corners of both rooms - and high five afterwards.

Dann's painting team is out with the sprayers, giving all the exteriors the same green treatment. But upon application, the green is coming off lighter than most had imagined it would. Out of Dann's earshot, murmurings from the teams are heard, while the opposing team declares victory. "Is this Kermit the Frog's house?" Jay asks mockingly.

Nate, Monica and Eddie stop by the Team Blue house. Seeing the pea soup green on everything, Nate declares in an interview that he's terrified by it. Still, the judges love the inside and immediately are blown away by Lukas' kitchen work and porch lighting. Vanessa's bedroom cabin, on the other hand, also gets poor remarks. Walling in one of the room's windows appears to be a fatal error: it has created a sense of claustrophobia for the judges and removed a beautiful view of the nearby creek.

Over at Darren's Team Blue cabin, the judges love where Nina's going with the living room (adding river rock to extend the rustic feeling of the hearth) and they're also impressed by Darren's ADA kitchen, with its low Silestone counters and updated appliances. Andrew's chocolate brown bedroom is a tougher sell; Nate calls it a huge mistake because it's too sophisticated for the mountain vibe.

The clock ticks down, and the teams race to finish their projects. Jay scampers to get the landscaping just right; Darren's left him on his own, and Elaine's comments are that it's much too busy. Bedrooms are finished off with rich fabrics; Lukas hangs a custom white chandelier from a small tree; Nina struggles with the location of the trees for her room. And just like that the command comes: "Hammers down!" It's time for the reveals.
The local neighborhood council is introduced, as are the two families who own the cabins. With all due drama, Nate yells "Welcome home!" and the facades are pulled up, to raucous cheering and applause. Nate, Monica and Eddie make their way inside Team Red's house. The green color isn't to Nate's liking, but Eddie's a fan. Inside, the judges ooh and ahh at the porch and living room, in particular the way in which the team has retained the original elements and furnishings. Lukas' kitchen is sophisticated yet traditional and highly functional. Vanessa's bedroom gets unanimous thumbs down for the choice of fabrics and the walling off of a window. Erinn's bedroom gets mixed reviews, but by contrast, Dann's bedroom is nearly perfect, an inviting blend of fabrics and furnishings.

At Team Blue's cabin, the judges find the living room intimate and warm, but the spindly trees in the corner (and the corner of the dining room) threaten to derail all that Nina and Elaine have done right. Moving outside, they love Jay's landscape work and arbor. Jay may be a general contractor, but it's clear he's got a keen eye for exteriors. Back inside, Andrew's bedroom is declared a mess, a mixture of too many clashing styles. The chocolate brown walls seem to evoke a sophisticated urban look, but the country furnishings and contrasting fabrics seem to say rustic.

The neighborhood council tours both houses, remarking positively on almost every single project, with the exception of the green exterior on Team Red's buildings. They love the ADA compliant kitchen and both living rooms and porches are showered with praise. When their votes are counted, it's Dann's team that gets the nod.

Dann and his team leave, flush with another victory. Now Darren and company must face the music. The judges tell Nina her scrawny trees were a wreck and could cause her to be eliminated; Darren is taken to task for not making clear assignments: Nina and Elaine's bickering over who should work in the dining room is a case in point. But ultimately it's Andrew who gets the harshest criticism. The judges felt his design choices in the bedroom belied a confused sense of style, a mishmash of contrasts they found exhausting. Andrew is sent home.

As has been the case through the first three episodes, many projects can overcome a flawed foundation or a somewhat sloppy final execution. But a decorating disaster can prove a fatal flaw. And in this case, an urban approach to a mountain bedroom was the disaster that sent Andrew packing.

Cover Image


NBC American Dream Builders Episode 104

Media Type

TV Shows


American Dream Builders


Episode #: 
Air Dates: 
Monday, April 7, 2014 - 22:00
TV Shows: 


American Dream Builders



Short Synopsis

The designers head to Big Bear, California to transform a pair of rundown family cabins into friendly gathering places for multiple generations.