After last week's four-team modular madness, the designers are once again split into two teams. Team Red consists of Erinn, Lukas and Dann while Team Blue is made up of Jay, Nina, Elaine and Darren. They'll make over a pair of Craftsman-style homes in five days, then face a critical walk-through by both the judges (Nate Berkus, Eddie George and Monica Pedersen) and a local council of homeowners who will determine which team has done the best job. Team Blue is given a choice of having an extra $5000 to work with or the aid of two full time carpenters. Elaine and Darren, winners of last week's modular home challenge, make the pick for their team: they choose the carpenters. Erinn, leader of Team Red, will put the extra cash to work.
The teams retreat to their planning tents and learn more about the homes and families who live in them. Team Blue's family is led by a single mom who works from home as a recipe designer; a revamped kitchen and new digs for her son are the key needs. The family in Team Red's home is a young couple with 14-month-old twin daughters; the father is a personal trainer who needs an on-site workout facility for his clients. Monica tells both teams that their challenge is to both infuse the houses with stylish improvements but also create functional work areas for the businesses that are being run out of the homes. The clock begins ticking.
Nina is the site manager for Team Blue this week and holds a quick meeting to discuss tactics and assignments. Elaine will take on the master bedroom and living room, Jay's got the exterior, Darren's responsible for the twins' bedroom and the conversion of the garage into a home gym and Nina will handle the dining room and kitchen. The group's strategy also includes updating the home's exterior with classic Craftsman touches and using the on-site carpenters to create a variety of built-in cabinets.
Erinn runs Team Red and quickly establishes the projects with her team members: while Dann takes the living room, master bedroom and bath and Lukas the dining room and exterior, Erinn will work on the bedroom and the all-important kitchen. They'll expand the kitchen and recycle a built-in desk from the living room. They'll use the $5000 bonus to maximize the charm, adding decorative touches and landscaping.
The race is on and the typical temper flare-ups are on display, but nothing like the fights of weeks past. Elaine even tries to cajole her team members into jogging back and forth from their planning tent to the worksite, though only Darren is game to join her.
Dann and Lukas investigate their house's back shed to find some unique decorative elements (think china) to accompany their built-ins.
In addition to working with the carpenters to build a small deck off the back door, Jay is having the landscaping removed in favor a lawn, all the better for the twins to play on. Darren oversees the installation of a beautiful folding partition door for the gym: the Nana wall system will create space and light and make the gym feel much bigger than it would otherwise. In the kids' bedroom, Elaine and Nina question the floor plan Darren's envisioning, but he sticks to his guns, telling them to let him work up his own room. Nina runs afoul of Elaine as well, arguing over lighting and the use of wallpaper on the ceiling. It's all in a week's work of transformation.
The judges show up for a walk-through. They're surprised when Jay actually grows emotional about the backyard play area; a father himself, Jay clearly is making a personal connection. Inside, the judges question the choice to wallpaper the ceiling, but simply love where Darren's headed with the gym.
At the other home, the judges like Erinn's kitchen but question Dann's furniture plan. They're also underwhelmed by Erinn's plans for the son's bedroom, calling it too drab and likening it to a study or library. Erinn will need to jazz it up if she's to make a positive impression.
The final push is on. After Nina and Darren squabble over whether his rooms will be ready, he blows off steam by exercising in the still half-finished gym. On Team Red, Dann continues to struggle with how to arrange the living room furniture until Lukas and Erinn lend a hand, arriving at a stylish, if functional, compromise. Wall decorations are hastily added, cribs assembled and placed, drapes hung, etc. And in an instant, it's hammers down. Compared to past weeks, it's actually less tense than it's been; the team members congratulate each other and wait for the arrival of Nate, Monica and Eddie.
The judges arrive and begin their tours. On Team Blue, they love Jay's exterior, with the angled columns firmly focusing the entrance. Elaine's living room feels over-accessorized, the colors clash and the wallpaper on the ceiling just intensifies the cluttered feeling. On the other hand, Nina's kitchen is elegant, functional and beautiful. Darren's bedroom gets mixed reviews; the colors are a bit subdued and to Monica, it doesn't feel girly enough. Elaine's master bedroom is also a miss. "I am literally bored to tears in here," Nate declares. Jay's backyard scores, with its inviting lawn and redwood decking. Darren's gym is also deemed great. The neighborhood council walks through. They actually like the wallpaper in the ceiling and they love the kitchen's new open feeling, but remark on a lack of storage. The gym is a universal hit.
Team Red's exterior wows the judges before they even step inside. They also love Dann's living room, though they downgrade him on the TV's placement inside the glass door cabinet. Dann's bathroom elicits cheers for its sophisticated shades and textures. Erinn's boy's bedroom is judged stolid and not playful. Lukas' dining room knocks Monica off her feet, especially the use of the recycled china in the built-in shelves. And finally they tour Erinn's kitchen. Since the owner makes her living here, they cast a very critical eye on every detail - and love what she's done. She opened it up and made it more functional. The council walks through and generally has the same response that the judges did, particularly on Dann's placement of the TV in the living room.
The teams assemble for the final reckoning. The judges walk through a litany of hits and misses before revealing the results of the council's vote. Team Blue is safe once again. Nate, Monica and Eddie are torn; they thought the superior house was Erinn's, not Nina's. But they must abide by the rules and now have a very painful decision on their hands. "I've never been so miserable in my life," Nate says and his fellow judges agree. But someone's going home and they caucus in private before calling Erinn, Dann and Lukas back in.
The dramatic moment is at hand and Nate pauses for effect before announcing that Erinn is being eliminated. The judges felt that her boy's bedroom lacked imagination. Under most circumstance this wouldn't have been a firing offense, but as the competition heats up, even a minor transgression can come at the ultimate price.
Erinn thanks her teammates and the judges before heading out, crestfallen.
The remaining seven designers compete to renovate a pair of classic California craftsman homes.