Episode 107: Colonial Duplex
The field of original designers has been cut in half: just six competitors remain and the strain of racing the clock to renovate is beginning to fray friendships, nerves and the will to survive. Tonight Jay, Elaine, Lukas, Dann, Nina and Darren will be charged with reworking a pair of homes that share a common wall. The colonial duplex is home to an extended family and each living space is in need of more than a little tender loving care.
Nate greets the contestants and lets them know he's reshuffling the teams. Team Red will now consist of Lukas, Darren and Elaine, while Jay, Dann and Nina will make up Team Blue. Jay and Darren are named site managers. The teams head to the Los Angeles neighborhood to examine the duplex they'll be reworking over the next week. They watch a video of the family members and learn that the patriarch of the family is confined to a wheelchair. We see agonizing footage of the grown son pulling his elderly father up a set of stairs to a bedroom. Moreover, while the duplex's "bones" are solid, the walls and counters are worse for wear and most rooms need major updating. In particular, both teams are charged with creating a "dream bathroom," using materials from Lowe's. It's another great challenge for the teams, since the homes are mirror images of each other.
Jay assembles his team to divvy up the duties. Jay will handle the kitchen as well as the ADA conversion (making the house accessible per the Americans with Disabilities Act) for the master bedroom and bathroom. Nina will tackle the living room and Dann will take on the dining room; together, they'll take on the upstairs bedroom and dream bathroom. "The Dannimal" may prove a secret weapon, since he was raised in Philadelphia and is intimately familiar with colonial style.
Jay suggests opening up the interior stairwell and adding a handrail as well as a stylish colonial-style landing to add depth and drama to an otherwise drab transitional space. Nina and Dann brainstorm the dream bathroom; Dann's got very strong ideas and asserts himself; Jay keeps a careful eye but doesn't tamp down Dann's enthusiasm.
Darren begins making his assignments: Lukas will take on the master bathroom as well as the kitchen and one bedroom and he'll also share the living and dining room renovations with Elaine. Elaine will address the master bedroom; Darren gives himself the remaining bedroom and its adjoining patio and shares the exterior with Jay. Elaine and Lukas jump in on the dining room, including reworking an existing shelf into a period-perfect built-in hutch.
Lukas and Elaine make some immediate and impactful choices: opening up the wall between the living and dining rooms and adding a foyer at the front door, complete with columns to reinforce the colonial style at the point of entry. Darren begins musing on an oasis-style patio off the bedroom, then discovers a discarded desk on the sidewalk. He enlists Lukas to rework it to give it a distressed but elegant finish. In an interview, Lukas complains that Darren really isn't actively managing his project and is in fact goofing off while the clock is ticking. As Lukas sighs, loveable Darren is shown wailing on a guitar and lying on a discarded box spring; he is the happy-go-lucky Eco MacGyver after all.
Nate, Eddie and Monica arrive for an in-progress inspection. Looking at the Blue Team's site, Nate wonders about Darren's overambitious plan for the patio, which includes daybeds and a firepit. The master bathroom is more on track, however, with Lukas explaining that, thanks to some judicious demolition, there will be room for both a shower and a tub. Lukas' kitchen design also gets a thumbs-up. With a simple approach (white walls, a clear path adjoining the dining room), the effect should be to unify and expand the space.
Over on the other side of the duplex, Monica gets the lowdown on the fantasy bathroom from Nina and is a bit puzzled to learn the plans call for only a single sink (the bathroom is shared with a mother and adult son) and no bathtub. Nina explains that she was overruled by Dann and Jay; Monica frowns.
The judges leave and Jay and Darren commence work on the exterior. Jay adds a series of gable pediments to the home's lower windows, then builds some custom shutters to give the front façade a more substantial and period look.
The designers from both teams head downtown to the marketplace to choose their furnishings. And it quickly becomes interesting. The teams are supposed to lay tags on their selected furniture items, with a coin flip determining which team would get the piece if both teams want it. Elaine appears to follow Nina and Dann around, quickly placing tags down on the very same items they're selecting. The teams snip at each other until Dann calls them out. Elaine tells him to "go to the Zen zone," but Dann just grows angrier. Finally it turns into a full-blown, shouting, red-faced screaming match. "Do not f--- with me today," he warns. It's as ugly as we've seen to date. And unsurprisingly, it's Elaine who's set someone off.
The dust settles and back at the planning compounds, cooler heads prevail. Jay and Nina sit Dann down for an adult conversation. Dann's defensive, claiming Elaine deserved what he dished out. Jay raises his voice but Dann's simply not retreating. Eventually, however, Dann recognizes the potential pitfall of being seen as belligerent; he crosses over to the other team's compound and apologizes. Elaine is cool but not combative. Everyone's ready to move on.
Everyone gets back to work. Jay applies some elegant textured tile for his ADA-compliant bathroom. Dann and Nina browse their local Lowe's for a variety of components for the luxury bathroom. Lukas and Elaine make good progress on their living and dining room - but they're concerned about site manager Darren's ability to finish his own projects. Elaine also objects to the accent molding Darren's put up in the entryway - it's much too thin for the colonial feel. Darren has no interest in removing it, telling Elaine to do it herself if she's is so motivated. "What an idiot he's being!" Elaine fumes. Darren's clearly feeling the strain - and with good reason. There's less than a day remaining and he hasn't begun his patio yet; his bedroom is also half-finished.
Nina's feeling her own stresses. She can't quite decide on her furniture placement for the living room. She and Dann move and re-move chairs and tables around, trying to find the winning combination. And Dann's got a furniture issue of his own. The chairs he's procured for the dining table looked good at a distance, but now that they're delivered, he realizes they're simple plastic; Nina remarks that they're too cheap-looking. Dann soldiers on.
It's the closing minutes: fixtures are hung, pillows fluffed, chairs arranged, a print is attached to a wall. Darren confesses to his team that he hasn't had time to complete his patio. Somewhere a bell is tolling.
The family, the judges and the neighborhood council are standing outside. As Nate yells his familiar "Welcome home!" refrain, the transformed duplex is revealed; the family is overwhelmed.
Nate, Eddie and Monica enter Nina, Dann and Jay's side first. They love Nina's living room, though subtract a few points for some overly tiny stools. Dann's dining room is a major turn-off, the chairs eliciting poor reviews from all three judges. Conversely, they agree that Jay's opened-up stairwell is an impressive and signature change. His ADA bathroom is also a hit, especially the patterned tile. Nina and Dann's fantasy bathroom is well received, though Monica still can't accept the idea of just one sink. The council follows them through, generally agreeing and pointing out that the master bathroom is sorely lacking a tub.
On the other side of the duplex, the judges are stunned with the entryway and the living room; the elegance and accessibility are a tribute to Lukas and Elaine working together. The dining room hits home, as does Lukas' kitchen, especially the integrated range hood and floor-to-ceiling tilework walls. The fantasy bathroom is also breathtaking, proof that space limitation needn't limit the imagination. Darren's bedroom on the other hand is underwhelming. Spotting a simple plant print on the wall, Eddie George likens it to his decorating skills when he was in high school. The adjacent patio is even worse; Darren's not had time to do much at all. A dozen lonely plants stand alone in their rubber containera. "He's given up," Eddie remarks.
The council makes its choices and the judges assemble the designers for the quick review. Nina is taken to task for her tiny stools, Darren for his unimaginative bedroom and empty patio, Dann for his uneven dining room with its plastic chairs. Nate reports how the council loved Darren's foyer but disliked the son's bedroom; they loved Lukas' master bathroom. After all is said and done, the council judged Darren, Elaine and Lukas' home superior. Before letting them go, Nate warns Darren that had his home not been picked by the council, there's no question he would be going home. Elaine insists on an awkward team hug before they head off.
Nate, Monica and Eddie have a tough choice on their hands. After sending Jay, Nina and Dann outside to wait, the judges debate who should be eliminated. Eddie's perspective is that they must look to save those with the greatest potential to do great things. Each of the three designers made mistakes this week. After mulling it over, Nate and Monica feel like Dann's time has come. Gracious as ever, Dann thanks the judges, tells Nina not to be sad and gives Jay a warm hug before heading out. The Dannimal is done.
Now just five designers remain and another nerve-wracking makeover is on the horizon.