Episode 109: Victorian Makeover
With just one episode remaining after tonight, the remaining four designers know that there's no place to hide. Their projects tonight must be bold, functional and beautiful; Nate, Monica and Eddie promise to scrutinize every aspect as never before.
Tonight they'll work on a single house, a Victorian-style single family home. The building is not in bad shape, but the family who lives there explains that it's poorly laid out. The challenge will be to fix the interior proportions and livability, giving the home an elegant and balanced feel. In addition, the designers will not work in teams, but individually and collectively. It should be a very interesting challenge, since dramatic improvements will be hard to come by and the designers will not have the advantage of teaming up to share manpower.
Still, someone has to be the site manager and Jay gets the call. He assembles his fellow contestants and they divvy up the rooms. Lukas will take the parlor room, guest bedroom and kitchen, while Elaine will tackle the family room and daughters' bedroom; Nina will take on the dining room and nursery, while Jay assigns himself the master bedroom and bathroom as well as the exterior and landscaping.
The designers jump into reimagining their spaces. Lukas plans to open up and improve the ergonomics of the kitchen, rework the guest room to give it more interest and style and make a dramatic statement in the foyer. Elaine wants to reconfigure the girls' bedroom to give the appearance of more space and add an activity area. In the living room, she's determined to use a dark red wallpaper to make the room stand out. All the other designers disagree with it as a color choice, but Elaine is nothing if not strong-willed.
In the master bedroom, Jay looks to make a big statement by adding an inset wall behind the bed and expanding the master shower. Nina takes a straightforward approach to the nursery, looking to make it a room fit for a little princess.
The contestants begin their demo and materials selection. Elaine's red wallpaper is still raising hackles ("It would be appropriate in a bordello," says Lukas); Nina mocks Jay's draped inset wall idea. Lukas ignores the drama and just plugs away at his kitchen, removing unnecessary cabinets and built-ins in favor of a center island that unifies the space.
The judges stop in for a work-in-progress tour. They like where Lukas is going (no surprise) but they're underwhelmed by Nina's dining room, have some doubts about Jay's offset wall and are wary of Elaine's choice of red wallpaper. Nonetheless, Nina, Jay, Elaine and Lukas stay true to their inner visions, knowing that a dramatic, yet tasteful execution will mean the difference between moving on to the finale or heading home.
With one day left before reveal, the tension ratchets up and the rooms begin to take shape. Jay's master bath is already making a splash. Lukas is installing tin ceiling tiles that have been painted white. Combined with white upper cabinets and glossy black lower cabinets, the kitchen is quickly being transformed. Jay, Nina and Lukas take a peek at Elaine's family room - and grow even more horrified now that the blood red wallpaper is everywhere. Jay heads outside to continue tweaking his landscape plant selection.
A Lowe's delivery truck pulls up with just a few hours left before the reveal. The house is a flurry of activity as mattresses, cabinet hardware, rugs, pillows and every sort of furnishings are put in place. While Lukas begins a last-minute painting project with gold leaf in the guest bedroom, Jay hangs fabric on his wall and Nina frets because her custom cut glass for her dining room table has not arrived yet, Elaine decorates her living room, which is quickly shaping up to be a chaotic clash of styles, but one that she loves. Then the call comes for hammers down. Jay assembles the four designers in the foyer for a moment of congratulations; there's nothing to do now but watch the reviews of the neighborhood council and the judges themselves.
Monica, Nate and Eddie gather everyone outside. And as has been the custom of late, there's a surprise. This week's neighborhood council consists of all eight of the eliminated contestants! As Nate explains, they'll be the toughest critics as they walk through and examine each detail. They won’t actually pick one room over the other, but their feedback will be essential in how the judges decide who's being eliminated.
Nate also introduces the homeowners. As the giant photo façade is lifted away to reveal the reworked exterior, the mother of the family breaks down in tears. "We would never have gotten it to look like this, ever," she tells Nate. Kudos to Jay.
The judges head inside. They're blown away by Lukas's parlor, especially the vent-free fireplace. They're less impressed by some of his furnishing choices, but the kitchen with its dramatic island and period-perfect tin ceiling tiles is a tour-de-force. Likewise, they adore Nina's nursery, with its Victorian pink wallpaper and tasteful classic accessories. But when they get to Nina's dining room, they're less than thrilled. The long glass table is off-center, the chairs are nothing special and the room altogether feels unremarkable.
They head upstairs to review Jay's work. The judges love the look and feel of the bedroom overall. The wall molding, fixtures, furnishings and accessories are spot on, as are the color choices. The only flaw seems to be the molded feature wall, where Jay's moved the bed off the wall and hung a long drape behind the headboard. A flaw, but not likely a fatal one. On to the master bathroom. The consensus is generally positive; Jay's created a his-and-hers bath with a central, magnificent tub bathed in natural light. Nate, Monica and Eddie quibble with his bench choice and pedestal but overall they know Jay's added to the resale value of the home.
Downstairs, the judges tour Elaine's makeover of the girls' bedroom. The room works. It's a symphony in pale yellow, bright and inviting, with a chalkboard wall and cute wall lamps. The living room, however, is a mixed bag at best. Monica likes how Elaine's reworked the fireplace, but the furnishings are questionable and the red walls are off-putting.
The neighborhood council (Andrew Flesher, Nancy Hadley, Dann Foley, Vanessa Deleon, Tarrick Love, Darren Moore, Christina Salway and Erinn Valencich) comes calling. Their reactions are closely aligned with the judges. Lukas' hand-painted bedroom wall stands out, as does Jay's master bathroom. Like the judges, they also love Elaine's kids' bedroom, find Nina's dining room out of balance and they really can't stand Elaine's red-walled family room.
With the walk-throughs complete, Nate assembles everyone for the final reckoning. The eliminated designers share a few opinions and Nate reveals the designers behind each room, surprising the former contestants, especially when they learn Jay crafted the master bedroom.
Nate gives the final observations on each designer's work. Jay's bedroom was spectacular, but the drapery behind the bed was unnecessary; his bathroom would have been a complete home run were it not for the ottoman in the center of the floor.
On Nina's work, the judges reinforce the success of the nursery, citing its simple but tasteful approach that offers room for growth. Her dining room, on the other hand, lacked innovation; Monica declares it "expected," while Nate says it "wasn't revolutionary." Let's face it the stakes and standards are exceptionally high. A well-executed, tasteful but otherwise uninspired approach won't cut it.
The judges reiterate their high marks for Elaine's bedroom, but pull no punches on their dislike of the family room. Monica felt the red color palette just didn't work; she found the approach very uncharacteristic of Elaine's usually exquisite eye. "It stood out like a sore thumb," Eddie adds. Elaine defends her red room, but it's a lost cause.
Lukas is praised again for his parlor; the marble fireplace was a masterful stroke, though the lamp and couch choices were distractions. The hand-painted fabric wall of the bedroom was unanimously adored, but Lukas' choice of a very long, horizontal abstract painting he placed on the hallway detracted from the overall feel, the judges agree. The designers are dismissed while Monica, Eddie and Nate confer as to who should be eliminated.
They summon Nina, Jay, Elaine and Lukas back from the holding area. Nate explains that he and his fellow judges are the designers' biggest fans - but someone's got to go. The verdict is in: Nina's leaving. The three remaining designers bid her a tearful farewell. But wait - there's another twist: Elaine is also eliminated! Nate cites the judges belief that she was overconfident in her approach and that she closed herself off to input from any of her fellow designers. Simply put, the red risk she took just didn't pay off.
So Jay and Lukas will face off in the two-hour finale, a battle of an artist and a craftsman. It should be a fitting showdown and showplace for our two most talented contestants.