Finale: Beach Houses

Season 1
Episode 110
Air Date 05/25/14

After nine weeks of sleep deprivation, constant pressure, countless hours of demolition, rough carpentry, drywalling, painting, shopping, decorating and more, it all comes down to just two designers: Jay and Lukas. Their styles couldn't be more in contrast. Lukas represents the artists, the avant garde and the bad boys who break the rules. Jay is innovative but efficient and practical, a taskmaster who sees through every detail, a general contractor with a critical eye and a natural talent for design. He represents the reliable tradesman, the inventive yet practical builders, and the homeowners who know that a home's form must follow its function.

Nate Berkus, Monica Pedersen and Eddie George convene the proceedings in Ventura, California, where two simple beach houses await transformation. The families in both homes know their properties are special - but they're equally aware that they're dated, with over-the hill furnishings and appliances and some thorny layout problems. The challenge for both Lukas and Jay will be to update the look and feel, improve the flow and focus on one or two breakthrough rooms that really make the case for who should win the competition.

As usual, they'll have less than a week to demolish, design and rebuild the homes - but they won't be working alone. All 10 of the eliminated designers are brought back to pitch in. And in a ceremony on the beach reminiscent of a pickup ballgame, the two remaining designers take turns picking designers to join them. Lukas selects Nina, Vanessa, Andrew, Tarrick and finally Elaine, while Jay chooses Erinn, Christina, Nancy, Dann, and lastly Darren. A quarter of a million dollars is on the line, and the clock is now officially ticking.

The teams fall back to their planning tents, watch videos of the families who live in the homes and begin making their plans. Jay polls his team members as to which rooms they'd like to work on. Jay will sign off on each room, but knows his strength will come from tapping the creative energy of his team. Erinn will take the living room and dining room; Dann the master bedroom, bath and balcony; Nancy the kids' bedroom and family room; and Christina the kitchen, while Darren will take on the massive oceanfront patio and Jay will handle the guest bedroom.

Jay's main goals are to bring the sense of outdoor living to the indoors (and vice versa), open up the kitchen to the living and dining area and divide the upstairs loft to create a true master suite. He's got a major issue in the downstairs common area. As much as he'd like to open the floor up, Jay's faced with a seismic, load-bearing wall that simply cannot move. Unfortunately, it sits smack in the middle of what would be a wonderful great room. Erinn has the answer: mount a large mirror on the wall and bring the view inside. It's brilliant. Jay rolls up his sleeves, and the team gets to work.

Lukas, on the other hand, drives the plans for each room, laying out a vision and enlisting the other designers to help out. Lukas will take on the entire downstairs including the kitchen, dining room, living and family rooms, bathroom and deck. His team wonders how much he can get done on his own, but Lukas knows it's his competition to lose - and he won't take a risk of delegating what could be a make-or-break room. His main goals are to create a proper dining room, add an additional bedroom by reclaiming a landing upstairs and imbue the space with a couple of his signature special projects. But Lukas' most daring decision has nothing to do with any room. He wants to paint the exterior black. To a person, the other designers think it's a disastrous choice; but Lukas has been toying with the idea all season, and now he plans to make a bold statement.

After nine weeks of sleep deprivation, constant pressure, countless hours of demolition, rough carpentry, drywalling, painting, shopping, decorating and more, it all comes down to just two designers: Jay and Lukas. Their styles couldn't be more in contrast. Lukas represents the artists, the avant garde and the bad boys who break the rules. Jay is innovative but efficient and practical, a taskmaster who sees through every detail, a general contractor with a critical eye and a natural talent for design. He represents the reliable tradesman, the inventive yet practical builders, and the homeowners who know that a home's form must follow its function.

Nate Berkus, Monica Pedersen and Eddie George convene the proceedings in Ventura, California, where two simple beach houses await transformation. The families in both homes know their properties are special - but they're equally aware that they're dated, with over-the hill furnishings and appliances and some thorny layout problems. The challenge for both Lukas and Jay will be to update the look and feel, improve the flow and focus on one or two breakthrough rooms that really make the case for who should win the competition.

As usual, they'll have less than a week to demolish, design and rebuild the homes - but they won't be working alone. All 10 of the eliminated designers are brought back to pitch in. And in a ceremony on the beach reminiscent of a pickup ballgame, the two remaining designers take turns picking designers to join them. Lukas selects Nina, Vanessa, Andrew, Tarrick and finally Elaine, while Jay chooses Erinn, Christina, Nancy, Dann, and lastly Darren. A quarter of a million dollars is on the line, and the clock is now officially ticking.

The teams fall back to their planning tents, watch videos of the families who live in the homes and begin making their plans. Jay polls his team members as to which rooms they'd like to work on. Jay will sign off on each room, but knows his strength will come from tapping the creative energy of his team. Erinn will take the living room and dining room; Dann the master bedroom, bath and balcony; Nancy the kids' bedroom and family room; and Christina the kitchen, while Darren will take on the massive oceanfront patio and Jay will handle the guest bedroom.

Jay's main goals are to bring the sense of outdoor living to the indoors (and vice versa), open up the kitchen to the living and dining area and divide the upstairs loft to create a true master suite. He's got a major issue in the downstairs common area. As much as he'd like to open the floor up, Jay's faced with a seismic, load-bearing wall that simply cannot move. Unfortunately, it sits smack in the middle of what would be a wonderful great room. Erinn has the answer: mount a large mirror on the wall and bring the view inside. It's brilliant. Jay rolls up his sleeves, and the team gets to work.

Lukas, on the other hand, drives the plans for each room, laying out a vision and enlisting the other designers to help out. Lukas will take on the entire downstairs including the kitchen, dining room, living and family rooms, bathroom and deck. His team wonders how much he can get done on his own, but Lukas knows it's his competition to lose - and he won't take a risk of delegating what could be a make-or-break room. His main goals are to create a proper dining room, add an additional bedroom by reclaiming a landing upstairs and imbue the space with a couple of his signature special projects. But Lukas' most daring decision has nothing to do with any room. He wants to paint the exterior black. To a person, the other designers think it's a disastrous choice; but Lukas has been toying with the idea all season, and now he plans to make a bold statement.

And Lukas has another trick up his sleeve: a custom-made light fixture that will dominate the vast vertical space above the living room. Even more impressive, he plans to fashion the fixture himself, using galvanized electrical conduit and off-the-shelf lighting components he scores at Lowe's. It's a big move; but it's a big space, and Lukas knows this could cement his stature above the rest.

There's some tension brewing on Team Jay. Nancy's plans for the kids' bedroom are being second-guessed by Jay and Christina. When she's dispatched with Darren to make a materials run to Lowe's, Nancy senses Jay's lost faith in her; she feels disrespected and doesn't want to continue. She leans on Christina, who summons Jay for a little fence-mending.

With three days to reveal, Nate, Eddie and Monica make the rounds. With just two designers' visions to work with, there's not a lot to criticize. They know Jay and Erinn are challenged by the seismic wall and large fireplace; they also know that Jay's delegating of some critical design choices could come back to haunt him. Still, for the most part they like what they see. At Lukas' house, the judges grab a private moment with Lukas to ask him about his decision to draft Nina before Erinn; Lukas explains that he thought Jay relied a lot on Nina in past competitions and wanted him to have to stand on his own. Smart thinking. Touring the house, they're excited about Lukas' great room plan, especially a 12-foot dining table he's going to build and the newly reclaimed extra bedroom upstairs. They have no idea he plans to paint the outside black.

The drama on Team Jay continues. Darren gets an unexpected phone call; he has a family emergency and has to leave immediately. Darren's gotta go, but he leaves Jay in a bind. The outdoor patio, with its fireplace and sitting area is now in jeopardy. It's a signature project. Jay's going to have to do whatever it takes.

The clock continues to wind down. Jay jumps on the patio project, and everyone else steps up their game, painting, decorating, arranging and pitching in to give the two designers the best shot at the championship. With the exception of Elaine. On the night before the reveal, she catches Lukas in a private moment and questions whether he's really making enough of a statement. Is his long dining table or reclaimed small bedroom really a breakthrough? Will his home-grown light fixture tip the scales? Lukas is irritated beyond belief. The next morning, Elaine further weighs down the final push, worrying about whether they'll finish in time. Lukas tells her to calm down, finish her assignments and do her best. He's cool under pressure.

Jay's team is humming along but they're short-handed. Suddenly Darren returns, his unknown family crisis dealt with. He hops right back into the patio project. With less than an hour remaining, Darren can't get the gas fireplace to fire up. Jay is sweating bullets; the fireplace is the centerpiece of the patio. But with moments to spare, the gas catches fire. As the clock winds down, both houses are a flurry of last minute touch-ups.

The judges arrive for their official walkthrough. Before they enter, they have another surprise for Jay and Lukas: they've flown their families in for moral support. Jay breaks down at the sight of his children and wife; it's been weeks since he's seen them. Nate, Monica and Eddie head inside. They find Jay's house to be exquisite. The seismic mirror wall works brilliantly, as does the patio. The kids' bedrooms are tasteful; Christina's kitchen clean and vibrant; and the master bedroom suite, with its expansive clear railing bringing in the ocean view, is judged simply magnificent. There are no major problem areas at all.

On to Lukas' house. The judges' first reaction is strikingly negative - the black exterior reminds them of burnt wood. Monica is upset, and Eddie is baffled; Nate reserves a bit of judgment until he tours the inside. And the inside is indeed transformative. The great room with its giant, custom light fixture takes the judges' breath away. The 12-foot dining table also works splendidly. The bedrooms, decorated with the careful eye of Nina and Elaine also score big points. The neighborhood council walks through both homes and is equally impressed.

Nate, Eddie and Monica compare notes; they know they've got a tough choice on their hands. There were no misses; both homes were stylishly transformed, updated and given more usable space. Monica is still stuck on Lukas' choice of exterior color, but she at least appreciates the bold stroke. Everyone returns to LA. The judges debate the houses once again, this time in the context of who showed progress and innovation. They ask the eliminated designers who should win; it's a split decision. The judges send everyone outside to wait as they debate amongst themselves one final time. They reach a verdict and bring everyone back in.

As all the eliminated contestants look at Jay and Lukas, Nate announces the call: Lukas is the winner. His bold strokes (the light fixture, dining table and, yes, even the paint choice) demonstrated that he was determined to set the bar higher than ever. Jay's work was meticulous, exquisite and just what the homeowners were looking for, but in the end, Lukas' pure artistry shone through.

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