And then there were 10. After they lost their second member in as many episodes, the remaining members of Team Red are desperate for a win. With Tarrick and Nancy felled by the judges' axe, Lukas, Dann, Erinn and Vanessa will again be shorthanded for this week's challenge: a pair of Spanish style family homes that have grown tired. Erinn will lead the charge.
Team Blue is still flying high, but there may be trouble in paradise: Andrew, Jay, Christina, Nina and Darren will work under the mercurial Elaine Griffin this week. Elaine's quickly emerged as talented but brash - and someone who pulls no punches. It's a talented group and it'll be on Elaine to keep the projects and the team chemistry on track.
The teams watch home videos from the homeowners, all of whom confess that they're simply too embarrassed by their houses to entertain visitors. The challenge is make the owners proud of where they live by transforming their homes into warm welcoming place to enjoy guests, indoors and out.
Erinn takes her designer's pulse on an overall approach and who should tackle each project. Vanessa will take on the master bedroom, Erinn assigns herself the dining room, Lukas the kitchen and Dann the all-important living room.
Dann's vision for the living room is grand: he'll cover the fireplace surround with exquisite tile and incorporate lateral wood beams to underscore the Spanish style. Erinn envisions an inviting and coherent design for the backyard, with a patio and fire pit, while Lukas wants to open up the kitchen, removing walls to liberate the light and create a flowing sense of space.
On Team Blue, Elaine polls her designers on assignments. Jay suggests Christina for the kitchen and dining room, Andrew will take on the master bedroom, Jay will work on the exterior façade and Darren is given the exterior landscaping once again, despite his protests, which are quickly dismissed by Elaine. She assigns herself the living room and the teams get down to demolition.
Elaine explains their key projects: tear down walls to reduce the claustrophobic flow and open up the living room for entertaining; open up the kitchen as well, including updating the cabinetry and allowing in more natural light; and pull the property's exterior together by reworking the garage door and nearby pillars and adding a Spanish-style stucco pediment above an out-of-place wall.
With four days remaining, the demolitions are complete and the rough carpentry starts to take shape. As Christina reviews a series of tile choices for the kitchen backsplash, she's again put in her place by Elaine. "That's not where we're going," she scolds Christina when asked about some green glassy tile. In an interview, Christina declares, "She's incredibly condescending." Christina storms off, while Elaine just laughs. Christina's not the only target. At a shopping trip at Lowe's, Elaine thinks Darren's purchasing too many plants and pulls several off his cart. Darren's incensed, but rolls with it.
Back on Team Red, Dann and his teammates are busy reworking the fireplace when it becomes apparent that they don’t have enough of the signature painted tile to cover the whole hearth. Panic sets in briefly - there isn't time to get more tile. Dann pulls an amazing trick out of his hat: he envisions the tile complementing an added set of rustic beams, which will anchor the fireplace as a decorative element. It's a brilliant solution, since it saves the tile for the surrounding area and even ties the room together, reflecting the rugged Spanish theme.
Elaine, unsure of what to do with her fireplace, makes a shocking move. She wanders over to Team Red's house and sidles up to Lukas for advice. Lukas laughs, but then wanders over to have a look. Immediately, Lukas' team members call foul, escorting Lukas out of Elaine's house. Fraternizing with the enemy just isn't done. Once Elaine's team gets wind of it, they're even more furious. Elaine doesn't get what the hubbub is, but her team quickly sets her straight. Christina, Andrew and Nina confront her around the fireplace. Elaine, realizing she's destroyed what little good will she had with her team, apologizes and vows not to do it again.
Nate, Monica and Eddie drop by the works in progress and like what they see on Team Red; they know the team is hungry for a win after two weeks in the doghouse. When the judges stop by Elaine's team worksite, they immediately have questions about what Jay's doing to the exterior. His pediment seems completely out of proportion; Nate calls it "awful." They generally like where the rest of the house is going, but when they assemble the whole team and ask how they're getting along, Darren doesn't hold back. He complains that Elaine solicited advice from the opposing team. Elaine quickly tries to minimize it as harmless, but the damage is done. After the judges leave, she pulls Darren aside to dress him down. When she calls him an idiot, Darren tells her off refuses to talk her anymore. He heads inside to marshal the other team members for a showdown with their leader.
The gloves come off. Jay, Christina, Nina, Darren and Andrew all give Elaine a reality check that she's condescending, rude, disrespectful and alienating. Elaine goes into full damage control, apologizing and explaining how hard she's trying to be a fair leader. She asks Darren what she can do to be better and he replies, "you can shut your mouth." There's one day left before the reveals.
The teams scramble to decorate and put finishing touches on the houses. In contrast to the tense individual scurrying on Elaine's team, Erinn's team is hustling together. They hit their deadline and even have time to celebrate with a group hug. Elaine's squad is not feeling so friendly. The judges, neighborhood council and homeowners arrive. With all due fanfare, the new homes are revealed and receive a deserved and sustained round of applause.
The judges head into Erinn's house first. They're blown away by Dann's living room, calling it "chic." The kitchen is deemed flawless and the kids' bedroom is judged beautiful, but the dining room is underwhelming.
Team Blue's home also impresses the coaches. Jay's reworking of the exterior stucco draws special praise; to a person, the judges were certain Jay's pediment was going to be out of proportion, but the final installation, which includes trees and shrubs, is spectacular. They give high marks to Jay for the risk he took and the results he delivered. Inside, Elaine's living room scores, with an understated but tasteful approach. Nina's bedroom is perfect and Darren's exterior is innovative and reimagined. It's Christina's kitchen that draws a lukewarm reaction. Nate calls it "vanilla" and "clunky"; it's just not standing out in any way.
The neighborhood councils make their tours and deliver their verdict. Both teams assemble. The judges praise Nina's room as one of their all-time favorites; they also love Darren's exterior and Jay's bold pediment. Then they call Christina out for her drab kitchen. She explains that she would have preferred to put some pizazz into it (by using Spanish tile backsplashes, among other things), but that Elaine vetoed the idea. The judges announce the council's pick: Erinn's home. Elated, she and her team leave, safe at last.
Monica asks Elaine about how she felt about her leadership; Elaine characterizes it as a rocky start that then smoothed itself out. Nina calls B.S., citing Elaine's going to Lukas for design help midweek. Everyone piles on now. The coaches echo the sentiment; Nate tells her she's done a terrible job as site manager. But just when everyone's sure Elaine's finally going to be eliminated, Nate reiterates that the show is not about leadership dynamics but about design. The weakest room belonged to Christina - and she's eliminated. Interviewed afterward, Christina's convinced that Elaine's intimidation was clearly calculated. She also faults herself for not sticking to her guns on her original design ideas. It's a poignant if painful lesson.
The surviving team members feel terrible about Christina leaving, but know they must move on. Elaine senses there's a target on her back, but knows that her design skills have carried her through until now. The decision tonight makes it clear: as long as she performs, she can survive, much to the chagrin of her teammates.
Elaine and Erinn lead their teams in race to transform a pair of Spanish-style houses in under a week.