This is heresy to the Bravo-watching set, but I was actually more excited about the premier of Top Design’s Second Season than I was about the new season of Project Runway. Perhaps it’s because I know that there will never be another Christian Siriano, so, really, what’s the point of watching Project Runway anymore? And design shows like Top Design inspire all of us aesthetically-minded domestic types to overhaul our homes, and they’ve have had a huge impact on how people view their interior spaces.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I missed about 15 minutes of the episode, since wonktheplank wanted to be a responsible citizen and watch Sarah Palin’s speech on Wednesday night. So, while I learned a whole lot about Alaska moose hunting and how that qualifies one for the Vice Presidency, I only saw the first half hour of the show. I caught the last 15 minutes yesterday.
For those of you who watched the show during the first season, there were some improvements in the first episode that definitely upped the drama factor (yes! yes!!). Instead of having the designers work in little rectangular boxes that were the equivalent of stage stets, they had to design loft apartments. This means designers had to contend with issues that real people have to deal with in real spaces—awkward layouts, natural light, and ugly things that need to be hidden. And instead of having each designer work separately, everyone worked in small teams (i.e., everyone got on each others’ nerves). Finally, they instituted a “pop design” quiz, where each week the designers will have to perform an individual task in a very short period of time, à la quickfire challenges on Top Chef.
I felt like there was no way this episode could really produce any great design results—each team had two days and $2000 to decorate an entire loft apartment, and with time and budget constraints like that there’s not a lot you can do in a space. As a consequence, most of the rooms looked extremely severe. Still, there were some elements that I really liked.
While this Kelly Team bedroom looks stark (a reflection of the minuscule budget), I like the use of the dark accent wall and the iron gate as a headboard, which one could totally do in a normal bedroom. I’m really not crazy about the matching carpet and bedspread (just too much of the same pattern), but it has a nice, calm, minimalist aesthetic.
I love this dining room by the Margaret team. The grates add architectural interest to the space, and they mirror the delicate lines on the chairs, but the light colors give the room and airy and calm quality. The pedestal table is romantic, but matches the architectural aesthetic of the grates. And the simple pop of blue color is really lovely and dignified.
I know they liked the overall design of the Jonathan team, but I’m not crazy about the red and orange together. For me, this is too bold for an everyday bedroom, although it could be fun for a hotel room. Also, it looks like they draped the bed in a sheet—and who sleeps under just a sheet? But for the home decorator, the techniques they used (the contrasting white pillows and white throw, the paint on the wall framed by the curtains) could definitely be applied in someone’s real home, with dramatic results.
I am fascinated to see what will happen between the different designers. Robert, the anal-retentive designer from Houston, looks like an especially loose cannon—I thought he was about to go off the deep end and commit some heinous act of violence against his teammates. I was sad to see Serge get kicked off, mostly because he reminds me of myself (spacey, slow, vaguely artistic, doesn’t work well in teams), so I always root for the space cadets with absolutely no sense of time management.
But that’s enough for this week. Next week: “Artsy Bunker.” The designers will have to design a room with functionality in mind—so perhaps it’s good that dreamy Serge is gone after all. Also, it’s another team challenge! Let’s hope we’ll see some claws bared, paintbrush in hand. I can’t wait!