This was the apocalypse episode of Top Design. Ondine rose from the dead! Nathan was crippled by the evil powers of Granny Chic! Eddie met his doom! Maybe next week Top Design will feature zombies careening out of cemeteries and taking over the earth.
This latest episode of Top Design (the creatively named “House Challenge”) started off, again, with Eddie bitching about how he doesn’t like Preston. My god, so what else is new? I’ve asked this question before, but it bears repeating: what is so awful about Preston? And why must they harp on this week after week? Sure, the guy seems a little reserved, but is he really deserving of such scorn?
After the obligatory Preston bitch-fest, we move to Eddie’s birthday celebration, which is the night before their final challenge. After Eddie eats his cake and opens his immaculately wrapped (we’re talking a Martha Stewart wrapping job here) gifts, he, Ondine, and Nathan hang out and drink margaritas, while Preston shuffles off to bed. The producers use this little episode to illustrate how isolated Preston is, but I think he’s probably just exhausted. Aren’t they all sleep deprived? If I were there I’d be trying to get as much sleep as possible.
While Preston sleeps, the rest of them drink a whole bunch, and Nathan gets the brilliant idea to do an impersonation of a “Japanese Top Design” Host, all decked out in what I presume is Ondine’s clothing. I can’t really describe his impersonation because it made no sense. I’m sure it was really funny to the three of them because they were drunk. However, like much drunk humor, it’s merely awkward and confusing for the sober.
Next it’s time to find out their challenge—and, guess what, it actually involves designing rooms! My God, three challenges in a row that are more about design that gimmicks! For the grand finale, the three final contestants will get to make over an entire house. So for this challenge, the contestants will make over one room in the finale house.
I don’t know if Eddie has allergies or something, but it kind of looks like he’s crying when India explains the challenge. He’s wearing these really big sunglasses, so it’s hard to figure out what was going on. Is he yawning? Is he crying? Is he, perhaps, regretting the decision to drink all those margaritas the night before?
I can’t tell, because by the time they’re coming up with their design concepts, he’s dry-eyed. Eddie decides to redo the bedroom in a “summer at the Hamptons” style. I thought this was weird, because I was under the impression that design was supposed to take your location into account. Like, a Southwest-themed room may look great in the Southwest, but kind of cliched in New England. Wouldn’t a Hamptons-style bedroom be a little cheesy in Los Angeles? But what am I saying—I’ve never been on Martha’s plane. How would I know was good taste is?
Nathan also chooses to redo the bedroom, but he wants to “tone it down” and show the judges he can do something else. Danger! Danger! Whenever constants on Bravo make the decision to “tone it down” they always end up falling flat on their faces (think Santino’s “toned down” collection for Project Runway). Meanwhile, Preston decides to redo the living room off the kitchen and Ondine chooses do redo the office.
Then there’s the usual shopping drama. In one store, Eddie gets mad that Preston has tagged a lot of pieces, and seems to think that Preston is trying to “sabotage” him or something. And Ondine freaks out in the final showroom because she runs out of time and randomly chooses a bunch of furniture at the last minute. But it’s nothing out of the ordinary for Top Design.
I have mixed feelings about the final rooms because, in most cases, the designers have done stronger work in previous challenges. The big exception is Ondine, who puts together a fabulous office in her tiny space. She uses black and white graphic wallpaper on two walls, and then pairs it with a tailored black and white sofa. After being saved only by the grace of Andrea’s departure, she hits one out of the park. The judges love it too, even the ever-charming Jeff Lewis, who is back to judge this episode (whoo hoo!).
True to my prediction, and proving once again that I’ve spent too many hours of my life watching Bravo, Nathan’s decision to “tone it down” doesn’t go so well. One wall is fabulous; he styles a beautiful wooden cabinet with a driftwood sculpture and other accessories, and it works beautifully (of course, you can’t see it in the picture). But his four-poster bed with carved spiral details is the epitome of “granny.” Worse, he uses boring, flat, almost quaker-ish bedding, that does nothing for the room. Nathan must have spent too much time around Eddie, and inhaled too many of his “Granny Chic” fumes. The judges are similarly disarmed by his utterly bizarre choices.
Eddie’s room looks like a Hamptons movie set, and not in a good way. There are parts of it I love, like the wallpaper, the flower mirror above the bed, and his bedside table lamps (I covet those lamps. Covet them). But the other choices are like a bad stage set—the blue walls, the awful lattice, and the giant palm plant look cheap. Jeff Lewis looks like he’s going to to vomit as soon as he walks into this room, criticizing the style as “old.” Once again, Eddie is the victim of his own inability to take constructive criticism and learn from his past missteps. Is that what the work culture at Martha Stewart is like? This show really makes me wonder.
Preston’s room is a Preston room: polished, clean, and kind of boring. My biggest problem with the room is that the furniture is way too big for that space. Even the judges comment on large-scaled furniture, although Iconic Potter Jonathan Adler still likes the room overall. Iconic House Flipper Jeff Lewis thinks Preston could have used less furniture, and I agree. I also hate the line of plates that Preston glues to the wall—like, the hell? It has no purpose. But other than that, the room is pulled-together, and the blue grasscloth and mixture of furnishings work well.
In the end, Ondine and Preston easily move ahead to the finale. The judges congratulate Ondine for rising phoenix-like from the ashes of last week, and they advise Preston to show more of his personality in his design (agreed).
So it’s down to our two little stars, Nathan and Eddie.
I was shocked that this happened, folks. Very little has shocked me about this show, but this did. Even though Eddie has been underperforming lately, I always thought he’d make it to the finale, mostly because he’s the villain this season and Project Runway usually includes the villain in the season finale. But I also always thought that Nathan was a shoe-in to win, because he’s done such strong, creative work. How in the world could one of them not make it into the finale?
The judges are torn about who to kick off. They agree that Eddie is more “consistent,” but that Nathan had produced better designs. Jeff Lewis goes on again about how Eddie’s taste is “old.” Margaret makes a long speech about how judges don’t use their “individual taste” when judging the designers (which I think is a total lie).
And then it happens. That which I never thought would occur. They actually say that Nathan is going on to the finale, and Eddie gets the old “See You Later, Decorator!”
Eddie stands there smiling, and laughing, and trying to look gracious, but you can tell that inside a thousand little arrows are stabbing his little heart. Again and again and again. It’s priceless, folks. Priceless.
Next week: The finale! They design the houses! And it’s pretty obvious that they invite former Top Design contestants to come help out the finalists. We even see Eddie in a bright fuscia shirt, talking about how he won’t fetch Preston’s coffee. Score!