Top Design, Episode Five: Backstabbing, Smokeathalons, and Alientastic Hair

by moderndomestic on October 3, 2008

Wisit Garden

Wisit's room could be a set piece for Daddy Warbuck's mansion!

This week’s Top Design was the “Triathlon of Decorating,” where designers had to perform a bunch of different tasks (and by “a bunch” I mean “three”) that put their design skills to the test: re-upholstering/refinishing a chair, creating a table setting (I refuse to call it a “tablescape”), and designing a garden room for an Elle Decor photo shoot.

So who here thinks that Eddie is going to win this competition? The judges seem to think his designs are from God on High, and even if he doesn’t win all the time he comes darn close. I’m actually rooting for Nathan – I like his subdued and modern style, and I think he has a sense of refinement that really comes through when he’s working on his own. But I just don’t see the judges fawning over him the way they do over Eddie. I wasn’t a fan of Eddie’s neon-yellow and silver chair, which was just too out there for my taste, but boy-oh-boy did the judges eat it up. Their Eddie preference was very obvious in the garden challenge, because they didn’t tear apart the weird black lines on his walls, even though they just looked awful and didn’t really make any sense.

Eddie Garden

What's up with the weird black lines on Eddie's walls?

It looks like Eddie fatigue is setting in among the other designers, mostly because he can be a teensy-weensy bit vicious to the other contestants. Andrea was unnerved at the way Eddie tells other designers they’re “fabulous” and that he “loves” their work, only to completely trash them behind their backs. He was especially catty with Theresa in this episode, saying that he “loved” the tobacco colored walls of her garden room, only to say behind her back that her design gave him “smokers cough.” Rwar.

Because everyone got to work on their own in this challenge, we really got to see everyone’s strengths, and their weaknesses. I was especially surprised at Andrea, who’s done pretty well up to this point, completely flop. Her very “blah” table setting (lots of white and muted colors), dull chair (pale green with a subdued plaid pattern that she didn’t upholster well), and blah yellow garden room were, well, rather dull.

I’m officially a Nathan fan, and I was glad that he won the triathlon—and I practically died when he said he’d be better off in a “Smokeathalon” competition. After all his missteps earlier in the season, I was glad that he could step it up and showcased his own fabulousness. His blue chair with the blue/gold patterned fabric was really artistic without being too over-the-top. I liked his super-casual yet elegant bunch table setting. And his garden room had a minimalist thing going for it; the pale ground, small potted plants, and beige walls were calm and inviting. I felt like his garden room looked like a real space, whereas a lot of the other designers looked too much like high school musical sets (like Wisit’s painted furniture murals, which could have been in my high school’s production of Annie).

Nathan Garden

Nathan's garden room. I liked how spare and clean it was.

Nathalie won the garden room leg of the triathlon, but I’m not quite sure why. I mean, the white wood pieces popped against the gray walls, but her room just felt unfinished to me. I also really disliked Ondine’s “Kelly Green” room—mostly because the wall color looked neon green on my TV screen. Also, what was up with Preston’s mega-huge brown and green stripes on the walls of his garden room, which completely overwhelmed the puny flowers and bench? The whole design was just unpleasant and the loud stripes gave me a headache. I think that contestants really struggled with the garden challenge. The little triangle-shaped rooms were awkward and uninspiring spaces, and the blank canvas freaked everyone out.

Nathalie Garden

I think Nathalie has her moments, but I still don't know why this won.

In the end, it was Theresa who got kicked off. She strayed away from her “zen” design sense in the table challenge, which the judges criticized, but when she went back to the “zen” theme in the garden challenge it still didn’t work. I really hate faux finishing, and the faux finish she did on her garden rooms’ walls looked akin to, well, another high school musical set (Cabaret. Possibly Hello Dolly). Still, I think she’d be a blast to work with in real life, and is probably a much, much better designer than she was a contestant.

Theresa Zen Garden

Theresa's Zen garden room got her the boot.

By the way, does anyone miss the way Jonathan Adler would call out “see you later, decorator,” to the eliminated contestants in Season One? I loved the pained expression on his face as he said it, because he knew it was so cheesy and tasteless—and that made the moment all the sweeter.

Next week: We’re back to a team challenge with “Eco-Offices,” where designers must create an eco-friendly design for an environmental consulting firm. But I think I know the real reason we’ll all be tuning in: to see what will Kelly Wearstler’s hair do next.

Kelly Alien

Kelly Wearstler looks like she's from outer space. Her hair is alientastic.

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