Bravo has decided to put me in a series where I move into a home for a week with total strangers. I have begun to wonder if, like in a sitcom, they are trying to kill off my character. Without a script to determine my fate, I guess they have elected to put me in unfamiliar and potentially dangerous situations and watch what happens.
My first client was a wealthy family living in an exclusive Brentwood community. I really had no complaints about the situation. Truthfully, when I walked in to the Steinbeck's home, it took me a while to understand what they needed from me. Felice, the family matriarch, had done a nice job with the design of the space. It was a little antiseptic, but tasteful. After touring the upstairs, I located the problem. Felice and Michael were sleeping in a small bedroom and shared a bathroom with their two daughters. As they explained the story of their nightmare kitchen remodel, it made sense why the upstairs living situation had not been addressed and remedied. Remodeling just wasn't a process they wanted to continue on their own.
Felice runs her household like a tight ship. Step out of line and you'll face her wrath. She is rigid and controlling. She rules an immaculate and organized home with an iron fist and she demands order, cleanliness, and personal responsibility. Sound familiar? Not everyone responds well to Felice, but I grew to like and respect her. I most admired her devotion to her kids, husband, and home. Once the kids went to sleep, Felice and I let loose over a bottle of wine (or two) and I began to understand her. She takes her role as a homemaker very seriously. It is a tremendous responsibility and her kids are her top priority.
In getting to know the Steinbecks, I also recognized that Michael didn't have a voice in the design of the house because Felice made all of the decisions. It was evident to me there was a slight strain in the relationship largely due to the fact that the home was missing a true master bedroom. Everyday is about the kids and they both work in different ways to raise and support their family. If they can't spend private time together at the end of the day, I feared the strain would only get worse. They needed a comfortable place to reconnect, a place that represented both of their tastes.