Cast Blog: #TOPDESIGN

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Photos Of Your Cat Rooms

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Party!!!

Nathan: Having The Top Design!

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Simple Truths About Top Design

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A Nightmare To Decide

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Naaaaattttthhhhhhaaaaaan!!

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The Eddie Ross Show Was Cancelled

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From Drab To Fab!

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That Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi

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Episode Ten: Finale Part 2

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Episode Nine: Finale Part 1

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See Ya Later ...

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Suck It Up!

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I Didn't Make Andrea Cry

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Rules Of Decorating

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Episode Eight: Light It Up

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Episode Seven: Room Of The Future

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Eddie And Preston: City Of Contrasts

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Doom And Gloom ...

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Future Shock

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The More Things Change ...

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We Love Wisit!

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Switch-a-roo

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One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure

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Wiiiiiiiiiissssssssssssssssssiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!!!!

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Episode Six: Eco-offices

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Oh, My Achin' Muscles!

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Triple Threat

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Get Your Running Shoes On

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Triathlete's Foot

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Episode Five: Triathlon Of Decorating

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Bachelors, Briefs, And The Chronicle Of A Death Foretold

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Survival Of The Fittest

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Dude, Where's My Design?

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Bachelor Party

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Jennifer: Shut Down

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Bye Ker-bear (aka Big Daddy). We Will Miss You!!

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Windows That Wow

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Pigs In Lipstick

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Episode Three: Window Display

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Big Daddy Doesn't Know Best

Photos Of Your Cat Rooms

Why Margaret Russell thinks this week was 'juicy.'

Huge thanks to all who sent me photos of your cat rooms, but a few wildly passionate (and downright mean!) viewers need to take a deep breath and calm down! I happen to love cats and I'm devoted to dogs, although I'm not very fond of hamsters or snakes. And of course you can design a room around a cat - or a parakeet for that matter - but that really wasn't the point of last week's challenge. Ryan was asked to design for a client that he assumed to be a 50-year-old woman with a cat. It seems that he changed his scheme only slightly when he learned that Madison was a 10-year-old girl, and the judges agreed that he focused too much on the cat instead of the client. So please feel free to design a room around a cat, just don't expect to win a fancy SUV, a four-page feature in a national magazine, and $100,000 for doing it. Got that?
margarets_103_01_320x240.jpgNow then, the best thing about getting an advance DVD of the show is finding out what went on behind the scenes. (The worst is seeing how nearly every positive, constructive comment I make in the White Room never sees the light of day.) This week was juicy - who knew that Ryan and Carissa would get so ornery? Or that Michael would totally redeem himself with some serious manual labor? And I was surprised to see that Elizabeth, Matt, and Erik didn't heed Todd's color-palette advice the judges weren't aware that he'd specifically warned them. (In truth, we didn't even know that he shared our dismay.) One of our biggest surprises was the amazing fact that some of the contestants had no idea what a cabana was and a few were totally unfamiliar with their designated travel destination. Dictionaries and travel guides were verboten, so all the designers could go on was a postcard and their imagination.
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Judgment day at the beach dawned sunny and beastly hot. Sun-savvy Kelly carried a parasol over her head every moment we weren't taping, and we had to beg the producers to let us wear sunglasses. Apparently Carissa was miserable at the shore, but fellow New Yorkers Jonathan and I were thrilled to be outside for the afternoon and it was clearly going to be the closest we got to a real surfboard. Jet-set designer/guest judge Kathryn Ireland was calling out to people she knew on the boardwalk (she lives nearby) and we kept reminding her, "SSSHHH, this is a reality competition! No one can know what we're doing here!" All of the cabanas were extraordinary; it's hard to believe what the contestants achieved and that they had been created in only 16 hours. The three concepts were varied, and though the huts had been constructed in the studio and rebuilt on site, they were structurally sound.
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Each had a few standout design flaws, but the judges agreed that Team Tahiti was the most successful at this challenge. (The producers and crew, however, were shocked. Most of them were sure we'd nix Tahiti because the hut looked so spare and unfinished.) The space was sexy, the furnishings sophisticated, and those ethereal curtains were simply magical. We all thought it needed a roof or at least a scrim to shield the deck - they had the materials, why they didn't just finish it? Andrea said that it was a conscious decision, but a cabana should provide refuge and shade. Team Tahiti might have won the challenge, nevertheless their hut needed a hat.
margarets_103_05_320x240.jpg The architecture of the Team St. Tropez cabana was brilliant and it showcased Goil's ingenuity (a terrific detail that's difficult to see is how the supports were dug down into the sand). Unfortunately, St.-Tropez it was not. The trouble started when Carissa was thinking "elegant-sexy-chic-yachts" while Ryan conjured "topless women and motorboats." Goil was a team player and created the super framework, and Ryan threw himself into its assembly, but Carissa and Ryan bickered constantly. The result? Unimaginative furnishings and heavy colors - especially the muddy blue and brick-red hues that Carissa took straight from the boats pictured on their postcard. Ryan's furniture choices might have been generic because he was limited to one store, but the stacks of pillows he purchased showed seriously questionable taste, and Carissa wisely slipcovered all those that they used. We thought that it was terrific the team created something truly original, but the small fabric overhang wasn't substantial enough to shield the sun - it looked more like a beach towel flapping overhead (or as you might have heard at least 1,000 times, like a burger shack at the country club).
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We expected more from Team Miami, as Erik and Elizabeth were previous winners, and Matt's projects so far show enormous promise. The basic idea of the hut was well-conceived - except that more space could have been allocated to the interior and less to the deck - and this was the only group to provide a proper respite from the sun. Sadly, we weren't enthralled by the car-wash flaps of their curtains (if they were a bit wider they would have made less noise snapping in the breeze), and the interior felt claustrophobic. And the acid green-and-eggplant color scheme was truly an enigma.

Elizabeth wanted to avoid a cliched color palette and show a new level of sophistication, and it's clear that the team was creating a space that wasn't "typically Miami," but that wasn't what the challenge called for, as Todd had reiterated. The goal was for us to be able to walk up without any clues and think, Wow, that's so Miami! On team challenges it's difficult to determine who did what - or not - and there was lengthy questioning of everyone in the White Room. We were loath to send Elizabeth packing, but it was made clear that she was responsible for the color decisions and overall theme of the Miami space. Elizabeth is an intelligent and talented designer, and even though she went home earlier than she'd hoped, she won the first challenge and truly showcased her creativity. At the end of the day, she didn't create the Top Design. Stay tuned to find out who will...

Nathan: Having The Top Design!

What's it like to have the Top Design? Nathan gets candid.

Bravotv.com: Was it hard to keep your win a secret?

It was so difficult. People were asking me and I was like, "Do not mess with me." I was like, "Do not trick me." It was hard to keep the secret. I devised my plan well. Last night at the live reveal nobody knew.

Bravotv.com: What did your friends and family say?

They were thrilled. My mother watched last night and we had a huge party at bar. She sat right there crying. It was fun. She's a major part of my life

Bravotv.com: What was your inspiration for your house?

The inspiration came from the idea of a young, hip couple that had a child. They were art collectors and they were edgy and it was drawing from the fact that they were provocateurs. Maybe with a lot of that I was channeling my life.

Bravotv.com: When you created the first room, did you have direction for the entire house or did you change your idea after that room?

I had the idea of this couple and the client and I don't think that first room translated. I don't think it represented at all. I think I dropped the ball on that one. It didn't speak to the rest of the house. I think there were elements of it that did and I think there was an edginess to it. In retrospect, I wish I had gone back and done something a little more Nathan. I don't feel that first room translated to the rest of the house.

Bravotv.com: Jonathan Adler had some criticism about your bed. Were you nervous that would hurt you in the end?

To be honest, I felt there was so much more to do in the house that I couldn't focus on a room that was already done. I had already put my energy and time but the other rooms were more important. Had I gone back and listened to their criticisms, other parts of the house would have failed.

Bravotv.com: The other room had that sarcophagus piece which the judges had some criticism of. You loved the piece. Would you go back and not use it if you could?

If the room was double the size. When I found the piece I thought it was brilliant and it would be such a statement but when I got it in there, after the heave-ho of every mover putting it in the space, I was like "Oh, sh*t."

Bravotv.com: What did you think of Ondine and Preston's designs?

I think Preston's was really well done. I think it was totally expected. I think he's got an incredible taste and eye and he can do that kind of work. I would never be able to do that. Not because I like it or dislike it, I just wouldn't know how to pull that off. I think Ondine's charisma and her quirkiness and personality really shows through in her space. Again, I wouldn't know how to do that. I think that's why they are designers and they do the work that they do.

Bravotv.com: One of the judges blogged that your foyer won it for you. Was that your favorite part of the house?

It wasn't. I think it was a good move on my end to turn it into a foyer and have it be an entry vestibule idea versus a living space, which the other two competitors did. It gave it a different life. My favorite space was the dining room. I put a lot into that. The table was designed and even though it was a very classic design, a Parsons style table, I over-scaled it and made the legs thicker and the top thicker. And with the painting and the chandelier, I felt it was a solid room.

Bravotv.com: Do you create a lot of artwork normally?

I do. I wouldn't call myself a painter. It's not something that's in my repertoire. Every interviewer asks me if I do artwork for clients and the answer is no. No way.

Bravotv.com: Let's talk about Eddie. He was a pretty polarizing contestant this season but you guys got along. What don't people understand about Eddie?

Eddie's got a vision and Eddie's about Eddie and he knows what he's doing. He doesn't want to waste time. He's vibrant and he's strong and if you can't match up to that then you're a dead man.

Bravotv.com: Do you still speak? Absolutely. Eddie and I are close. I talk to him still.

Bravotv.com: Did you think he should have been in the finals?

Yeah. I felt he would be in the final for sure. I thought his room was really well done and his entire work the whole season was really well done. In retrospect, I wonder if the judges felt it was expected and what they would see in the final house would be everything they already knew it would be.

Bravotv.com: People speculated about your relationship with Wisit. Was there something going on there?

(Laughs.) There was no love. No love. Oh, my little Wizzy. I just really liked him and he was great guy.

Bravotv.com: Do you keep in touch with the other contestants?

The strongest friendships that I will keep are with Eddie and Andrea. Ondine and I are in contact. Wisit and I are in contact. Preston and I are in contact. I don't have bad feelings towards him and it might appear that way on TV. I think he's a really great guy. I think he's young and doesn't have a lot of life experience yet but he's a great guy and he has a great future ahead of him

Bravotv.com: Who was the hardest judge?

Margaret. I think she's so well trained in this and she runs one of the No. 1 shelter magazines and so she's seen the best and the worst. I think some of her judgments are very hard and her blogs are difficult to read sometimes. I think her commentary is well heard though.

Bravotv.com: What was the best piece of advice you got on the show?

To edit, edit, edit. I think that will be forever known. It will be in the work I do now and the work I do next year and so on.

Bravotv.com: What does it mean for you to be published?

That's major. That's a huge deal. I've said before that there are designers and decorators who work for years and never see their work published. I feel so fortunate to accomplish that. That's a huge thing and that will be a major push for me.

Bravotv.com: What about the money? Any big plans?

Well, I'll pay my rent. I've just recently launched my own firm and you'd be surprised, the taxing and expenses take up a lot. I used a lot of that for that.

Bravotv.com: Where can people find your designs now?

NathanThomasStudios.com. Also, I'm finishing up some work in Manhattan. As well as a public space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Bravotv.com: Can people hire you?

Absolutely. Please do.