Props For The Chops

What impressed Jonathan Adler in the first challenge.

Wow, first episode. I honestly had no idea what to expect and, because the scale of the production was so meshugena, I don't think anyone had any idea what to expect. I've known Margaret and Kelly and Todd forever. Todd, actually, gave me one of my first big breaks as a potter back in the day. I did a custom line of pottery for him years ago, and he's always been super supportive. Margaret has published my work in the pages of Elle Decor and I adore her. Kelly's a fantastic decorator and she's j'adorable so I knew that I would have a blast with my fellow judges -- we're all very sisterly. But, I didn't think about how gorgeous they all are! When Margaret and Kelly emerged from their dressing rooms looking like supermodels and Todd all cute in his adult-toddler-chic ensembles, I realized that I had to tart myself up a bit just to keep up with the Joneses. So, I decided to rock a pocket square throughout the series for a little Peacock-ish je ne sais quoi. Yes, for all of you who were wondering how I decided to wear a pocket square, that's how it happened. Fascinating.

Anyway, before the first episode, Todd, my fellow judges, the contestants and I had all gotten together to do those photo shoots where we're all gathered in a room shrieking "Watch what happens!" and prancing about doing silly things. That was my first meeting with the contestants and it was all weird because we're not really allowed to interact with them so, there we were, modeling up a storm and pretending to be intimate, but we didn't really know each other. I imagine it's what a porn shoot feels like. On to the judging. We walked in to the designers' spaces having no idea if they were going to be sublime or heinous and the very first room we saw was Matt and Felicia's and we breathed a collective sigh of relief. It was gorge. And it was very polished and opulent. They spent their $50,000 bucks and you could tell. As we walked through the rooms we saw such a range -- some didn't look so posh but they were full of interesting ideas and some captured Alexis' spirit and some didn't and I was struck with that old saying (that I'm totally going to screw up): There's more than one way to slice...a cat. Or whatever it is.

When I first saw Michael and John I realized that they wanted to slice each other. There was major tension, but they had a pretty groovy room -- I really appreciated the shoes and stuff that added a narrative layer to the space, which I thought was an interesting idea. But, I think Michael's haughtiness was a buzzkill. The reality of interior design is that people always seem to imagine that it's this poncy profession where you can be effete and hands off. And that ain't the way it works. It's 10% design, 20% psychologist, 20% MacGyver, and the final 50% is...maid. I've arranged the odd client's underwear drawer in my day. You really can't be above anything so I was shocked by Michael's prissiness. You gotta learn to paint and learn to organize an underwear drawer and learn to be a client's best friend. Decorating is more than picking out a pretty shade of green. But, back to the designer's spaces. I was struck by how major the effort was and how much they accomplished in such a short time. If I had to whomp together a room in a few hours I wouldn't know where to begin. During my pretty years, I probably would have had the moxie required to do so much work so quickly, but I don't think I could do what they did. And, I must say, some of these contestants are not in that first flush of youth. A lot of them are my age or older, and there they are, sleeves rolled up, getting dirty, Tim Gunn-ing it. So I give the interior designers mad props for their chops.

Here's my thought about the winner. For me, it came down to Matt and Felicia's room, or Goil and Elizabeth's room. And I think they were very different. Matt and Felicia's room was polished, professional, and liveable. In a way, though, it didn't have a lot to do with those objects. Until they discussed their interpretation of the client's objects -- I found their design dissonant with the assignment, but ultimately, it was a very successful approach to the room.  Goil and Elizabeth's room was not so polished, not so liveable, but full of bold and unexpected ideas. It didn't come together as well as Matt and Felicia's as a room, but it was riddled with gorgeous ideas and surprises, and that was actually inspiring to me. They deserved to win.

As for the losers, we had to kick somebody off and that sucks but that's life in the big bad world of reality TV. I was totally bummed to see Heather go especially and, after seeing the episode, I feel even worse. BTW, it was 4:30 am and we were t.i.r.e.d. Tres surreal and I had to say "See ya later, Decorator" to somebody and that's that. Which brings us to "See ya later, Decorator." I'll share my (extensive) thoughts, feelings, and emotions about this very controversial sign-off in my next blog... See ya later, Decorator!

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