Bachelor Party

Margaret Russell critiques the bachelor pads.

First things first: The phrase "panty-dropping chic" is sexist, sensationalist, and simply vile; it made me truly apoplectic. Jeez Louise, James is a conscientious law student and an all-around nice guy, not some Girls Gone Wild womanizer. All right. I'm done.

Now let's get down to business. It's unbelievable the contestants could even stand after this episode as the challenge and judging resulted in wildly late nights: It was already 10 p.m. when Jonathan and I announced the flower Pop Design, and the next day's Bachelor Pad elimination taped nearly until dawn.

Lucky for us, our guest judge, Flipping Out's Jeff Lewis, made it less onerous. He is sharp, smart, and funny, plus he brought along the fabulous Jenni Poulos as his entourage. Jeff's a talented designer and has a great eye, and yes, he is just as eccentric as he seems on his show.

The Pop Design was fun--who knew that Nathan could do simple, chic, and slightly sweet? His flowers were well planned, beautifully executed, and amazingly free from underlying political symbolism.

Eddie's lilac-and-delphinium composition was stunning. Its only flaw--as in the first Pop Design--was that we know he can do this type of thing blind-folded; Jonathan and I were disappointed he didn't try something more unpredictable.

Ondine's thoughtful flower choice and casual arrangement showcased her quirky style; we loved it.

It's odd that former-florist Shazia designed small arrangements to be placed in a bathroom at a wedding reception (though she is engaged and receptions must be on her mind), but they were nicely done.

Wisit won the award for scooping up the most blooms, and his color scheme was pleasing, but his composition was off-scale and a bit sad. Teresa admitted she made a mistake in choosing branches and she seemed out of her element in this challenge.

Natalie's overscale arrangement was exuberant but off-putting. Preston's flowers suited a Vegas wedding reception.

And Andrea's Casablanca lilies and orchids were pretty but prosaic. Casablancas are classic--and I'm crazy for their clean, fresh scent--but the judging criteria specified composition, use of materials, and creativity. Pretty just isn't prize-worthy.


Now for the bachelors. Andrea, Wisit, and Teresa aced this challenge. It's true that Obie provided the most specific game plan of the three, but his designers delivered a space seemingly beyond his wildest dreams.

It was chic yet masculine, functional but inviting, and it truly felt like a home despite having been created practically overnight and on a tight budget. Each area in the apartment was well considered -- the team properly managed their work force (the media/bookshelf wall was perfection), and even the bed showed attention to detail and a great deal of flair.

Plus, don't you love that Wisit was able to channel his "inner masculinity"?


Ondine, Natalie, and Eddie conjured a nicely-decorated interior, but one that was inappropriate for their client, a 23-year-old law student. James spends hours a day studying, and I'm not sure they even provided him with a desk! Admittedly, the bedroom was the best: Moody and sexy, it featured a chic chandelier painted to match the room's soft gray palette and a faux fireplace, which gave a sense of architecture to what was originally a boxy space.

The living room was their downfall, as the team misread their client and allowed their own design sensibilities to supercede. A plethora of strong design solutions still didn't add up to a successful space.

James had the prime real estate of the trio (with terrific light from a wall of windows) but his makeover went the farthest astray--it looked over-decorated, fuddy-duddy, and downright granny; not exactly dude decor.


Eddie the client didn't provide a shopping list of must-haves, but he was precise about his taste: clean, classic, and conservative. Preston, Nathan, and Shazia--this week's Team Toxic--failed to agree about the decor, failed to create a workable timetable, and failed to collaborate to achieve their goals. The resulting living room looked random and incomplete (no rug, no art, and unfinished window treatments), and Eddie was deeply disappointed.

In truth, the designers wisely removed the shoe display from the dining area, the bedroom wasn't awful, and some of the purchases the team made showed a strong sense of style. Nevertheless, the overall project flunked.

And, ultimately, it's a shame that Shazia couldn't move past the mundane, petty issues of each challenge to showcase her talent, but this was the fourth opportunity to do so and instead she let personality issues get in the way. Keep in mind that although these group challenges have been frustrating at times (for the judges, as well as you), they're illuminating.

Every designer has to work with clients, staff, artisans, and tradespeople. If you're difficult and argumentative, employees will quit, suppliers will choose not to supply, and most important, clients will simply fire you and hire someone else.

Interior design is a service-based business, and decorators--regardless of talent or merit--ignore this at their own peril. Stay tuned for the perils of next week's Design Triathlon, in which the contestants will compete individually.

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