At this point the judges' job is near impossible, especially when we are all wildly opinionated with wildly divergent points of view. Plus, this week one of us is the divinely handsome yet bossy-boots Jeff Lewis, whom I adore, but who's not known for his verbal restraint. We did agree on what was key: which room the designers chose and why; how they shopped their budgets; how this week's room fit into the scheme they planned for the entire house; and overall taste, skill, and completion of work. And that's where unanimity ended.
Eddie said he was over the judges--and we're over him too--but I think he did a brilliant job on this challenge. He shopped well, he played with pattern, texture, and scale, and he finessed the details. I find his taste fusty, but I'd be perfectly content to sleep in that "easy, breezy" guest room (Jonathan admitted he would too). It was pristine and beautifully finished; a cool, crisp room with a mix of classic and modern touches. Though the space was located in a Taco Bell-like townhome, it felt like a Hamptons beach house, which was precisely his goal.
Yes, it was traditional and yes, Jeff Lewis LOATHED it, but from a design standpoint, Eddie delivered, and in less time than most people take to choose a new paint color. My co-judges found his work inconsistent, boring, and too trad, and I think it lacked sexiness and soul, but I still believe that if Eddie had been given the chance he would have designed an amazing Top Design house. But I'm appalled by Eddie's vile, demonic performance behind the scenes (which the judges aren't aware of until we watch the show DVDs).
His behavior is truly odious, but surely he's not really as evil as he purports to be. Whatever he is--blogger, stylist, designer, egomaniac, Eddie Ross brand-builder--it's shameful that his Top Design legacy isn't his great talent, it's the psychotic dance he chose to play for the cameras. Ondine was our comeback kid, though it's curious she chose the smallest room and it didn't look like it cost $20K. Her graphic guest room/office was snappy, happy, and fun, and for the first time Ondine created a space that looked planned and put-together. All it lacked was a chic little roman shade (instead of those funereal black curtains she wisely ditched).
By the way, during the beleaguered Garage Band episode of TD Season 1, Erik Kolazc conjured a brilliant window shade from a scrap of fabric and some ribbon, ably demonstrating that stylish design is possible despite limited time and resources. It's amazing that although Ondine seemed so unglued and disorganized when shopping, she totally nailed the design of this room. We were all thrilled to see her glamour quotient conquer her expectedly quirky, boho point of view. Preston delivered yet another polished project despite Eddie's comment that he's "on the wrong bus." (Eddie failed to accept that Preston prefers to travel solo.) He smartly planned a room to serve as either a dining room or den depending on what he found in the stores and spent his budget on top-notch furniture that you will see anchoring the other rooms in his house next week). I disagreed with Jeff, who thought the floor plan seemed cramped, but then Jeff is at least twice my size.
Preston's decision to apply his wall covering in a superchic Jean-Michel Frank-like pattern was a smooth move, and his subtle color scheme was energized by the punch of orange in that great tufted bench. It's a shame that two weeks in a row Kelly has missed his salute to her early work, but his homage-to-the-Viceroy wall of plates felt flat and dated here. And it's funny that Jonathan asked about decorative pillows in everyone else's space, when Preston's room needed one desperately. Preston is doing so well; all his work lacks is some pattern and a dash of joie de vivre--we want to see his personality shine through.
Nathan's struggle over showing the judges what he thinks we want to see and what he really wants to do was reflected in the random nature of his master bedroom. He conjured a design for a young, hip couple, but I didn't see them--or Nathan--in this space. The best aspect was his transformation of a galleylike builder-spec bath into a surprisingly luxe retreat, but Nathan's overall plan was disappointing: an odd mix of provocateur meets plebeian. He sought "fresh and elegant" but ended up disjointed and unfinished.
The wall with the Nakashima-like chest was intriguing, but his windows were left bare, the nails in the milk pitcher looked ridiculous not radical, and his choice of a traditional-style, carved four-poster replete with a fleur-de-lis motif headboard in a room with edgy art and mid-century modern furniture was just bad. Really bad. Nathan told us he wasn't sure the bed wouldn't work until it was actually set up in his room and then it was too late: He was loath to ask the movers to take it out because the weather was so beastly hot. (I think he had a back-up bed or another solution). He proved he has a kind heart but that bed, not to mention the lumpy bedding, contributed to his near downfall.
Nathan is safe because Jeff hated Eddie's room and seduced India and Jonathan into ganging up on me; stay tuned for finale fireworks!