It's Always the Quiet One

Rambling about life, culture, Project Runway, and the occasional fruity drink.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Pint-Sized Design

Last week, Top Design started off with a bang and a whimper, as the ID's were challenged to create a room for a mystery client with questionable taste in accessories. They were put into teams of two, given an ungodly amount of money, a carpenter AND a seamstress, and still most of the rooms sucked. The amount of orange and green used in the designs last week was unfortunate, and none of those rooms won, either. They probably would have had better luck with this judging panel.

Still reeling from losing two of their number so early in the game, the ID's blow off a little steam back at the lofts by taking turns riding Ryan's skateboard in the living room. (The producers are obviously hoping to get a shot of someone taking a humorous spill so they can send it to America’s Funniest Videos or a VH-1 "reality TV embarrassing moments" show.)

But they're all giggling and having a good time, when John-Ralph decides to let them know that he's HIV positive and was given a huge dose of testosterone by his doctor, which accounts for his aggressiveness towards Michael-Ralphie. He then tells them that he doesn't hate Ralphie or anything, he just thinks he's a talentless whiny pansy, and then goes off to take a bath. The fun has been sucked out of the room, and they all sit awkwardly, watching Andrea knit something. Also someone has apparently slapped Ryan across the face, or maybe he fell off the skateboard and hit his face on the credenza, which I'm sure will end up on the DVD in the bloopers section, but for now just looks kinda painful.

The next day, the ID's return to the workroom. The table recently occupied by Lisa and Heather is sitting there, huge and empty, and I'm surprised that one of Ralph[ie] hasn't claimed it. Mr. Todd breezes in and gives them their next challenge - design a bedroom for an unknown client. (Hmm... this sounds familiar... oh yeah! That was last week's show! Reruns already?) Each ID gets a short bio of the person they're designing for, and they're supposed to plan the room using that. They will be getting a mattress but they have to design and build the bed themselves, AND they only get $600 for paint and $8,000 for furnishings. (They got a little spoiled the last time with that $50k, didn’t they? I’m hoping a future challenge has them shopping at garage sales with a $100 budget.) This week, the winner gets immunity – but someone else will be going home. Carisa acts like that’s a surprise. Weren’t you paying attention last time, girl?

Everyone picks a design bio and gets to work. They also get to choose a hardwood floor sample from a table. Felicia picks the one John had his eye on, and he’s all “Bitch stole my floor!!”

So he decides to go with linoleum. In a BEDROOM?? That's like putting wall-to-wall carpeting in a bathroom. Maybe his room is someplace warm where the floors never get cold in the wintertime. Either that or he's going to put a kitchenette in the room (hey, that wouldn't be a bad idea!).

Mr. Todd comes in to take a peek at the designs. Goil has built a tiny room out of a box! He’s even made a tiny cardboard person to show scale. Todd asks how tall the person is, and Goil replies, “Six feet” to which Todd nods knowingly. Felicia’s design has a big bed, in case her client brings home a ‘lady friend’. Well, at least she’s considering the function of the room.

Now it's time to go memo-ing out. Surprise! All the furniture is insanely expensive. Nobody can afford anything, so they all have to build their furniture out of posterboard and spit. Well, I guess they get a little bit of stuff but it's still all pretty much ugly.

Enough shopping! The clients are here for their presentations. Mr. Todd ushers them in and - jaws drop - they're ten-year-olds! (This immediately gets my attention, because I have two kids and I'm trying to get them to decide how to decorate their rooms. This episode is going to be their after-school viewing tomorrow.) It also makes Goil’s "scaled-for-a-six-footer" mock-up room and Felicia’s “lady friend” comment that much funnier, and I have to rewind and watch Todd’s reaction to those, since he knows the entire time that the clients are children. Ah, what a poker face. He's good, that Todd Oldham.

How well do the designers adapt their ideas to fit their youthful clients? Andrea admits that she's scared of her young girl, because she only had brothers and has two sons, and doesn't know thing one about girls. Matt's girl is an actress, and she looks all sweet now, but he'd better give her EXACTLY the room she wants, or she's going to go Veruca on him.

The ID's now have to figure out how to make all that high-end designer showroom stuff they just picked out work in a kids' room. Luckily it's Mr. Todd to the rescue, with $300 more for each of them (plus a bonus c-note for Elizabeth and Goil since they won last week) to go shopping at Target to get more "kid-friendly" stuff. (Of course, they don't SAY they're going to Target, because Target's not a sponsor, but we all know that's where they are.) What I want to know is... in which department do you find giant chains? I LOOOVE Target but I didn't know they had a harbor accessories department.

But enough fun. It's time to get down to business and create magic, people! Ralphie apparently took a crash course in wall-painting overnight. (That's because he really wants the judges to like him so they'll give him an official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model staple gun with a color wheel in the handle and this thing that tells time.) Goil decides that cutting the walls worked so well for Felicia and Matt last week, he's going to do it too. Only he'll cut TWO holes instead of just one, which should be twice as good! Andrea builds a cool Murphy bed that I covet.

But poor John. His carpenter came back without linoleum (because he knew it was a stupid idea) so now John's room has no flooring. He's very upset. (His testosterone has worn off and now the estrogen is kicking in.) And painting time is up, so he can't even paint the floor, and he just chooses to leave it with big dirty drywall-dust footprints all over it.

After a tiny bit of sleep, the ID's finish their rooms and it's off to the White Room. Again, I feel the need to comment on fashion here. Jonathan is wearing a tie that looks like my daughter made it for her stitchery badge at Brownies. And Kelly? She's mixing decades: a 70's Princess Leia-ish poofy Danish on just one side of her head, a very 80's spangly black jumper/bicycle shorts/leggings combo with high heels, and black Madonna-esque fingerless gloves. (Not even Jonathan gets her outfit.) And our guest judge Liz Lange joins in on the fun, looking like she's been shopping in the chain section of Target with Erik.
Let's assess the damage, in no particular order. (But before we do that, bravo to Bravo for managing to get ceiling-less pictures of the rooms this week. Thank you.)

Andrea - The first thing that jumped out at me in Andrea's room was the black and white pillow. I immediately thought of Mickey Mouse's glove. I love the Murphy bed, too. Her color palette was a bit too brown and not enough pastel, and I know she wanted the girl to be able to do her own thing with the space, but the judges were right to question the lack of sparkle and shine in this room.

Erik – This was my ten-year-old son’s favorite room. It was fun and funky and colorful and had places to hide things (very useful when Mom tells you to clean your room before you can play). Kelly thought it was a “bit overboard” (hahaha! A pirate room going overboard! She’s so funny. Bleh.) but it’s EXACTLY the kind of room a kid who likes pirates would want, and that magazines love to publish. And I could see that as the child outgrew the pirate theme, this room could still work by removing some of the theme decor stuff.

Matt - The judges made me mad on this one. They kept saying, "Black for a kids' room? Too funereal." So??? THE GIRL LOVED THE ROOM. See? Look.She loved it, it was her, Matt gave her what she asked for. Shut up about it. Some kids do like black. The makeup-mirror lights were a great idea, too.

Carisa - I liked this room. The judges did too. The huge expanse of red wall took me by surprise at first, and I wasn't sure I liked it, but I think after the boy put up a bunch of travel posters or something, it would be just the right amount of red to pop against the green. Her bed/desk/sidetable was great. I wish she could have finished the tops differently so it just didn't look like particle board, but I see the natural-finish thing she was going for.

Goil - The cutouts were cute, but 1)where DOES the bed go? In a real house, there would either be another room on the other side of that hole, or the outside of the house. That's a good way to teach kids about space, all right. And about what kind of noise a bed makes when it's shoved off the second story onto the back deck. And 2) you CAN'T hide in a hole in the wall with nothing to cover the hole. Good ideas, but not completely thought-through. And enough with the random objects sitting on the floor, already.
Ryan - Cat, cat, cat. We get the idea. The girl has a cat. And I, as a mother, am extremely concerned about the jagged platform around the edge of the mattress. That girl will swing out of bed and scrape the heck out of her legs every morning, and her mother will hate you. I do appreciate the fact that you chose to wear a blazer that matched the color scheme of your room, though.

Michael – The top judges' comments on this room were: that it "looked like a room in an assisted living facility", "it was a room", and "it was decorated". Not good comments. This is not a kids’ room. But I know what the problem is. Ralphie doesn’t know how to design for kids because he never WAS one. Last week he made the comment that when other kids were outside playing, he was watching “Dynasty”. He probably never SAW another kid’s room because he was too busy looking at Joan Collins’ rooms. So… what he actually designed was a room for a “Dynasty” kid. I do like the color he chose, but other than that it was just not right for even a “sophisticated” ten-year-old. Way to go on the paint job though, Ralphie.

Elizabeth - Eh, it's not bad, it's not great, I've seen better soccer-themed rooms. I don't get the yellow dots all over the walls. The judges didn't have a lot to say about it, and I really don't either. My soccer-player son wasn't impressed.

Felicia - A kid that likes chess is probably a more serious-minded kid, so I think this was a good design. And I like the bed lengthwise against the wall like that with the giant chessboard as a headboard. When he goes to college he could take it down and him and his buddies could play chess using beer bottles as chesspieces. I could kind of see where the judges were going with their "it looks like a hotel room" comment, though.

John – This room was, to quote Tim Gunn, a hot mess. The floor problem notwithstanding, there are blotches all over the walls, like he was spackling nail holes and didn’t get the right shade of touch-up paint.
(On closer inspection I think it’s some kind of leaf/vine thing, but it’s so subtle as to not even be worth the trouble. He should have spent the time painting the floor instead. Maybe it looked better in person.) I don't know what was up with the rug - at least I think it's a rug... or maybe it's the painting dropcloth. And one of the big rules in a room where kids will be spending a lot of time is to put things at their eye level. The flower pictures in John’s room are at the eye level of Shaquille O’Neal. The mirror was Shaquille-sized as well. It desperately needed to be mounted on the wall, too - if the kid went behind it (and kids do that kind of thing) and it fell over, it could crush the poor little girl. He tries to explain his problems to the judges, and they act sympathetic to his face, but when he's gone Jonathan calls him the "Mayor of Excuses Village" (which is the lamest thing I've heard Jonathan say so far, but I'm sure it won't be the last. The ladies laugh politely but you know they were rolling their eyes the second he looked away).

But whose scene reigned surpreme? Goil, Carisa and Erik were the judges' favorites, and Captain Erik walked away with the win and immunity for next week. (I have a feeling there's going to be a run on giant chain at Target, as kids everywhere insist that their parents give them pirate rooms.) Congrats, Erik! Well-played.

And "walking the plank," we have Cat-Man, Granny's Boy, and John No-Floor. It's a hard call, but John is out. (I'm hoping we make it through the episode without a "See ya later, decorator!" but alas, there it is. I will NEVER like that.) He goes back to the workroom to chat with Todd and hug him repeatedly. John's got the right attitude, though - he WAS picked out of hundreds of people for this show, and that's impressive. So we wish John "good luck" as he makes his way down the Walk of Shame and they turn the lights out behind him.

Next week's show promises to be a doozy - another team challenge. Groups of three this time, to mix it up a little. Are they going to kick off three people at once? Wow! This is going to be the shortest reality TV show ever!
Ack! I almost forgot! "Goil eyeglasses frame color" count for this episode: five.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Witty and smart, just like I remember. Take care of yourself.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Laura K said...

Great recap, QuietOne! Thanks for tracking Goil's eyeglasses too. They have been driving me crazy.

9:18 AM  
Blogger trixie said...

This is a fabulous recap. So many great lines.

It isn't just the producers -- we are ALL waiting for someone to take a humorous spill, preferably Ryan himself. I wondered about his slap mark as well.

And did anyone notice that after Felicia took the wood John wanted (in his defense he was looking at it when she grabbed away) she then covered it over with not one but TWO rugs?!

My favorite line of you entire post is the one about Matt's client going Veruca on him. Perfection.

I'm looking forward to your next installment

9:34 PM  
Anonymous roorooB said...

"I’m hoping a future challenge has them shopping at garage sales with a $100 budget."

Well you are pretty close to clairvoyant (are you sure you're not from WesterBURG, Ohio????) and we are eagerly waiting for the recap.

Because you placed Oompa-Loompas in a Top Design recap (and not even in Carisa's room!) and you are funny.

3:00 AM  
Anonymous roorooB said...


"Harbor accessories" at Target? Shaq-height mirrors?


3:08 AM  

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