FINALLY. The episode I’ve been waiting for—a three-way tie in my head when it comes down to the end. This is what I live for when it comes to a design competition show. I want to feel torn! I want to feel conflicted! I want to feel panicked about making a choice between the designers because they’ve all turned it out! And I want to see my girl Kathy Griffin take on Antonio too, so thanks HGTV, for that little bonus!
A person could get whiplash doing a 180 between last week’s exercise in ridonculousness and this week’s episode. Between the extra time, the bigger budget, the broader retailer horizons (no Sears bedding for the celebs, eh?) and the access to not-one-but-two carpenters, all three remaining finalists are playing to win this week. And it shows.
Antonio: Kathy Griffin’s “Team Griffin” workspace for 3
It’s great that a set designer is working on Kathy Griffin’s space because it will undoubtedly end up being an occasional backdrop for her reality series, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. (I guess HGTV doesn’t want to promote anything on Top Design network, Bravo, because they mention the other two participating celebrities’ shows but never reference Griffin’s.) Positives: Love the colors, although Griffin’s fiery red hair is such a trademark, I probably would use it as inspiration for the color palette. J’adore the map–that is ingenious. I’m so-so on the workspaces—they’re nice and streamlined and functional, but I crave an accent color to pop against the lavender and gray. Something has gone south with the conference table Antonio originally planned near the former fireplace area, because in the final reveal, there is just a hodge-podge of Chiasso–Eurway-style side tables and two chairs, plus a tiny little rug that hardly merits an appearance. Antonio’s hosting style is very 1980s-MTV-VJ-oriented, which I dig. Side note: as a die-hard KG:LOTDL fan, I have to laugh when I see Antonio start pulling out his eyebrows in the green room. I’m wondering…after four days in Griffin’s house, has he somehow managed to catch tour manager Tom Vize’s eyelash-pulling affliction??
Dan: Jason Priestley and wife Naomi Lowde’s nursery for baby #2 (a boy who arrived in July)
Dan is pretty giddy over the prospect of speaking with Jason Priestley. “I’ve never had a celebrity encounter in my life, so just walking in and talking to a celebrity is going to be pressure!” (Oops! Candice Olson, Vern Yip, Genevieve Gorder, David Bromstad, John Gidding and Clive Pearse must be chopped liver.) Positives: Although I shudder over theme rooms, I truly love the boat frames hanging from the ceiling. I like the way Dan’s sky painting is hanging from ropes, but–fair or not–it’s hard to get all wowed about his painting when this is one more David-Bromstad-wannabe move. Overall, I think the room is visually chaotic and the mint green element of his color palette feels off. I like the idea of him embellishing curtains, but the accent fabric is feminine and too mature. As for Dan’s hosting, I don’t see anything horribly wrong about it. The way Vern dogs Dan for giggling during elimination seems over-the-top too serious. Can’t it be okay to release a little giggle during a stressful elimination round? It’s not like he does it while hosting. Chillax.
Lonni: Guest room for Tiffani Thiessen and husband Brady Smith
Lonni’s worked for celebs before—hell, she’s a credited actress herself—so she handles Tiffani Thiessen with aplomb. Positives: I don’t care that she’s done patterns on focal walls before—I have a total crush on the screen-printed wallpaper she uses on the wall behind the bed. I’m thrilled to see relaxed, creamy fabric roman shades replace the original woven shades and I’ve had a long-standing love affair with the Crate & Barrel pillows she uses on the bed, so I’m digging those. However, the geometric pillow seems too mod for Thiessen’s and Smith’s taste.
But oh my gawd, y’all. That moment when the headboard installers can’t seem to hang that beautiful piece of wood on the wall and you see Lonni start wigging out? Her tension and anxiety are so palpable, they’re contagious. Suddenly, I’m Joan Cusak in Broadcast News and I’m bobbing my head while Holly Hunter’s chanting “Bobby-Bobby-Bobby-Bobby-Bobby,” trying to will her editor into making their live national news feed deadline. (“We’ve got TWO MINUTES! It’s MY responsibility to notify the networks if we don’t have enough time—AND WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME!”) I’m Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment. (“My daughter needs her shot! Give my daughter the shot!”) I’m watching Lonni start to hyperventilate and I’m all, “Headboard dudes—SHE’S RUNNING OUT OF TIME!” I’m expecting Clive’s air horn any minute when Lonni makes the call to lean the wood against the wall, propping it up with side tables so she can move on to styling the bed linens. I ache for her in that moment, but it actually looks pretty good so I’m thinking, surely this will not be a deal-breaker, right?
Except apparently, it is.
Even though Lonni “has the nice temperament of a labradoodle,” the judges send her packing. My jaw drops. Honestly, I don’t know who I would’ve sent home this week. I like Antonio’s hosting style and his supercool map, but the room stops short of looking appropriately accessorized and I yearn for a conference table. Dan’s improving on his hosting, but I don’t dig his overall room as much as I do Lonni’s–and he just doesn’t seem different enough from David Bromstad to warrant his own show. Lonni’s room has real “wow” factor and is tastefully styled, but her hosting is a tad stiff this week. Pluses and minuses all around.
Beer, please. And I’d like to send out a round of virtual cocktails to this week’s three designers, who finally-finally-finally gave us an episode worth watching and debating.
COMING SOON: My interview with eliminated designer, Lonni Paul. Due to the holiday, there’ll be a delay on that, but look for it late Tuesday or Wednesday. Also–fingers crossed–oh, I don’t even want to jinx it. (The suspense!!)