Top Design: The Weekly Dish

November 6, 2008

Miss Becky is back to share her opinion on the finale of Bravo’s Top Design. Yay! I’ve loved having her here to comment on the show each week, I’m sure you’ll all agree that often Becky is MORE entertaining than the actual episode. Becky, the stage is yours, my dear! ? Holly


The Finale! The first order of business before we discuss the show: Holly, are you missing the shower curtain from your apartment in Germany? I’m pretty sure that Kelly Wearstler was wearing it in this episode!

Kelly wearing a dress by Marni.

I really enjoyed this episode. The contestants had a couple of days, a couple of carpenters, a seamstress and an auffed (thanks Kristin – I’m using that for every reality show now) contestant assistant to complete an entire house. By the way, was I seeing it correctly? Were the kitchen, dining, and living rooms all on the top floor of the house? Were there views? If not, I don’t get it.

Room by Ondine.

Room by Ondine.

Each contestant really showed their individual style this week. Ondine seemed to have grown the most throughout the competition, though I recognized the photo of her headboard from some magazine – does anyone remember where that was from? I think it might have been Elle Decor, but I’m not sure. I thought that was a little weird. I also wished that Big Daddy had built something like that headboard for the David Hockney window that resulted in his auffing. Ondine’s style was really fun but seemed to simply emulate Jonathan Adler’s. There was the C. Jere-esque sculpture, the bright BOOM! POW! colors and foo dogs galore. It was all straight out of My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living. That being said, I thought she did a good job.

Design by Preston.

Design by Preston.

While Preston’s design was very polished, I don’t think he took the judges’ advice from last week. They begged him to add that extra layer of his own personality, but he didn’t. While he had very clean and modern rooms, it all had that Jeff Lewis staged-to-sell or impersonal hotel look (that’s a shout-out to you, Eleise!). As they panned through his rooms, all I could think was “Man I wish ‘Lost’ was on!” He seemed to have an inability to have fun, whether at the pool or when designing.

Design by Nathan.

Design by Nathan.

My favorite, Nathan, was wackadooarama, and I loved it. He took huge risks, and his designs were the only ones that seemed to have any originality and excitement. While this crazy funkiness can impress judges, it is also a major gamble. Nathan was far and away the gutsiest competitor throughout the entire season. When he hits, he gets a bulls-eye. When he misses, he misses by a long-shot! He clearly knows the difference between designing and decorating.

A few other random notes: If I had only seen this episode and the first two episodes, I would have liked Eddie just fine, and I would have found him entertaining. I cringed when I saw him return, but he didn’t offend or appall me at all this week! I finally saw Margaret smile – she’s been speaking with quite a crisp tone to the other judges the past few weeks. India seemed to warm up a lot as the season went on and I found myself wanting to have a drink with her by the end. Jonathan Adler actually made a Samantha Fox reference, and now I can’t get “I Wanna Have Some Fun…” out of my head! (SaSaSamantha Fox!)

So, I’m dying to read what you all thought of the finale. Do you think the right person won? If not, who were you pulling for? Which house was your favorite and which was your least favorite? Is there such a thing as a “traditional twist,” which was part of Preston’s weird explanation for his style, or is that an oxymoron? How funny is it that Nathan comes up with style names like “Bohemian Bourgeouisie,” and calls a large chest a “giant coffin S and M holding pen”? Do you think that seeing her own style copied so much on this show drove Kelly to switch it up and go all Bravura Modern, as featured recently in Domino? Do you read so many design blogs every day that a lot of this looked really done to death to you? Did you think anyone’s style was “love it or hate it”? Whom would you like to have a beer with the most? Who would you take to a Kathy Griffin concert? Do you remember Samantha Fox? (If not here’s a YouTube video, don’t say I never gave you anything.) Where is she now? What did you think about Preston switching his lounge, which was supposed to set the whole tone for the house design, into a dining room? Please just comment on anything you want!

One more note: It has been my pleasure to be able to dish with you all every week! After I post here, I find myself compulsively checking the comments every ten minutes to see what you have to say, and I find myself chuckling and nodding as I do. It’s been an absolute honor to be posting on decor8 and to be able to have discussions with you every week! Thank you so much! – Becky Harris


Thank you Becky, it’s been our pleasure having you. LOVE your post each week. :) – Holly

(images from bravo’s top design)


  • Reply Linda Merrill from ::Surroundings:: November 6, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Hi Becky,

    Good eye on Ondine’s headboard. Here’s what Margaret Russell said on her Bravo blog: “… clearly a knockoff of fashion designer Naeem Khan’s bedroom; Ondine handed her carpenter the ELLE DECOR tear sheet”.

    I have to say that I don’t get Nathan’s style. To me it was too random – everything he put into the rooms was pretty spectacular, but I couldn’t see any cohesion. Interestingly, I hated his paper plate chandi and was surprised that the judges seemed to love it. But, Margaret said on her blog that she wasn’t sure later on why they were so wowed by it at the time. I guess the judges are trying so hard to find creativity that even a bit of spark will set them off.

    I was puling for Preston, although I agree he needs a little more zippety-do. And I had the very same thought about Kelly – she’s being done to death, so she’s changed her style to stay a head of the pack. Which is why she was so bored with Preston. It actually makes me appreciate her more – although I didn’t love the Domino spread – she clearly willing to stretch and grow.

    I thought Eddie was still being an a*% on the show. As a matter of fact, it really sealed it for me. Especially as they showed Preston say nothing but nice things about him.

    They all did a spectacular job on the finale – I wish they’d been given more time to really do some planning and more building projects. It’s true – there is a difference between designing and just buying furniture. But, they weren’t given enough time really create in a thorough way.

    And Becky, thanks for hosting us here, great job!

    Linda Merrill from ::Surroundings::s last blog post: Larry Laslo at Kips Bay

  • Reply Tracey November 6, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    I liked all three finalists and I liked their homes. But in the end I did like Nathan’s best and agreed with the decision. The others were too formulaic. Yes, Nathan’s kind of random, that’s the appeal. Most of us can’t afford to completely redecorate our homes as trends come and go so the ability to take randomness that you pick up over the years and make it look smashing and fresh is something to aspire to. I could have done without the paper plate chandelier but of the three houses, his was the one I would want to live in.

    I felt sad that Preston seemed completely clueless about what an ass Eddie had been and praised him so. But Eddie wasn’t a total jerk this episode. Of course, Eddie had to say the things he said for them to use them but it did make me wonder just how the editing was skewed to make him look worse than he was perhaps. I’m no Eddie fan, don’t get me wrong, it just struck me as odd this episode.

  • Reply Briana November 6, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Remember the first season of Top Design where they had those cool loft like spaces to decorate and design for the finale? What happened to something like that? I thought the town-homes were blah…

    I thought Nathan was the clear winner. I love how everything he selects for his spaces looks expensive and thoughtful, with a little funk.

    When they showed Preston’s dining room and Kelly said, “it looked like you picked everything from a showroom”, I cringed for him.

    Ondine said the sweetest thing at the end, “there is room enough in this world for everyone to be successful.” Wasn’t that cool?

    I am sure all of the finalist when they watched the finale were thinking, “oh, I should’ve done this, or that”, like Ondine said, “it sometimes can take a whole year to do a house,” so with that said, I think they all did a pretty good job under all the constraints.

  • Reply Charlie November 6, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Eddie…..bitter much. What a sore loser. Anyway…..
    I had trouble staying awake to watch the finale. In my opinion, not one of them was fantastic but if I had to pick I would have chosen Ondine. I love her designs – the burst of color, but she is very all over the place. I understand why Nathan won. He is creative and won them over with his paper plate chandelier (gosh that sounds a little unglamorous). Poor Preston needs to seek help. He’s so talented but limited by himself.
    Didn’t you feel like India was running , not walking to jump on a plane back to the Bahamas! I wonder if she will be back next season. I think it was all a bit too much drama for her, and she wanted to yell at all of them – “its just a designs show”.
    Margaret Russell has got spicier and spicier over the last couple of episodes. Very opinionated, but still wearing the “Im an innocent girl” dresses. And Kelly, oh Kelly…..where are you going to wear these crazy outfits now.
    I will miss your posts Becky but I’ll catch you over at your other blogs.

    Charlies last blog post: Full of hope

  • Reply Luka November 6, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    I was really surprised Nathan won and think it had to have been based on the entirety of the season and not the finale. While he is truly inspired I don’t see how leaving the formal living room empty save a table and a chair is realistic. He is the ultimate artist but I’m not sure a lot of what he does translates to real life.

    As for this challenge in itself I thought Ondine won it. Yes, Becks, totally right about a lot of this having been circulating on the blogs for at least two years but hers was a home that would have been stylish and fun to live in.

    Preston, in my humble opinion, is the best all around of the three. While his townhouse lacked bold punches of color, it was serene and beautifully put together. I would have been truly proud to have that as my own home.

    I hope they all do debut their own lines of furniture or accessories – each had something different to offer and what was a fairly bland show did wrap up quite nicely.

  • Reply becky from hatch November 6, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Hi Everyone! I want to remind you that you still have time to put together something for the Blogging Top Design Swarovski contest. I tried it out yesterday and it was a disaster. I had to eat a big slice of humble pie after I was done with it! It was a really fun exercise though.

    Don’t you think the contestants, especially Ondine and Preston, really catered to the judges’ style? Shopping at the JA store, using an Elle Decor tear sheet (thanks Linda!), emulating la Wearstler? I found that very interesting and it’s also interesting was the winner was the guy who didn’t do that. Tracey, I’m with you, I just love Nathan. When he fails, he fails big time, but when he hits it, he really hits it. He did both in this episode! I was glad he won – I just loved him. I think he even has a dash of Albert Hadley in him – that room with the primary colored mobile (was it Calder?)

    Briana, I thought those homes were hideous too – I think it was a product placement deal. And you are right – Ondine just seems like a really really nice person – I liked her a lot all through the competition. She stepped up her fashion last night too!

    Kristin and Eleise, if you are reading, I must give shout outs to you. Kristin, for “auffed” and Eleise, my Jeff Lewis comment in the summary was highly influenced by you!

    Charlie, I wondered if India was hitting the beach the entire time she was in LA or if she jetted in for each episode. I really want to give her some 45 SPF! Her sunburn makes me worry for her health each week. I loved the comment she made about having fun though – it seemed like it was a bit of a dig at Margaret’s “hall monitor” attitude (someone said that last week here and I thought it was spot-on)!

    becky from hatchs last blog post: Kelly Wearstler’s Clothes

  • Reply nina November 6, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    I agree with Linda…

    Nathan’s style is sooo not mine…he seems a bit too random with no cohesion whatsoever. I’m still having nightmares about that huge wooden horse in the Swarovski challenge :-). Who’d want to wake up to that?? I’d wake up screaming everyday! Anyway, his sense of scale is a bit off, and I don’t think he was the best choice…but…he has a great personality and I believe his risk taking quality will get him far in his career. I did love the art work in the dining room, though.

    I think Preston’s quiet personality and “safe” choices held him back. I like his sophisticated style, but he should step out of the box with his color choices.

    Ondine has great ideas and I think she’s good with color. I just think she needed more time to pull everything together. She also chose great art pieces.

    I really think the time contrants hindered the quality of a lot of the designs. As far as a winner is concerned, I’d pick Preston or Ondine.

    ninas last blog post: Crystal Wedding Invites

  • Reply Meghan November 6, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    I am going to start out by saying that for some reason Bravo didn’t have any sound at my house. I tried all of my tvs and not any of them had sound, so I had to watch this episode with out the usual Nathan humor (its not has funny when you have to read it).

    As far as the winner went, I believe Nathan deserved it. When he was painting his console table he said that those projects would be the difference between Top Decorator and Top Designer and I think he was right. Even though some of his designs are a little over the top, I think is funky, eclectic style is interesting. I actually liked his paper plate chandelier, having made something similar to it with plastic cups in art school. My least favorite room was the master bedroom that he had done in the previous challenge. I think it showed to much restraint.

    Ondine really did grow throughout the show. I would have loved to live it her house. I was absolutely obsessed with those pink sofas. Her major down fault is her lack of experience and sometimes originality. Overall I think she is great and if she keeps on the same track she will be really successful.

    Preston decorated a beautiful house that I think anyone would have been honored to live in, but I say decorated because I don’t see him as a designer. He has a great eye for placing furniture, but it isn’t real original. He never showed that layer of himself that the judges asked for. Honestly I don’t think he has a layer of himself because he doesn’t have much personality. Throughout the show he was consistent, but consistency is often boring.

    Thanks Becky, I have enjoyed reading your interpretation of the show and everyone’s comments. I hope you will come back next season, if there is a next season.

  • Reply Tara November 6, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    The black floral bedroom wallpaper is fantastic!

    Taras last blog post: Day-Lab: My Unattainable Dream

  • Reply 315thomas November 6, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    nathan kind of got on my nerves from week to week, but i think he deserved to win. his dining room was divine, and his little office with the “wall of ex-boyfriends” was fabulous.

    i also think ondine improved soooo much during this final challenge. the room with the pink couches was adorable, as was her little girl’s room. preston fell flat for me… you are right, it did seem very impersonal… and he took apart the room he won for last week! i think he overthought his design and that’s what cost him the win.

    315thomass last blog post: etsy find . . . quercus silver

  • Reply Diann November 6, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    I think the decision was made long before the finale,too.
    I’m a Preston fan.I think his rooms leave room for the personality of the owner to show through. The missing layer in his rooms is really enough for the person who lives in them to add a bit of themselves to make it personal. Isn’t that what a person would want?
    I don’t think Nathan’s rooms leave any room to add anything.His rooms feel hectic. They are fun to SEE but I can’t imagine LIVING in them.And that chicken wire and paper plate chandelier is hideous! Who wants to dust paper plates? How long will it look good? Even were it made from china I would hate it.Too “projecty” for me.He had some gorgeous pieces but they didn’t seem to shine through.
    Ondine…I would rather leave windows and beds bare than put up that cheesy looking junk. I may be picky as a seamstress myself, but those curtains in the Master Bedroom looked like table runners. The children’s room curtains looked so unfinished and cheap.
    Oh,boy…by Preston’s reaction to getting Eddie as an assistant it is painfully obvious that Eddie is a BEHIND YOUR BACK character.Preston didn’t have a clue that he had been ridiculed by old lady Eddie.
    I’m glad they used the wallpaper like they all did because I now know I AM OVER IT! Whew…I was almost ready to use it in my own home but can see how fast you tire of it. Long live the paint can!

  • Reply Gypsy November 6, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Hi, Becky!

    Since you said you read all the comments, I feel compelled to tell you that I’ve been avidly following your re-caps all season, even though we changed from dish to cable and I no longer get BRAVO.

    Judging from the photos and comments, it’s probably been a more enjoyable way of keeping up on the show than actually watching it. All those group challenges and ridiculous time constraints (preventing us from knowing what anyone can really do) don’t do good things for my blood pressure.

    Thanks for making the show more fun than it actually is!

    Gypsys last blog post: Democracy In Action

  • Reply simone November 6, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    alas, it has come to an end and TOP CHEF starts next week! Yeah! okay, I digress.

    i can see how Nathan won but my only question is who the heck lives in his house? the wall art that he did though was GORGE (to steal an eddism).

    the interesting thing is, you cannot hide who you are. everyone’s room was exactly like the type of personality they displayed on the show.

    preston’s level of control and self-containment was so spot on and very depressing. the room was polished but too dark for constant habitation. where is the sunshine in his life?

    ondine’s room is really her and the disheveled look that she usually sports was evident in the window seat thingamajig that she had going on.

    nathan was nice and while his house was curious to say the least- i feel that he believed in himself that most and he was the most comfortable with whom he is as a designer. he took risks and when they work, he reaped the rewards and when they didn’t, he learned and moved on.

    congrats nathan!

    simones last blog post: China Town Inspiration

  • Reply Chicaholic November 6, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    I am really just in love with Preston’s design style. It is really chic and refined which is exactly what I love to bring to my home. I could not believe Nathan won! I was rooting for Preston or Ondine…

  • Reply Beruska November 6, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    It was great seeing all the designers pulling the whole townhouse together compare to just a little room. I was glad Nathan won because of his originality and approach to “design” not “decorating”. He was the only one stepping out of the box even in the limited time he had. Yes, it’s hit or miss (especially his boring bedroom) but hey, at least he is going for it!
    I love Ondine’s sense of color, but I love Ondine as a person even more. There IS enough room for everyone to be successfull and she will be doing great on her own.
    Preston Preston Preston, I wish you could step back and realize that you are re-making the same room over and over…….and over. Yes, it’s neat, well-spaced, sophisticated…..but don’t YOU get tired of it as well? I wish you would have more fun!
    My favorite part was when Kelly made a yawning sound while Margaret was talking about Preston’s design – PRICELESS! Thank you Kelly for bringing in the spice this show needed!
    And thank you Becky for your awesome, right on spot commentary and fun approach to this whole show. After all, it is an entertainment, right?

  • Reply Andi-a November 6, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Awwwwwww it’s time to say see ya around. It ended flat as a pancake to me. I managed to only catch the last 20-30 minutes in both reruns I watched.

    Rooted for Preston of course but it looked like a funeral home on my tv set. I have loved the way he has carried himself throughout all this but the effect of being hated can be seen in his rooms cause he has done that grayish blue stuff in prior epis, but when you see his website it’s hard to believe it’s the same person and I scoured to find out if he was just the front man of some amazing talented team, but it’s really him who did it. It’s strange but like my elderly masseurs guru inappropriate pseudo husband says pain always shows up somewhere. Preston has let fear harm his work. I hope he leaves the darkness.

    Okay now putting away the kleenex I would most like to see Ondines home in a magazine. I wish she wasn’t as matched up but I understand her brain is a bit inside out after working on big set work and she doesnt have her balance on matchy vs. wildnerness.

    Nathan. Paper plates. Honestly who else could get away with a mockup model for an actual finished home. Who else could get away with it no applauded for paper plates twice? He won because of context. He is well proportioned, he is snarky, Bravo can use him a thousand ways for the rest of the stations lifetime, he is a brand. K I did love the front room but no function at all just gallery? I don’t look forward to seeing his concrete beds, hot coals flooring line, or petrified elephant dung art but that said if he ever comes to really dicipline his nightmares into good truly original product watchout world.

    K I was going to sell some old fur stoles with my vintage clothes on ebay, but after Ondines look last night I will definantly be laying them on my basic tees and sweaters at least until red paint gets tossed on them. It showed great simple style without pretense so I’m snatching the idea with no shame.

    Becky I always felt India was fun but held back by the weird judge peers. Love the work they all produce but these judges and so called friends have no chemistry together. They look like they might catch a rash if they relax and communicate authenticly.

    Glad they were all happy at the end. Next time, if there is one, hopefully the contestants will be either all diverse talent without the huge experience or all hugely experienced with diverse talents. Oh and a clear direction, oh and a better mix of juuudgees as India would say. Oh yeah but keep Todd for the love of all thats right in the world keep Todd, and India if you can compensate her enough. I would like to see a seasoned Bunny Williams or Barbara Bates with Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan from apartmenttherapy.com, with an editor from Domino and a great problem solving architect. Uhm hmm yep.

  • Reply Tara @ Go Green Street November 6, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    The living room by Ondine was amazing. That red couch looks stunning with the zebra print rug.

    Tara @ Go Green Streets last blog post: Environment Product Labels For Real Green Certification

  • Reply becky from hatch November 6, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Andi-A, except for seeing some personality, I’d recommend only watching the last 20-30 minutes. I am always dying for a glass of wine and for Lost to return somewhere around the middle of the show. Then the reveals are way too fast but the judging is rather delicious! Nathan seemed to gain confidence as the show went along – he was hilariously self-deprecating in the beginning and that let up a bit, though he did not cross over into cocky.

    No sound on Bravo or no Bravo with the Dish? I’d die! I need my Rachel Zoe, my Jeff Lewis, and my NENE! There was a really good article about Bravo in the NYtimes magazine this past weekend, or the weekend before. Anyway, clearly I need to get a life and take more classes in the evenings before vines start growing off my spud of a body and get all over the couch!

    Ondine’s window treatments were atrocious, but at least she took the judges’ advice and got some. I guess they couldn’t really say anything about them since they asked for them. It looked like there were cheap sheets strung over a pole.

    Gypsy, thanks so much, and thanks to Holly for digging up the pics. I was always navigating bravotv.com by going to “rate the room” and they would never have the latest episode up in that section!

    Simone, you are totally right about the personalities matching the houses. I think it’s much more interesting when there is a story about the client. I think they all made the clients themselves in a lot of ways, which is fine too – just emphasize that fact when you are explaining the design. Don’t make it fit-for-all, make up a story about a single mom with three boys who works from home, or a bratty trust fund 19 year old, or something! Part of the charm of Nathan’s crazy Swarovski room was the story. I know that when he said the girl was “bratty” and he “was kinda jealous of her,” he won over the judges!

    Hmmm, a dream panel. I rather liked this one. In addition, I would love to see Jeff Lewis and his ex Ryan and maybe even Jenni, DEFINITELY Simon Doonan, someone really snooty like Anna Wintour, a fun strong personality like Isaac Mizrahi, perhaps someone very refined like Carolina Herrera, Vicente Wolfe, Martha Schwartz, Ian Schrager, Julie Bargmann, oh god, adding Martha Stewart into the mix would be a trip, and maybe Nene from Real Housewives of Atlanta just for kicks. I could go on forever!

    I’m off to go catch up on the bravo blogs. Bethenny Franklin’s is the funniest thing I’ve ever read in my life!

    becky from hatchs last blog post: Kelly Wearstler’s Clothes

  • Reply Cindy Corlett November 6, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Thank you, thank you Miss Becky for hosting this little forum. It has been a real pleasure to read and participate!

    Simone, your comments about design and personality is so right on. I found myself thinking last night that Preston’s rooms reminded me of him. Perfect on the surface, but no sense of depth or personality. Ondine’s rooms were quirky in a good way, like her and Nathan’s rooms were challenging and off-center, but still drew you in, much like Nathan does.

    If they do another season of this show, I would love to see a final challenge that gives the contestants more time to plan and execute. But, who knows….TV is not the real world!!

  • Reply M November 6, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    I agree…this stuff was done to death. It looks nice, but there is nothing ground breaking about it. My rule of thumb is that if I look at the still, and I can identify at least one manufacturer of something in the furniture, then the designer has failed.

    The wallpaper is Graham and Spencer, the white table is West Elm (which yes, the Parson’s table IS a great staple, but I think he could’ve found something diff), the pillows are Dwell for Target, etc, etc, etc…

  • Reply Andy Mathis November 6, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    I just want to know-

    WHERE WERE THE TVs? No Sonys? No Wiis? No electronic product placement in the houses?

    I probably was pulling for Ondine, since she seemed like the underdog in the judges eye. I really liked her living room, love the artwork and the plant in the corner.

    I did like Nathan’s front room too. Even if less functional by leaving out the furniture.

    Preston’s house was nice.
    They were all nice, just different.

    I have never read ElleDecor magazine in my life. So, I can’t imagine what I’m missing, but . . . .
    as a designer on a show like this, it would be tough to come up with an original idea. Unless you are doing what Nathan did with the paper plates. Everything has been done before in regards to furniture, and if it wasn’t in ElleDecor, it was in Domino, or Better Homes and Gardens. You will always have someone saying, ” That was done in Such and Such magazine, Spring issue, 1987, page 49. ”
    It still makes for a nice room, in any case.

    Andy Mathiss last blog post: I don’t need 5 cats, Peoples.

  • Reply kelly November 6, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    I’m sad the show is over because coming here was always such a highlight. Becky, I hope you stick around for the next season (if there is one).

    I couldn’t help but wonder if Eddie was never a serious contender, being a Martha minion and all. (Would Margaret REALLY want a competitor’s senior style editor to do a spread in her magazine?)

    That being said, I think the thing that seriously annoyed me most about this show was the judges themselves. So pretentious. So out of touch with us common folk. At one point in her blog, Margaret referred to the townhouses as “Taco Bell” homes. Nice disrespecting the sponsors who provided them to you!

    I actually liked all of the homes, but I felt it was a tie between Ondine and Nathan. Preston does beautiful work, but it all feels so dark and…perfect. He is always using “clean” to describe his style, but sometimes I think he is bordering on sterilized.

    I actually loved Nathan’s kid room the best, and that painting he did for the dining room was totally effing sweet. He’d be fun to work with.

    I wasn’t so wild about Ondine’s pink sofas as I was about the wall paper and wall art. And I found Kelly’s comment about too many accessories to be interesting, especially considering her Domino spread.

    In the end, I think Nathan won after he scored back-to-back Top Designs earlier in the season. But I’m sure they all have bright futures ahead of them.

    kellys last blog post: Getting Political

  • Reply Hana November 6, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Hi Becky, and Holly, and hi all
    Nathan won?! Oh, I was surprised…
    Several weeks ago, I noticed I should join in here, since I have too much confidence in not only my sly tongue but also lack of my ability of English. I watched on youtube and I was not able to catch any speech even when Eddie seems talking about panties. So, I realized I could write my impressions only with my 100% PURE oriental tasty prejudice view:D (I’m living in Japan), but I did not write anything, because…. the result was clear from the beginning of this show, if only Nathan could have his own studio.

    Seriously, who can guess that he would like to become a worldwide artist? Although I don’t dislike him, I have no idea about that. He really really disappointed me when Bravo stated a copyright infringement toward youtube. I’ve watched that video on his Too shabby-chic site…so I can’t see last week’s video yet. ?the paper plate chandelier? Before judge about that, let me simply say I loved Jeffrey Fulvimari’s paper plates art than Nathan’s. http://www.jeffreyfulvimari.com/japa/news/news02.html
    If you need English site, you can see here.

    I can say Preston’s new site is still more smarter than Nathan’s. At least he seem well knowing about ‘how to use Media’. Of course, I did not dislike Preston. Actually, he seemed good worker than others, whether I’ll add that I have no doubt the designer who can make a most interesting Fake-Oriental room is Preston. I was very satisfied with this week’s photo. (constructive advice is here: Do not use a head of any buddhism statue as a weight on books. Seriously, it makes showing you as mere worldwide jerk not a good decorator…) And I will add all his rooms are Old-MODERN furnitures MORTUARY.

    Ondine’s pink room is nothing exciting, but it seem pretty cute. I like her. However…I still can not understand yet why she selected the fishing net. And, who is the main creator of the black-white sofa? In my inner spiritual view, it looked like a Japanese buddhism picture frame for dead. What a Un-Lucky room -_- More, I watched more her room on the official site and find the wallpaper which had same pattern of the light in Holly’s room. What interior manufacturer made such a HORRIBLE wallpaper…? I love Holly’s light, and I like wallpapers of German company SAISO. But such a big patterned wallpaper just only hurts my eyes.

    Ediee? er, I did not dislike him…Ok, I like him. I said it. I even misunderstood his personality might be suitable for a contemporary artist, than Nathan. In my honest opinion, I think his weak point might be he could make only Asymmetriphobia’s room. Mortuary? JA is right. His rooms mostly remind me clearly my grandma’s funeral and the Eclectic room in my parishioner temple. So, I’m still wondering…what was the right name of the objects something like an egged buddhism pillar in Eddie’s ‘light it up week’ room??

    Thus! I can say my best lovin’ show is still the HGTV’s Decorating Cents. In there, decorators just made me smile. (e.g. the designer of Oriental decoration wrote the picture of something like an Octopus-Alien and she said it is water. Don’t take it ironic. I say I really felt it was just cute.) But this show was… I have to say I could not understand any meanings of this program, other than that Kelly Wearstler seemed to want to perform at the John Waters’s movie. (I’m jealous, seriously…)

    Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed reading all posts and comments. Thank you so much, Beckey!

  • Reply Gail Jacobson November 6, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Actually, I didn’t see that much difference in the three designers’ houses. Overpowering wall paper placed oddly, deep colors and random placement of furniture were evident in all of the rooms. You could make the argument that they were all designed by the same person.

    Will someone explain the wallpaper thing to me? I get the fact that it was a product placement, but it is a fad. People will be ripping it off their walls in 6 months.

    All the furniture looked random to me. Has anyone seen Jonathan Adler’s Florida home on the cover of Metropolitan Home? It looks as though it is the room where odd pieces go to die. Nathan’s bratty girl room looked the same. While I applaud the death of the matchy-matchy, this makes no sense. Don’t hire a designer, ask a five year old to do your room.

  • Reply belledame November 6, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    no matter who won, it’s impossible for me to not feel that the other two were robbed. i loved everything about Ondine’s except the original office. my sorority house had busy floral walls in all of the public rooms and it makes me think of “the yellow wallpaper.” Nathan’s house had a great vibe, a sense that you could take a deep breath in there. i loved that he staged the entrance room and made the second level the real living area. i think that’s normal in these sort of houses. Preston’s was way dark for me, but that wasn’t a drawback. Adler’s “where’s the pop of color” wore thin. that’s not a design mandate. it’s one choice you could make. not everyone lives in a crayon box (i do).

    i liked that margaret put it to nathan straight: “it wasn’t worth a $100,000 to move it out of the room?!” good of her to refocus. too bad natalie couldn’t do that for him. i did think that reversing the chest and the sofa would have helped a lot (since there was on television). the size of the chest would have been diminished by the view and if he’d gotten a glass topper and put plants in maybe rectangular modern planters to give the chest a purpose, that would have been nice.

  • Reply eleise November 6, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    I commented last week in defense of Eddie, and this week I wanted to throw him against a wall. I was shocked when he put the phone down while Preston spoke to him. 100,000 dollars was at stake, and Eddie’s pissy move struck me as very poor sportsmanship. I think he does (did) a lot of that stuff because he thought it would play well and be funny, but this time it was too mean spirited.

    Has this been said before? Sartorially, Kelly Wearstler is the Phyllis Diller of her generation. Those clothes are cra-aaa-aa-zy. I love her.

    I was glad Nathan won, I thought his rooms showed the most spirit. And he has big ideas, which I can’t say about Ondine or Preston. I loved the entrance idea, and the dining room (paper plate light-feh) but the rest was wonderful. Some of it is scattershot, for sure, but he is creative and interesting in a way I just didn’t feel about the others. I even liked that big old bed everyone hated. It looked like a place one of the three bears would sleep.

    Preston seems like a still waters run deep type. Or he could be as boring as his rooms (I hope not). The thing is, I couldn’t tell from his design. He is a blank to me. I agree that his rooms are serene and well balanced and would be easy to live in, but I can get that from thousands of designers (and their showrooms) I like quirkiness, and honestly would have been more interested in what Eddie might have done.

    I really liked what Ondine did, but it did not seem grown up to me. It seemed like what a precocious teenager might consider a fabulous living space. The wallpaper, pink sofas, zebra skin rug, it was all a little too twee.

    Ultimately, there were no surprises. And they all did a great job and remained true to themselves.

    I have had a blast reading your dish on Top Design Becky!!!

  • Reply Andi-a November 6, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Oh My Friggin Goodness. I kid you not I’m over at bloggingtopdesign so I can link to Preston’s website to make sure I wasnt exaggerating how good he is, and so then I’m all over there and then I go to see Nathy’s new site thanks Hana yes it sucks but only cause its not ready yet, but anywho so then I go back to click on Preston’s and OMG his site had changed, and he made me such a liar.

    THANKSALOT PRESTON!!!! I’ve only defended your arse this whole show tsk tsk. He has this new site with his partner very glammy blonde girl and it’s even better. Soooo better but I could do without the mood music.

    Anywho so I was wrong, tee hee, he is partnered up by the looks of the new website, and yes I still love the guy I just like to think I know mostly what I’m talking about while ranting facelessly on the net.

    Speaking of, Becky thanks so much for your efforts and freaking funtastic (sorry you can’t help but make up a word or two after reading JA’s blog) fabulous great space here to talk about the all too important design reality show. Honestly waiting for Obama to win I may have chewed thru our yucky carpet padding if I couldn’t have come here to concentrate and come up with some ridiculous thoughts to share. I will follow you around well only in a non-stalker yet totally admiring how much you get it kinda a way to your other places on the net. Becky. O.M.G. You. Totally. Shut. It. Down.

    Dzinediva belated thanks I tried to find a place to say it thru your links but anywho thank you for the compliment, cool pillows btw.

    Is anyone planning on making Nat’s hoodie? Cause the claim is he made it himself.

    Thank you Holly of Germany :).

  • Reply Tobey November 6, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Nathan, for me, was the most in tune to my design likes, and he was exciting. Preston creates beautiful rooms, no question, but ithe style is too boutique-hotel for me to really love. Preston, and his style, are both pretty and pretty boring.

  • Reply Condo Blues November 6, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Odine ? loved her pink sofa room and kid?s room too. I?d love to do something like that in my own home but I have a husband. And living with a boy means I don?t get to decorate with girly fuchsia sofas. I don?t have an issue with her having foo dogs galore in her space but then again, I share my home with a Pekingese ? a real life foo dog.

    Preston ? why, why, why, why did he change his sitting room so drastically? He took a good room that just needed a few tweaks to make it a great room and instead turned it into a meh room. That being said, I didn?t think Kelly?s criticism, ?it looked like you picked everything from a showroom? was fair. Of course, he picked his stuff from a showroom ? all of the designers did because you only gave them 2-3 days to design a house! Were the judges on crack or sniffed too many VOC paint fumes? What did they expect with a short timeline like that? There?s very little the contestants could ?design? they really only had time to ?alter.?

    Nathan ? I think he won because like you said he took risks. Sometimes they paid off and sometimes they crashed and burned. He also was fearless in altering items and trying to create things for his rooms with what little materials and time were made available to them. The paper plate chandelier? I?m not sure about it. It?s a little too Trading Spaces for me. I think I might have liked it more if it were made from china plates. However, I loved the artwork in his house, especially the kinetic sculptures. He?s my favorite, so I?m glad he won.

    One thing that concerned me was the quality of the tailors on this show. The window treatments and other projects in the finale just didn?t look as polished as they should have. Remember the green office challenge? All of the recovered office chairs looked awful! If Bravo?s having a hard time finding someone who can sew home furnishings well and without a pattern, then they should hire me for next season!

  • Reply Cynthia November 6, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    I fell asleep half way through this episode and frantically woke up two hours later wondering who had won. Had to look it up on the internet and frankly, was very disappointed it was Nathan. Don’t get me wrong, I loved him from the first time I met it, his wit, personality and some of his rooms were really nice, but……..in a condo, where space is limited, to put a dining room table in the formal living room area, with another huge piece of furniture that served no purpose in that space was just baaaadddd. He lost his sense of scale for this episode – that whole room became just a foyer, and the huge table in the middle was just good enough to put the car keys in on the way up to the living area of the house. He could have done so much more here, maybe a library…just a thought. Then you go to the living room, where the heck did he find Noah’s Ark? That huge piece of furniture took away from everything else – I was uncomfortable just looking at it!! And there was no color either, very blah! Then the dinning room – that table was too big and tall for the chairs, it didn’t go together. And of course, he left the bedroom the same, I’ve seen better setups at Bed, Bad and Beyond. In all, there was no cohesion, flow to his rooms.

    As for Preston, although I generally love his designs, I have to agree that it was dark, kind of sad. But I love the shots of his home and will definitely go check his blog for ideas.

    Ondine to me was the clear winner! She has grown so much, and I loved the splash of colours, although I’m more of a Preston kind of person. Her rooms looked like fun and I’m totally enamored of her office/den – but the window treatment has to go….it was totally wrong for the space, and for crying out loud, couldn’t she get pillows for the stupid sofa!! What happened to those lovely pillows from the show room!!

    Martha should fire Eddie – his behavior was inexcusable!!

  • Reply Janelle November 6, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    I thought I wanted Preston to win until I watched the final episode. I was impressed with his ability to work with Eddie or should I say, Eddie’s ability to work with Preston! Eddie truly stepped up and acted like a professional (with the exception of walking away from the phone while Preston was giving him instructions). Preston is so talented but his style isn’t very playful. I wish he could have thrown in some fun during the final challenge – maybe he would have won! He can design for me anytime — just bring along some unusual, playful items!

    Nathan is a good designer but doesn’t always impress me — especially in the final challenge. The first room you see as you walk into the house looked like a bunch of random furniture that didn’t flow together. I loved the painting that he created in the dining area! I might try to do the same thing with my left over paint!

    Ondine really impressed me! She seemed to grow from every challenge. I especially liked her final project (surprised myself)! The pink couches aren’t my style, but I loved the room! She seemed to have more fun designing in this challenge than ever before. I thought she had a good chance of winning. Oh well… hopefully she will have a super successful career!

    I’m not sure if I’ll watch next session — the judges drove me nuts. A bit snobbish if you ask me. I guess they’re the experts, but I wish they had better attitudes.

  • Reply Fabulous Terrah November 7, 2008 at 12:05 am

    Awe, I’m sad that this is coming to an end. I need a new show to record now.. any suggestions ladies??

    If the winner was based on the last show alone I would vote for Ondine by a LONG shot. Her place was amazing.

    Preston was consistent and my heart went out to the poor boy once they started playing Eddie’s little one-line remarks that threw cleavagefull Preston under the bus. (there’s another word for ‘ya.)

    Nathan was cool but his place didn’t boil me over.

    Off to check out these Top Design blogs you speak of… :)

    Fabulous Terrahs last blog post: Wall Displays for your Pictures

  • Reply Alison November 7, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Becky, thanks for these weekly write-ups! I’ve really enjoyed them.
    My spill:
    Glad Nathan won. He was always the most innovative.

    Eddie was still kind of a show offey ass with that phone dropping stunt. But he showed some graciousness in bits this week, so that was nice.

    Loved the flashback pictures to Ondine’s punk days. Or was it 80’s Madonna style?

    Nathan needs something. Drugs? Therapy? a big hug?

    I was curious why they had 3 finalists this season. Did they have 2 last time? And where are those two? (can’t remember names right now). Why didn’t they show up for some guest judging? Or something?

    See you later decorators.
    love, alison

    Alisons last blog post: Why I?m a Democrat

  • Reply Bethany November 7, 2008 at 10:50 am

    I have loved Nathan from the start, but I was rather disappointed that he won. I truly thought that Preston completed the final challenge the best–pulling the whole house together in a way that someone could walk right into and start living without feeling like they’re living in someone else’s house. Maybe Jeff Lewis should have helped to judge this final episode as well–I love his funny asides. And while I generally go white, white, shades of white myself, I felt kind of soothed by his calming dark palette and I was thinking about how I might use it. I think I remember Eddie saying something about how he was just here to help, not to help him win, was awful, because if you do agree to help don’t you want the person you’re helping to be the best. Maybe something bad about Preston was totally edited out early on, but to me he never acted in a way that would justify all the snarky things people said about him. I think we all have met people who are quiet and thoughtful and focused and not always the first into the hot tub.

  • Reply Kelli November 7, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I think Nathan was the best choice to win. He always leaves me wanting more. The collage of photos in his office was sooo perfect. I also loved that he hung the painting he did on the horizontal. Little touches like that just add SOO much personality to a room. He has a quirky, fun approach to design. It’s not just shopping and putting it in a room. I didn’t like everything he did but I think he was the most interesting by far:)

    Although I think Ondine has grown so much throughout the process, I think, she still has yet to feel confident with her own style direction and go all out.

    Preston’s room always look fabulous and polished but as you said, he didn’t add the personal touches the judges were looking for. Plus, I would personally like to find quirky interesting pieces in a room which are just not the type of designing he does. Still, he’s fabulous!

  • Reply becky from hatch November 7, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Andi-A, it was a great distraction to get all involved in reality TV during such a stressful time!

    Condo Blues, you should totally apply next season!

    It would have been nice to know what became of Matt (?) and dark haired complaining girl (can’t remember her name) from last season. I’d like to know what they are doing now. I thought Matt was really talented, and the one who lost seemed really young and like she had a lot of potential.

    Hana, I think Holly poked fun at Buddha heads in bathrooms as a trend awhile back. I can’t remember if it was here or on another site. They’ve become this trendy object here that are not respected or given any meaning, but rather just used as tchotckes.

    All of your comments are making me think it would be really fun to create a visual glossary of terms we like to throw around like “too Trading Spaces.” I’m always noting trends and phrases and turning them into drinking games too, like drink whenever you see a “Like Forever” poster.

    Hopefully Eddie’s 15 minutes are over, because I really can’t take any more from someone who gives judges the finger and says “sit and spin.” Buh Bye Eddie!

    Thanks for all of your kind comments. I’m going to miss these discussions!


    becky from hatchs last blog post: Top Design Humble Pie

  • Reply Kristin November 7, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Well I feel like I’ve just been nominated for an award or something – Thanks for the mention! I just loved the word “Auffed” that I’ve seen used in other blogs (for Project Runway) and I use it on a regular basis now.

    I assumed Preston would win, but I wanted Nathan to win – however that was before the final episode aired. I thought Nathan’s house was lacking somehow. It just didn’t seem finished. I enjoyed Ondine’s house and I thought Preston’s was nice was really generic. It didn’t have a real wow factor for me. It just looked like a nicely designed space with no soul.

    I loved this second season but the finale was sort of a let down.

    Kristins last blog post: Cats on a Treadmill

  • Reply CK November 8, 2008 at 3:58 am

    i thought the right person won for sure. i love nathan’s style as zany as it may be. i was drooling over that painting he did! preston’s was nice but, i agree, snoresville. i loved how jonathan adler kept asking him where his pop of color was. my favorite room of ondine’s was the little kid’s room. i want a cubby bed like that!

    eddie is RIDICULOUS. i loved your weekly rants about him because i so agree. he’s intolerable especially when he does that over the top laugh (puke). although i do have to point out that he wasn’t a total angel in the finale episode. remember when he left the phone on the steps while preston was still talking to him?! oh no he DIDN’T! that was so mean! or do you think that was some fancy editing?

    and a samantha fox reference? how can it possibly get better? oh wait, kelly’s absence of lederhosen to go with that ‘do and giant cracker jack ring might top it.

    thanks, miss becky, i’ve enjoyed your weekly dishes!

    CKs last blog post: FIVE FAVES.

  • Reply Cliff O'Neill November 9, 2008 at 7:29 am

    Well, let’s see … What I thought of the designs? … Odd, I’m always so focused on the “reality TV” aspects, that part is always secondary to me.

    So … I was in the end really rooting for Ondine. I adored her home. The pink couches room and the living room and the bedroom were just amazing. (I, not knowing jack about design, had no idea the bed was a rip-off of something else; I just loved it.)

    Nathan’s has personality and I didn’t mind him winning. I just couldn’t get over the paper plate pi?ata. It just screamed Frank Bielec to me. And the only thing Nathan has in common with Frank Bielec is his hair. (Well, and a certain girly flair.)

    Preston’s design was so sterile it annoyed the crap out of me. It reminded me of stepping into the home of every perfectly-buff, anal retentive A-Gay I have known where at first I swoon, next I feel horribly inadequate, followed by a sneaking suspicion no one actually lives in the space and finally I get scared I won’t be allowed to sit on the furniture.

    But maybe I’m projecting.

    Lastly … sarcophagus.

    Cliff O’Neills last blog post: Top Design, Season 2: Finale, Pt. 2 (Or, The $100,000 Sarcophagus)

  • Reply Courtney November 9, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    I think Ondine has grown quite a bit, and her evolved style is more along my taste lines, but Nathan is a bit fearless, and I love that. Totally unpredictable. Can’t say I love the paper plate chandelier, but it’s definitely an unexpected touch, and a conversation piece.

    Can anyone source the inlaid dining chairs? I’ve been searching for a pair forever.

  • Reply Jamie November 10, 2008 at 12:11 am

    I think Nathan was the clear winner. I’m glad he won. Yay Nathan!

    Jamies last blog post: Come to the Potluck!

  • Reply Hana November 10, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Hi Courtney,
    Why you can’t find the source of the inlaid dining chairs..? OK, I google for you, well…. ‘Domino+inlay+chair’…
    no importing? then,
    ……or, the Potterybarn or wisteria.com. Maybe you can find soon.

  • Reply becky from hatch November 10, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Someone asked “where are they now?” regarding last season’s finalists. Over at Blogging Top Design, they have links to many of the contestants. Here is Carissa:


    and the winner, Matt Lorenz:


    Cliff, you almost made me fall off the couch laughing!

    I am so happy to have met some people who aren’t falling all over Eddie!


    becky from hatchs last blog post: Tina Turner: The Ultimate Diva

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