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Top Design, Episode One: "Impress the Best"

Top Design, Episode One: "Impress the Best"


If you've been reading my interviews, you know that I'm excited about this second season of Top Design, so I was pleased to tune in last night for the first episode. First off, I was surprised by the amount of star power in the contestant pool (well, for reality television at least), including one interior designer, Preston Lee, who I'd already featured on CasaSugar. Also in the mix was a Martha Stewart Living senior style editor (Eddie) and actor Ricky Schroder's wife (Andrea), among other talented contestants.

For the first challenge, the designers had to furnish an entire apartment in two days, with the designers divided into four teams, working on four loft space apartments for four-star clients.

To find out who the star clients were and to see photos from the episode, read more.

Each team had to design for one of the show's judges or hosts, including India Hicks, Margaret Russell, Jonathan Adler, and Kelly Wearstler. I love that one of Jonathan Adler's design requirements was "very dog-friendly." Cute! Kelly Wearstler gave a strict no-television edict (I wonder how the Top Design producers reacted to that) and a place for displaying her flea market finds. Margaret Russell requested color and asked her team to stay away from beiges and neutrals. India Hicks asked for an apartment with a "Caribbean plantation feel to it."


Oh, and if this wasn't enough of a challenge, the designers had only $2,000 to work with to furnish and decorate the entire apartment! I actually loved the money limitation, since the designers were forced to use unusual sources, such as a salvage store and thrift shops, to create their spaces. Not only did this take their designs out of the usual retail box, it provided incentive to repurpose old, potentially tired pieces into something new.

Just as things were getting interesting, the designers were interrupted for a "pop design quiz," where they had to make individual shadow boxes out of everyday objects found in their rooms. I loved Wisit's shadow box, as well as Jennifer's, Eddie's, Kerry's, and Robert's pop designs. In the end, Wisit, Ondine, Eddie, and Kerry were all granted immunity, guaranteeing that they couldn't be eliminated in this challenge.

There were some incredibly silly mistakes made over the course of the episode, including ordering the wrong color of wallpaper, forgetting to turn off faucets, and seeping paint all over the floors. Some of the teams had a very difficult time cooperating, and already it seems as if there is some cattiness brewing between contestants. I loved the redesign of Kelly Wearstler's loft and thought Jonathan Adler's loft looked nice, too However there were some straight-up ugly additions to Margaret and India's loft spaces, with some truly incongruous choices. (Serge's akimbo mirror in the corner? Just. Weird.)

Kelly's team was granted the top design, which was well deserved, with Jonathan's team coming in second. India and Margaret's teams were in the bottom two. Ultimately, Serge was sent home, which I think was more than fair.

I think that this season is off to a promising start, and I love the low-budget limitation, which I hope will be carried throughout the season. I'm also grateful that the judge's deliberation process seems to be significantly shorter, with more time spent on the process of creating the spaces. All in all, a good introduction to season two.

What did you think of this episode? Did it leave you excited to see more?

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Photos courtesy of Bravo

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