Vern on Michael Moeller
Individual challenges are always a clear-cut way for the judges to see talent and desire right off the bat. Michael, whose assigned partner was Emily, demonstrates that he has both talent and desire in spades. This room is a real departure from what he personally gravitates toward and is a genuine embodiment of Emily’s freeform spirit, embracing her Portland roots and her strong preference for unmade beds and organic elements. This room works on a big-picture level, with an abstract painted bouquet anchoring one corner of the room and an off-center space plan that allows for a balance between a console adapted from a bookcase and a bed with an extended headboard. Zooming into the details, it is also evident that this room works on a detailed level as well. The ingenuity of the recycled-newspaper headboard, the casual attitude of the bed linens and the well-worn mirror frame all speak to Emily’s Portland roots and laid-back vantage point. Clearly, Michael is in this competition to win it and showcasing his ability to listen to his partner and execute innovative thoughts is a great start.
This space has a casual, eclectic, just-fell-into-place quality that is so Emily. I love the play of pattern here, especially on the bed with the large graphic floral set against both a small tonal check and the small stripe-y effect of the headboard place mats. The staging of the console is masterfully done with rustic elements accented by refined and small-scaled pieces grouped for more impact against larger wall-mounted artifacts. However, as much as there are lots of hits, this room has misses.
- The combination of the decorative pieces on and under the console looks very busy and knickknack-y, especially the under-scaled plants scattered throughout. Varying the scale, materials and even the color of items would break up the uniformity of all the wooden artifacts.
- The soft, tonal wall graphic animates a dull area in the space. I would have liked to have seen the idea continued with some scattered flowers painted onto the floor to do the same for this relatively dull surface.
- I love the headboard so much that an entire carpet fabricated from these place mat panels would have been a fantastic way of mirroring its exuberance on a bigger scale. I would have painted the floor in tonal white flowers to quietly contrast against the patterned carpet.
Vern on Emily Henderson
For this challenge, Emily had Michael as her partner. Michael is a sophisticated urbanite with a keen eye for design. He is someone who doesn’t have things for the purpose of having things because he only surrounds himself with objects that are well designed and meaningful to him. This space that Emily creates for Michael departs drastically from the core of his personality and also manages to look lackluster, half-hearted and depressing. Instead of a thoughtful space for a design-oriented urbanite, we are given an unbalanced space that manages to look empty and crowded all at the same time. The side table is full of objects but the rest of the room looks like a detention room at police headquarters. Emily’s own admittance that her room is disastrously misrepresentative of her capabilities and an unattractive attempt to capture Michael’s style —even before making it to the studio —tells us that she needs to kick it up several notches if she wants to stay in this competition.
Deep down I really hope this space is not a reflection of Michael because it’s very hard to like. Dividing the room at the height of the half wall is not a pleasing proportion. The bookcase turned string art is hardly worth the sacrifice. The dark visual weight of this room makes it feel depressing. The only levity is Michael’s smiling picture hung on one very lonely wall. I do, however, like the bedside table items — a beautiful, balanced presentation of dark against light, smooth against textured, simple against ornate.
- To conquer the walls, divide them at 2/3 the height of the wall.
- A large, light-toned area carpet would add some levity to the oppressiveness of the dark floor/wall combo.
- A large, more controlled and sophisticated string-art mural above the bed, perhaps ending with the string tying into the pendant would have had greater impact.