“The road out of here is paved with torture,” says Casey to kick off this week’s episode. I think she may be even more of a poet than Vern. And then BOOM, Courtland walks through the door alone, thrilled out of his mind. DOUBLE ELIMINATION! They all knew it was coming at some point or another, and now that it’s over, there’s nothing left to worry about. Except the rest of the competition!
The designers show up to the set of a Sears photo shoot where Genevieve introduces them to this week’s guest judge, John Gidding, host of Curb Appeal: The Block and Harvard-trained architect.
The challenge is to design a kitchen for a Sears catalog cover featuring Kenmore appliances, and each team will be judged on their single best professional photograph. And because Emily is a prop stylist already by trade, she is sent over to the red team which is now made up only of Courtland. They then have to choose a themed basket to inspire the design of their kitchen. Blue team chooses the French basket, red team chooses the Italian basket, and each designer must pick an item out of the basket to inspire their own touches on the room. It’s too bad Nina isn’t around, because I hear all good murals are inspired by cheese.
Emily chooses garlic for her inspiration, and Courtland chooses the Parmesan cheese, not insignificantly because it’s so Italian. I think he’s reiterated his love of Italian, what, four or five times already this episode? We get it. You love Italian. But are you someone who loves Italian who can also design a kitchen?
Back at the blue team Michael chooses the escargot shells, Casey the bread, and Alex surprises everyone by going with the corkscrew to represent function in the kitchen. “I think Alex’s corkscrew is a screwy choice,” explains Michael, “and I think it’s going to screw him in the end.” The poetry, it is everywhere.
Emily and Courtland agree to go with a modern/traditional style with a subtle Italian flair, with a medium-toned wood cabinetry, granite that resembles marble somewhat, and walls with an Old World Venetian feeling. Does this mean faux finish? Oh, Courtland, do I need to remind you how I feel about faux finishes? I do? Okay, first, eat that entire wedge of Parmesan cheese. Next, turn around in circles for five straight minutes. Finally, aim for the wall when that cheese comes right back up.
The blue team has chosen a really warm wood for the flooring, and they disagree about which direction the planks should be laid. Alex is a bit fed up with Michael’s constant doubts and says that if he could, Michael would try to find something wrong with each of his decisions. Casey agrees with Michael and says she values his input more than Alex’s. Suddenly, I really want to hug Alex.
After choosing appliances, the blue team returns to their room to see that the floors have been installed, and Casey suggests sanding the furniture to reflect the aged finish of her bread. And then we’re given an earful on how much better Michael likes working with Casey than with Alex because I guess Alex hasn’t really stepped up to the plate? Except, wait a minute, he took over for Michael when he was injured two episodes ago, and HE IMPRESSED THE JUDGES MOST LAST WEEK. What are you talking about?
Over at the red team Emily is worried that everything is going to read the same color, all beige and boring, so she goes online and orders a ton of colorful food. Then she starts to cover a stool with fabric and plastic, and explains that she grew up Mormon: “We sewed all our own clothes, canned all our own fruits and vegetables, refinished all our own furniture.” It’s that industriousness and resourcefulness, she says, that really influenced her to become a stylist. Interesting. Because I grew up Mormon, too. And that same industriousness and resourcefulness directly influenced my love of reality television.
Blue team finds their cabinetry and countertops installed the following morning, and WOW. We could stop right there and that would look better than some of the challenges so far. Alex is left to tile the backsplash, his first time tiling ever, and he savors the experience of learning. Sears delivers the appliances, and here’s where I think Alex is in trouble: He says his vision is complete, that the appliances represent the corkscrew. I think the judges are going to nail him for this because it isn’t really design. It’s just ordering appliances. My tip to Alex: Play up your new mad tiling skills.
Back at the red team, Courtland is applying paint with plaster, and the fauxing isn’t looking so bad this week! ALSO! ATTENTION BROMSTAD: Courtland mentions his fiancé. A SHE. So he’s NOT playing on your team. A bit of a tangent, BUT AN IMPORTANT ONE, NEVERTHELESS.
The photo crew shows up at the blue team, and Casey informs them that they’re a good hour and a half away from being ready. The place is still a mess, the tile still needs to be grouted, and the photo crew just sits there on their hands waiting. Whereas, over at the red team when their photo crew arrives Emily is quick to begin art directing. She has them get an image on the screen immediately so that she can arrange objects in an optimal way for a photograph. I think this is her expertise shining through.
The judges show up to give their opinions on the rooms. Red team: Their photo is perfect for a cover shot. It showcases the appliances, feels warm and familial and all the materials work well together. The blue team’s kitchen is inspiring. The client would want to use their appliances, and the design showcases the family in a vibrant way. Because both kitchens are so fantastic this week, there isn’t a losing team. Of the remaining designers, Casey most impresses the judges. She gets to go back and relax at the apartment while everyone else has to tape host presentations. She should take Alex’s corkscrew with her and toast herself on a job well done.
Back at the judges’ studio, they tear into Emily for not editing out the clutter. They tell Courtland that he was too literal with the color of the faux finish. Michael is goaded into saying he doesn’t trust Alex, and then blasted for creating an incoherent story. And I’m right: They tell Alex that he didn’t do any designing this week.
Bottom two? Alex and Emily. Alex’s presentation is comfortable and informative, but lacking a bit in personality. Emily’s is brimming with personality and charm. I’m betting everything that Emily gets to stay, because that presentation was just so cute. And unanimously they send Alex home. I know a hug probably wouldn’t have helped with judging, but surely he could use one now.