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Welcome back to the hunt for the next great star of HGTV–and eventually, the KMart clearance bin– Design Star.
With only four designers remaining, Design Star issues a new challenge in episode seven, the designers must redesign a backyard.
As it has become custom, this episode begin with the designers debating what the challenge will be and how the four contestants will be divided up.
One team of 4?
2 and 2?
“3 vs. 1?” Says our hero in ink…
I like those odds. Antonio can take you all in a room by room remodel. Using nothing but car parts, vintage pinups and sweat.
Clive Flynn gathers the designers together and they announces the clients are looking for a new backyard. They are taken to the home of the Zimmers who have just purchased a home with more property than Neverland.
Torie is chosen to be team captain, she thinks she has the most experience without outdoor spaces. She stages homes and has to account for the outdoor space as well as the indoor space. They will receive 25K and 36 work hours over four days to complete the space. They will also have the assistance of landscape assistants.
They walk to the backyard to meet their clients who have a two-year-old son.
The backyard has been gutted in preparation of their arrival. Remaining in the yard, is a pool, a water feature in one of the far corners, and more dirt than Joy’s fingernails.
The Zimmers would like a backyard oasis. Just your run of the mill oasis. Lush greenery that leads to the attainment of enlightenment, installed here:
The Zimmers like to entertain, so they would like to have a space that could accommodate 50+ people. Mitchfest ’09, if you will.
The team gets to work. Since they have the space and the budget they’re going to put everything you can find in the Lowe’s catalog in one yard.
Cement patio by the pool, waterfall, gazebo/pergola, which I will refer to as a gazebo because I feel like a bourgeois tool typing “pergola,” swing set/tree house/sandbox for the lil’ popper, grill pit and a couple new sets of patio furniture.
As long as we’re making cool suggestions, I would have liked to see a fire pit, zip line, trapeze area and a baseball diamond. I didn’t say they were reasonable suggestions, I just said that they would be cool.
On the first day Torie and Meredith shop, while Tone and Danny Appleseed get into the dirt and demo the rest of the yard. The brick patio surrounding the pool will be replaced by concrete, so it’s getting ripped out. Torie and Meredith shop for the fencing and send it back to the boys at the house and then hit Sears where they can pick up a grill.
Back at the house, Tone’s old bones are starting to feel the strain of its 40 years. I’m 26, I wouldn’t do more than pull up a brick or two before an ice cream break.
Dan is getting into the landscaper spirit and is continues to dig, shirtless and ripped. Much to Tone’s chagrin.
Oh, by the way. Did anyone else notice that Dan is now billed as an Interior Designer/Bartender?
Did they do that before? Because it’s there now. How did I not notice? They didn’t list Joy as a color designer/home based nail technician or anything, so I think it’s unfair of them to amend Dan’s job title so late in the series. And why would they not tell us where he bartends? Or if he’s available for private parties — that’s just not fair.
On the car ride to the client site, we see the four designers in the van playing with their cash. Torie hands Dan money for the gazebo, and says 10K, but hands him 5k. Dan then repeats, 10K for the gazebo, Antonio questions the amount and Dan repeats 5K for the gazebo.
I’ve recreated as much as I can, but I can offer no verdict on the matter– we don’t see either contestant count the money, so, we’re as clueless as Joy at a color wheel.
Dan says he checked the cash, and now that we know he’s a /bartender, are we supposed to believe he is good with money because he is always counting the tips he pulls from his hot pants? Or he’s a /bartender and he’s knows how to skim from the tip pool? Hmmm…
So today Torie and Mere will take their share of the cash, buy plants and sod and the playground stuff and Dan and Tone will buy the gazebo with their mystery box cash.
Tone and Dan are meeting with the gazebo contractors and they’re told that the representative has to come to the yard and measure and give them a quote for the custom job. They agree, and a rep will be dispatched later to give them a quote.
Torie and Meredith end up spending $4,000 on the kids playground stuff and return to the house to have a quick meeting with the boys. However by this point Dan has already signed off on $10,648 for the gazebo.
Torie is stunned into silence, which is actually a better look for her than smiling. She’s was starting to look like V, from V for Vendetta.
The foursome sit down to debate the budget. It’s still unclear about how much money Torie handed Dan. They both said 5K and 10K at some point. But Dan said he counted it and it was 10K.
Either way, Torie points out that it’s ridiculous to allocate 10K out of a 25K to the gazebo. True. But whatever you spent on those extensions is too much too…
Antonio is annoyed will everyone for not agreeing on a budget beforehand.
It’s nearing the end of day two and there is a lot still to be done, so they continue on their tasks. Torie takes her annoyance with Dan out on several unsuspecting piles of mulch and time is called.
Clive arrives to announce time is up. But Flynn is in tune with the spirits of his men, and he can sense they are less than merry. “Tell me,” he says and Little Dan complies, “It’s the budget…there was a miscommunication…$5K over. Alas we cannot provide patio furniture for the good people of Locksley.”
“Never fear,” Flynn sings, “I’ve encountered the Sheriff at the pass, and I’ve lifted more than enough for patio furniture. My people shall have a place to rest their weary behinds.”
“Bless you Robin,” says Scarlet.
The gazebo and the sod have to go in today. Torie heads out furniture shopping, since they received the additional 5K, they again have a patio furniture budget. Torie knows she’s looking for something modern, to bring in the zen element to the yard. I’m surprised Torie is using this tactic instead of just writing “zen” in lights on the water feature. That seems to be her go-to style.
At the store Torie finds a dark woven set with straight lines and it’s on sale! Won’t Clive Flynn find that thrifty!
She plans to accent the yard with pops of red. It looks like she’s in Pier 1 picking out accessories and she doesn’t even add one outdoor Buddha statue to the heap. You know that store has more items of Buddhist kitsch than martini glasses.
Back at the Zimmer compound, Meredith and Dan are landscaping. Mere has picked out tropical and subtropical plants for the yard. She’s grouping them in three’s and is installing a bamboo wall to cover the fence. The bamboo will grow quickly cover the fence.
The world’s most expensive deck is being installed in front of the water feature, and Tone is continuing to sod.
Torie returns from shopping in time to see Danny Appleseed remove his shirt.
With two hours left in day three Meredith and Dan are laying the river rocks in the garden. They’ve decided on a river inspired scrolling pattern that will also save on rocks. They plan to return the extra bags. Now they’re being frugal. They could also have set up a bar area first and had Dan selling shots to the neighbors to make up the budget deficient.
Tone thinks the rock design looks stupid and since they bought enough to fill in the garden, they should just fill in the garden. Torie goes to Mere with Tone’s decree and Mere gets frazzled. She is disgusted with Tone’s attitude. She tells us that Tone has been running the team from the beginning because Torie is too scared to stand up to him. It may also have something to do with Torie’s arsenal of design ideas being depleted after using both fabric and furniture on the patio! How about a swim up bar in the pool? What two year old doesn’t like that?
90 minutes remain and Tone calls for a sweep out of the yard, they’re going to sod themselves out for the night. Clive arrives to call time and all the contestants are exhausted.
Day 4, 2 hours:
The last day only allows the designers two hours to put the finishing touches on the yard. For the most part, Torie is running around adding red napkins wherever she can, Tone and Dan are moving the large potted plants into place and Meredith is polishing the grill.
Tone has fixed the water feature in the far end of the yard which is just dying for a Buddha sculpture and maybe a pool of coy fish. Honestly, there are probably better ideas for “zen” elements in Antonio’s tattoos than in the yard.
The space is premiered with the four contestants hosting.
No one particularly jumps out at me as a fabulous host. Tone’s pointing things out like he’s telling you where to find the keg…
We can have the wet tee-shirt contest over here…
Torie’s seems to have used all her prep time to choreograph some jazz poses to punctuate her puns…
Mere prances about at the yard and Dan continues to hone his host crouch…
Vern congratulates the contestants on completing the challenge, it was a huge task and they completed it in four days.
Gen like’s Tone’s on-screen style, he’s relaxed. She also thinks Mere’s much more focused this time out, she calls Mere a fresh, natural California girl. Who can blend into the fabric of almost any Lifetime movie… almost forgot she had a role.
However Torie’s hosting is not so natural, she’s a little high pitched and screechy on-screen.
As far as the design goes, Candy Stallion thinks the space looks like it’s been shopped for, not designed. Torie was in charge of the furniture, she shopped for the space, and that’s apparent. Anyone can buy a set. Stallion says the space is uninspiring.
Vern wanted to see more architectural elements near the pool.
Gen asked for the theme of the space. Meredith says it’s a zen oasis. However, Gen doesn’t see the zen. “Where’s the Zen?” she asks again.
Dan tries to contribute more of the “zen” elements by saying he and Mere-mere were designing a sculptural rock trail through the gardens, that Tone trampled. Meredith says she also contributed the bamboo border. That’s zen.
Candice likes the many organic shapes in this zen design, but then the design is interrupted by the square gazebo. Which leads Dan to offer that not only does it not fit, it was almost half of the original budget. Double-0-doofus then offers up the tale of the missing budget. He continues to swear that Torie handed him 10K, rightly avoiding the “why would you budget 10K for a deck,” debate. Tone also wisely pipes in that he was outside the budget debate from the beginning. Candy Stallion didn’t like the gazebo, it was a custom price, but not a custom look.
Torie gets the budget debacle pinned on her. The space is revealed to the clients and they’re happy. They got free landscaping, and no walls to re-paint. They now have a serene space to relax.
Time to deliberate.
In the green room we see more fire than we have all season, Torie wants to be absolved of any gazebo related issues, but Dan focuses on Tone and says it’s as much his fault as it is Dan’s. He was partly responsible for the gazebo. Tone tells Dan to “slow his roll.” And Dan indeed does slow his roll, adding “not because you told me to Antonio.”
The designers are called back before the judges–no one really designed anything, but Meredith and Antonio are safe. They worked on the more successful elements.
Torie and Dan are at the bottom. Dan took the team over budget and Torie was team leader and ultimately responsible for leading the budget and the design. She’s cancelled.
Next week, (we’re going to continue to pretend I’m getting these posts up in a timely manner) the remaining three re-design a room in a celebrity’s home–including the guest bedroom of Tiffani Amber Thiessen. And I get to make as many Saved by the Bell references as one post can handle. So excited.
Did you think Dan deserved to skate by on pretty? Was it really Torie’s fault the backyard just looked like a suburban backyard and not like Fantasy Island?