Throughout the series, the thumbnail sketch of Jeff Lewis has been, great with design, terrible with people. This is one of those weeks that present nothing but people-management obstacles, so we’ll see how much better he’s gotten at it.
We open up the week at Valley Oak. Things are hectic, Jeff’s trying to get out the door to a job, and Sarah is slowing him down…not so much because she’s doing anything wrong, just because Jeff has an abnormally fast brain.
Here’s where they’re headed. It’s called Knoll Dr.:
This visual is the best Bravo could do
It’s another project that came to him via the new website, but it’s piqued Jeff’s interest for a variety of reasons. First, it’s a fixer, which means they’re basically redoing the entire thing. This isn’t just “Come over and manage my the floor installing.” Jeff gets to flex the muscles.
You will probably get sick if you stay in this room for too long.
But it’s even more enticing to him than that. The owner, Jeru, won’t be micromanaging because he works long hours, and he seems like a nice guy on top of that. Oh, and it’s about seven minutes from Valley Oak. So for all these reasons, the project is almost like one of Jeff’s old solo flips.
Jeff and Jeru have already had a consult to go over all their ideas, and they’ve come up with a general vision of what they want to do. Today’s task is to explain all these ideas to their contractor, Kash, so he can come up with an estimate for them.
When Jeru first meet’s Kash, he wryly remarks, “Ha. Perfect name for a contractor.” If this were a fiction show, this would be called foreshadowing!
After this, Jeff’s on to a flurry of other projects all over LA, with a McDonald’s stop in there. He doesn’t look too worse for wear.
Then it’s back to Valley Oak. Today they are trying a new experiment with their day-to-day dynamic. The house assistant, Jett, is going to start bringing his infant son Mason to work with him.
I liked the way Jeff explained what was going on. First he makes an ambiguous comment about why Jett has to do this, saying Jett’s having a “childcare issue [pregnant pause].” I assume it’s nothing out of the ordinary and Jeff’s just making it seem that way?
Then he phrases things oddly. He says: “So I decided to try out him bringing Mason to work.” Not something like “I offered to let him bring Mason to work”…it’s like Jett wasn’t even involved in the decision. Weird.
And of course they didn’t really work out a system for how to deal with Mason beforehand, which leads to a minor dispute about who’s going to look after him. Zoila insists she isn’t a nanny on top of being a housekeeper, but Jeff tells her she can just multitask. Take the baby with her into any of the rooms she’s cleaning. And when she focuses on Mason instead of the chores, Jeff gets after her.
So Zoila starts teaching Mason useful phrases in Spanish, like “Tell Jeff he’s crazy.”
Later Jeff and Sarah are on the way to Casa Vega. A couple week ago they refused the free lunch for the first time because they were worried about being freeloaders. But today Jeff has decided enough time has passed to allow them to chow down again. Problem is Christy stopped offering lunches after their refusal, so they have to figure out how to maneuver her into offering again.
The best they come up with is, if Christy doesn’t offer, they’ll start walking back to the car, Sarah will say, “Oh, weren’t we going to stop for lunch?” Then Jeff will say, “Oh, yeah! Do you want to eat here? Christy, do you mind if we stay for lunch?”
It’s a good thing Jeff didn’t go into acting, or investigating crimes, or espionage, or the law, or any other profession that’s based on maneuvering people.
But really, I’d be doing the same strategizing if I were in his place. People shouldn’t offer free things.
Right now at Casa Vega, Jeff is working on the lobby remodel. The entire project hinges on this section. If he can do this right, they will let him continue on the interior and the exterior remodels. Jeff is on the doorstep, figuratively AND literally. (Ooooooooh yeeeeeahhhhh!)
The trickiest part of the operation is that Christy has imposed a deadline of Cinco de Mayo, so that Casa Vega can attract holiday crowds. Jeff is anxious about meeting the deadline; more on this later.
That’s the last order of business for today, though, so Christy gets up to walk them out. Now is the time to execute the plan to get the free lunch, but Jeff and Sarah both freeze up. They just stand there uncomfortably for a good five seconds until Christy finally asks them if they’re hungry.
Back to Valley Oak for a short vignett-ey scene before the break. Mason is baby-talking and when Sarah goes back to find him chewing on a shoe. It is a cute baby moment.
But I am a man and thus invulnerable to such things.
At Valley Oak Jett arrives for a work day and Jeff goes out to help him unload Mason and all of Mason’s stuff. Jeff offers to hold Mason for a moment and Mason cries in that way babies do when they’re with someone unfamiliar. Any time a baby is added to the mix on Flipping Out it brings up Jeff’s long-simmering desire to have children of his own. Jeff says jokingly in a talking-head that he thinks Jeff would be in for a rude awakening.
Over at Knoll Dr., they’re starting the best part of any renovation project: demo day…
It’s Jeff’s favorite part of the entire process, and I couldn’t agree with him more. Put it on your bucket list!
Already the demo has uncovered some unexpected water damage in the floor frame that will have to be replaced.
Back at Valley Oak Jeff calls Jeru up to tell him the demo has started. But here’s a twist: Jeru and Jeff haven’t actually finalized the price. They also talk about whether to replace the windows, because Jeff doesn’t think they can fit it into Jeru’s budget. So clearly things are tight.
Jeff then heads over to Arte de Mexico—it’s that Mexican-themed furniture and accessory shop that’s making the custom door for Casa Vega. Jeff is there to drop off a deposit check with the owner, David. David is quite the character. Not only does he blatantly try to upsell, he’s also incredibly smarmy, dropping all sorts of canned lines like, “I’m the copilot on YOUR journey. I’m on YOUR team.”
“Always be closing! Greed is good! I’m the New England man! I’m vital in New England! I…I don’t know who I am any more…”
David also tries to get Jeff to accompany him over to the factory where they’re fabricating the door because it’s apparently visually cool, but Jeff says he doesn’t care how they make it as long as it’s done right. David then says, “I’m working for your smile,” and winks. (But it’s more of a leer).
Wrooooooong person to try that on, David
And even though Jeff is visibly uncomfortable, David even asks if Jeff needs anything for Valley Oak.
Has anyone ever been roofied for a business transaction? If not, this’ll be the first time.
Back at Valley Oak Jeff has Mason on his lap while he’s getting some work done. Having Mason around gives has given him a chance to reflect on fatherhood again. He’s always felt that there’s a “right time” to have kids, despite his friends saying otherwise, but now he’s beginning to feel there is no right time. He’s starting to get over the anxieties.
Over at Knoll Dr. Jeff, Jeru, and Jenni finally meet to discuss the budget.
The combination of Bluetooth and sunglasses indoors increases douchiness exponentially, not linearly. Common misconception.
When Jeff gives Jeru the numbers, Jeru’s face immediately falls, and the air gets sucked out of the room. Jeff tries to reassure him, but Jeru is clearly upset, and probably thinks he was misled.
In a talking-head Jeff claims he gave an honest estimate…I know we’re getting all this from Jeff’s angle, but I do buy that. To me this seems like Jeru wanted a “Jeff Lewis house,” but he figured he could do it on the cheap.
This shan’t end well, I imagine.
Now it’s over to the Royal Woods remodeling consult. There’s a wonderful callback to a couple episodes ago—Sarah is wearing the shame suit for taking Jeff’s credit card home again, but they don’t even need to explain this to us…she just shows up on the site, wearing it.
Jeff is there to oversee the delivery of the hardwood flooring materials. It’s purely for the sake of professionalism—he doesn’t really need to be there, but he doesn’t want the homeowner Tracey to feel like she had a truckload of wood dumped on her without any help.
Sarah—without being prompted!—gets some flooring out of a box so they all can see how it will look in the house. Tracey is impressed.
I’m revising my earlier thought that Sarah is a terrible assistant…they were juking that episode to make it seem that way, and I bought into it. She’s merely an average assistant.
Jeff is excited overall about this project, and you really get to see what makes him tick here—he’s visualized the entire project already. He just knows how it’s going to go. It’s one of those moments when you realize exactly how he was able to build the business he has.
Finally, Jeff asks to hold Tracey’s baby daughter, who’s even younger than Mason is. It’s a fun little moment, because he did ask to hold her, but he’s also anxious about the entire prospect of holding a baby. It’s kind of the same warring-impulses idea as, like, feeling guilty about masturbating but still doing it. He’s also not so anxious that he fails to notice the kid’s unibrow. (Which he keeps to himself).
After that we get a shit-ton of quick-cuts around Jeff’s smaller projects, and then end up back at Valley Oak. Jeff tries to get in touch with Jeru about an updated budget, but Jeru is clearly dodging his calls. Not good.
More demo is going on, this time at Casa Vega.
Bye bye 50 years of history
But they’re running into a productivity snag. Kash, the contractor, reminds Jeff that they can only work three hours a day, because Christy wants to keep the restaurant open for lunch. But if she also wants them done with the lobby by Cinco de Mayo, it’s an unrealistic goal if the contractors are working at this pace.
Jeff does his best to placate both sides, but there’s not much he can materially do beyond remind Kash that everyone’s really anxious for them to be done.
Another Valley Oak moment next. Jeff’s finding inefficiencies in Zoila’s work, for the umpteenth time…specifically Monkey needs some outside time, but she’s eating her lunch inside, and she could be killing two birds with one stone. But Zoila totally won’t take any shit. She keeps asking him if he has anything better to do…it’s awesome.
And another call to Jeru goes unanswered—now his voicemail is full. Clearly something is up…either they’re not clicking personally or the budget is too high. Jeff wants Jenni to keep at it until they get an answer, and she should be aggressive about it if she has to. Jeru’s being rude, but it’s also inconveniencing Jeff because he’s schedules his crews for the next step.
Ready for this week’s bizarre Act Four slice o’ Valley Oak life? This time…drumroll…everyone is asleep! Zoila, Mason, the cats…everybody!
God, that’s another awkward shooting assignment, “Go in Jeff’s bedroom and get some closeups of Zoila sleeping. Try to shoot from the foot of the bed this time. Get like ten minutes of tape on it. She probably won’t wake up.”
Here’s another Zoila-Jett scene at Valley Oak…Zoila notices Jett feeding Mason and thinks he’s doing it incorrectly…
Mason is always staring at the camera. No camera presence at all.
Apparently bottle-feeding him that way could make the baby choke, or make the milk go in his ear? Or something. I have no idea. She tells Jett to put a pillow under Mason’s head, and he does, but doesn’t see the point.
Then Jeff, Christy, and Sarah head back to Arte de Mexico to approve the custom door. Problem is, the mock-up for the handle indicates the handle would be awkwardly high for most people. So it looks like a disaster, because David and co. might have to remake the whole damn door, but then Jeff realizes they just have the door upside down.
They flip the door right-side up, but Jeff and the gals are not impressed. Jeff Lewis would not make an oversight like that.
By the way, is it me or does it seem that people who are like David but can also back it up with results are the ones who wind up President of the United States?
And honestly, if you’re gonna act like David, at least back it up.
Man…which phrase should I use to smooth things over? “I’m the…IT guy on your dreamscape?”
The message here: focus on your job. And of course immediately after they approve the door David tries to hustle them again.
Later in the car Jeff and Sarah laugh about David’s ineptitude, but it kinda felt like Bravo prompted them to talk about it and it came out forced. Just me?
Back at Valley Oak Jett takes the gang for a walk. Nothing much to say about it, but I thought you’d like the visual:
God I love being childless and dogless
Jenni, meanwhile, finally has gotten in touch with Jeru. A mutual friend told her Jeru has fired Jeff and gone with another company, called “Built,” and didn’t bother letting JLD know.
Jenni reluctantly tells Jeff, and he’s pissed about it, more about the lack of courtesy than with the unfairness of firing him. I do personally find the silent treatment to be pretty common in lieu of actually dismissing people, but I’m with Jeff. It’s rude.
But they’re a little hurt, so they analyze the encounter. Jeff irritated because he gave Jeru some nice design ideas, and now Jeru’s likely going to use them with his new contractor. But he’s also pissed because he played fair the entire time. He made his estimates based on the high-end materials he and Jeru agreed they’d use. He didn’t give Jeru a low number just to please him. And the people at the other agency will probably do just that.
(Again…no idea what Jeru’s thinking, so take this with a grain of salt).
This week wraps up with Jeff and Sarah in the car. Jeff “happens” to be in Jeru’s neighborhood, so while they’re in the area, why not do a drive-by? Sure enough, there’s the Built sign out front. They have been betrayed. Or, as Sarah put it, “We got clowned.”
Apparently Built is a competitor now, or they just go after Jeff’s sloppy seconds. Jeff thinks of them as the ambulance chasers of the design world.
But the real lesson for Jeff this week is to be more selective about clients. Weed them out, see who’s real and who’s fake.
Ugh. That career sounds like one long apartment hunt.
That’s all for this week. Come on back for the next episode. They’re headed to New York, apparently for a summit at the United Nations of Interior Design…
From next week’s preview clips it looks like they make Jeff deliver an impromptu speech. Should be fun.
See you then!