Top Design: Elle Cover Inspiration

The challenge here is how to make something cheap look very expensive. One of the interesting things about Project Runway is that the designers were often given slender budgets for their dresses, yet those things had to look like they cost $500,000+ and that the model should be paid in excess of $20,000 to walk in it. However, the cost of these interior designers weren’t that low, where they should go to Target for their furnishings and try to bring them up. The final three had $7500 each to shop with and they couldn’t use Pacific Design Center. From previous episodes, we viewers get a sense of how expensive that place is.

The contestants rarely ever use the Internet on this show, except when they are permitted. And, they get to use some really dandy Mac Books in this episode to look up shops that will fit their budget. During last season’s Project Runway, one contestant was suspected of using the Internet and design books to cheat on his projects. He could have easily downloaded a silhouette or a pattern or even runway shots from Style.Com to create those fabulous dresses that wowed the judges up to this point. Of course, no one has cheated on Top Design so far; however, they were permitted a cheat sheet in the form of an Elle Decor cover. With their $7500 budgets, they had to use their selected covers as inspiration and create a sense of luxury.

The luxury provided for the viewer was fueled by drama. Andrea secretly wishes Carissa out of the competition, while Matt nearly has a nervous breakdown because he pulls double duty with working with the “temp” carpenter (Sarah, Goil’s carpenter) and the problem of re-upholstering a French daybed. Sarah is just enthusiastic about the work and creates an interesting hardwood floor pattern, but Matt worries about her finishing on time. Carl continues to emerge as a supporting character as he and Carissa clash at some points, such as when he’s doing the faux stone wall. He has his own opinion about creating the effect while she feels he’s not listening to her at all. She’s not happy with the sizes of his stones (she wants smaller), but the judges really like this feature of her room. Hopefully, Carl can have his own spin-off on Bravo or migrate to TLC.

Andrea’s finished room has that sense of luxury, but the furniture is all the same height, lacking the variety needed for an editorial presentation. Carissa’s color’s are just too bright and gaudy to look high end, while Matt’s daybed and almost everything else are put together quite nicely in the end, winning him a spot in an issue of Elle Decor. Unfortunately, Andrea goes home, but the design gods may have gotten her for wishing Carissa out of the competition too strongly.

Jonathan Adler’s outfit didn’t look too bad. Kelly Wearstler was Fergie-fied in her short, strapless yellow number, while Margaret Russell looked elegant in her silver gown. The judges’ discussion this time was intelligently critical, where they really discussed the merits and flaws of each design, and Michael Berman really helped provide that dynamic for this group. There were no catty comments or attempted witticisms. They just simply discussed the work, and it was one of their best up to date.

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