Ellen’s Design Challenge – Finale Recap

Most of you are probably thinking WTF if you happened to catch this week’s finale episode of Ellen’s Design Challenge.  I admittedly was putting it off (have you noticed my lack of recaps the last two weeks?!) because I honestly have become rather bored with the show.  I was also pretty peeved after they gave Carly the boot for that stellar couch.  But with all the hype about “a shocking final twist” to this week’s episode, I figured I’d better tune in.

First off, the show as so overproduced.  How many times and in how many ways do they have to recap all of the past episodes and our final designer’s past pieces?  I feel like I lost 5 minutes of my life I can’t get back.  Even Jefe noticed.  It was like they didn’t have enough content to fill the 60 minutes of the episode and needed to find something to fill the missing time.  But it’s reality, there’s hundred of hours of footage so I’m sure that wasn’t the case.  So it really boils down to bad editing and final say by the producers.

Now on to the actual episode.  To begin, the intro with our designers visiting The Reef – it seemed so set up and scripted.  It didn’t really make sense to have them travel there and be greeted by an audience (is this the same audience we see 3 days later?  Did they sleep there?  Or did they all just come to the Reef for 15 minutes of applause?  Inquiring minds want to know!)  Also, it seemed weird to travel to the Reef, that contains a plethora of design, and not integrate it in to the show somehow.  What was the purpose of that?  And let’s get real – no on in LA rides in those silly looking limos anymore.  A non-marked black SUV or town car will do.

Limo Ride

 source

Now on to the construction phase.  I loved Katie’s initial inspiration (her uncle’s trunk and its many uses) and how that evolved in to her design.

Katie Designing

 source

And her picking the the zebra and purple heart wood?  It was just so HER.

Purple Heart Wood 2

source

Now for Tim – I really didn’t feel like they delved in to his inspiration much at all.  Maybe that was intentional editing in post based on the final outcome, but I felt like I wanted to hear more about his inspiration (or is it “inspiration”?)

Tim Designing

source

The final judging and deliberation seemed to drag on unnecessarily just to add drama.  It was a nice added touch to bring in the final designers’ families but their interactions all just seemed awkward, like so much of this show (I think next season, if there is one, could benefit from some better casting for more TV friendly personalities).

Family Intros

source

For the actual pieces, I thought they were both rather inventive while being multi-faceted.  But they were both console tables with other functions which made it seem like they had a specific challenge to fulfill instead of the wide open “make something original” blanket statement.  Both pieces did scream their designers’ personalities though.

Katie Final Design

Katie’s Final Design (source)

TIm Final Design

Tim’s Final Design (source)

In the end, the judges chose Tim as the overall winner, which I totally disagreed with.  I felt like Katie challenged and stretched herself much more than Tim while creating an innovative, aesthetically pleasing AND functional piece.

Judges

source

Tim’s was functional and stunning, but to the judges’ point, you can’t put anything on top of it based on the way it opens up.  But in the end, they thought his piece was more of a standout.  Tim went on to win a $100K cash prize from Wayfair and a spread in HGTV magazine.  Why Wayfair didn’t offer to create a custom collection for the winning designer is beyond me.

Now, on to the controversy.  I’m going to preface this with the knowledge that I work in the entertainment industry and have a lot of experience with the in’s and out’s of reality shows, particularly competition shows.  In the days following Tim’s win, someone (that remained nameless) discovered that his piece was a near identical copy to a piece by a European designer.

Copy Piece

source

The show faded to black and cut to one week later where Ellen meets up with Katie and crowns her the winner due to Tim being disqualified.

There’s very little explanation about what happened.  And for a contestant that was clearly a frontrunner from the first episode to be disqualified with no additional information was infurating to many fans.  He was not my favorite but I certainly understand the sentiment that the series really left the viewer hanging.

As for the actual situation, that’s on the producers.  It should have been handled better and then addressed properly in the show.  They bragged about how many designers were in the audience of the finale – how did not ONE of these professionals recognize a copy?  And where was the behind-the-scenes staff during deliberation?  They should have been researching their butts off to ensure that they crowned the true winner who earned that title.

In the end, it seems Tim did replicate an existing piece.  So that’s on him.  However, the show really did a disservice to its viewers and to its self for future seasons by the way they handled all of this.  For a show I was already on the cusp of canceling from my DVR recordings, its left a bad taste in my mouth.  Not to mention you shouldn’t have an A-List celebrity advertise the hell out of something and only show up a handful of times.  Ellen, I love you, but your lack of on-camera contributions was dually noted.

So – what did you all think?  Did you feel gypped and let down by how the show handled the “scandal”?  Were you disappointed in Tim?  Or did you just feel like the last few episodes have been a waste of time that you could have spent watching Fixer Upper (omg, I’m obsessed and want to be Joanna Gaines when I grow up!)

Fixer Upper Joanna

I feel like she & I are kindred spirits :-D (source)

And the Oscar Goes To…. Not Me

Apologies for my MIA status; my day job got the best of me during awards season.  That, combined with an impromptu trip home to PA over Valentine’s/Presidents’ Day weekend led to one very busy Sledge.  But now that the Oscars are officially over, I’m getting back in the swing.

I’ll be back later this week with not one, but TWO posts for you.  A final recap of Ellen’s Design Challenge (which is currently waiting for me on my DVR) and a little trek through an incredible antique store from my trip home.

So for now, I’m going to leave you with a little preview of what’s to come.  And for those follow along on Instagram, these are just a double dose of beauty.

Federal Mirror - Burning Bridge Antiques

Preview #1 from Burning Bridge Antiques

Wagon Wheel - Burning Bridge Antiques

Preview #2 from Burning Bridge Antiques

Foundry Mold - Burning Bridge Antiques

Preview #3 from Burning Bridge Antiques

Susquehanna River

The frozen Susquehanna river between Columbia & York, PA

Me at our office Oscar party

Me at our annual office Oscar party

 

Isn’t It Pinteresting?

It’s been way too long since I gave you all some pure, unadulterated eye candy and random musings on the world so that’s what you’ve got today while I’m hopping a cross-country flight back to La-La-Land. I’ll be back later later this week with my usual recap of Ellen’s Design Challenge.

Let’s start with a little Pinterest visual stimulation (all the images below can be found on my Pinterest page). Here are some of the things I’ve been drooling over lately:

BEDROOMS

EHenderson Bedroomsource

HouseB Eric Stonestreetsource

ATherapy Bedroomsource

CasaSugar Bedroomsource

KITCHENS

White Kitchen Blue Tilesource

Design Sponge Kitchen Redosource

Grey Kitchen Cabinets Wood Shelvessource

Warm Wood with rugsource

What’s Cooking In The Kitchen
Speaking of kitchens….. after Jefe noticed a bunch of our nonstick pots and pans chipping, we decided it was time for some replacements. I did a little research and turns out Sur La Table, my new favorite place to spend any and all extra cash, sells some of the highest quality sets for under $250.

Sur La Table Cookwaresource

Thanks to a sale and a leftover gift card from Christmas, we brought a new set home last weekend. I also happened to pick up a copy of The Joy of Cooking finally, so naturally I figured the combination of my new purchases would instantly turn me in to Julia Child.

Later that night I discovered I wasn’t that far off the mark: I whipped up one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever made. Chicken piccata with a side of green beans almondine. Although now I think I’ve raised Jefe’s standards a little too high for the amount of time I actually have to spend in the kitchen…

Chicken Piccata with Green Beans Almondine

Fashion Forward
Have any of you been following the latest fashion trend? The industry is FINALLY starting to take notice of the completely untapped resource of plus size consumers. From ModCloth’s amazing commitment to equal opportunity sizing and the wealth of plus-size fashion bloggers to Target’s latest Ava & Viv collection, women of all sizes are finally being given fashion-forward clothing options. I love the new Swimsuits For All ad campaign; who needs a Victoria’s Secret Angel when you can have Ashley Graham? Makes me *almost* brave enough to try out one of their high-waisted bikinis. Almost.

Swimsuits For Allsource

And as a result of this new trend, I’ve discovered some new blogs that I’m loving! Nicolette Mason in particular is my new current fav. Girl’s got sass and style that does not quit!

A little light reading…..
I love the Kindle app on my iPad. I’ve found myself reading so much more, especially since it can sync will all my devices. Waiting in line at the grocery store? No problem! You’ve got time to crank out another few paragraphs. The downside? Since you don’t have a physical book and its 800 pages literally staring you in the face, it’s all too easy to get sucked in to a book without fully realizing the commitment that you’re making.

Case in point: thanks to all the great feminist reviews of Starz’ new series Outlander and me without access to the channel, I decided to start reading the book. Literally THOUSANDS of pages and 6 books later, I’m fully engrossed in the series with at least another 2 books and a few more THOUSANDS pages to go. But damn is it good – Claire is the most incredibly fierce female character I’ve read in a LONG time.  And the hot Scot playing her 18th century love doesn’t hurt either… Example #1: Starz’s new ads for season one:

Outlandersource

All the reading though has reminded me how much I love it and list of things next on the docket for after I finally finish Outlander is growing quite long. Number one is Amy Poehler’s latest (I know, I know, I’m behind the times on this one). Thanks to my fav site The Everygirl, I’m certain that #2 on the list, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding (best.  title.  ever.) is going to give me a SERIOUS case of wanderlust.

What I Was Doing.....source

So there you have it. Random musings and a few very pretty pictures for the week. What have you all had your eye on? New cookware? Or maybe a new book you’d love to get lost in? I highly recommend Scottish time travel circa 1743 :-)

Ellen’s Design Challenge – Episode 3 Recap

UPDATED with photos of final designs below!

This week’s recap of “Ellen’s Design Challenge” begins with the Wayfair WALL ‘O CHAIRS! Each designer was tasked with selecting a chair that reflected their design aesthetic.  Katie chose first, stealing Gaspar’s prized Ghost Chair.  Gaspar had the opportunity to choose next – a black plastic chair with light, wooden legs.  Carley chose a french country chair that I absolutely adored.  Tim bucked tradition and decided to challenge himself by choosing the white plastic S chair.

Designers and their chairssource

Joe then presented the challenge for the week – craft a dining table to compliment the contestants’ chosen chairs (I couldn’t see that one coming from 500 miles away…) Each designer was quick to create their designs, however, Tim and Carley’s were nearly identical. After sparring over the same beautiful slab of raw wood, Tim eventually relented to Carley’s persistence.

Fighting Ovsource

Carley’s table was an intriguing design from the get-go and obviously focused on forged metal highlighting her expertise, however I knew the one glaring problem – the giant splice down the middle – was going to be a serious problem come judging time.

Carley's Tablesource

Tim had to adjust his design based on this second choice of material. This worked to his advantage as the design was now distinctly different from Carley’s. I was thoroughly impressed with how he managed to create such a rustic yet modern piece that gorgeous in such a short time! In the end, it still screamed very masculine, but I couldn’t dispute that it was a stunning piece of furniture that perfectly complemented his chairs.

Tim'ssource

Gaspar got inventive. Like Tim, he decided to step outside his comfort zone this week and chose to work with plexiglass. He crafted a stunning tree silhouette out of wood veneer and then sandwiched it between the plexi. The final product was not my style but was indisputably beautiful and truly one of a kind.

Gaspar'ssource

Now for Katie. With Leslie gone, Katie’s quickly stepped up as the most annoying contestant in my book. I do love her perky attitude but the Valley Girl talk has gotten on my nerves. Combine that with the very cow-like table that she crafted and it was just too much for me. Had her finished product more closely resembled her initial design with a marble-like finish, I would have liked her piece much more than the barnyard animal she came up with.

Katie'ssource

I did, however, admire her fierce commitment to wildlife courtesy of the pandas all over her pajama-like pants.

Panda Pants 2source

Our guest judge, Ray Azoulay of Obsolete was another design-world insider. All the contestants seemed thoroughly impressed with him but as an average viewer, I had no idea who he was.

Ellensource

His insight in to each piece, however, was spot on. Note to the producers and programming executives – not the smartest move to continually have unrecognizable insiders in that chair. Your average American viewer is oblivious to their resume and will quickly be turned off.

Ellen and Furniture

0230400.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.301.170source

 During judging we FINALLY got our first Ellen in-person sighting of the season. She made quite the comical entrance, but otherwise, her presence was fairly unnecessary. It didn’t add much besides some fake, crafted for TV suspense when she handed notes to Katie and Carley telling them who was going home. (SPOILER ALERT: Neither. Did you really think Ellen was there to do the dirty work?! Of course not!). So all 4 designers are safe for another week.

BP__HGEDC_Ellens-Design-Challenge_BTS-Ellen-and-judges_3-0128_h.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.960source

Overall, I’d give the show a 5/10. It has some redeeming qualities but certainly has room for improvement. So I’ll keep watching it for now, if only so that I can critique it for you all the rest of the season.

ellens-design-challeng3source

And just as a small aside – the folks over at HGTV and Wayfair need to work on their cross promotions. I appreciate the Wayfair interstitial ad we got right before we cut back to the show from a commercial break, however, there is ZERO presence of the show on Wayfair’s site. For the amount of in-show Wayfair mentions and commercial air time purchased, I was certain they’d be plugging it left and right but I searched for hours and couldn’t find a single mention on their site. Especially for an online retailer, thats a huge missed opportunity. HGTV Ad Sales and Wayfair Marketing – call me. I’ve got a ton of ideas for how to up your game :-)

So what do you all think? Is anyone loving it? Watching out of obligation? Or have you already unloaded it from your DVR in favor of making room for another episode of “Downton Abbey?” Speaking of which, who watched this past Sunday’s episode?! I just have to say to Edith: you go girl. You do you; you do you!

Ellen’s Design Challenge – Episode 2 Recap

Surprise!  You guys get 2 posts this week!  First off – are any of you watching Scandal?  Last night’s episode was bananas!  I can’t handle it!  But that’s not the show I’m here to talk about today.

Apparently a lot of you lost your cable on Monday night!  I’ve gotten a lot of questions this week about what happened on episode 2 of Ellen’s Design Challenge.  I have to say, I’m still holding out hope for this show.  There were a few glimmers this week.

To start, the challenge was a lot more exciting.  Each designer was tasked with creating a piece of furniture to house the mystery contents of a storage unit.  The contents varied from barware to baby clothes to craft supplies.

Storage

 source

What I really enjoyed was seeing the designers spend more time with their carpenters actually designing and building their furniture.  I know in a first episode of a new series that you need more time to establish the show – the rules, the contestants and their backstories, etc.  But in episode 2 you can really dig in and see the contestants’ process.

Building

 source

Ellen was again – no where to be seen outside of a TV monitor.  She provided the contestants with some inspiration for the challenge, however, I really missed seeing her in person.  Knowing that they film her talk show in LA and they filmed this show in LA, I am sorely disappointed that she couldn’t find time to show up in person to tape 5 minutes for each episode that has her own name in the title.

Katie

source

When it came time for judging all of the critiques were on point.  However, I disagree with their final winning selection.  I thought Gaspar’s sideboard for dishware knocked it out of the park.  I wouldn’t put it in my home but I thought it was stunning for the right space.

The judges had other ideas though and selected Katie’s red cabinet that was VERY 80’s inspired.  I thought it was over the line kitch, but the judges just loved the artful storage it provided for clothing.  Her finished piece is below:

Winning Cabinet

source

The judges eventually decided to send home Leslie FINALLY.  Although she caused drama, which makes for good TV, her overall attitude and approach to everything was just annoying and I was so happy to see her go.  The dresser she created to house baby clothes was too simple, lacking any unique features.  And as Christiane pointed out, the changing pad with a baby would have gone flying off the table without being properly secured.

So I’ll give the show one more week.  What did you guys think?  Are you still watching?  Or have you grown bored?

My Funny Valentine

Valentine’s Day.  A day full of love, romance and scattered rose petals or a made-up holiday perpetuated and capitalized by the greeting card and flower industries?  I admittedly fall somewhere in the middle.  I think it’s a crock to make such a big deal about February 14th.  I do, however, appreciate the sentiment behind it so whether you choose 2/14 or another one of the 364 days of the year, it’s nice to take some time out of your day to show your significant other a little extra love.

Somehow I literally forgot to post last year’s budget-friendly Valentine’s Day recap so here we are.  With 12 days left to make your plans, here’s how Jefe and I celebrated last year in hopes of giving you a little inspiration.

To start, for the last 4 years, Jefe and I both agreed “we’re not doing anything.”  And every year without fail, we’ve both done something for each other.  My gifts have varied, but Jefe has been pretty standard with beautiful flowers (thank you 1-800-Flowers!)  He’s not a romantic flowers kind of guy so it’s always a pleasant surprise when they show up, always at the office.

Flowers at the office

Flowers' ride home

Don’t throw away the box!  Repackage them for the trip home and no spills!

Last year, I was a little strapped for cash so I had to get creative and turned to Pinterest for budget-friendly inspiration.  There were thousands of options, some cute, others VERY tacky, but the things that caught my eye the most – food.  They say the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right?  Since VDay last year was on a Friday and Jefe would have just gotten home from a trip to NYC, I decided I’d make him his favorite for dinner – steak.

Dinner was a simple enough gesture though that I felt I needed to kick it up a notch.  So dessert was to be my special surprise.  Thanks to my Pinterest inspiration and Jefe’s unfailing love of root beer floats, I came up with this adorable little tag:

Valentine Float My Boat

Valentine Float My Boat 2

Then I attached the tag to a 4-pack of gourmet root beer (the vanilla ice cream patiently waited in the freezer.)

Valentine Float Root Beer

But that still didn’t seem to be enough so I whipped up a batch of brownies (Betty Crocker to the rescue!), pulled out a heart-shaped cookie cutter and went to town.  A treats box with gift tag later, and I had a great little set up.  To top it off, I grabbed one of our drinking straws, cut out a red heart from construction paper with 2 slits and added it to the straw.

Valentine Heart Shaped Brownies

With the places set though, the table looked a little bare (notice the vast void of blackness at the top of the picture).

VDay Place Setting 1

So I scrambled around the house for a few accessories to jazz up the space: flowers swiped from the bookshelf, votive candle holders stolen from another shelf, and I pulled out our fancy candle sticks.

VDay Place Setting 2

VDay Place Setting 3

I stood there staring, wishing I had a non-holiday table runner to really finish it off.  That was when I remembered Sherry of Young House Love fame (R.I.P. tear….) had previously used scarves to finish off a few spaces.  Next thing you know, I was rummaging around for my red infinity scarf and voila!

VDay Place Setting 4

All in I think I spent about $30 between supplies from Michael’s (gift tags, string, treat boxes and heart cookie cutter) and the grocery store (brownie mix, root beer and ice cream).  So you don’t need to get too fancy just to spread some extra love.  It was a bit cheesy, but I didn’t care and Jefe certainly appreciated the effort (and the brownie/root beer float mega dessert he had later that night!)

VDay Place Setting 5

Head on over to my Pinterest page to see some additional ideas that caught my eye for your own VDay inspiration!

Ellen’s Design Challenge

Updated: Found some photos of the finished products if you scroll to the bottom!

For those that don’t know, I work in the entertainment industry to pay the bills.  So I get super pumped when my world of interests collide – television, branding, and home design.  Such was the case with Ellen’s Design Challenge which premiered this past week on HGTV.

Ellen

source

First off – Ellen.  Love her.  I think she is one of the funniest, most genuine women on TV so naturally I was stoked to have another reason to watch her.  The show is named after her, she’s in all the promos and marketing so she’d be a main part of the show, right?  Wrong.  She’s in one segment.  Where the contestants watch a clip of her on a TV.  Total snoozefest.

Ellen on TV

source

The format.  Totally Project Runway meets HGTV Design Star.  Pre-selected, talented contestants compete in unique furniture design challenges each week to prove who is the best.  You get the gist.  Design school graduates, self-made furniture builders, a FEMALE blacksmith (my favorite).

Contestants

source

Casting was obviously done both for talent and reality TV drama because honestly, why else would you watch without at least one cat fight?!  I could list all their names here, but honestly,  no one stood out enough to remember.  Which is not good TV.

As the contestants have limited time to complete their challenges, they’re each given a carpenter to help execute their designs.

Carpenters

source

Here’s what really pulled me out – most of the carpenters are smaller, but recognizable HGTV personalities themselves.  This is never acknowledged.  It’s like they’re just your average carpenter found through the Yellow Pages.

The host.  Generic, mildly charismatic reality show type guy.  I do not even remember his name and you learn nothing about him.  He just directs the contestants where to look.

Host Jay Montepare

source

The judges.  Credit goes to HGTV execs for finding relevant, qualified judges for the competition: Amanda Dameron, editor-in-chief of Dwell Magazine.  She’s a little boring, but clearly knows her stuff and her expertise is appreciated.  She’s partnered with Christiane Lemieux, executive creative director of Wayfair.com, one of the show’s key sponsors.  Christiane is fairly expressive and entertaining to watch.

Judges

source

They also bring in a guest judge, Jason Chauncey of Brownstone Upholstery Inc.  Here’s my gripe about the guest judge – although I’m no design expert, I have NEVER heard of this guy. And if I haven’t, your average American viewer DEFINITELY has not heard of him. He was also a bit boring.  Where’s Nate Berkus?  Or Genevieve Gorder?  Granted, HGTV probably can’t afford these now uber-famous faces, but you need another hook to keep your viewer interested.  Thought – how about Ellen?!  It is her show and she was in very little of this first episode.  She may not be a design professional, but she’s certainly a lover of great design.  Her home has been featured in some of the best home decor magazines out there.  And she’s a recognizable face (THE face that many viewers tuned in for) which is key when you’re trying to find your audience for a new show.

Elle Decor Cover

source

Architectural Digest

source

The night’s challenge was to take a big, boring existing box consisting of wood, steel and plexi and repurpose it in to a design exemplary of the contestants’ style (total Project Runway unconventional challenge knock off).

Box Pre Makeover

source

The final designs – I was less than impressed.  We had one mid-century modern shelving system knock-off and a sculpturally beautiful chair that was under-appreciated by the judges.

BP_HDEDC101_After-Designer-4-5.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.1920

BP_HDEDC101_After-Designer-3-1.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.1920

source

There was also an entry table made by the blacksmith (she is so bad ass!) and the most boring wall shelving unit I’ve ever seen (she is annoying and should have been the first to go!).

BP_HDEDC101_After-Designer-6-3.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.1920

BP_HDEDC101_After-Designer-2-2.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.853

source

Then there was the winner, a beautiful yet useful campaign desk made by the guy who, shocker, specializes in reclaimed materials.

BP_HDEDC101_After-Designer-Tim-2.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.853

source

Lastly, I was fairly impressed with the brand integrations on the show.  So often shows like this can look like walking advertisements for Home Depot or Armstrong flooring.  But the Wayfair.com accessory wall was done very tastefully and they had a great interstitial ad just before you came back from one of the commercial breaks.  It showed you examples of the furniture created on the show and then cut to similar styles available for purchase.  It was a commercial, but tasteful (and hosted by judge Christiane.)

Wayfair Wall Background

(best shot of the Wayfair Wall I could find)

Overall, I was a bit disappointed in the show.  The previews for upcoming episodes look promising (and include Ellen in person) so I’ll keep watching.  But if the show doesn’t deliver, I can only last another episode or 2.  Three episodes of any new show is my limit; no one has time these days to waste on uninteresting television.

So there’s my rant.  What did you guys think?  Did anyone love it?  Are you going to keep watching?