MIA

So where the hell have I been?  I know, I know – life just got away from me.  I’ve been refocusing on myself a bit – trying to get healthier, taking care of some actual health stuff too.  Then a crazy girls weekend with my bests from college followed by getting sick for a full week just as I was cutting out caffeine and anything that tasted delicious….

Today’s gonna be a quick recap of updates around Chez Sledge.  Last when I left you, we were working on our office.  Since then we got our new chair from Wayfair:

New Office Chair!

And last weekend Jefe hung up some more art.  Can you believe he took those photos of Fenway himself?  The one of the stadium’s green seats with the single red seat is stunning.

Fenway Artwork

Fenway Artwork - Detail

The room is really coming together; I can’t wait until we can afford that armchair so I finally have my reading nook!  I’m planning to relocate that white chair to the dining room, scoot the shelf unit over and make room in the corner on the left for it, right by the floor lamp and next to the window.

New Office Artwork

Next up is a quick update in the master bedroom.  We finally managed to find a new nightstand for Jefe; it was made of solid wood with a reclaimed style to it.  It was the first time we ordered anything from Joss & Main and I was thrilled with the outcome.  Everything came pre-assembled and well packaged.  From date of order until delivery was less than 2 weeks!

Jefe's New Nightstand

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We’ve slowly been switching out the furniture in this room and with the addition of the new nightstand, it admittedly looks a little more mismatched than eclectic at the moment.  That’s always the challenge once you move out of matching furniture sets to create a more curated look; it can look like quite the hodge podge of random items until you get close to the finish line.  Here’s a little refresher (with a few updates) of what I’d eventually love the room to look like:

Sledge Bedroom Revamp

If you’re following along on Instagram, you’ll notice that we’ve made some serious progress in our backyard.  But there’s a few more pieces to come so I’ll just leave you with this little before & after until I can give you the full recap.

BEFORE

Backyard - Before

AFTERIMG_6491

Lastly, I finally got around to tackling the lighting situation in our kitchen.  After a quick trip to HomeGoods during my girls’ weekend, I snagged a cheap, neutral drum shade to cover up that horrendous fake-brass boob light.

BEFORE

Kitchen Boob Light

AFTER

Kitchen Drum Shade

I still need to add a piece of fabric to it so you can’t see the ugly fixture it’s hiding underneath, but just by hanging the shade I can feel such a difference in the room.

Kitchen Drum Shade 2

Jefe and I also made a quick trip to Ikea last Saturday and managed to snag the Foto plug-in pendant and I can FINALLY see what I’m cutting while making dinner!  I need to use some white cord cover so it blends in a little more, but I’m really happy with it.

New Pendant Light

I tried hanging it with the ceiling screws included, but it turns out our ancient drywall is a bit crumbly in the ceiling so 3M hooks to the rescue.  I only wish I had tried them before I put giant holes in my ceiling but that’s what spackle is for, am I right?!

Here’s both lights in action:

New Kitchen Lights

All in all, we’ve been making some great progress around the place.  I’m really please with how it’s turning out!

 

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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

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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

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

Purple Heart Wood 2

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 😀 (source)

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.

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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.

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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

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 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.

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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.

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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

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Architectural Digest

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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

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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.

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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!).

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

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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?