Ellen's Design Challenge Episode 3: I'm Still Watching

Ellen's Design Challenge Episode 3: I'm Still Watching

Jennifer Hunter
Feb 10, 2015
(Image credit: HGTV)

You know, I may have turned a corner on this show. I'll admit that it was feeling formulaic and pretty bland, but here's the magic bullet I discovered: expect less. Like everyone, I'm used to hyper-dramatic, fast-paced reality shows and this just isn't that model. My new recipe for enjoyment here: show up for the furniture (and only the furniture) and come out satisfied. But in case you still care about that other stuff, Ellen shows up this week. Spoiler alert: she's wearing a vest!

• Four designers are left this week: Katie, Tim, Carley and Gaspar. Aaaand Katie’s wearing neon with pom poms. Bold choice.

• Party time! The designers are getting a reward for their hard work so far — it’s a brunch prepared by Ellen’s chef. Do I sense a theme emerging? There’s a twist in the air. They’re all sufficiently impressed by the vegan food.

• These guys are no dummies — they guess that their challenge has something to do with dining and so it does. Host guy shows up to escort the players to a wall of chairs.... from Wayfair (whomp whomp, product placement). They’re each asked to find the chair that speaks to them. Pet peeve: the term “speaks to you.”

• They all get their chairs. Katie picked the Ghost Chair. Tim picked a Panton chair. The other two pick less famous chairs that I can’t remember the names of right now. The task is to build a dining table to complement their chosen chair. They get to work designing.

• Amanda comes by. It’s funny how she can say the words, “this bodes well” but her tone sounds like it’s going to be a disaster.

• Wait, what? Tim and Carley just outlined the same exact table design plan. Both involve splitting their original piece of parota wood and turning it outside in. Both literally used the term “a river on the inside,” and Amanda doesn’t say a thing about it.

• Jeff rushes in to negotiate for the best piece of wood for Carley (what a gent) with some charming reverse psychology; Tim caves and gives away the best piece; he really is a good guy. With the thinner piece of wood, Tim has to rethink his design. He decides to put a steel piece in the center of his wood to fill it out.

• Gaspar is taking a risk by sandwiching thin slices of wood veneer in acrylic. He's adorably excited about it. Looks interesting. I like.

• Surprise surprise, Katie is gonna pattern her table; she’s marbling.

• Jeff and Carley are preparing to cut their wood — they only get one chance. Jeff pulls it off for her (of course) He calls it “sexy” and Carley just about faints.

• Katie and her carpenter Carl make a wood base. They’re planning to plaster the table, zebra-style. She’s getting satisfyingly messy. Now it's time to open the mold and there’s a cracking noise and...dramatic pause...and...a commercial. Of course everything turns out to be fine (manufactured drama). Katie is finger-painting plaster on her table legs. It looks less zebra and more Holstein cow.

• Uh oh, Jeff and Carley are fighting. She’s frustrated and he says that she makes “more drama than my 12 year old daughter.” Wait WHAT? Jeff has a kid? Does Jeff have a wife? Don’t kill my dreams, Jeff.

• Oh, right! I forgot that the tables are supposed to work with their specific chairs. Apparently Carley did too. Her chairs are kinda drab which doesn’t go with her organic table. But maybe that’s a good thing. I wouldn't want to have to match that chair.

  • It's time for the judging. Guest judge this week: Ray Azouley
  • • Gaspar delivers what is no doubt a required line, “Let’s go to the Wayfair wall.” His table has a very Orla Kiely-esq design. The veneer looks nice, it really does work with his black and wood chairs. My boyfriend thinks his table looks like a menorah. The candles on top certainly don't hurt.

    • Carley’s table is all sculptural wood with a chasm down the middle. But the judges aren’t sure they like the actual break in the wood. They also notice that her chairs don’t really go.

    • Tim is pretty confident going in and for good reason: his table is amazing. The steel looks gleamy, the shapely base is sexy. It even looks good with the Panton chairs. The judges love it too. They gush over him for a while and then Katie is up.

    • She reveals her table which is basically a model of a cow — 4 chunky legs and a black and white table top. As if that wasn't enough, the decor she has chosen to set on top of the table is a small pinkish rack that looks EXACTLY like udders. As my boyfriend says, “She should have bolted it under the table instead."

    • The judges are trying to find something nice to say. They say it has “whimsy.” Why are they humoring her? They obviously hate it — their faces say it all.

    • Annnd Ellen shows up IN PERSON. She made the trip from her house down to the studio instead of filming her segments remotely! And she’s wearing a vest. FINALLY.

    • Ellen crashes the judges' session and....it’s a little awkward. She half hugs everyone. She checks out the goods.

    • Ok sidebar. Here’s what I actually really like about this show: unlike most reality shows, it's obvious that they don’t do a bunch of takes. They make mistakes, they have to move into the right light. It's a little weird. It seems clear that, for the most part, they just do the contest and film it. They don't stage things, they just edit in a few dramatic moments since, you know, it's still TV.

    • Ellen reveals the winner: Tim! Obviously. In fact, I wrote his name down in my notes during the commercial before the scene even happened.

    • Carley and Katie are in the bottom two. Ellen hates delivering bad news so she hands them notes because she doesn’t want to say the results out loud. Surprise! Both notes say “you’re staying," so no one has to leave. Awww, Carley is crying.

    • Ellen doesn’t have to be the bad guy after all. Happy ending.

    Missed my previous reviews? Get the juice right here.

    Episode 1

    Episode 2

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