Ellen’s Design Challenge Season 2 Episode 1: In Bed

updated Mar 11, 2020
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(Image credit: HGTV)

The first official project of Ellen’s Design Challenge season 2: Beds, beds, and more beds! Who gives the judges sweet dreams, and who wakes up on the wrong side of the elimination? Let’s find out!

(Image credit: HGTV)

We start off with the contestants walking into the giant warehouse workspace (50,000 square feet!), eyes wide like it’s Christmas morning. Vivian gets all sentimental at the banners with each of their names: “They made me a home!” Aww. Q: they haven’t even done anything yet, so what’s on McKenzie’s pants?

Christiane & Cliff take them through the moving wall to the judging area where the Price Is Right turntable has got some neon accents and will house their finished projects… and Ellen! Our Lady of Sweater Vests makes her first appearance to the contestants and everyone is legit excited, but McKenzie out-excites them all with her Leslie Knope crazy faces. Never change, McKenzie, never change.

Since we spend a third of our lives in bed, Ellen wants the designers to create their signature bed and they have three days to do so. She adorably exits, and we’ll catch her next week.

Now the designers go meet their HGTV carpenters. Cue 3 minutes of hugging (hold on for 20 seconds, guys). Matt M. starts by giving pep talks, McKenzie brought origami lotus flowers for good luck.

Bradley is contemplating a bed of nails. A BED of NAILS. Can you see Christiane hopping up on that?? Who thinks Matt M. is all… yeaahhhh that’s going to take too long when really, it’s just a horrible idea? Either way, Christiane heads over in her bold black glasses and Bradley decides to go for a “Japanese meets contemporary” raised ribbed design instead. PHEW. It looks like it could go with his potato chip table.

(Image credit: HGTV)

LOVING Vivian’s suspension bridge bed, which is super sleek and industrial, though Cliff is worried she won’t have enough time.

Sef plans a mountain landscape bed made of metal and oak which looks sort of like a secret lair. Christiane warns him not to gild the lily. Sef is gonna do Sef anyway.

Does anyone actually get “cloud” from Melissa’s bed? All I’m seeing is a treadmill on an incline. And that negative space—think of the dust bunnies. Cliff calls it “quite cool” and says she should “consider proportion.”

McKenzie brings it back to lotus flowers—her headboard will be petals carved from wood slabs. The rendering looks sculptural and serene, and Christiane calls it “bold and interesting.”

(Image credit: HGTV)

Kyle has a lovely sand and sea bed planned—I like the subtle dune texture and the organic headboard with its topical map. Looks like it might get lost amongst the other, more standout pieces, though.

An oval headboard is such an 80s/90s shape, and on top of it, Alexis is adding gold leaf inspired by the horizon. That’s a LOT of gold leafing to do when you only have three days to make a whole bed. Cue end of day 1 panic, and Alexis has 30 seconds to clamp her bed together so it sets overnight. They get it done right under the buzzer. WHEW.

We’re back for day 2 and Bradley’s got EIGHTY-NINE separate pieces of wood for his bed. He reads off measurements like an auctioneer on speed. Meanwhile, McKenzie’s carving is creating a sandstorm in the work room (where are the glow sticks?), and the carpenters do some adorable horsing around. GUYS let’s hang out, okay??

(Image credit: HGTV)

Alexis is aging her wood using a steel wool/vinegar solution—SCIENCE! Alright, that looks waaaaay cool. Carry on. Kyle’s adding his dune texture. Vivian is welding. If there were an EDC drinking game, you’d all have to take a shot right now.

(Image credit: HGTV)

Melissa’s treadmill sleigh is taking shape, but she has a lot of upholstering to do tomorrow. Sef’s headboard puzzle pieces are not fitting together. Chip says it’s probably too big a project for three days, but in true Chip fashion, he can take it on. We don’t doubt it, Chip.

Miles’ “seismic activity” bed is inspired by earthquake retrofitting in California. MMHMM. “They gotta be sturdy.” Truth, Miles, TRUTH.

Cut to Alexis gold leafing, and Sef and Chip speed welding, and before they know it it’s the end of day 2.

Day 3 and we have a near disaster with Alexis’ foot rail being too short. Thankfully, they have an extra board that’s juuuuust big enough and it saves the day. And like that, the first challenge is over! Cue relieved hugging! High fives! Passing out on beds!

(Image credit: HGTV)

“When you don’t know the rules of the game, you don’t have to stick to them.” …Is that how it works, McKenzie?

Guest judge is Sean Yashar of The Culture Creative (oh hey, we did a House Tour back in 2011).

First up is Kyle, and oof, they’re looking really underwhelmed. It’s a little “footprints in the sand,” but I think it’s very zen. Sean says he has taste, it’s meditative, but looks less expensive. Cliff says it’s “very you,” and Christiane says he “aced” the signature part, but wonders if he brought it enough. Bradley pipes up from the green room and calls it country time. Kyle’s not worried.

Sean says Melissa’s cloud bed makes him think of crazy cat ladies with loads of felines hanging in the negative space. Christiane defends cat ladies everywhere, and goes to try out the furniture for the first time, practically having to pole vault onto it because it’s so tall.

Miles’ rockin’ earthquake bed gets called safe by Sean and Christiane, but Cliff thinks the details, though understated, are special.

C&C goes over to check out Vivian’s suspension bed, and both are gushing over the craftsmanship. Sean is the dissenting voice, bordering on mansplaining when he says she’s trying too hard and that there was too much of a collaboration between her and her carpenter. Vivian SHUTS IT DOWN with “this is precisely my design.” Shazam Zablam—Clinic concluded! And Bradley has birthed a catchphrase.

(Image credit: HGTV)

Sef’s Colorado Rockies bed gets rocky reviews. Sean says it doesn’t look comfortable, Cliff says it has wow factor but he’s not sure the big risk paid off, and Christiane likes the functionality of the footbench but says it could give someone nightmares. Sef isn’t phased, he’s “not trying to make plain vanilla design.” Yep, looks like you made Rocky Road instead there, Sef.

Alexis wanted to show the judges some softness with her bed. Christiane gives it a “wowza,” Sean says it’s graphic yet not too loud, and Cliff says it’s strong but not his style.

McKenzie was going for sculptural, yet Sean is questioning her taste level, Christiane is seeing fire instead of flowers, and Cliff calls it aggressive and not serene. Kyle predicts people will be calling up demanding, “make me the fire bed!!!”

Last up is Bradley, who wanted his bed to be contemporary, yet home in New Orleans. I don’t see this in too many NOLA spaces, but that headboard shelf is gorgeous and functional. Cliff predicts some toe stubbing, but overall everyone’s gushing, and even Sean who has barely liked anything gives it a rave, “it’s just really nice.” Bradley: “I crushed this.”

Results! Alexis, Bradley, & Vivian are on top, and shazam zablam, Bradley gets the win! Sef and McKenzie are in the bottom, and it’s McKenzie and her glorious cacophony of faces that must leave the competition. She has such a great attitude about it—what a sport.

Next week, the designers tackle outdoor furniture and someone’s got a mesh shortage (sounds like a personal problem).

So what do you think? Did your favorite bed win? Tell us in the comments!

We’ll be live-tweeting the show along with the cast & judges every Monday at 9|8c. Follow us @apttherapy & join in using #EllenDesignOnHGTV. And check back after each show for our episode recap! Also, you can vote for your favorite designer at