Ellen’s Design Challenge Season 2 Episode 2: Let’s Go Outside

published Jan 25, 2016
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(Image credit: HGTV)

One designer down, and seven are left as this week’s Ellen Design Challenge tests the contestants’ limits with outdoor furniture. Who sinks and who swims? Let’s find out.

We start off in a gorge SoCal backyard, which is just not fair after the wintry weekend the East Coast had. But we watch TV as an escape, right? *cries*

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Ellen doesn’t pop out of the pool. She’s skipped this one and leaves the challenge explaining to C&C. They’ve broken the backyard into seven sections, and each designer will create a designated piece for that area.

Bradley, who is not lacking the self esteem department and informs us he’s consistently awesome, gets to pick first, and then picks the order in which the rest pick. He goes with the fire pit, and gets seating. Next is Alexis, who chooses pool and has to design a chaise, and Miles who gets bar seating. Sef takes his sweet sweet time examining all his options and guessing what each piece might be, getting some eyerolls, before settling on the patio. He has to build a dining table. Kyle scores a daybed for the garden gazebo, Melissa is building a hanging chair for the shade tree, and Vivian gets a bench for the umbrella area. Now it’s off to the workroom, since they only have three days.

Christiane’s just coming around and Miles already has a plywood model of his Z-shaped barstool. She questions its stability, and after some stress testing, Miles agrees that it’s not strong enough. He’s a little worried, and so am I.

Kyle’s daybed has a strange inspiration—a pangolin. Not sure what that is?

Still not sure what that is? It’s basically an Asian armadillo. I thought he said pergola. Not the same thing. Anyway, Christiane looks skeptical, but Kyle’s going outside his box and good for him. The yellow upholstery is surely sunny.

(Image credit: HGTV)

Sef’s planning a dining table from metal with an acrylic top. Cliff cautions about durability, which anyone who’s ever had an acrylic piece knows that that shizz scratches and fogs like crazy. Imagine a tree branch falling on it. Let’s see how this works out.

Melissa goes right for a hanging chair that’s reminiscent of a tire swing, but way classier and cushioned on the inside. Christiane is telling everyone to edit themselves, but Melissa gets the a-ok to do Melissa because who didn’t want to have a tire swing when they were a kid?

Alexis is doing a concrete chaise which sounds about as comfortable as Bradley’s scrapped bed of nails from last week. Vivian takes her inspiration from the very workroom walls, and is doing a circular wire mesh bench.

(Image credit: HGTV)

Bradley plans five wooden stools for around the fire pit, and Cliff warns that they better be weather resistant. He considers treating them with iron acetate (which Alexis used last week) or shou sugi ban, a Japanese wood burning technique. He goes with FIRE, duh.

It’s the end of Day 1 and Miles is still having trubs stabilizing his stool. But Day 2 dawns and he finds inspiration in a palm leaf, and decides to create a folded steel form for his stools, while keeping the wood seat and footrest. How many guys does it take to fold a steel stool? Four, apparently, with Miles literally climbing up the wall for traction.

Meanwhile, Melissa’s making a wood-and-rubber tire swing-slash-layer cake, Kyle’s shingles are looking more playhouse than pangolin, and Sef’s torch keeps extinguishing. Vivian steps in to give Sef a lesson in metalworking, because badass.

(Image credit: HGTV)

She’s got plenty of her own welding to do, though, so it’s back to work for her. It took all of Day 2 to just build the frame, leaving no time to mesh around tomorrow.

It’s the end of Day 2 and Bradley is *still* charring wood for stool numero uno, so he decides to scrap the other four and just make a single piece. He assures it’ll still be sexadocious, but will the judges feel underwhelmed?

(Image credit: HGTV)

An hour to go and Alexis is mixing and pouring concrete. She’s the queen of down to the wire, though, and even when a quick second batch needs to be made, they still get it all in the mold to set overnight. Whew.

Day 3, and Kyle starts nailgunning 300 shingles. Alexis is working that sledgehammer to unmold her chaise, and it’s a little rougher than she’d like, so they decide to skim coat it for a smoother finish.

Vivian is out of mesh and literally takes the decor off the workspace walls to fill in the gaps. Bradley’s stool looks a little puny, and we’ve already seen a similar aesthetic style of his in the chip table and bed from last week, so we’ll see how the judges feel.

(Image credit: HGTV)

Melissa rolls around in her tire, is all of us. Does it belong on the Millennium Falcon? Do you think Han would like it? Since she’s done, Melissa hops over to lend a hand to Kyle, and Bradley jumps in, too. I love this camaraderie! Time is up and Bradley does a little dance. Thanks, Bradley.

(Image credit: HGTV)

It’s time for judge’s critiques. Christiane is looking jungleicious in her blue leopard number, and our guest judge is designer Peter Dunham, who’s looking for comfort and versatility.

Up first is Sef. Peter calls it phenomenal and sophisticated, Christiane calls it a comeback, and Bradley says it’s not all that hard to come back from an atrocity. No one mentions the acrylic.

Vivian’s wicker-inspired mesh bench gets a face from Christiane, who says she’d like the front and sides to be closed in and that it feels unfinished. Peter disagrees, likes that the openness keeps it from being cage-like. Cliff would’ve liked a powder coating, calls it “too industrial” but “accessible.”

The panel is kind of looking around as the turntable displays one measly bench from Bradley. Cliff calls it sculptural but dings him for over-promising and under-delivering. Now they show the bench at the fire pit and it looks extra sad and lonely. Peter thinks it doesn’t go with the fire pit and likes it better on its own. Christiane gives it higher marks up close than from a distance.

Cliff pulls a face as Kyle’s daybed appears, and he’s “not sold on the aesthetic.” Peter calls it a clunky sea monster, Bradley calls it Big Bird. But then they see it in the garden, and it actually looks good. Then they all sit on it, and they like it. So, who knows?

(Image credit: HGTV)

Alexis’ concrete bench is barely a wisp of material above the floor, an Christiane asks if that was intentional. Alexis comes out with some nonsense about a gorgeous pool and it being a focal point and not disturbing the sight lines. Cliff calls it conceptually outstanding, then tries it out, and declares it “not uncomfortable.” Not exactly a glowing recommendation.

Miles’ stools get a wow from Christiane, Peter calls them sculpturally spectacular, and Cliff says that simple beauty is Miles’ winning formula. They are gorgeous, and he’s made more than one (ahem, Bradley).

Melissa’s tire swing inspired chair brings out the kid in the panel. Christiane says it radiates joy, Cliff would be happy to see it in his yard, and Peter can imagine it in different sizes. I would’ve liked a larger size when Cliff goes to try it out—looks a little cramped, but the idea is definitely fun.

Judgement time. Sef and Miles are in the top, and Sef channels Drizzy since he started from the bottom now he won. Congrats, Sef!

And it looks like the reverse for Bradley. He and Kyle are in the bottom, and oh noes, it’s Bradley going home. He’s so talented, but that bench, as detailed as it was, was not working all by its lonesome with that fire pit.

That’s it for this week! Which design was your favorite? Did Bradley deserve the boot? 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