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Episode 7, Kitchen Challenge


Bon giorno.
Oh hi.  Sorry about that one last night.  That sure was uncomfortable.
I’ve been pretty terrified of the kitchen challenge since first year of design star – its a tricky one.  So when it was announced that it was kitchen challenge and a ‘photo shoot’, i was nervous.  
Here is what I wish I had done:


Or this:
or this:
Or This:
or this:


It’s just not how the kitchen challenge works – if you watch seasons past they have the same challenges.
I’m an open shelving girl, lots of white marble, rustic woods, and…
Wait.  Backup.
Change of Teams.  I’m with Courtland.  I hadn’t worked with Court yet, and we aren’t roommates (Casey is my roommate, all dorm room style)  So I really hadn’t gotten to know him.  I knew that he was super handsome and liked American Apparel but there are times when he would say somethings that bordered on parmesan cheesy. I was like, who is this kid?  is he for real?
Well, yes, people he is for real.  He was super frustrated with his previous teammates and you saw that on camera, but he is truly just a really really earnest  and very sweet guy.  He became one of my favorite people on the show, and working with him was awesome.  I LOVE YOU, COURT.
I mean, look how happy we are? ridiculous.
OK.  So we chose the Italian basket, not sure why.  I actually struggle with a lot of italian design and style – it can often be garish and overworked and trying really hard to look expensive (which in turn makes it look cheap).  BUT, there are some new more modern designs coming out of Italy that I love.  I  wanted to do the kitchen that Dolce and Gabanna would have had they just designed a house in Capri.  Modern, fresh, with rustic woods and bright mediterranean blues and whites, propping with alessi and modern espresso makers, etc etc.
Maybe with tiles like these: (i’m well aware they are turkish, but its a similar idea)
or this:
in a setting like this, sorry so blurry.


When people think of Italian design they immediately go to garish crown mouldings, faux finishes, burnt colors, gold carved furniture – all these inspired form Old World Italy.  like this:

(gagging, barfing noises)
But here’s the deal, we are in Modern America and the more you try to make something feel old world, the more (in my opinion) it looks cheap and tacky.  Courtland thought i was crazy for wanting to go modern, he has done a lot of Italian families kitchens and he was picturing much more traditional warm family oriented kitchen.  We have pretty opposing styles.  BUT you can do Italian in a modern way.  and make it still feel rustic and warm, like this one:

I showed Court this picture and he totally agreed – modern meets traditional.  The furniture and colors are more traditional, but there are still a lot of clean lines in the kitchen and warm, rustic, not garish at all.
A compromise, yes, but we went for it.
I almost cry with laughter at my former self, did you really think that was going to work out, Emily?  Did you think you could create a beautiful kitchen like the one above in 2 days and 2 stores?
HA!. silly little Emily.
Here is what we did instead:

I mean, its virtually the same kitchen, no?  

First we chose our three finishes from our three vendors – flooring, countertops and cabinetry – we had three different options for each one.  We realized that we chose the exact same as the other team, so we had to switch to the light wood cabinetry so they weren’t identical. – HUGE MISTAKE.
But we had already chosen our paint colors – the BenMoore ‘Parmesan cheese’ and BenMoore ‘kinda-looks-like-the-grapes-in-the-basket-purple.   So now, we can’t go back and change our paint colors, we were stuck with them and we BOTH knew that we were in trouble on day one – all our colors were beige, basically. ugh.
We went to Sears and bought all our appliances.  The other store to shop at was Gracious Home which has very little furniture so we bought these two, well, japanese stools at Sears and I struggled to un-japanese them by upholstering them with Bubble Wrap.  I can’t wait to do a video tutorial on how to upholster furniture with bubble wrap.


I really have my finger on the pulse of style and trends, people. Bubble wrap is the new batting.  

Court and I are getting along super well.  Having fun despite us knowing that we have already set ourselves to fail with our finishing choices and paint choices.  We are off to Gracious Home to get all of our pretty things  – which is where I found the $300 table cloth that I ruined by upholstering those god-awful stools in.  Styling sacrelige.  At least they showed me knowing that i was doing something terrible.



Then to tile.  Court and I have different opinions on tile – i wanted something hand-painted with a pattern, (like the blue above)  but he wanted something more traditional.  We bought two options – white carerra tile and the larger scale ‘garlic’ tile.  I think we would have chosen, the obviously MUCH MUCH better choice (carerra marble) had it not been for my garlic.  I had realized at this point that I hadn’t thought about my inspriation for garlic at all yet, because frankly I was not inspired by garlic.  So I blew it with the tile.  I was trying to bring in my inspiration.  i’ve obstained from garlic since this challenge, angry at what it made me do on national television.  Screw you, garlic.  stink up somebody else’s breath, you tiny little  white stupid piece of food. you.
At Gracious Home about an hour before the end of shopping one of our producers called us over and said ‘you guys know you only have an hour before the store in queens closes.’  We literally had no idea what she was talking about.  We refered to our dosier and it doesn’t say anything about a third store.  I guess that they had announced it, but Court and I were too busy trying to change our finishings and we didn’t hear. We both vaguely remembered the announcement, but it definitely didn’t sink it.  We didn’t make it to the store, unfortunately.  
Who knows what else we could’ve found there.  Oh well.  
(fists in air, charlton heston voice)
We get back to the Studio and Court starts fauxing the wall.  You probably know how I feel about faux finishes – i’m not the biggest fan, but he is really good at it, it is a team challenge, and at this point we had already decided on the compromise of ‘modern traditional’ (???) so I was like, go for it, whatever, see you back in LA.  – i figured i was gonna be outta there tomorrow.
I paint the chalkboard paint on the wall and then, get this, I paint the brass chandelier black.  I know. it was super hard to do because it was beautiful as is, but we were desperate for contrast so it had to go black.
Now for styling.  Yes I over-styled.  And I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Why?  because with little propping in this kitchen it looked like the most depressing, tacky, dead, studio kitchen ever with very little contrast (thank god for the black paint). The ‘photographer’ had no lighting, no bounce boards, nothing to make it look pretty and dreamy.  
Heres’ the thing:
A good photographer can make a beautiful photograph out of a white things on a white wall. 
Like so:
 It’s all about the light and angle – and if you don’t have natural light to make it look like this:
Then you have to create the look of natural light.  And it is very very hard.
It’s why photographers get paid a TON.  We were trying to do rogue lighting with lamps and using sheets on the ground to bounce light into the room. I mean, it was pathetic.  I was upset to say the least, so i added stuff to try to bring the kitchen back from the dead.  Its like I’m the guy who puts makeup on corpses.  But it helped a bit and i would do it again.  
Court totally stepped up to the plate and dealt with some of the lighting/lens problems – he has experience taking pictures.  Its funny, you would think that I would know exactly what lens to use, etc, but as a stylist working with amazing photographers, you would never be like, ‘hey, what lens ya using’.  That is there job, their domain it would be like a nurse asking the surgeon during brain surgery ‘hey, doc, whatcha gonna do next’.  But for this challenge they weren’t aloud to help us at all.  We had to be the photographer, too!!???


Also here’s the deal, you can see all the appliances perfectly.  and that’s what we are selling.  so while i liked the other kitchen more, ours was a more successful photograph in my opinion.

Calmate. Calmate.  
So yes, i overstyled, but that kitchen needed life.  and color.  
Oh the purple?  I think we bought a quart of it because Courtland wanted to do an art piece on the far wall, but we realized we wouldn’t see it and desperate for color, we put it on the front of the island.  Neither of us really liked it.    But once you make your paint order you can’t go back and add more or change it.  You have to work with what you have.
Looking at it now, here is what I wish we had done with the same resources:  Stuck with the white cabinetry, had the much darker flooring (which we thought we ordered, but we realized we never changed it on the form) painted the walls a bluish grey, used the same marble countertops that we got (it was the best choice) used dark/light blue alternating subway tile.
I liked the other teams kitchen much more.  I liked their white cabinets and their tile much more than ours.  we blew it.
OK, hosting videos.  I hope you are all aware that we go straight from judging into hosting – there is no time to prepare, no starting and stopping, no writing things down.  It’s nerve-racking.  And if you fumble, you just have to keep going.  I ran out of time which is why i rushed the end so much.  But


waddya do?  forget ’bout it.

Tomorrow i’ll discuss the outing of me being raised mormon -which i thought was a strange time for it.  it made it seem like mormons all reupholster furniture, when really i was talking more about my family and what we did growing up.  I’ll explain more tomorrow.


Oh and i’ll talk about the other team too, this post is long enough.



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