“This is Los Angeles where money and style are everything.” So sayeth interior designer Mary McDonald in the opening of Bravo’s newest reality series, Million Dollar Decorators. The show follows the professional and personal lives of five of L.A.'s top-tier interior designers, whose clients don't have budgets and who say things like “Sometimes I think my job is more important than the President of the United States.” Raina Cox of If the Lamp Shade Fits is here to take us through.
First up—at long last, and for the first time this season—we see Kathryn Ireland decorate! She is off to the Pacific Palisades to assist Shannon, wife of the heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune. This new client fancies herself a designer and has gone a wild buying spree (see photo above). Shannon has purchased approximately 52 chests, or “commodes,” 478 oil paintings, and two extremely funereal-looking 18th-century urns. After becoming overwhelmed with the sheer of amount of depressing brown furniture, Shannon bit the bulltet and called on Kathryn to help with placement. This does not sit well with Kathryn, who favors a “funky” aesthetic and is used to imparting her own vision on a project from beginning to end. Shannon entices her with the promise of a newly purchased Malibu beach house to decorate.
Still, Kathryn looks freaked out. Evidence:
The tightly wound Shannon knows everything about everything. After all, it is she who possesses both an MBA and a law degree. She mentions something about “picking her points of battle” and proceeds to argue the placement of each and every item. After engaging Kathryn in hand-to-hand combat over the contents of the wine-tasting room, Shannon declares a DEFCON level 5 emergency in the dining room. A bloodied Kathryn hobbles over to discover a Brigadoon-like butler’s pantry brimming with all manner of pricy serving pieces. Using her one remaining functioning limb to arrange candlesticks, three hydrangeas, and some silver and crystal, Kathryn manages to make the dining room look only marginally less dull. The magic of candlelight bewitches Shannon, who exclaims,”OH MY GOSH! I cannot believe it! You’ve turned it from a storage room into the most beautiful dining room I’ve ever seen.” Perhaps there is a thawing in relations with the LuluLemon'd dictator.
Kathryn's spirit is broken after the day-long installation with combative Shannon. Believing she understands the Type AAA personality, Kathryn mutters “I’m hoping that when I get to do the beach house, Shannon will take a bit of a backseat and let me do what it is that I’m really good at.” And maybe Martyn will stop wearing lipstick.
Speaking of porn, next up is —Martyn Lawrence-Bullard receives a call from CELEBRITY CLIENT adult entertainment mogul Joe Francis, who needs his help. Control freak Francis has fired the staff of his Puerto Vallarta estate and must have the new hires trained in housekeeping before guests arrive for his upcoming wedding. (Spoiler: the marriage lasts one month.) Also Joe seems stressed, he still managed to look like this in every shot:
We learn that coercing drunken young women to take off their tops pays well. Francis’s vacation home measures 40,000 square feet, has 14 guest rooms and cost him $30M to build. Martyn enthuses about the estate’s chefs and “water sports teachers” who must have been spared the chopping block. Francis presumably enjoys his water sports too much to let the instructors go.
Martyn is greeted at the airport by the estate’s driver, who informs him that Francis is not in the best of moods. Visibly nervous, Martyn exhales “We’re going to need a lot of margaritas to get through this!” A sweaty Francis (apparently $30M does not buy air conditioning) lines the staff up for a verbal firing squad and barks that Martyn is in charge for the next three days:
Martyn expresses a mixture of utter horror and curious awe at the manner in which Joe speaks to his staff:
With the help of a translator, Martyn imparts helpful housekeeping hints like “Symmetry is purity and purity is delicious.” During the walk-through, he discovers bird poop on the dining room chairs (upholstered in the very same fabric that Ross hated in last week’s episode), dead flies on a “made for sex” bathtub, and—horror of horrors—randomly placed throw pillows in the screening room. He cannot fathom why a terrified staff of non-English speaking locals is unable to follow his directions. At last, he sees someone ironing a carpet and is relieved:
Martyn rewards himself with a seaside massage by Brigitte Neilsen.
On to Jeffrey Alan Marks and Boy Toy Ross, who are remodeling the bathroom of their neighborhood gym. It is their neighborhood gym, so we are given some good shots of the pair working out:
Jeffrey believes an easy workout experience will keep him from becoming a “fatty” (?) and thus increase his chances for landing prime decorating projects. (Between this and last week’s pronouncement that his is a job more important than that of the leader of the free world, we are slowly developing a certain type of opinion about Jeffrey.)
While conveniently located just steps from their office, the facility’s shower room is not up to snuff. Gym owner Andy is persuaded to part with $20,000 to shape up the tiny shower area and is promised a completed project in a highly unrealistic five days. Jeffrey and Boy Toy are off to a luxury bath showroom to select fixtures and materials. Boy Toy wisely asks for the most modestly priced subway and penny tile, while a spellbound Jeffrey spies a custom marble mosaic sample board. As Boy Toy reminds him, it’s a gym they're working on and not their own house, Jeffrey clambers into a large bathtub (?) and languidly daydreams of more important projects with CELEBRITY CLIENTS and obscene budgets.
After squeezing all of the fun out of the selection process, Jeffrey deems the project beneath him and hands it off to one of the D(i/e)metra 2 to manage. She botches the delivery schedule, and the shower head, towel bars, and “jewelry”-like square drain cover are all delayed. Jeffrey freaks out, unable to comprehend the hellish bathing experience of having to deal with a “cheap” round drain.
D(e/i)metra 2 manages to pull herself and the project together. The contractor invites her to aid in the demolition. With her slender arms draped in sequins, D(e/i)metra 2 heaves the large crowbar, imagining each slam landing squarely on the heads of her bosses:
The bathroom is ceremoniously unveiled to owner Andy, who is bowled over by the results. He invites Jeffrey to “christen” the shower. We’re treated to a naked Jeffrey emerging in slow motion from the gym shower like some low-rent porn star.
Mary McDonald is visited by her literary agent, who is trying to finalize details of the designer’s first book. Mary thinks she should include a portrait of herself on the cover, but gives a show of modesty:
Unable to pin down Julian Schnabel or Annie Leibovitz for a sitting, she runs into an old illustrator friend at interior designer (and uncredited sixth cast member) Peter Dunham’s store and arranges the work to be done. She arrives at Konstantine’s house and promptly rifles though his possessions, passing judgment and coldly calculating each item’s value. She’s intrigued by what appears to be a footed bowl that's so much more than it seems:
Mary is asked to pose so Konstantine can begin preliminary sketches. Unable to stand still or keep her self-involved musings to herself, Mary wanders the studio and needles the artist incessantly as he draws. Their conversation goes like this:
Mary: Can I look at my face before you’re finished? Because I really don’t like it if you make an ugly face. So can you do everything but my face?”
Konstantine: No! I’m not going to draw you headless!”
Mary: I just want to be in control of the features a little because I saw you draw me like a beetle once. Can I have maybe my skirt... I feel like maybe it’s too short. And my breasts—I’d like a little bit. Could you give me some? I don’t have big ones but give me more.”
Konstantine: No speaking for a bit!”
Mary: Don’t make my waist big. I want the smallest waist in the universe.
Konstantine: But you do have a very small waist!”
Mary: I want it smaller. I want a light case of anorexia.”
Konstantine: No, you’re not anorexic—thank God! But you’re one step before.”
Mary: I am NOT. I’m not even a size zero!!! [...]You know if you die, I want that mounted Marie Antoinette breast. Can you put it in your will to me?”
Later, the finished portrait arrives and a nervous Mary calls Nathan Turner, the best friend who has no trouble telling her when she looks fat or old, to open it for her. Mary is concerned about the final outcome—“I think my worst fear is that it makes me look crazy and uglym” she says. Nathan, who has been nearly nonexistent this episode, unfurls the painting and proclaims it “Soooooo cute!” The artist has included all five pugs wreaking havoc, a pinched-face figure of Mary, and a woman’s hat. (Apparently Mary used to be a milliner.) She needs “confirmation” that the piece is good and verbally abuses the hapless Nathan until he vomits compliments. He’s had enough and exclaims,“I don’t know what else to do! Maybe tattoo it on my back?! Will that reassure you?!!” Mary, once again triumphant, marches Nathan to the nearest ink parlor. Here's a shot of the final portrait:
Next week, Mary’s client Jill hates on a custom-painted chevron floor; Martyn introduces us to CELEBRITY CLIENT Tamara Mellon, president of luxury footwear brand Jimmy Choo; and Kathryn tangles with Shannon over designs for the beach house. We'll be back next Wednesday to sort through the madness together.
· Episode One: the Osbournes, Divorce, and Snotty Guacamole [Curbed National]
· Episode Two: Hypnotism, a Pick-Up Truck, and Really Old Tile [Curbed National]
· All Million Dollar Decorators coverage [Curbed National]
· If the Lamp Shade Fits [official site]