“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.
Episode two opens with Jeffrey Alan Marks, his bright-green loafers (?), and Boy Toy Ross heading south to La Jolla, a well-heeled San Diego enclave, for the installation of a house that’s been three years in the making. The $20M Mexican hacienda is owned by a couple from San Francisco who spend 11 months of the year on their yacht. The couple’s Very Terrible Daughters are overseeing the project while their parents sail the ocean blue. Jeffrey lets us know the girls' involvement spells tension with a capital “T.” Ross, who has apparently forgotten to brush his hair today (?), prays to a chair (?), presumably in hopes they'll make it through the installation in one piece. When the Very Terrible Daughters show up unexpectedly and hate on each and every furnishing, Jeffrey is undone. He rubs his forehead and mutters “I can’t be around. Me not dealing.” We are left to wonder what incredibly awful things have these women have done to him in the past.
Nathan Turner is Laguna Beach bound in a Ford F-150 pick-up truck (who’d have thought?) to oversee the renovation of a longtime client’s seaside “veranda,” actually a small-ish patio overlooking a road overlooking some houses which overlook the ocean. Here's what it looks like:
Water damage from recent rains has necessitated reconstruction by a local contractor who seems to be channeling Billy Ray Cyrus. After sketching the patio’s layout—“So we have that moment”—Nathan and Melissa go shopping. Because they both love a “bohemian ethnic layered look,” a Moroccan “as-teh-tic” has been decided. The pair are on the hunt for lanterns, garden pots, and new patio pavers. At a luxury European flooring showroom, Nathan and Melissa high-five over their selection of reclaimed terra cotta tiles from a 250-year-old Spanish villa. Score!
Mary McDonald receives a call from her divorcing client who wants to cut the guest house budget in half. As client Kendra sensibly questions spending $100,000 on a house that will soon hit the market, Mary makes as many ticked-off facial contortions as her Botoxed brow will allow and threatens to make all hell break loose with this hand gesture:
Obliquely threatening a walk-off, Mary raises the too-awful-to-even-think-about proposition of Kendra finishing the project herself with catalog purchases. The client backtracks. Mary wraps up the conversation by promising to “definitely look at each piece and keep the parameters in mind,” decorator-speak for “I’m gonna do whatever the hell I want.” The pair merrily continues to lay stuff on the floor of the guest room:
Last week’s scene stealer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard is now stress eating. While design assistant Leura (pronounced “Ann”) rolls through a list of client issues, Martyn pounds a box of chocolates, a gift from CELEBRITY CLIENT actress Ellen Pompeo:
They're so delicious, Martyn forgets for a moment that he's being filmed and does this on national TV:
Leura is horrified by Martyn’s overeating and he decides something must be done. In an inspired moment of Bravo cross programming tie-in, Martyn meets Kathyrn Ireland for lunch at Villa Blanca, the restaurant owned Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member Lisa Vanderpump. A nearly incomprehensible conversation between the two inebriated Brits involves bras, chocolate addiction, and a hypnotist Kathryn may or may not have “snogged.” Subtitles would have been helpful.
Nathan receives a call from Melissa. Billy Ray Cyrus says the tile from the 1000-year-old monastery built by Spain’s first Papal envoy have arrived damaged. Anticipating an imminent client breakdown, Nathan rushes over in the WonderTruck to save the day. Melissa, having been up all night contemplating life without tile tread on by Spain’s first conquistadors, answers the door a bedraggled mess. Nathan inspects the tile and comes to the conclusion that Billy Ray Cyrus’s untrained eye does not appreciate the rough-hewn nature of such a beatific flooring selection.
It’s now time to select accessories for Kendra’s guest house. Mary and Nancy go shopping in an antiques shop where $2,400 decorative boxes are on the cheap end of choices. They ooh and ahh over stuff like this:
Mary spots a stool covered in giraffe hide, and Nancy is convinced it’s a fake because giraffes are extinct. Nancy brings up Kendra’s budget concerns. Even though Mary has six-figures to spend on furnishing two rooms, she shakes her fists and screams to the heavens, “I’m tired of people putting stops on me when I know what I’m doing and that’s what looks good in the end!”
Meanwhile, Martyn is freebasing Cadbury bars as he pulls up to his CELEBRITY CLIENT hypnotist’s house. Late Show with David Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer opens the door and promises to relieve Martyn of his cocoa addiction. As the self-help guru begins to speak in dulcet tones, Martyn promptly falls asleep and dreams of being cradled in Kathryn’s enormous bosoms while Hershey Kisses fall from the sky:
The hypnotist's dog is so bored, it falls asleep, too:
Meanwhile, over with Jeffrey and Ross, the La Jolla install continues with one of the Very Terrible Daughters finding a bathroom sink to be too small:
Jeffrey is made to replace it and refabricate the stone counter overnight. When Ross delivers the soul-crushing news that a custom bed is not ready, Jeffrey rubs his tummy in terror. Ross is left to threaten the furniture workroom with immediate banishment and eternal damnation on his PacSun-skinned phone. Jeffrey declares his job to be more important than the leader of the free world’s and Ross heartily concurs. The Very Terrible Daughter returns the next day to inspect the progress and declares a bedroom mirror to be the worst thing ever made by man. She also hates this rug:
The new, slightly larger bathroom sink is still a concern. Jeffrey successfully argues that wealthier people have smaller sinks because they don’t get their hands as dirty. The installation is a wrap and Jeffrey, Ross and one of the Demetras walk off the negative energy outside. After three days of repeated undermining and incessant hair flipping, Jeffrey has had enough and shoves Ross into the client’s pool:
Demetra sobs realizing this is Jeffrey’s first step towards self-actualization.
A newly programmed Martyn pops by Kathryn’s for dinner. He inquires of the turbaned Jacqueline what the evening’s menu holds. She responds with an nearly unintelligible tale of French food and Italian men. Martyn begins to suspect there may more to Jacqueline than deftly folded head scarves, perhaps a key role in the French Resistance’s struggle against their Nazi occupiers—“Jacqueline is the most extraordinary creature... I would expect nothing less from Kathryn than to have her!” Martyn tells Kathryn that Paul Shaffer has rewired his brain to associate chocolate with the smell of anchovies. Kathryn, who has spent the morning trying on vintage brassieres at a flea market (?), finds the whole thing ludicrous—“Let’s face it. If you haven’t got great lingerie and chocolates to eat, what is there in life?”
Nathan arrives to install Melissa’s patio and finds her ecstatic about the flooring installation. For good measure, she has had the Spanish ambassador lay the last tile. Knowing the install will undo her, she leaves and Nathan busies himself arranging things. Melissa returns and in his best HGTV-esque reveal, Nathan leads her around the $100,000 Pier One-meets-Horchow outlet fantasy patio. She is pleased and all of Spain exhales in relief.
At Kendra’s guest house, installation is about to begin and you know Mary means business because she’s wearing flats. The rarely-seen assistant, Lavin, is dressed for manual labor in a button-down vest and a rakishly undone bow tie. He takes a personal call when he's supposed to be working, and gets this look from Mary:
Nancy is up to her passive-aggressive ways and arranges the living/sleeping area in defiance of Mary’s instructions. Upon seeing the back-asswards layout, Mary’s eyes roll back in her head and she hisses “Can somebody just do what I want for once... can somebody... maybe?!” Lavin dramatically announces the Realtor may drop by before the installation is complete. A panicked rush ensues to complete the project, and Nancy reminds Mary to keep things streamlined per the Realtor’s directive. Mary bellows “I’m not really interested in Realtors! Sometimes you have to teach people what they think they want!” Kendra arrives to see how things are coming and daintily steps over a crack in the Earth's crust split by the thunderous fury of Mary’s frustrations. The client is delighted and pronounces every dollar well spent. The ground fissure heals immediately and Mary floats home on a cloud of smug satisfaction.
Next week, Martyn’s CELEBRITY CLIENT “Girls Gone Wild” creator Joe Francis pitches a sweaty hissy fit in Mexico, Kathryn is charged with exorcising the decorating demons of a faux English manor house, Jeffrey loses something of great importance, Mary commissions her portrait from an angry Russian, and Nathan travels to Europe to receive his Spanish knighthood. We'll be back next Wednesday to sort through the madness together.
· Episode One: the Osbournes, Divorce, and Snotty Guacamole [Curbed National]
· All Million Dollar Decorators coverage [Curbed National]
· If the Lamp Shade Fits [official site]