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Episode Seven: Frankensofas, No-Tell Motels, and Purple Lemonade

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“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.

It’s the penultimate episode of Million Dollar Decorators, full of sturm und drang! Except that it’s not. Expecting a Black Amex-worthy wind-up to next week's finale, we are instead delivered vanilla hotel shenanigans and a couple of budget shopping trips...let's get to it, shall we?

Kathryn Ireland is checking on developments at the Factors’ Malibu house. Shannon Factor’s soft pink lipstick lulls Kathryn into believing The Dragon Lady is happy with the progress. The two make a date to go shopping for “beach-y” furniture. Wanting to reassert control, Shannon arrives with lip color matched to her burgundy patent-leather riding boots. Both she and Kathryn flip for a Pottery Barn coffee table the store owners have relabeled as their own. Things are going much too swimmingly—Kathryn should be on high alert.

Arriving in his pick-up truck to a leather factory, Nathan Turner reviews his new introductions for High Point—“the biggest market for the furniture industry.” He helpfully explains, “It’s basically like Bryant Park for fashion but a lot geekier.” His Elite Leather line is carried by Bloomingdale’s, which, while not a cutting-edge retailer, has very deep pockets. Nathan spies a less-than-fab sofa with clunky, chunky “Frankenstein” bolsters (?). He frets whether the design can be improved in time for market:

Deep in the black-walled Lair of the Underlings, Mary McDonald is tasked with naming her new lamp line for Robert Abbey— again, not the highest-end of companies but a manufacturer with broad reach. A style Mary has deemed “Forties” looks like a black widow spider to the woefully underused Lavin. (After a season opener debut with a gaggle of pugs and splendid display of sartorial sass during an installation, Lavin is the one cast member we’ve been most cheated of.) Ever the egalitarian, Mary expresses displeasure over the upcoming market’s location: “I might be more excited if it was High Point Paris market or High Point Istanbul, something like that. But it’s not.” In MDD producer set-up number 357 (see last week’s “consultation” with Dru), Nathan and Mary are booked into a Comfort Suites. After being vaguely insulting to the front desk clerk, Mary makes Nathan haul her luggage up a long “Gone with the Wind-ish ” staircase. We are made to believe the two are sharing a double-bed suite:

After a fitful night on 200-count sheets, Mary and Nathan arrive at market. The sheer size and drabness of it all terrifies Mary. Waving around a Birkin bag the size of Rwanda, she exclaims she’s scared. Nathan asks,“Why? It’s like a convention center.” Mary haughtily replies,“I know! Do I seem conventional?” For a one-look wonder, Mary is awfully smug. Each heads off to their respective showrooms. Nathan is delighted with the final version of the Frankensofa but seems flummoxed as to how to arrange everything. Apparently, the stress of it all has undermined his shopkeeper’s visual merchandising powers. In comes Mams to save the day! Mary bosses everyone around until the collection shines to perfection:

It’s debut day and Nathan is more than a little nervous. Newell Turner, editor of House Beautiful, arrives avec entourage and proclaims his love for a Suzani-patterned ottoman. Bloomingdale’s furniture buyers show up to pass judgment. They don’t seem to be loving Nathan’s new pieces. Oh, no! They then find a winner in the Frankensofa. Huzzah! A gel-haired gentleman sporting Sarah Palin glasses tells Nathan in buyer-speak that he could have a hit: “We could get real creative with that frame. We could certainly see some sectional SKUs off of it. Has a, like you said, a great city feel to it not only for New York but Miami and Chicago... We could really SKU that and make it pretty meaningful.” Translation: We’re going to completely change your sofa design into a sectional that will sell well to apartment-dwelling twenty-somethings who frequent electronica clubs and keep Ciroc in business. And you’re going to be happy with that decision because, as your largest account, we own your soul.

After a successful launch of both collections, Nathan convinces Mary to join him for some true Southern cooking (?). As Betty the waitress rattles off the specials, Mary, whose fondest desire is to be afflicted with an eating disorder, wrinkles her nose. Fried food hasn’t touched her Restylane-ed lips since the second Clinton administration. The heady scent of the deep fryers overcomes her. Mary, about to dip a hush puppy into ranch dressing, tells Nathan to “WATCH THIS!” She moans “It’s so good!” There will be some self-flagellation with an Hermes riding crop when she returns home.

Meanwhile, Martyn Lawrence-Bullard is packing his samples and heading to the Colony Palms Hotel, a resort he decorated several years ago. After recouping the cost of Martyn’s previous work, the hotel now has the cash to finish one of its biggest suites. The Palme d’Or suite is in a woeful state, filled with tired Tommy Bahama Collection pieces:

The rest of the hotel is decorated in a “Spanish Colonial goes to Morocco kinda vibe,” and Martyn won’t be breaking new ground with the suite. The “It’s a Small World” plan of global ethnic motifs and textiles still holds. Martyn has been given a paltry $50,000 budget to decorate (not renovate, mind you) the 1,800-square-foot suite: “That’s not a lot of money in my world, but I’m going to pull it off.”

Because the hotel is frequented by CELEBRITY GUESTS like Zac Efron, Eva Longoria, and Jessica Biel, the suite needs to be amazing. Martyn bounces on an unfortunate-looking damask sofa (?) that isn’t up to snuff: “We need to make it where somebody will cuddle up with someone, not sit here and need hemorrhoid cream afterwards.”

Martyn heads to Sheherazade’s House of Wall Hangings to find just the right touches. He invites Kathryn to accompany him to the installation. She dresses interpretively for the occasion as a desert sunset (?) in an outfit Martyn describes as “Isadora Duncan went to Palm Springs.” Kathryn parks it at the pool’s bar and asks the bartender what they make best. Because it’s still morning, he rattles off a luncheon menu. Our lovable lush Kathryn interrupts with “No, I’m talking alcohol.”:

The suite has been freshened up with new window treatments and an Iberian-influenced painted wainscoting. Martyn’s plans for the living room are “to amp it up, to give it some sex appeal.” This includes a black-and-white portrait of a bare-chested woman in an ethnic necklace. Bravo has blurred her nipples for the sensitive viewers. Martyn lets us know the sofa was designed for CELEBRITY CLIENT Cher: “It was so successful I started to add to my furniture line.” Cher must appreciate her custom piece being mass-produced for public consumption:

Kathryn rings, wanting him to join her for lunch. She is on her second Purple Lemonade and nearly incomprehensible. Martyn, busy fluffing and zhushing, barks “Good Christ, Darling, I barely understand a word you’re saying!” The decorating is soon done and Martyn leads the hotel manager on a tour. He proudly shows off an enormous Indian repousse platter explaining (incorrectly) that it was used by Bedouins in their tents during mealtime. After wrapping the install, Martyn ventures out to the pool to find Kathryn wrapped in a chiffon cocoon fast asleep on a deck chair. Apparently months of working with control freak Shannon have taken their toll:

Headed to the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show, Jeffrey Alan Marks is all atwitter at thought of be surrounded by his fabulous peers. With an upward chin thrust and a slight Connecticut lockjaw inflection, he tells us he and Boy Toy Ross will be attending “the Designers Circle party which is by invitation only. It’s exclusive [to] designers and patrons of the arts.” On the hunt not only for clients, Jeffrey and Ross are also searching for the perfect coffee table for their sunroom. The pair spot Suzanne Tucker, whom Jeffrey refers to as “the Grande Dame of interior design.” He is “very intimidated by her,” perhaps because it would never occur to Suzanne to install a rowboat on her bedroom ceiling. They all fall in love with a diminutive three-legged (literally) table by famed California designer John Dickinson:

Jeffrey educates us: “In the '70s, he was the first person to take a room and make it entirely monochromatic.” The table is priced at $16,875. They will have to wait until the following evening to make any purchases. Boy Toy Ross’s follicles are quivering with excitement.

On opening night of the antiques show, Jeffrey and Ross race to the booth only to find a dreaded red dot on the Dickinson piece—the Grande Dame herself has bought the table! They’re off to hunt down Suzanne and hair-whip her until she gives it up. The very picture of elegant graciousness, she allows the pair to purchase it. Back at home, Boy Toy Ross prepares breakfast next to sculptural stalks of brussel sprouts while Jeffrey futzes with the tiny table. It’s too small to serve as a coffee table (?), a fact that seems to come as a complete surprise to Jeffrey. It is becoming clear that Boy Toy Ross is the brains of this operation.

Next week, Bravo promises “Million Dollar Mayhem!” Jeffery is having an installation meltdown in the parking lot of Hungry Cat Malibu Santa Monica, Kathryn is upset at how her team is being treated (presumably by Shannon), and Mary is experiencing a living nightmare in shiny black tent. We'll be back next Wednesday to sort through the madness together.

· Nathan Turner for Elite Leather [official site]
· Mary McDonald for Robert Abbey Lamps [official site]
· Newell Turner on Tweets, Dollhouses, and the May House Beautiful [Curbed National]
· Episode Six: Mary Brings the Bitchy and Jeffrey Tears It Up [Curbed National]
· Episode Five: Permits, "A Passage to India," and Bathing a Deux [Curbed National]
· Episode Four, "Client Control": Just the Best One-Liners [Curbed National]
· Episode Three: Body Issues, a Sweaty Joe Francis, and Bird Poop [Curbed National]
· Episode Two: Hypnotism, a Pick-up Trick, and Really Old Tile [Curbed National]
· Episode One: The Osbournes, Divorce, and Snotty Guacamole [Curbed National]
· All Million Dollar Decorators coverage [Curbed National]
· If the Lamp Shade Fits [official site]