“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.
This week, the two British Million Dollar Decorators return to Merry Olde England for business and possibly pleasure. Kathryn Ireland is designing a panty-dropper of a country house for her ex-boyfriend, James. Believing a properly decorated home will be just the catnip he needs to woo a lady fair, Kathryn sets about creating a cottage to make Jane Austen weep. James, though, is the sort of hapless Englishman who is unable to keep a steady girlfriend but knows exactly which pale pink sofa would be perfect for the upstairs landing.
Enlisting the assistance of former personal assistant to Coco Chanel Jacqueline, Kathryn packs for the upcoming trip. Convinced she is destined to meet her next husband on the flight over, Kathryn packs over a half dozen full-length negligees worthy of a 1930s screen goddess. For her invaluable service to the British empire, Jacqueline is gifted an old pair of Donna Karan leather pants. Even though it’s midday, they toast to Kathryn’s sartorial success with a sparkling rosé—“It’s always cocktail hour somewhere in the world.” Nothing says “romantic conquest” like the lady pirate skirt hanging on the closet door:
Kathryn meets James at the Chelsea Antiques Fair in London to source a few items for his country house. They settle on a mirror, a few tables, and a small pastel-striped sofa James discovered on his very own. Bumping along the narrow country roads, Kathryn is filled with nostalgia for a youth spent riding horses and dating foppish young men who enjoy the company of other foppish young men: “I do get huge pangs of homesickness when I’m here,” she says wistfully.
A great deal of time is spent moving furniture from room to room with James’s keen input. Kathryn insists she’s going for “eclectic” rather than English country, but the overall effect is decidedly traditional. James is pleased with “the KI look” and the two discuss his eligibility whilst strolling the grounds. Seeing things coming together, Kathryn imagines herself lady of the house. James imagines how fetching he would look in her jaunty scarf:
Jeffrey Alan Marks is still Gucci-loafer deep in work on Hungry Cat, a Malibu seafood restaurant actually located in Santa Monica. The restaurant is due to open is four weeks and not a whole a lot has been done. A shoestring budget which does not allow for new floors is not going to stop petulant man-child Jeffrey from getting exactly what he wants:
He has the existing floors demo'd without informing anyone—“I didn’t tell Ross because I didn’t want to ruin my weekend. I knew he’d harp on it.” Boy Toy Ross stops by to check the project’s progress and flips out when he sees the ripped-up floor. It’s a hair-raising moment, literally:
At a high-end European flooring showroom, Jeffrey and Ross find the perfect material in stock. They concur that the client has no other choice but to accept their pricey imported Belgian selection. (Because, of course, oak flooring could not be procured at the local Home Depot and stained to whatever finish they desired.) Restaurant owner David shoots down the idea, and the enormity of what he has done finally dawns on Jeffrey. “I don’t know what I’m going to do to fix it. I mean these are problems that send designers to graveyards.” Or, you know, into moments of clarity and self-realization. Given photos of the recently completed space, some lower-end compromise was eventually reached:
During a photo shoot for his new furniture and accessory line (?), Jeffrey pines for the days when he was a pretty young thing modeling in Europe as a design school student. “I still wanna look like I did in the '80s,” he says nostalgically.
He and Boy Toy Ross engage in a think tank-level debate as to which supermodel they’re most like. It is decided Jeffrey favors Christy Turlington while Ross is Claudia Schiffer incarnate:
Once again, interiors flash-sale website One Kings Lane is teaming up with an MDD cast member for a curated container sale. A nattily turned-out Martyn Lawrence-Bullard visits the One Kings Lane offices to discuss a buying trip to London. He is tasked with unearthing 100 “unique” pieces in three days. Martyn is lectured that the budget won’t be like those of his CELEBRITY CLIENTS Cher and Elton John. Full of naive confidence, Martyn assures the One Kings Lane team he can deliver.
On Portobello Road in London, Martyn introduces the OKL tem to his favorite trophy shop. He fondles vintage rugby balls and is convinced large sporting plaques will be just the thing:
After an unsuccessful bid to have One Kings Lane buy a beige footed serving piece for £180 (the equivalent of $290), it quickly becomes apparent that Martyn has never visited their website. He is perturbed the ladies aren’t impressed with the “bargains” he’s found—“I’m not used to having to find the best deals. I’m used to having million dollar budgets. I would never put my name on this sale if these items look cheap and boring,” he gripes. At a dealer warehouse in Chelsea, Martyn has to be reined in. He desperately wants a set of captains chairs selling for £5500 ($8,800). From high on his haughty horse, he sniffs, “I’m not used to these kind of restrictions. I’m not used to someone telling me what I can and can’t buy.” He doubts the One Kings Lane co-founder’s acumen: “Susan doesn’t get it. These things are not expensive. These are quality, beautiful items. We need these items.”
At his secret posh antiques mall haunt, Martyn manages to tick off the ladies once again. He is reprimanded for shopping for his own needs on One Kings Lane’s time and dime. Martyn refuses to give up a wooden tray destined for one of CELEBRITY CLIENT Elton John’s ottomans. Soon they’re back on track perusing fabrics from a vendor Ralph Lauren favors and snapping up a large trunk destined to be sold as a coffee table:
At the Chelsea Antiques Fair—how did they not run into Kathryn!?—they find several over-the-top pieces, including a quartet of albino tortoise shells from the 1840s selling for £2400 ($3,850) and a mass of vintage Bavarian mounted critter trophies for around $29,000. With a pair of marble cachepots, the trio has finally reached the magic 100 items and all breathe a sigh of relief. When told the One Kings Lane team will be shopping Morocco next with Kathryn, Martyn muses “You may not escape alive!” (Martyn's London container sale went live today at 11 a.m. EST on the members-only site.)
Meanwhile, Mary McDonald has been lured to the wilds of Manhattan Beach’s McMansion suburbs to meet a potential new client with a promising budget. Mary and project manager Nancy arrive at a “bad tract house” owned by the overexcited Dru, a woman who excretes Red Bull and punctuates exclusively with exclamation points. What little hope Nancy pep-talked into Mary disappears within five seconds of entering the house:
Never mind that the budget is $1.5M to $2M and the house measures a substantial 8,500 square feet, Mary is looking for the quickest escape route. Dru’s desires to turn the dining room into a gym and retain the tacky carpet insets does Mary’s head in: “I don’t think Dru has a taste I understand—or like at all.” Reminding her about the seven-figure budget, Nancy persuades Mary to at least consider putting up with Dru’s decorator fangirl enthusiasm.
Mary and Nathan Turner pop into uncredited sixth cast member Peter Dunham’s shop to kibbutz about the unfortunate new project. Mary moans about her nightmare client and Peter counsels her on how to handle the situation: “I think talent one of being a decorator is protecting yourself from the people out there.” When he learns of the budget, Peter tells Mary to turn the project down and give the client his number.
Later, Mary arrives at the office to find that preternaturally perky Dru has sent a gift. Mary is horrified to discover “It’s one of those weird fruit baskets (?) that looks like flowers.” That clinches it: there will be no decorating with Dru and a phone call must be made. Former cheer squad leader Dru is crushed to learn that Mary is turning down her project. She had dreams of them becoming besties, driving to Jamba Juice in Mary’s Jaguar for probiotic fruit smoothies, and endlessly texting photos back and forth of tumbled marble backsplashes and faux finish walls.
With this week’s episode, Mary is has cemented her reputation for delivering for sharp-tongued take-downs. Her top five Dru-demeaning quotes:
5. “I’ve assessed the mountain and I ain’t to climb it.”
4. “The fruit bouquet says it all. I just don’t have this aesthetic.”
3. “She is feeling so upset. I feel terrible about it but I have to do it. It’s kinda like I’ve gotta squash a bug that’s lost a wing or something.”
2. “The inside of the house is a bit of Taco Bell meets... I dunno... Taco Bell.”
1. “I think she thinks it looks chic but it’s kinda like a glittery toilet seat.”
Oh Mary. Promise us you’ll never change.
Next week, Nathan designs a line of furniture for Elite Leather and is not pleased with the results—“The bolsters look like Frankenstein!”—Jeffrey has an important piece bought out from under him at an antiques show, Kathryn drunk-dials Martyn, and Mary and Nathan attend the High Point furniture market and find themselves lodging in—horror of horrors—a motel. We'll be back next Wednesday to sort through the madness together.
· Million Dollar Decorators [Bravo]
· Martyn Lawrence Bullard [One Kings Lane]
· David Lentz Opens The Hungry Cat Santa Monica TONIGHT! [Eater LA]
· JAM Studio line [official site]
· 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 Truck, 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]