'Battle on the Block': Living Room Makeovers in Miami

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Episode 4 of HGTV's Battle on the Block moved to Biscayne Plaza, a high-rise apartment building in Miami Beach. As usual, three couples with a budget of cash, merchandise and contractor-time are given three days to remodel some part of their homes.

This time it was living rooms.

Who will be the most annoying person on this episode? Read on.

Couple One, Naomi Stern and Grant Stern have the same last name but aren't married. They moved into their apartment four months ago, so their place doesn't look like much.
Couple Two, Tara Gill and Paulo Grayson aren't married either. They are BFFs sort of like Will and Grace, but flakier.
Couple Three, Cristina and Al Lloyd are married. Cristina is described as an alpha female, so of course the other couples make jokes about who wears the pants and who wears the skirt. But as the days progress, we see that while Cristina likes to yell and give orders, Al gives as good as he gets, and that the marriage is pretty solid, and yes, loving.
There are the usual half-hearted digs at one another: the Sterns' place looks like a barn, smells like one, too; Paulo doesn't look strong enough to pick up a drill, and so on.
Designer Genevieve Gorder, wearing skintight jeans this week, urges everyone to plan on all-nighters.
The Sterns want to paint their place, rip up the old carpet, install a new floor, add new lighting, change their furniture placement, and create a breakfast bar -- which they propose to somehow hang from the ceiling. Genevieve suggests that they might struggle to complete their plan. They consult with the contractor about their proposed flooring and decide to run it horizontally, though that will mean many cuts.
Tara and Paulo want a grown-up boutique look, a setup that's good for entertaining. They start bickering early; he throws a hissy and says: "Don't tell me what to do. They talk about choosing colors that "embody who we are as people." (As opposed to what, turtles?) They, too, want a new floor, new baseboards; they want to "make crazy happen." Genevieve suggests they try for some balance.
Al and Cristina Lloyd want to create a spa-like atmosphere that's soothing, relaxing and zen. They will add lighting, install a decorative wall, and reposition their TV. Genevieve cautions that as they will be using some of the same colors they already have, the challenge will be to make everything look different. (Cristina has a blog about her experience on the show.)

Day One sees Tara and Paulo arguing at the flooring store; they can't agree on what to choose. Tara to Paulo: "Don't be a jerk."
The Lloyds buy a couch, zebra-print stools, and a knock-off Mies van der Rohe stool (which one of the judges loves).
Demolition begins, and now we see who will be the annoying person on this episode. It's Grant Stern, who will spend much of the three days wandering around and looking busy while Naomi is hard at work. He wanders into the Lloyds' apartment and mumbles something about "big budget," then wanders back to his own place.
Tara and Paulo start demolition; he accidentally rips some wallpaper.
At the Lloyds, Cristina is shouting at Al: "Stop staring at me." It sounds like some little kid yelling: "Ma, he's looking at me." Some of the bickering that goes on is so pointless, you have to wonder if it's staged.
Day Two sees Grant making breakfast while Naomi works. She says, indulgently, "He can't go for a day without breakfast. I mean eggs, bacon, potatoes, the whole thing." We have to wonder about the future of this relationship.
Paulo and Tara prepare their sub-floor while Cristina is now yelling at the contractor for looking at her.
At the Stern apartment, Naomi is painting while Grant sits at his computer, scanning photos for the wall. The contractor takes in the scene and pretty well spells it out: Grant is a slacker.
While Al Lloyd puts up a faux rock wall, Cristina complains about the slow pace.
On Day Three, the contractor tells the Sterns they will not be able to hang their "floating" breakfast bar from the ceiling. Grant spends the better part of the day trying to prove the contractor wrong. He's on the phone while Naomi works on the floor.
Paulo and Tara have their own bad news: Instead of the baseboards they ordered, they now have crown molding. As it's too late to make the exchange, they cut down the crown molding to create baseboards. Genevieve applauds creativity born of necessity.
The Lloyds have painted soft blue horizontal stripes across one wall; Genevieve suggests they extend the stripes. Al decides they should stick to their own vision.
There's the usual hysteria when the contractor leaves, the usual "How will we ever finish?" In the wee hours Al Lloyd mentions that this is the 10-year anniversary of his father's death -- and that he felt the divine hand of guidance. He talks about how his father loved Cristina the first moment he met her, "just like I did." See, we knew all the yelling was just noise.
Somehow all three living rooms get more or less pulled together for the judging. The BFFs get props for lightening the place up, for creating symmetry and balance, and for good furniture placement. Not so good: The living room is too busy.
The Sterns get thumbs up for their carpet, thumbs down for their trim, for an excess of mosaic, and for too much green. The Lloyds are told they should have extended the stripes on one wall, that they over-decorated their walls-and that they had the best furniture placement.
The winners: Tara and Paulo
What we learned:
  1. If you hook up with a slacker, you will do all the work in the relationship.
  2. Be careful while doing demolition or you might create another job for yourself.
  3. Just because a wall exists doesn't mean it has to be decorated.

See past reviews of "Battle on the Block" or more of our home TV coverage.
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