So this week HGTV's "Battle on the Block
" goes to Jersey -- hey, don't laugh, The New York Times
says that all the smart money is going to New Jersey.
The location is suburban West Orange, with three couples renovating their master bedrooms in three days, on a budget of cash, merchandise and contractor
Will this end in a Jersey-style bar fight? Or will the battle be more genteel? Here's what you missed....
Couple One: Carla and Greg Schmidt, a pair of competitive overachievers who want to turn their master suite into a combination study, sitting room and bedroom.
Couple Two: Lynda and Chris Alleyne, who call themselves the "smart couple," while Lynda quickly points out that her IQ is higher than his. She proceeds to prove this throughout the show by treating Chris like an idiot and paying no attention to his ideas, even when she's clearly wrong, demonstrating clearly who is master in this bedroom. They want their bedroom to be a sexy retreat, but her color choices invite eye-rolling rather than applause.
Couple Three: Emani and Robert Randolph are another female-dominant couple; he's a musician; she's good at name-calling. They want a rocking, Vegas-style master suite with touches of bling.
The Action: The couples gather at the West Orange Country Club, where red-booted designer Genevieve Gorder gives her usual peptalk. Trash-talking ensues, but it isn't as enthusiastic or heartfelt as what you hear at the WWF; it's more like the stuff kids throw at each other in the schoolyard.
As Gorder checks out the three sets of plans, she finds that the Schmidts plan to use warm colors and want to tear down their old closet and build a new one. She's guarded about their scheme to use a piano top as a desktop.
The Alleynes' dark, dark color scheme merits a frown; it's meant to be sexy but just looks dismal.
The Randolphs have a reasonable plan to create sexy glamour by painting the walls and creating a sitting room by breaking a wall to make a doorway. As Robert hits the wall with power tools, the power goes out. Never mind. The couple has fun punching out the wall.
Couple One's Carla also has fun in this first phase; she enjoys screwing in drywall. Couple 2's Lynda says she'll take about 10 percent of Gorder's advice (and none of her husband's). Couple 3's Emani goes shopping and says Robert has ADD because he wanders off to look at lamps. When he starts to do a little bragging, she tells him to shut up. Then she suggests that the store owner might have taken bribes from the other couples -- to what end, we can't quite figure out.
Couple 2's Lynda goes back to the paint store and Gorder again cautions about color choices. Do we think Lynda will heed any of this? Not a chance. Later, she's heard screeching through the phone at her husband. Chris says, with a touch of irony: "Meet my wife." Couple 3's Emani also gives her husband grief over what she sees as his slacking off.
On Day Three, there's stress building in all three homes. Couple One's project is going slowly, though Carla is thrilled when the new closet doors are delivered. Couple Three's Emani still wants to shop. Couple Two's Lynda is still obsessing over paint colors, and when she starts on Chris again, he finally gathers up some steam and says, "Back off!"
By time the contractors leave at 9 p.m., all are overwhelmed and there is general bickering.
In the morning, paint gets spilled in home No. 1; Carla cries because there is only one hour left. Somehow everyone finishes. All seem satisfied with their work. Carla declares that they might have to move if they don't win.
The Judging: Couple 2's Lynda gets points for creating better flow but is told that the bedroom looks unfinished. Thumbs down on her drapes, which are two different colors.
The Schmidts (Couple One) get thumbs-up for their piano-desk and for creating three areas; thumbs-down for their area rug, for commercial-looking closet doors and for a cluttered look.
The Randolphs' getaway suite, now adorned with mirrors and a sparkling chandelier, gets points for the ironing board in the closet and for the eco-fireplace; but criticized because the room is disjointed with too much going on.
The winner: the Schmidts. This is the third week in a row that Couple One has won. Is that the lucky position? A coincidence?
There's applause for all the couples, who then agree that there are no losers. Well, we're not sure the audience would agree.
What we learned:
Read about past episodes of "Battle on the Block" or other home TV coverage.
- Don't load up your electrical circuits when using power tools.
- Be careful when you have open cans of paint around.
- Less is more when decorating a room.
- A multi-functional space is a good thing, clutter is not.