'American Dream Builders,' Episode 3: Taking Chances
By Emily Heffter
Each week, Zillow Blog will provide a recap of NBC's new home renovation show, American Dream Builders, hosted by celebrity designer Nate Berkus. Zillow is proud to be partnered with the show in its debut season. The show airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CT).
This week on NBC's home renovation reality show "American Dream Builders," each team had a week to remodel and design a Spanish-style home in North Hollywood, Calif. Both homeowners say their homes are so run-down and ill-designed that they are embarrassed to have people over.
Gwen, the owner of the home Team Blue is working on, says, "I can't begin to tell you how sad it's made me that I can't give this home what it needs."
Team RedTeam Red has lost two challenges in a row, so their team is down to four people (Dann, Erinn,Lukas and Vanessa) and really needs a win. Erinn decides to take leadership of the team.
"I'm gonna try to dig us out of this hole," she says.
They list three main renovation goals:
- • Add a fire pit, larger stairs and a tiled patio to the backyard.
- • Add Spanish tile to the fireplace in the living room, to create a focal point.
- • Remove two kitchen walls to create a bigger entertaining space.
"I'm at a do-or-die point," he says. "If I can't fix it, I'm going to be screwed."
He decides to reinvent his concept, adding wood to the design. The rest of the house seems to be coming together. Erinn promises the kitchen will be "the sexiest place in the house," and she and Dann envision French doors that open up into the backyard.
"I'm just hoping it comes together as an entertaining paradise. We desperately, desperately, desperately need a win," Erinn says.
Team BlueTeam Blue (Andrew, Christina, Darren, Elaine, Jay and Nina) may be undefeated, but this week, their most vocal team member, Elaine, is the site manager. Right away, she dismisses Darren's suggestion that he work on something inside the house.
"We're going to keep him outside where he belongs," she says.
The team makes three goals for their house:
- • Open up the living room for entertaining.
- • Knock down a wall to expand the kitchen.
- • Create an Alamo-inspired façade to accent the front of the house.
As usual, Elaine begins making waves on her team right away. Christina is working on the kitchen, but Elaine nixes all her ideas about tile for the backsplash. "Elaine is incredibly difficult to work with," Christina says and decides on a neutral palette to avoid a fight.
"I don't think there is any point of getting into it with Elaine," she says.
Jay is feeling pretty confident about his Alamo pediment feature that he plans to add to the front of the house, but the rest of the team thinks it looks too small. "It looks like a big 10-gallon cowboy hat," says Darren.
Meanwhile, at the store, the team argues about the number of plants Darren wants to buy. "It's too much," Elaine says. "It's like a jungle. You expect Tarzan to come swinging out from one of those trees at any given minute."
Back at the house, Elaine is stuck on what to do with her fireplace, so she heads next door to ask Team Red's Lukas - who she calls "a true creative genius" - for some help. Her teammates confront her and tell her that was "offensive."
Judges check progressIn Team Red's house, the judges really like the work Dann has done on the living room and fireplace tile. Dann explains his idea to modernize the home beyond a "typical Spanish" and give it a younger feel.
"It could come together really, really well," says lead judge Nate Berkus.
And judge Eddie George likes the yard.
"I feel like this team has something to prove," he said. "They are pissed off."
Team Blue's visit is not as successful. Nate is not impressed by Jay's work on the front of Team Blue's house. The Alamo detail is "wrong from the height, the shape. It's awful," Nate says. Inside, Nate adds that he is not blown away by Christina's kitchen design.
"She absolutely needs to step it up," he says.
In the backyard, the team's drama is exposed when Darren and Elaine get into an argument. Nate says the team "is in dire risk of being the team that goes to elimination," comparing it to being in a bad marriage.
When the judges leave, Team Blue erupts into a fight.
"Not only do you not respect us, but apparently we're not good enough to be on your team either, because you don't feel like we're good designers," Nina tells Elaine.
Elaine tells Darren it was a "slip of the tongue" when she called him an idiot, and says she is trying hard to be more diplomatic. She asks how she can be "less loud" and Darren responds, "Shut your mouth."
Team Red is confident going into the reveal, and their certainty seems to be justified. When Nate walks into the living room Dann designed, he exclaims, "Oh my goodness, how chic is this! It's shockingly beautiful."
On the kitchen's new island, the team left platters of hors d'oeuvres, styling the room for entertaining. Monica calls the kitchen "flawless."
The team is also excited about the little girl's room, with its patterned wallpaper and twin bed with a headboard. They are less crazy about the master bedroom, which Vanessa designed, but Nate called it "very pretty" and said "it feels grand."
The only room they don't love is the dining room, which Erinn designed. They said it feels too busy, with too many accessories.
They love the backyard, which includes a little bit of everything: a patio with a pergola and a firepit, a long dining table for entertaining, lanterns hanging from the trees and there is even a vegetable garden.
When the neighborhood council tours the home, Zillow Chief Marketing Officer Amy Bohutinsky also approves. "This is the kind of backyard that buyers are going to go crazy for, because in this neighborhood, the homes aren't that big, and they want to entertain. They want to have people spill outside when the house is too small," she says.
In Team Blue's house, the judges have a change of heart about Jay's adobe detail.
"It looked like a restaurant," says Monica, "But now I'm in love with it."
"Jay surprised us all," says Nate. "He took a massive risk -- I mean, really put himself out there - and it worked out."
And after all the drama, Elaine's living room was well-received as elegant and understated. They loved Nina's work in the bedroom, as well, with Nate saying of the space: "This is really special."
But the judges think Christina played it too safe with her kitchen design.
"She could have done something really special, and what did we get? Vanilla," Nate says.
In the backyard, Darren repurposed concrete from the front yard and used it to make pathways across the yard. The judges love it. In the last room the judges tour, a little-used bedroom with a peeling ceiling was transformed into the master bedroom. Andrew used drapery rods and a long piece of fabric to create a dramatic wall-hanging that the judges said was sophisticated yet simple.
Neighborhood council judge Bohutinsky said buyers want modern spaces, but they also want charm in keeping with a home's original style. She thought Team Blue did a particularly good job in the living room.
"They did a great job of making it look modern, but keeping some of the original elements of the home," she said.
The judges rave about both homes and the work of both teams.
Team Red's kitchen was breathtaking, Nate says. The dining room furniture was clunky. "Design on steriods," Monica adds.
Team Blue's home had a cohesive design. Nina's room was Nate's favorite of the season so far. She demonstrated a great eye for detail through Wonderful furniture. The judges said the weak point was the kitchen. Christina said she wanted to bring Spanish style into the room, but she wasn't the manager.
Nina jumps in and says that Elaine asked Lukas for advice. Elaine says she made a tactical error by asking for Lukas' advice.
Nate says that the neighbohood council liked design elements in both homes and the vote came down to a difference of 3 votes. Team Red wins.
Although Elaine, as site manager, did a terrible job, Nate says that a room is either memorable or it is not. And since the show is about design, Christina has to go.
Christina is speechless and disappointed that she let Elaine unnerve her. She notes that Elaine had an efficient way to get rid of her competitor.
"You cannot second guess yourself. Don't look back," Christina says.
The owners are thrilled with their new spaces. Homeowner Gwen says, "this is beyond anything I could have imagined. This is going to change my life."
What did you think about episode 3? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!
If you missed the episode, you can watch the show online on nbc.com or Hulu Plus.