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Filtering by Tag: american dream builders

american dream builders finale

Emily Oster

It has arrived - the last review of American Dream Builders. Monday night was the final episode of the season and not surprisingly (SPOILER ALERT) Lukas won. The finalists were given the project of run down beach houses, 5 days to complete the challenge and a team of eliminated designers. Jay was given the more traditional house while Lukas got the boxy, contemporary home (apparently these were random selections but I am highly skeptical). Jay approached the project by giving out room assignments to each designer on his team while Lukas controlled the design of each room down to even the glassware selection in the kitchen.

Jay's house had more space planning issues and smaller, tighter rooms. That being said, he was able to use these constraints to his advantage creating an intimate, cottagey feel to his house. My favorite elements of Jay's design were the chairs in the living room, the idea of the nook build out (not necessarily the execution of it), and the installation of the glass folding doors and balcony. I did not like the master bedroom, plastic outdoor chairs or the family room on the second floor. Overall, I think Jay did a good job as the BUILDER and I think had the neighborhood council voted he would have won. He delegated, oversaw his crew, had a general design intention and kept things on task. 

Lukas' house was much more contemporary and seem to have a lot more space. He used a color palette of white and black making the risky decision of painting the exterior black. This selection was not received well by many of the former contestants as well as by judge Monica Pedersen. Personally, I liked it and appreciated its uniqueness.

Overall, Lukas' design was pretty incredible and did not disappoint in the least. He mixed in rustic wood pieces to warm up the stark color palette and created signature sculptural elements in the form of lighting fixtures and a custom 12' long dining table. I especially liked the living room and Moroccan family room and found them both to be very design forward. There were, however, a few miss steps namely in the kitchen which just sort of seemed neglected and stuck in the corner and in the outdoor space which they didn't feature in the episode but by the pictures looked to have a very, awkward furniture plan.

Lukas was definitely the best designer on the show and I am glad he won. However, the show is called American Dream BUILDERS and I think Jay gets the award for best builder - so in many ways Jay is the more appropriate winner for how things were set up. In the end, the finale played out the fundamental problems with the show perfectly. Is it a show about giving homeowners their "dream" home? Or is it a show about innovative interior design? I know and believe you can achieve both but it takes the right partnership between a client, designer and the home they have to work with - a relationship that isn't really achievable in the world of reality television. If the show gets renewed for another season - which I doubt it will - there needs to be a clear intention of what they are after or else the next season will be as fragmented as this one was. 

I hope you have enjoyed this mini-series! Click here to read all the American Dream Builders episode reviews!

american dream builders episode 9

Emily Oster

This was the last episode before the finale and let me say it was bad. In all fairness to the contestants, they were sort of doomed from the start given the architecture they had to work with. The home was Victorian - that is I am pretty sure its knock off, reproduction 1990's Victorian. Victorian when its original can be hard to work with and 1990's Victorian is just about impossible - bad scale and proportion, weird space planning and all that signature 90s oak (see below - the top two images are the before just in case you couldn't tell)

There were a few positives which of course involved Lukas. I liked his parlor room especially his color selection for the woodwork. I also really appreciated his built ins and mix of furniture styles. That being said the client was a young family and this space is totally not functional for kids. 

His kitchen was a big improvement over the original and it was at least family friendly. However, its nothing particularly exciting design wise.

via American Dream Builders

via American Dream Builders

The negatives include just about everything else. Elaine did a horrible red family room, Jay's master bedroom and bathroom was fine but overdone, Nina's nursery was way to cutesy and her dining room was not well space planned. Both Nina and Elaine were sent home leaving Lukas and Jay in the finale. Lukas is clearly my favorite and I will be shocked if he doesn't win. I like Jay as well but he needs a designer to guide him. I think he probably would be a great builder to work with in real life but left to his own devices its just not good. My hope is that the finale will make up for this episode but I really am not sure thats possible. One episode review left so stay tuned! 

american dream builders episode 8

Emily Oster

Ok so I am going to go ahead and say this has become the Lukas show - which I am actually fine with because his work is interesting enough to keep me watching. This week the designers are given downtown lofts and Lukas does probably his best work yet. The sculptural elements and his consideration of scale are spot on and the end result is really beautiful. In the entry/dining room, Lukas pairs a long stained black farm table with chestnut leather chairs. The effect is the perfect blend of rustic and modern. The styling of an antique tray with white candles completes the look adding just the right amount of warmth to the space.

The long table frames the kitchen which has some really thoughtful design elements. The first being the island detail which has a recessed front panel - a small detail with a big impact. The other two aspects I love about this space are Lukas' treatment of the range hood and the side cabinet wall. The hood is a simple, iron frame that acts as a shelf but its real purpose is to create symmetry on the back wall - counteracting the asymmetry of the cook top - pretty genius. The cabinet wall is actually just two sets of upper cabinets stacked on top of each other which is sort of a wonderfully stupid design trick to create a large pantry space. 

In the living room, the use of texture is really what stands out to me. The combination of leather, fabric, metals and natural fibers give the space that modern yet rustic feel that I love. I also am pretty obsessed with the driftwood sconces and the sculptural floor lamp.

It pretty clear from the show that Nate Berkus thinks Lukas is the standout as well. He defends his chairs to the other judges and you can just tell by his reaction to the space how much he loves it. In addition, in his video clip he calls Lukas' the "role model" for the other contestants. 

As far as the other designers go this week, Elaine's space was fine but not very functional. Darren's bedroom had good styling but that was really to Elaine's credit. And Jay and Nina's loft while making a good use of space was sort of generic and cliche. This week there was no neighborhood council and no distinct winner. Each contestant was judged individually and ultimately Darren went home. I think the show's producers did this because they realize the neighborhood council's aren't picking the best designs. I am not sure how they will judge the remaining challenges but I much prefer it when the judges select the winner and losers. 

Happy Monday everyone!