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Top Design (season 1)

The first season of Top Design first aired on January 31, 2007. 12 interior designers competed to win the competition. Todd Oldham hosted, with Jonathan Adler, Kelly Wearstler, and Margaret Russell as judges. Matt Lorenz was declared the winner of Top Design on April 11, 2007.


Designer Age Location Design Style
Andrea Keller 36 Los Angeles, California Modern, bold and cultural
Carisa Perez-Fuentes 26 New York City, New York Clean and Modern
Elizabeth Moore 48 Los Angeles, California Creative and eclectic
Erik Kolacz 28 Chicago, Illinois Creatively client-focused
Felicia Bushman 38 Los Angeles, California Eclectic
Goil Amornvivat 33 New York City, New York Architectural Ultra Modern
Heather Ashton 36 Los Angeles, California Historical and progressive
John Gray 40 Chicago, Illinois Casual Elegance
Lisa Turner 48 Los Angeles, California Ethnic Modern
Matt Lorenz 32 Chicago, Illinois Current contemporary that's livable
Michael Adams 23 New York City, New York Chic but comfortable
Ryan Humphrey 35 New York City, New York Artcentric Expressionism


Episode Progress
Designer 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Comments
Carisa IN HIGH IN WIN LOW HIGH LOW HIGH HIGH Runner-Up Runner Up: Lofty Designs
Andrea IN IN WIN IN WIN LOW WIN LOW OUT Eliminated: Elle Decor Cover Inspiration
Goil WIN HIGH IN IN IN LOW LOW OUT Eliminated: Metropolitan Home Suites
Michael LOW LOW WIN IN LOW HIGH OUT Eliminated: Chef's Choice
Erik IN WIN IN IN IN OUT Eliminated: Life of the Party
Ryan IN LOW LOW LOW OUT Eliminated: Garage Band
Felicia HIGH IN WIN OUT Eliminated: One Man's Trash
Elizabeth WIN IN OUT Eliminated: Life's a Beach
John LOW OUT Eliminated: Child's Play
Heather OUT Eliminated: Mystery Judge
Lisa OUT Eliminated: Mystery Judge

  • Dark Blue Background and WIN means this designer won this week's challenge.
  • Light Blue Background and HIGH means this designer was close to winning this week's challenge.
  • Pink Background and LOW means this designer had one of the least liked designs.
  • Orange Background and LOW means this designer was close to being eliminated.
  • Red Background and OUT means this designer lost and is out of the competition.

Episode 1: Mystery Judge

Original Airdate: January 31, 2007

The contestants worked in teams of two to design a room for a mystery judge based on five personal items the judge feels represents them. Heather and Lisa did not get along, as Lisa insisted on planning the entire room herself, to which Heather reluctantly acquiesced. John and Michael take an instant dislike to one another, as Michael feels John is too harsh on him, and John feels Michael is too prissy. The mystery judge was Alexis Arquette.

Winners: Goil and Elizabeth
Out: Heather and Lisa

Episode 2: Child's Play

Original Airdate: February 7, 2007

At the beginning of the episode, John announces to the other contestants that he is HIV-positive, and that his aggravation toward Michael was a result of a large dose of testosterone that he received before the competition, to keep his immune system functioning normally.

The contestants are assigned to design a room, and are given a fact sheet about each client. They buy their large furniture at the Design Center, on an $8000 budget. They are surprised when they meet their clients; they are all 9 or 10 years old. After a few minutes in which to talk to their clients, the designers go to Target to shop for more accessories. Each person receives $300 for this excursion, except for Elizabeth and Goil; as winners of the last competition, they receive $400 each.

Despite initial misgivings about Carisa's design with a desk built in to the foot of the bed (one judge remarked that an active boy could easily hurt himself on the rough edges), her design was named one of the best that night. Goil's design, with a bed equipped to roll away inside the wall when not in use, and a crawl space for the child to hide if he so chose, was also liked by the judges. Erik's design, revolved around a wooden "pirate ship" (the client he had expressed an interest in pirates), won top prize.

Ryan was chastised by all of the judges (most notably Margaret Russell) for designing his room around a girl's cat and not the girl herself. John did not finish his floor in time for the inspection, to which Jonathan Adler remarked that John was "Mayor of Excuses Village." Michael's room was criticized for being too geared to the elderly, with judges noting that they felt it resembled an assisted living facility. Due to John not finishing his work on time, and what the judges felt were too many excuses and not enough accountability for his actions, he was eliminated.

Winner: Erik
Out: John

Episode 3: Life's a Beach

Original Airdate: February 14, 2007

At the beginning of the episode, each contestant is given a bag of trinkets which includes a postcard of an "exotic beach getaway." The three postcards depict Miami, Tahiti and St. Tropez. Since there are only three postcards, multiple contestants got the same card, which randomly selected teams. Elizabeth, Erik and Matt got the "Miami" postcard, Andrea, Felicia and Michael got the "Tahiti" postcard, and Carisa, Goil and Ryan got the "St. Tropez" postcard. Their mission is to build a cabana inspired by the postcard, with limited time (16 hours in total) and resources (unlike other challenges, furniture was only allowed to be purchased from Pier One Imports). Since Erik won the last competition, he could not be eliminated during this challenge. This worried Matt, as he could be eliminated a lot easier being on a team with only two viable targets as opposed to three.

Almost from the beginning, Ryan and Carisa butt heads as to the direction of the design. Carisa felt Ryan was not trained enough in actual decorating and design of rooms to make an accurate assessment of the project, while Ryan felt as if Carisa was trying to dominate decisions and pigeonhole him into things he did not have expertise in (for example, Carisa wanting him to shop for fabrics). In the end, Ryan decides he to make himself responsible for choosing the furniture and decorative items, and it is decided that Carisa will shop for fabrics. Elizabeth takes charge for her entire group, which troubles Matt, who does not actively make his own voice heard. The Tahiti group works very well together, with Felicia remarking that Michael has had renewed energy, in her view due to narrowly escaping elimination the night before.

At midnight, their designs are packaged and put on a truck to be taken to the beach in the morning, where the groups will assemble their designs in the sand. Andrea, Felicia and Michael decide to leave the roof off their design, as they feel it is more serene that way.

During the judging process, the judges note that all the teams made progress and also made bad decisions as well. Among the bad decisions noted, the Miami team was criticized for using colors that were deemed too ugly and "not Miami," the Tahiti team was chastised for not having a roof, despite their visions of the project, and the St. Tropez team is harped upon for picking furniture that does not make a statement with the structure. Despite not having a roof, the judges pick the Tahiti team as winners of the challenge. They earn a weekend at the Viceroy Resort in Santa Monica, California, and private use of a cabana designed by judge Kelly Wearstler. Andrea is happy, and remarks that it can be a "girls' weekend" for the three of them.

The bottom three contestants are then selected, Erik, Matt, and Elizabeth. Erik was immune from elimination, Elizabeth gets blamed for the color's that the judges disliked, while Matt did not make his voice heard loud enough for the judges. Elizabeth was eliminated.

Winners: Andrea, Felicia and Michael (Team Tahiti)
Out: Elizabeth

Episode 4: One Man's Trash

Original Airdate: February 21, 2007

The designers had to design a room for a design student. They shopped for furniture at garage sales.

The winner of this challenge got to have the first pick of carpenters the next challenge.

Winner: Carisa
Out: Felicia

Episode 5: Garage Band

The fifth episode of "Top Design" features the designers working with The All-American family -- three kids, two parents, and a dog -- to create a dream family space in their garage. Since Andrea had the Top Design for her model she presented to the family, she was the team leader of the garage makeover project. They had $5100 and about one day to complete the project.

Winner: Andrea
Out: Ryan

Episode 6: Life of the Party

The designers had to design a party room in teams. There were two teams of three; team one was Carisa, Michael, and Matt were one team and Andrea, Erik and Goil were the other team. The teams had to decorate a tent using lemons (along with other supplies) and people actually came to party.

Carisa, Michael and Matt were chosen for the better design. They chose to hire a bodyguard for outside the party room and the judges all agreed he was a nice touch. Originally, the team was planning on hiring Go-Go dancers but instead went with the bodyguard. Matt was chosen as the winner and was allowed an extra hour in the next challenge. This upset Carisa who claimed that the design for the tent was entirely hers and she should have won the challenge.

Winner: Matt
Out: Erik

Episode 7: Chef's Choice

The designers had to design a chef's room for Tom Colicchio's new restaurant which features dishes made from the highest-quality natural ingredients. The designers were to adhere to a design aesthetic associated with the arts and crafts movement and featuring handcrafted, natural items. However, they were not aware of what chef they were designing for until judging time.

Winner: Andrea
Out: Michael

Episode 8: Metropolitan Home Suites

Original Airdate: March 28, 2007

The remaining four designers were each assigned one of the four basic elements: wind, water, earth, and fire. Matt was assigned water, Andrea received earth, Carissa was given air, and Goil was given fire. Utilizing the assigned themes, the designers were given three days to design a luxury hotel suite.

Winner: Matt
Out: Goil

Episode 9 : ELLE DECOR Cover Inspiration

Original Airdate: April 4, 2007

The strongest remaining interior design contestants select one of 10 Elle Decor magazine covers as inspiration for their design. Joining host Todd Oldham are judges Jonathan Adler, Margaret Russell and Kelly Wearstler, who - along with furniture and interior designer Michael Berman - will decide who has created the "Top Design," and who will be sent home.

Winner: Matt
Out: Andrea

Episode 10 : Lofty Designs (Finale)

Original Airdate: April 11, 2007

The 'Final Two' are given two months to plan to decorate lofts in Los Angeles, to their own taste and style, and five days to execute their plans.

Winner: Matt
Runner-up: Carisa

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