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Nathan Thomas crowned 'Top Design's second season winner


By John Bracchitta, 11/06/2008 

Nathan Thomas, a 30-year-old currently residing in New York City, was revealed to be Top Design's second season champion during last night's finale of the Bravo interior design competition series.

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"I just won Top Design. I'm totally shocked but thrilled," Thomas said after his victory was revealed. "This is a huge moment for me, just because I know that my mom will be so proud of what I've done. I know I've had so many people on my side who have supported my ideas."

As Top Design's second season winner, Thomas received the grand prize package of $100,000 and a spread in Elle Decor magazine.

"I don't feel like I'm ever afraid of anything. I think bravery is the way to go, and I tried to do that in everything," Thomas added. "It's totally overwhelming."

Preston Lee, a 27-year-old currently residing in Los Angeles, CA, and Ondine Karady, a 38-year-old currently residing in New York City, rounded out the Top 3 and were gracious in defeat.

"I think this experience will definitely change the way I design because it gives me a little bit more confidence to think outside the box and take it in a new direction and not be so safe," Lee said. "My future looks pretty bright."

"My parting words would be [that] there is room enough in this world for everyone to be successful," Karady said. "I think that all of the designers on Top Design deserve that."

Top Design's second-season finale began with the three finalists traveling around Los Angeles and using their $60,000 budgets to buy furnishings and supplies their individual two-bedroom and two-and-a-half-bathroom condominiums, which they only had two days to fully design.

Thomas said that he was attempting to design his condo with a "hip, young, good looking feel like an art collectors home." One of the more unique pieces that he purchased was a giant sarcophagus-like Indian chest for his home's living room.

While looking for furniture, Lee stated that he wanted his condo to have a "sleek and modern [feel] with a traditional twist," while Karady stated the she wanted her home to be "Danish modern chique, with modern furniture mixing in with Indonesian furniture."

"I'm nervous, there's just so much to do in two days," Karady added.

The finalists then returned to their homes where they met with Top Design host India Hicks and learned that their show-supplied carpenters had wallpapered and painted each of their homes while they were out.

In addition, Hicks also surprised the finalists with the news that in addition to the two carpenters and seamstress that they had already each been given, they would also each receive help from Natalie Williams, Eddie Ross or Andrea Schroder -- the competition's three most recently eliminated Top Design competitors.

After the finalists chose differnt colored paint chips that had the former competitor's names on their other side, Thomas was partnered with Williams while Lee teamed up with Ross and Karady got help from Schroder.

"They're here to help you with anything and everything, so put them to work," Hicks told the finalists as they went to work on their houses.

While Lee encountered few troubles while designing his home, Karady ran into a number of problems with one of her carpenters who was unable to keep up with her requests and fell behind schedule.

Thomas also encountered slight troubles when he quickly realized that his Indian chest was too big for the living room after seven movers had been required to just transport it into the house. However, because of the chest's size and weight, he opted to not force the movers to move it again and decided to live with it in the house.

"I wish I could have dropped a match in it," he said following the ordeal.

After the two-day period ended, each designer took the show's judges -- interior designer Jonathan Adler, Elle Decor magazine editor-in-chief Margaret Russell and interior designer Kelly Wearstler -- on a tour of their home.

Following the walkthrough, Lee, Karady and Thomas met with the judges to see who had won the competition.

Adler was impressed with Thomas' house and said that the decision to advance him into the Top 3 had proven to be a smart decision.

"I think we took a real chance on you, and I like what I saw," Adler told Thomas. "I think you have an incredibly chique and intellectual approach to design that is creative and surprising."

When asked by Adler what his least favorite part of the house, Thomas admitted that using the Indian chest was probably "a bad choice on [his] end."

"I really adored the piece but it was just so weighty," he explained.

"It wasn't worth [the] $100,000 [prize] to move that chest?" Russell responded.

Russell continued by saying that the room by the home's front door and its dining areas were "really well thought out" and had been her favorite parts of the house.

Adler added that a lighting fixture Thomas had made for the dining room had been "brilliantly conceived and brilliantly executed."

"You really search out the objects and the art, and they have such a nice vocabulary with one another but they're so different," Wearstler added. "It just created this really great friction in all of the rooms. I think that the transitions felt really nice and smooth."

Russell told Karady to be "really proud" of herself for her home's design and added that it had been "the most pulled together work that [the judges have] seen from [her]."

Wearstler enjoyed Karady's designs as well, but suggested that she use fewer accessories throughout the house in order to make "a much more beautiful space."

The judges were also impressed with Lee's designs.

"I think you did a really lovely job," Russell said. "Each room feels sort of different, and yet it belongs with the other [rooms as well]."

Wearstler was critical of Lee's dining room, which she felt had looked as if all of the furniture had been bought from one store and "felt like a set."

Adler credited Lee for his creativity, saying that he has been "wowed by the details" of the designs in the house.

After the judges deliberated, Hicks applauded the progress all the finalists had made throughout the competition and then announced Thomas had been chosen as the show's winner.

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