The most recent episode of Bravo’s Top Design ended with a scene that reality TV producers dream about: as the judges prepared to choose who of the remaining five contestants would be packing his or her paint samples, Andrea Schroder (pictured at left) announced that she wanted to go home. The 36-year-old mother of four and wife to actor Ricky Schroder (talk about interiors, remember that train in the Silver Spoons living room?) missed her family and was struggling to concentrate on tasks such as designing a room for people who live the year 2108. Judge and Elle Decor editor-in-chief Margaret Russell advised her to toughen up (as judge India Hicks had done in previous challenges, reminding her that she was, after all, “a red-hot chick”), but ultimately, Andrea chose to leave, allowing Ondine Karady to squeeze her way into the final four.
We asked Schroder, now happily back on her family’s farm in the Santa Monica Mountains just outside of Los Angeles, if she had any regrets about her premature departure. “You know it was different for me doing the show because I was the only cast member that has children,” she told us. “I always have energy for design challenges, but suddenly, I felt really strongly that my family needed me.” Spookily, Schroder’s young daughter broke her arm on the day her mother returned home. “I am glad I listened to that inner voice, so she could have her Mommy with her in the hospital.”
Schroder, who owns her own real estate development and design company, describes her design approach as practical. She carefully considers the client’s lifestyle and shapes interiors that are “clean, fresh, simple, relaxing, and beautiful.” Her goal is to create welcoming, serene environments. Says Schroder, “I feel that life can be so chaotic, so our homes should be a peaceful, inviting: a sanctuary.”
As for the chaotic experience of Top Design, Schroder learned something after watching herself design competitively. “I was surprised at how confident I came across on the show,” she said. “I think over the years I have grown and blossomed more than I have realized.” With each grueling episode, however, that confidence waned. In a blog post entitled “I Did Not Make Andrea Cry,” Russell writes, “Everyone empathized that she missed her family, but being sequestered for up to six weeks was a non-negotiable part of this reality-competition deal. In truth, it was Andrea who made most of us weepy that night, and I was disappointed to see her leave.”
Previously on UnBeige: