Bravo’s design-fueled summer programming train rolls on! As Martyn Lawrence-Bullard and Mary McDonald continue their delightful scenery chewing over on Million Dollar Decorators (last night’s episode included a priceless shot of McDonald taking delivery of an Edible Arrangement, which instantly convinced her that the sender/would-be client was not a good match), quiptastic house flipper and interior designer Jeff Lewis returns for a fifth season of Flipping Out. In anticipation of tonight’s premiere, we spoke with Lewis and his trusty assistant Jenni Pulos (who has a second career as a rap artist for the toddler set) about the Jeff Lewis design ethos, what’s in store for the new season, and whether they see a Million Dollar Decorators/Flipping Out crossover special in their future.
This season, the focus of Flipping Out shifts from flipping properties to designing spaces. How would you describe the Jeff Lewis Design aesthetic?
Jeff Lewis: I definitely lean more contemporary and my looks are definitely more streamlined. And I like big open spaces. I don’t really like a ton of furniture. I’m not one of those people that over-accessorizes. That’s a little trick of the trade that designers do which I don’t. I work out a different fee structure, so, I don’t mark up everything that I buy for my client. That’s the reason that you’ll see a lot of homes that are over-accessorized and over-furnished.
[Some designers] hang something on every single wall and they put something in every corner. Well, news flash—they mark up every single thing they buy. They have a vested interest in over-selling furniture and accessories to you. So that’s the problem. I suggest working out a flat fee with a designer or an hourly rate. You don’t want to do the mark ups because then, they—I mean not all of them, but a lot of them, obviously—the more furniture they sell you the more money they make. So that’s why you’re seeing, when you open up these magazines and you say, my god, I can’t even walk around that room!
Jenni, how would you describe Jeff’s style?
Jenni Pulos: Jeff, I would like to say that I think that you possess a warm relaxed modern style. You like that? I just filled in the “relaxed” this morning. What do you think?
Lewis: Well, when I did the kitchen for House Beautiful that’s what it was called. They basically said that what I do is “soft modern.” It’s basically taking a very modern space but warming it up. Because that’s the problem for people that love contemporary design. It does tend to feel chilly, and it’s not always so family-friendly.
Can you give us a sneak preview of the some of the design projects that you’re working on during this season?
Pulos: This season on the show, there are some clients that Jeff works with that have a really limited budget, and there’s beautiful reveals with those. And then our bigger client reveals, like Chaz [hairstylist Chaz Dean], if you’ve been following the show, the studio, the salon in Hollywood. So we have a lot of different projects this season, which is exciting.
Lewis: There is a range. We have clients with $30,000 budgets and we have clients with $2 million budgets. But really anybody can walk in the most expensive stores on, you know, Robertson in West Hollywood and beautify a space. I mean, look, if you have no budget, that’s easy. What’s difficult is taking a $30,000 budget and making three rooms look beautiful. And not just furnishing them but painting them and putting in moldings and putting in floors and wallpaper. And there’s two projects this season that you won’t believe what I do for 30 grand. And that’s really what takes some skill and talent. If you have no budget, anybody can make a space look beautiful.
Thanks, Jeff and Jenni. We have our fingers crossed for a Million Dollar Decorators/Flipping Out crossover special.
Lewis: I have to tell you, I love Million Dollar Decorators.
Pulos: Yes, it’s great. It’s great.
Lewis: I love real estate porn, although those aren’t necessarily my clients. My clients give me a specific budget, and there’s no way they’re going to spend $25,000 on rugs. But I love to dream, and I just love watching that show.