FBLA EXCLUSIVE: Andrea Keller Parks Top Design


Bravo’s Top Design episode last night found our heroine, intrepid architect Andrea Keller, in charge of a garage makeover. FBLA wishes she’d worked on Clean House with us, so she’d have been prepared for the challenge of clutter.

Project Top Design is on the Andrea love train. Top Design Wiki has a poll–Goil and Andrea tie.

FBLA: Have you ever re-done a garage?
AK: I have actually remodeled a couple of them for people, not for myself–there are a lot of 1920’s garages in LA that are too small to park an SUV in so they all get converted, many into offices because the weather is usually great, can have a big open space with doors wide open. Normally you sweat out every detail, didn’t have any time luxury here at all, couldn’t stand back for a single second. I’m probably not allowed to go back to their house and finish the job but I’d love to do it.

FBLA: Building a model seems pretty artsy-craftsy to us. You?
AK: Model building is so familiar, have done hundreds of them, was so happy to be on my turf! Was completely confident building a model and pitching to the client, was like a day at my office, I could breathe. I love talking to clients, trying to pick up on their cues, my job is basically to translate people’s ideas into form. I would have loved an hour with the client, didn’t get that but just tried to run with what we had.

FBLA: Ddi you like being in charge of that team?
AK: And as for being in charge–I was pretty sure I could nail the pitch, but I don’t think the spot of leader was super enviable except for the immunity (which is obviously huge, made up for it, deal with the devil?) I knew I was heading into a massive amount of chaos and stress.

TWOP gets that part.

I do have to say that almost everyone was very eager to help and worked like mad. I was very surprised that that was the case, as you go through worst-case scenarios I was wondering if people would go for scorched earth, but literally no one did. Could have been a complete train wreck, and instead it gave me a lot of respect for the group. Didn’t see that coming, super happy about, very grateful and lucky.

FBLA: Were you surprised by another group challenge?
AK: None of us thought there would be a one-group challenge. We all had to prove ourselves and try to stand out, at least we all scrambled together. Was so proud to have made it to episode 5, halfway through the show and now I am in the top 6.

So at this point I was happy proud, terrified, and fried. Also at this point you know that good people are going to go home, and people you like are going to disappear. Every challenge was harder than the one before it, conceptually or in terms of work load or both, and we knew that would continue too. We were all trying to learn tricks, like getting dark and light paint so we could modify paint colors (but that means you have less colors to modify, and that can be a disaster too)–but hedging bets also means that you are not committing totally to a design so in a way it was better to just charge and not try to play it safe. All I knew is that we were going to get a day off after the garage. All I wanted in life was a couch, silence, a beer, and a ceiling to stare at. That doesn’t make me sound like a superhero so much, was trying as hard as I could. Praying that every brilliant design thought ever would come into my head and stay there like a perfect library so I could take it out.

FBLA: Mark Rios! Did you know him?
AK: I know Mark Rios from a couple of places, he’s an architect / landscape architect in LA so everyone knows who he is–very successful. He was teaching at UCLA when I was in graduate school, and I ended up teaching with him at USC. I had no idea he was a judge on the show, ( we don’t know anything about anything) was shocked when he walked out–we were also not allowed to talk to the judges at any time, legal department standing by always to make sure everything was fair and no one had any advantages.

Kora in Hell really nails the judges.

So he comes out and gives me a weird look–but we couldn’t talk or say anything or have any contact since, can’t wait to talk to him after everything has aired!

I had immunity going in, so not like there was any advantage to being in same profession and circles, didn’t think I would see someone from my world. Was lost and preoccupied with just keeping up with the competition, fried from running around, and basically just dreaming of what a couch might be like to lie down on. And then I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of a respected architect or anyone else for that matter.

Top Design Blogger was paying attention: here’s where to buy the stuff.

FBLA: We confess, we didn’t mind seeing Ryan go.
AK: Ryan was a pal, was hard for anyone to go down on my watch, I wanted so much for it to be fair–level playing field from the outset and that was what I cared about the most. I think I’ve said it before, but Ryan and I are completely different on the outside and quite similar on the inside. By now I had lost a bunch of friends, it doesn’t feel good and you know it will only get worse, so here we go, we all knew this signing up so big smile, let’s move forward, let’s go.

Carpenter Ed has a MySpace page.

Chameleon Interiors has a handy designer reference guide.

FBLA Exclusive: Andrea Keller Trashes Top Design–Not Really