After nine weeks of inspiration overload and transformations for the books, we’re officially ringing in the finale of Best Room Wins season one. The appropriately selected theme of the week—given the series’ West Coast home base—is California Modern. Cool, laid-back, light and bright, this design style fuses elements of mid-century modern and contemporary casual, resulting in an interior aesthetic that has taken the residential design world by storm (or, shall we say, sunshine). California Modern is a celebration of simplicity and the relationship between indoors and outdoors, marked by a neutral and light palette and raw materials including stone, wood, metal, and glass. That is not to say that boldness is exempt; ornament and color are weaved into this style through art and accessories, both of which are key to crafting a well-appointed space. "Sometimes the simplest styles are the most difficult to execute correctly," says host and judge Genevieve Gorder. "If you go too modern, it feels too austere and we miss that casual and relaxed vibe. If you go too Californian, we can get too kitschy." This week, designers and —from New York and LA, respectively—will be tasked with striking the aforementioned balance of modern and laid-back, creating rooms that embody the classic West Coast style.
On judging duty this week is the beloved Carson Kressley, star of the OG Queer Eye, TV personality, and style expert, whose recent foray into the professional design world makes him the perfect dose of fun—just in time for the finale. As always, the guest judge is joined by Siweb Editor-in-Chief Whitney Robinson, and host Genevieve Gorder. Designer Nicholas Obeid, who was awarded 'best room' this week, attributes an understanding of the "collective sentiment" of design to his win, and we've got to admit: we're in full agreement.
To celebrate the winning room, we caught up with Nicholas—designer and founder of his —to learn more about his design journey both on and off the show.
Siweb: Tell us a little bit about your personal design style.
NICHOLAS OBEID: I consider my work a mindful mix of old and new—a spirited balance of sleek silhouettes grounded by the character from vintage finds. My personal style tends to be seventies-inspired but each project allows me the opportunity to execute a client’s unique vision through my own lens.
ED: Being based in New York, I can imagine that you don’t get the request for a California-style space too often. How were you able to execute California Modern effectively, despite working mostly in urban spaces?
NO: California is the land of optimism and lightness—it’s layered, clean, and comfortable. I brought that to Max and John’s living room by layering carpets, removing the shutters to let the light in, and employing an airy floor plan with a super squishy sofa. True to both California Modernism and the inspiration home, several pieces were neutral in color so I introduced varied textures for interest: chrome, brass, glass, walnut, leather, cut velvet, shearling, and sheepskin. The custom wall of walnut panels, my homage to Charles and Ray Eames, lent a bit of warmth.
ED: A large part of the inspiration home’s appeal was the grandness of the space and the luxurious outdoor areas. How did you ensure that your room—which was small and less open to the outdoors—still reflected the general vibe of the inspiration home?
NO: This was truly the challenge—to translate the inspiration home into something attainable. By streamlining their existing mantle and painting the brick black, I mimicked the clean lines of that travertine fireplace. Though we didn’t have those expansive views to work with, removing the shutters allowed the light to pour in. In order to emphasize the horizontal lines of modern architecture and the inspiration home, I painted a very thin line where the ceiling meets the wall—this added an element of architecture.
ED: Aside from the obvious budget and time constraints, what was the biggest challenge for you when competing on the show?
NO: My greatest challenge was convincing John to paint the walls white. Though he was content with green walls at home, his reaction to the inspiration home’s white walls was undeniable. Despite the inspiration home being mostly beige, I didn’t deprive Max and John of color. I accented with orange (for Max) and green (for John)—from the chartreuse upholstery on my custom chair to the hand-sewn burnt orange piping on the sofa pillows. Both colors appear again on the artwork over the sofa, which I painted myself, making the room feel coordinated.
ED: How does it feel to have won Best Room Wins?
NO: That was fun! It’s always fulfilling to design a room that enhances experiences—I love what I do—but was particularly nice to have clients as lovely as Max and John. Here’s hoping they’re toasting with those Carlo Moretti coupes!
Take a look below for the before & after shots of both contestants' rooms:
"Interior design is not about one coffee table, a specific rug or exact sofa—it’s about the collective sentiment," says Nicholas. "How does a room make you FEEL?" With it's tactful mix of texture, meticulous blend of antiques and new pieces, and a luxurious sensibility, Nicholas's room hits all of the tenets of modern California style, and boy do we feel good about it. The cohesive interior dialogue overall makes it instantly apparent that this designer knows his stuff. From the Wassily chairs to the shearling sofa, the walnut accent wall and the resurfaced fireplace, Nicholas's selection of furnishings and decor were evocative of the inspiration home, yet completely his own.
"My greatest success was creating a room in which Max and John felt relaxed—a room that flowed properly, that suited their desire to both entertain and have an everyday escape," Nicholas says.
CONTINUE TO VISIT FOR SERIES UPDATES, AND MORE.