In writing this blog post, it is harder than ever for me to put words to the extraordinary experience that was The Apartment : Style Edition. It is difficult to bring everything down to earth, to relate it to the rest of our lives before and after the show. In my mind, our participation in the competition was always an abstraction, completely incongruent with our former routine and far from our foreseen futures. Now that we are at the end of it all, and more importantly now that we’ve won, I find myself having to join two very separate worlds… I have the incredible chance of incorporating a surreal fairytale into my life. A glimpse of the behind-the-scenes craziness, as follows:
It’s strange to admit that going into the final was somewhat relaxing. It was a relief to know that we had at least made it to the end, that we would not be walking away empty-handed and that our hard work had at least not gone unnoticed. Phil and I loved our house. We were excited at the thought of going back through all the rooms, reminiscing about old challenges, reviewing our progression as wannabe designers and improving our existing work.
As always, we had an endless list of projects. Although we did not feel the need for any major overhaul in any of the rooms, we did have a lot of small additions and changes we wanted to complete. We divided our list of about thirty items into rooms and priority level, and began to work.
For the first time during this entire competition, Phil and I enjoyed the challenge and the pressure was turned into excitement and anticipation. Putting finishing touches on the house felt much like setting the table before a family gathering, or decorating a Christmas tree. We had already put so much effort into the rooms that now it was more a question of a few loving touches here and there, knowing that soon doors would finally open… For a brief soirée we would be able to play hosts and invite people to enjoy our home as a whole, and forget all the segregated challenges that composed it.
Our countdown for this challenge was 24 hours.
The sun rose while we were pasting our giant sticker-print of clouds onto some closet doors in the hallway. At seven a.m., after working all night, Phil and I shared a beer in our back garden, walked through all the rooms hand in hand, and went to sleep in our Master Bedroom, for two hours before waking up to Finale-Day craziness. It’s one of my favourite memories of that day.
Everything from that moment on is a blur. Shouts awoke us as photographers, cameramen and cleaners flooded our house. Meanwhile we had to film interviews, meet Lisa S., get makeovers and prep the caterers. Before we knew it, evening had arrived and so had our guests.
Seeing our friends walk through our front door was incredible. Having been so isolated for weeks, it felt wonderful to be able to include them finally in our secret experience. As our rooms filled up and the former contestants joined us, the atmosphere in our house was amazing. Phil and I walked through the rooms with giddy pride, happy at last to see the house teeming with people.
At this point, the competitive aspect of the night was far from our minds. Phil and I were very calm, proud and content. We knew we had absolutely done everything in our power to present a finished product we were proud of, and it was a relief knowing that from here on out, it was out of our hands.
With this in mind, we joined our fellow finalists in the waiting area as guests and judges convened in the Design Court to determine the final verdict.
Phil and I noticed very early how lucky we were to compete alongside such genuinely affable people. Although after editing some may not believe it, the truth is that we never felt any fierce rivalry. As the challenges passed, we grew together as designers, shared in common struggles and always made time for an after-work glass of wine. It is not a small feat to have made such great friends in an environment clearly destined for competition.
Thus, as we were “standing-by” (something we had become very good at by this point!) it was with great respect and mutual admiration that we were able to enjoy a few last drinks with Alex and Chelsea.
Suddenly we were all on stage, and I heard Laurence’s voice as if in the distance as I stared at the room full of people, happily finding some familiar faces to steady my thoughts.
I heard the result at the same time as the confetti canon, and it all seemed more fantastic than ever.
In the perfect culmination to our achievements, Phil and I decided to stay Team Dali for life.
It’s a story worthy of the Disney movies I would watch. One which I look forward to telling my grandchildren, who will probably dismiss it as an old lady’s wild exaggerations until I show them the video!
2012 has been an astounding year for the two of us. We are very aware of how incredibly lucky we have been, and the best part is that with this lucidity we know not to take a moment of it for granted.
My fiancé and I (!!!) would like to thank, personally some day if possible, everyone who supported us throughout the competition. A big thank you to The Apartment production team and everyone involved with making the show happen! Our families, who all over the world came together to encourage us and whose collective belief in us definitely had some part in the result. To our friends, friends of friends, ex-colleagues, ex-teachers, and everyone who took time out of their day to wish us luck. We have been overwhelmed by the amount of support and kind words we have received.
Make sure to check out our coverage of our beloved Dali home by clicking here.