At the interior design firm of Sugarbaker & Associates in Atlanta, Georgia, thrice-divorced ex-beauty queen Suzanne Sugarbaker, younger sister of founder Julia, goes out with the ex-husband of her co-worker Mary Jo Shivley.
Suzanne is bored with not being more involved in the actual work at Sugarbaker's, so Julia allows her to work on the very next assignment: Design House '86. As part of the requirement for the job, she spends the night there. The next morning it burns to the ground. Suzanne survives, but her future - and Sugarbaker's reputation - are in jeopardy.
On Thanksgiving Day, Julia and Suzanne's mother Perky visits, along with her friend Bernice Clifton. However, a shadow is cast over the celebration when the women learn that a client was murdered after their delivery man, Anthony, argued with him.
Julia expects an engagement ring from her boyfriend, Reese Watson, but gets a canary instead. Nonetheless, they get married while drunk and annul the marriage the next morning, leaving Julia in a depressed state.
While Charlene's boyfriend Mason is living in Tokyo, they have agreed to date other people. She goes with a man named Ed who is married to another woman, a fact she learns when Julia and Mary Jo meet with their latest client: his wife.
Mary Jo and J.D.'s romantic evening is interrupted when her ex-husband Ted brings home the children on a flimsy excuse. Meanwhile, Anthony is required to attend a $5,000 poker game after a run-in with a corrupt businessman, and Charlene looks for a new doctor when her old one says to "wait and see" after finding a lump in her breast.
J.D. brings his ex-wife and Mary Jo's ex-husband Ted together to lay down some ground rules; Charlene goes in for a biopsy while Julia confronts her old doctor; Anthony tries to hide from two of Mr. BB's bodyguards.
Charlene's old friend Monette, now calling herself "Monica," asks Sugarbaker & Associates to re-design her house. She can afford a budget of $100,000 to $150,000 because of her profession: the oldest profession; she is the owner of a brothel.
Suzanne becomes the foster mother to a Vietnamese boat girl for a month while the papers for her adoption by a Birmingham couple are being cleared. However, they become so attached that they don't want to split up.