Design Star, Episode 3 recap

Alright. First homeowner challenge.  Overall the transformed spaces were better, but i wasn’t freaking out about them. At all.  I’m sure they weren’t either.  

This one is my favorite and it was Meg’s an Tylers.  



Pretty and tasteful.  The wall that Tyler built out of wood is awesome.  

The color palette is pretty, whitewashed woods, blues, etc.  Not reinventing the wheel, but definitely an inviting space.  Looks like no one lives here, though.  and flowers much?

Karl, Brett and Kathy’s space before:

Not a fan.  I’ll just stop there.    Its also such a terrible photograph that its not doing them any favors,  i’m sure it looked better in person. 

Karl and Brett are working well together, Kathy, not so much.  Kathy gives me serious DS season 5 flashbacks. All future design star contestants, here’s a secret, HGTV wants people that are easy to work with.  

The kitchen is way better than it was.  I wish that Karl’s mosaic backsplash was something that he hadn’t done before or i wish the colors weren’t so ‘contemporary’ and earthy.  If it had been navy and white and light blue? sure. But i still like him and i was proud of brett for saying, ‘Karl and I are going shopping and you are staying here, end of story’, to Kathy who wanted to do all the shopping and none of the labor.  Although the chairs that Brett picked out were chairs that i wouldn’t even give my worst enemy.  If i gave my enemy’s chairs.

I feel like i’m being really negative, i do. But i truly wasn’t feeling much of these spaces.  We didn’t get a chance to really see the spaces, so i’m SURE they are better in person, but these pics are bumming me out. 

Here is Leslie, Kellies and Kevins:


I don’t really know what to say. I actually think there were some decent elements in this room, but this is really the only picture of the entire space and it focuses on this rug ON AN ANGLE.  A DIAGONAL RUG!!!! I’m outraged.  It’s too small, its not pretty, and its just, ugh.  And then the table in on an even worse angle.  I like Kellie and i like Leslie, but i need to see better pics of this room.  I think i like this room better on the tv, but in a still photo i have less to say.

I really like the collage though, such an adorable idea for your kids art.  what are those sticks…..

I like the idea of the wood wall thing that kevin built, but then i just keep asking, ‘why? whats the point?  I guess it has a functioning shelf……and that husband thing on the ground is rando.  

I guess what i do like about this room is the bright sunny color palette. The navy with the neon yellow (it looks like) and white is pretty fun and playful, especially for a family room.  

 Mark and Doug’s room, before:


Mark’s wood wall is cool, although at this point we might need to put the kaybosh on horizontal wood walls.  The rest of the room was tragic.  

I truly believe that any color (almost) can be styled and combined with other colors and amazing furniture to look cool, but this salmon failed with the brown and cream and all the contemporary furniture.   Gross.  

And i don’t understand why that sofa is against the wall and not facing the fireplace.  i understand they wanted a place to dance, but that sofa is facing nothing.

Oh, and here’s my general philosophy on working in teams.  You can only convince someone for so long that what they are doing sucks, before your day starts to get totally ruined.  My theory was to mention it a couple times and then shut up and let them go home for their mistakes.  As long as you voice the complaint and its on the record then by god, the judges should see the bad taste and that designer should go home.  You don’t choose these teams, its not real life where OF COURSE you have to work well with your team, but you obviously hire people that a. are similar to you aesthetically, and b. you really like socially.  This comment that you should ‘stand up to someone’ to me is wrong.  If you constantly fixed your team mastes mistakes then how would anyone know that they are constantly making mistakes.  

And besides being assertive is way different then being aggressive and you really don’t need to cross that line when it comes to paint color.  

I forget who won…..OH, Kevin.  

Doug went home.  

I have higher hopes for next week, but as of right now Meg and Tyler’s space is 12,000 miles ahead of the other rooms.  Again, i understand the restraints and so i’m not blaming and i’m sure they weren’t totally happy with their spaces either, but i’m just hoping for better rooms next week.

What do you think?


  1. Rachel

    The shelf Kevin made puzzled me, too. I didn't think it was as amazing as Vern did. I agree,Meg and Tyler's was the best.

  2. Karen

    Meg and Tyler's was by far the best. Could have used a little more warmth or extra personality, but it still looks really great overall! I totally agree with your comments about the rest. That salmon wall is giving me the heeby jeebies!

  3. omg. this week was so bad. i'm so glad you were negative–because it's deserved. they were just not good. meg and tyler's room was by far the best, though it looked like a room in a catalog. which is fine, if you live in a catalog. and obvi, no one does. leslie, kellie and kevin's room's best feature was its function, there was a lot of useable space (sidenote-what's the 'husband thing on the ground'? is that the pillow with arms? i didn't even know they were sold anymore. for a reason). mark and doug's room was not only hideous, it had no function really. and kathy needs to be gone next week. the end.

  4. Lauren

    Agreed, the wall that Tyler built rocked, it gave the room a Sarah Richardson cottage vibe. Love that so I thought he would win. I was surprised that the random blue corner clinched it. Agree with your discourse Emily. I was underwhelmed as well by the other rooms in general. Nearly gagged at the furniture placement in Mark and Kevin's room. Please tell me what was with the tea service? Random. I feel I must make a confession that I had a salmon room at one point in my life and just, yeah, thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Oy.

  5. Emily, if you would please read my review by clicking on my name, it would mean, like, EVERYTHING to me!!(: (I'm the one who wrote the "Why You Should Watch SFAS" article, in case it looks like a similar site. I would love for you to read my review and maybe DM me on Twitter and tell me what you did and didn't like about it, I really want to become a better blogger!

  6. aeriel

    100% agree with everything you've said. Great recap. This is the first season of Design Star I have ever watched (sorry I missed yours!), and so far I haven't been excited by anything that's been done. Fingers crossed for next week.

  7. Allison

    great recap!love to hear your perspective. i have a question, if a space turns out as bad as Mark & Doug's, does someone come in and fix it for the homeowners afterwards? they did not seem very stoked about the result…

  8. I. Agree. I'm completely underwhelmed by this season. I see quite a few big off-putting personalities in front of mediocre "design." That said, I'm quietly digging Tyler, Mark and I think darkhorse Leslie. Reserving further judgement until things settle out.

    P.s. Remember when your T.V. show was going to be modeled after styling a room around an outfit? Well, I can take one look at Ms. Cathy's outfit on that shopping day 1 and know that I never want to see one of her rooms, ever. She got lucky picking a good easy classic coffee table "global perspective/schmobal perspective"

    P.p.s. Are those sticks still allowed? AND in a "kid space" ugh. I can't believe no one said anything. Thank you for catching that.

  9. BarbaraW

    Agree about Tyler and Meg's room, but I'm inclined to ignore the lack of personalization–they didn't have a lot of her personal items to work with. Presumably, she has some that she'd put out later. Some fresh flowers would have been nice for the presentation, but on the whole… very good.

  10. Susan

    Emily, I love your take on the competition – on not arguing someone with bad ideas into going along with your good ideas. Very smart.

    And I so agree about Meg and Tyler doing the best room. It looked "ready for prime time" and for a design mag.

    I did not think Kevin's shelf was so awesome and I am kind of bummed that it won. One of my pet peeves with DS is that the judges so often reward the contestants/designers with construction skills. I don't think you need construction skills to be a great designer, and I think HGTV already has plenty of designer/carpenters. If building stuff is part of the challenge, then I want HGTV to provide carpenters to everyone, in order to level the playing field. That way every contestant can design construction projects for their spaces.

    So far, no one is breaking out of the pack for me this year on DS. Last year, you and Dan captured my attention early in the competition, and my daughter and I we were rooting for both of you. I join you in hoping for better rooms next week.

  11. I feel so much better after reading your take on the show. I was scratching my head over some of the judges comments, wondering if I was seeing the same rooms.

    Random side note – look at the coffee table in the first image of Mark Diaz's portfolio on hgtv:
    Am I remembering clearly, isn't it identical to the table Kathy bought for her room? The one everyone made a fuss over?

  12. Whew… I was starting to think I was way out of the loop with design until I read your commentary. Now I feel better. I actually liked Kevin's idea for the wall, but I hated how it looked in the corner. And I thought it was going to have more functioning shelves than just the one level.

    Also, couldn't they have waited to take a picture of Leslie's collage until they had time to put a cover on that outlet? It's sticking out like a sore thumb to me.

    Love your show, and I'm loving the new format!

  13. a rug on an angle! why? that was my 1st though too!

  14. This season is totally underwhelming me. No one is sticking out, I don't think I'd watch any of them on their own show at this point. Except the lipstick lesbian, because I find her fascinating. But middle America may not be ready for a woman who talks about her wife?

  15. Hi Emily! I completely 100% agree with everything you've said. I was not really impressed by these rooms. And that diagonal rug?! Oh god. That could maybe be an okay idea in some universe with a certain rug and a certain room… but none of that happened for us here.

    Love your show. I've been on your blog before but decided to stop by again today after seeing you on Young House Love. I should subscribe to this blog. I like you. I'm doing that now. FYI.

  16. Crystal

    Agreed! I LOVE DS, but this season I am kinda bumming so far…can't wait for it to pick up the pace and get better! Love reading your recap, thanks for the good reads :)

  17. Michael

    Watching Kathy is like sitting through an episode of House Hunters International, where they go to the resort-side of the island and settle in a gated community. She enjoys international influences, but really it's all just like the Cheesecake Factory back home.

    Also, perhaps this is where having an Art History degree screws me up for life, but since when is kitschy something that we aspire to? How does Kevin's wall achieve said "kitsch?" Isn't the idea of Design Star to bring new things to the table, not a built in style crutch? Irked.

    I will say this about the season in general, WHERE are the wonky-fun people? I feel like after the white box challenge everyone decided to go mainstream (not that butcher paper on a wall is super avant-garde to begin with.) If a wood wall or mosaic backsplash is as creative as this season gets… *sigh*…. I may have to start going to the gym instead. Especially since Kathy REALLY makes me want to eat some pasta with jarred tomato sauce.

  18. Mika

    Does anyone know how of a site where I can watch this online from Canada?? Or, more importantly, where I can watch 'secrets from a stylist'? Help!

  19. Ali

    I totally agree with everything that you said. Exactly! That diagonal rug KLLED me!! Ugh!

  20. Rachel

    This episode was so disappointing. Besides the one decent, winning room they were all hideous. My husband walked in mid show and thought the "after" shot of the kids basement was the before shot and I totally agree. What bugs me the most is the judges! Why aren't they saying anything truly critical? Calling the unfinished, ugly, wood covering of the pillars GENIUS? And complimenting the ridiculous, unfinished-looking island? Why didn't they call them out on the cluttered mess of the room? One random coffee table choice SAVED a room? Ugh please.

    It's frustrating to watch the show hoping for good design and not see it. But more frustrating is hearing the judges be fake about the results. If that continues, I'm tuning out. No question.

  21. You're totally right. These rooms are tragic. I'm especially appalled by Karl, Brett, and Kathy's circular rug, circular table, and chairs placed in a circle. Too many circles! Also, that set up looks like what someone would use outside for a firepit, not so great as a conversation set up inside. Ick.

  22. Lol @ HG The Countess and her lipstick lesbian comment. I'm from DFW so I'm rooting for Leslie (plus I like her hair, haha). Maybe HGTV is ready for that? Emily did say that HGTV would be looking for someone that is unlike her and Antonio.

    I loved the whitewashed wood wall, although I feel like the arches stole the show and they lucked out to have those in their space.

    The very strong personalities are really turning me off. I'm definitely getting tired of Kathy's huge ego!

  23. John M

    Loving your show by the way. Tyler and Meg's room should have won overall. It has so much more warmth and personality than the original room. It is not like they can wander around the house and snag artwork, memorabilia and such, so they have to work with what they've got. I did not understand the basement playroom, the shelves and just the clutter of it all. Also, absolutely no rugs or furniture on an angle. Please also buy rugs large enough for the room. A larger rug makes so much more of a statement and is so much more luxurious.

  24. Jessi

    Agree, agree. I couldn't believe the judges went so bananas over that basement playroom…it did not look like the work of professional interior designers. I bet you laugh your ass off when they complain about not having enough time huh? They have it so much easier than your season did.

  25. Hi Emily! So, speaking of rando… I saw you last Sunday at the Santa Monica Airport flea market, and I was too embarrassed to be all teeny bopper and come up and gush about how much I love you and your show, so I copped out and blogged about it instead. :-) And a wise reader suggested I share it with you, so here you go: My post about Emily at the SM flea.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful approach to design with all of us every week. Something always inspires me (and often many things do), and I learn a ton.


  26. Dawn

    Did anyone else notice Kevin Kellie and Leslie missed an outlet cover in their 2nd photo?

  27. pattyblaettler

    In the words of Jenny from MFAMB, "Sticks in a vase, sticks in a vase; looking like a fool with your sticks in a vase.."
    (sung to the tune of "pants on the ground")

  28. Maggie O

    Agree with everyone. I think I'm in the waiting mode now, for when it gets down to about the top 5. Because whatever good I can say about any one of the contestants, it's soooo obvious some are not going to make it that far. Hopefully, I'll see some pretty things until then. Like Tyler and Meg's room – they worked on that first bedroom together too. This room shows progress for them – good sign. I liked Karl's mosaic more than I thought I would. And why did they not put any fun/good looking/useful storage in the basement? Kids stuff needs storage.

    Does anyone have the link for the last Secrets from a Stylist show? I've done all kinds of searches and I'm not having any luck. HGTV if you are reading, please don't ignore those of us who watch on the internet – that's where we live. Please, please post the shows. Thank you!

  29. Can we please talk about how absolutely irritating Tanika Ray is? Why in the world do we have a host for this show? She adds nothing, no design experience, no charm, nothing. She talks like she's reading cue cards every time she opens her mouth. I want to punch her face so badly, I can barely focus on the show.

    Ok that is all. Rant over.

  30. Michael

    Idea: Have Tanika and the 5-time-Emmy-Winner swap places. I feel like this would bring much amusement.

  31. Faith

    First of all, I have to say that I LOVE you and your designs and from the beginning of your season of Design Star, I hoped {and knew} you would win. I am a designer wanna be and feel inspired by so much of what you do. {I also love that you are from Portland. I have lived just outside of Portland my whole life!!} Okay, enough sucking up. I just finished watching this episode online and I agree with everything you said. I was also disappointed by every room but Meg & Tyler's. The salmon paint was tacky {as was the furniture, lay out and accessories}, the rug on a diagonal topped with the angled table was very amateur. Anyway…I could go on…but I just wanted to say I totally agree with you! There I go sucking up again:) I'm so glad I found your blog so I can continue to be inspired:)

  32. Sarah

    I'm pretty much with you on this one. Tyler and Meg's room was by far the best. Sure it was a bit too catalog, but it's easier to personalize that room than it is to fix Mark & Doug's tragedy. Cathy is totally rubbing me the wrong way, and while I liked the idea of Kevin's wall shelf/art, it didn't seem to really fit the rest of the room.

  33. Sherry

    I tend to prefer Meg & Tyler's room as well. I don't get the "no personality" thing… to me that's something the homeowner brings to the table. I personally loved the room.
    I also hate that these contestants get penalized for having crappy teammates. You shouldn't have to bulldoze over someone to be considered assertive! Doug wasn't budging an inch on his design choices and Mark shouldn't have had to start major drama over it. I don't like Cathy either.
    Overall I do still miss the warmth and humor Clive brought to the series but I am glad this season is more design focused and less gimmicky than last.

  34. LadyLara

    Oh em gee Tanika Ray… she makes me want to not watch this show. I can't deal. She sounds like a newscaster from Bumblefrick South Dakota. Pardon my french. "And now over to Chopper Carl at Hen's Head crossing… Dan what can we expect for today's commute?"

  35. Polina

    Agreed on all points! Still looking forward to being wowed.

  36. Bonnie

    you said it all. Tyler wins with the Sarah Richardson whitewashy wood wall and cathy makes me want to proj vom. I went to tini this week for the first time and loved it btw!!

  37. christy

    agreed. and ms global perspective/earthy/contemporary is so getting on my nerves.
    the sticks? wth
    the winning room was pretty-really likes it- just didn't look like a real room
    love your style though and please don't leave us on hgtv. i don't wanna watch another real estate show

  38. 63Fnv9 Really informative blog.Really thank you! Keep writing.

  39. g1d99a Enjoyed every bit of your article.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.

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