Design Star, season 7 episode 4 recap

Down to 8.  This week the challenge was the redesign real people in their real houses in pairs.  I don’t remember what the constraints were, probably 3 days and 7 stores.  Two of them got to do the interiors and 2 pairs had to do the outdoors.  They all turned out to be vast improvements.

I think I miss Luca. 

He was good tv, folks, you have to admit.  Dramatic, egotistical, full of earrings….


Up first is Stanley and Britany. Stanley is growing on me, but a slow grow – more like a redwood tree, less like a chia pet.  

I’d like to see what he could do if he had unlimited resources. If he got a show i don’t think it would be a traditional interior design show – more like ‘crazy dude doing crazy things’ kinda show -which could be entertaining, for sure.  Don’t get me wrong i would most likely never let him into my house, but i do think he has some good skills and ideas.  And tattoos. And an extensive necklace collection. I wonder if he and Luca share jewelry in Pittsburg.


Here’s the space before:


And after.  Britany designed the chevron wall whilst Stanley built it.  He kinda got screwed here, but its a story we all know. When you work as teams and you have no contractor then yes, the dudes end up doing the manual labor.  It turned out well.  I wanted it stained or painted or something – the raw wood will probably age nicely but the tone of it right now i kinda hate.  It’s a good idea and it changed the space a lot.  But i’d be fine if i never saw another chevron again, right now. 

Ooh, a deck….  shocking.  Wait!!! There are some chairs!!!!

It’s a nice deck, though.  Decks are trending.

I appreciate that they brought that detail over to this side, but thats about it. 

Good, fine, safe, finished…..not too much to say.  I don’t think you can redo outdoors really well without real time and/or real money, so for the time and money they had they did a good job.  Thank god that house had a ton of climbing jasmine. I would kill for that. 


Ah, the cuties. Personality-wise i’m LOVING these two, together and seperate.  

The ‘before’ space. 

And the after.  Wildly better.  And kinda good.  I saw where they had to shop and i think one of the stores was called ‘Al’s furniture’, which i think is one of those places where you can buy a knock off of a knock off of a 1992 Crate and Barrel piece.  So considering they didn’t get to shop at any vintage stores, i think this space has a lot of character.  Kudos to those ming chairs – they do it for me.  

Like the idea, but not whats in them.  I’m sure they didn’t either, just needed to stick things in things to fill the space….so they stuck book pages in one and corks in another.  I totally get it, they had to…. but don’t do this at home.  

When they first started painting i thought that color was going to go super ‘suburban’, and maybe it does a bit, but combined with all the whites and woods it looks good. It’s a pulled together room, for sure.  Nice job, friends. 

Huh.  THese chairs don’t want any pillows (blocks all the pretty lines) but certainly not two each.  It’s causing a ‘where do i put my butt’ problem….one that i live through every day whether a chair has pillows or not.  I simply have no idea where to put my butt.  Ever.  Thank god there is a support group.

 But im just looking for things to criticize really because this post is boring me.  I miss Luca. 

Good. Fine.  I always think they should do a challenge where they have to design their dream room – something that represents them completely and looks like them.  Give them 4 days, $5000 and at least 1 antique mall or huge thrift store. As much as i like this space it looks like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware had a less-expensive-and-slightly-more-hip, baby. Its just not doing anything particularily exciting.  The homeowners scored and i’m sure its what they wanted (which is ultimately the most important thing) but hopefully we’ll see more crazy stuff next week.  

Meanwhile these two are supes adorbes.  Mikkel is climbing that ladder and is making his way to the top.

Rachel and Kris.


And after:

Sure. Its fine.  Designated spaces, sense of intimacy, yadda yadda.

I mean. 

This is a huge like tumbleweedy thing and i thought Kris was going to turn it into a chandelier but instead its in this wooden box? Dunno.  I liked the idea behind it and i think he’s creative, but in this box it looks weird and 100% flammable.  

He also used stumps as side tables, not inventing anything new here, but then he drilled holes to put succulents in them. When he started doing this i was psyched….well thats a strong word but i’m desperate for real strong emotion right now….maybe ‘kinda excited’ or even ‘slightly awake’ is more like it.

My problem is that they are super dinky holes with really sad succulents and it turned out like a kids project.  But it was a good idea and he should get props for doing it.  

Fine. Bulding out the pillars was smart, but otherwise it doesn’t feel like  a designer has been here. More like your friend that has a good eye came over and helped you pull things together.  But i don’t think its their fault, its hard to do a huge backyard on a budget – hardscaping and softscaping is either expensive or you need years for things to grow.  So basically this is just a bunch of furniture, placed outside.  

Rachel did this becasue she missed her daughter.  I can’t imagine how hard it would be to not see your kids for weeks. At least they let them call home unlike our year. (that last photo actually looks like some crazy piece of modern art). 

I bet the daughter of the homeowner was psyched about this little corner, but yeah, it looked kinda trashy and dummed the whole space down.  Plus it was near the trash so that’s not awesome.  

Speaking of trash cans did i tell you how i sprained my wrist last year? We were playing hide and go seek with a bunch of drunk adults at our friends house in the middle of the night  – total horror movie premise, i know – and I, being a mother loving hide and go seek genius, decided to catapult myself into a green recycling bin to hide.  Oh, i’m very smart.  For the record it was fairly new, not particularily dirty, totally empty (it was the day after the trash day) and i really wanted to win.  I landed on my wrist (although didn’t really feel the pain til the next day).  

Nobody found me, but that could be because THEY STOPPED PLAYING AND WERE JUST DRINKING while i was in a trash can.  I crawled out after 1/2 hour, probably smelled really good and went back to the party.  It was truly a special experience.  

Bandanas are trending. Rachel is still cute. Kris is getting warmer. #imissluca

And then we have these two.  Danielle and Melba.  Maybe the reason this week was so non-eventful was because i figured she would go home.  If she had all of a sudden turned into Kathy Griffin or even better, Carrot Top (can we all start referencing him more PLEASE???) during the hosting portion then she might have bought herself a couple weeks, but otherwise the last thing HGTV needs is another designer doing traditional albeit tasteful designs for the masses.  Well, thats my opinion, obviuosly.  


And after:

The judges loved that chandelier and i want to burn it.  I’m assuming they loved the scale of it and what it does for the space, they have too good of taste to actually want to own it.  

Big improvement, appropriate layout, decent color palette,  yadda yadda.  

The chinese restaurant napkin folding is the most interesting part of this room. Are they being ironic? Or does one of them have restaurant experience from 1987?  i’ll explore….

Their whole drama was that Melba wanted to do an extensive custom built shelving unit around the tv that took up virtually all of the time, so they didn’t really finish.  And yeah, it looks unfinished.  

Those shelves needs some secrets…..from a stylist.  

This is the moment that the judges loved the  most and yeah, its fine, but i think they were fishing for positives here. It’s not a bad room, its totally fine and WAYYYY better than 75% of American’s living rooms, but there just isn’t anything to talk about.   Not finishing isn’t the worst thing that they can do, those constraints are hard….

Adios, Melba.  

I have no idea who is going to take this thing. Personality-wise i’m hoping for Hilary or Mikkel.  Rachel, Britany and Danielle are good designers but i want some more attitude from them – more, i dont’ know, pizazz?? Something that would be make me tune in.  It’s probably how they are edited, but i’m a little bored.

I miss Luca. 

He was just so fun to hate.  Wait….is that a hypercolor t-shirt??? ah, sh*t! Amazing.  He gets props for being memorable, that guy.  

Here’s to hoping the designers can go to a thrift store next week……or two of them make out…. or three of them make out….. 

Who are you guys picking now? Did it change from last week? and the question of all questions….how much do you miss Luca?  

  1. We played hide and go seek a couple years ago and I was running through the front yard and tripped on a giant log (who has a giant log just laying in the middle of the yard?!). I face planted into some leaves and tore open my knee. I can't remember where I hid, but they probably just followed the blood/shame trail to find me.

    Anyway, I was SO happy when Luca left, but now I kinda miss the drama. And now that Melba is gone, all of the crazy is gone. Right now I'm liking Britany, Mikkel, and Hilary. Stanley is growing on my every week, but I want to see him actually design a whole room by himself.

    Oh, and I f*ing hate the chandelier.

  2. You crack me up! I think your post was almost more exciting than this episode. I miss Luca.

    Okay, you are right, he did add the drama to the show. I think each week I change who I like, so it will be interesting to see who it comes down to in the end.

    I hope your wrist gets better! Keep making me laugh, girl!

  3. You are too funny, and I have really been enjoying your recaps! I hated Luca, but you're right, he made good TV. I am sooo glad Miera (Melba? lol) went home. I couldn't stand her either. Loving your blog and your stories. Your design style is amazing.

  4. Brett

    Despite the injury, good call on hiding in the recyling bin. Now there's an idea for a show – Celebrity Hide-and-Seek!

  5. Mila

    My dog's named luca! And ya, he's just about as yappy and obnoxious as that guy! But ya, I miss Luca. The whole show feels so damn Pottery Barn! It's not inspiring or exciting or leaving me with any lasting feelings of "Wow!" The only thing that left any kind of impression was that godawful frame and paper wall mural from episode 1, and lord knows it's not a good impression! And can we PLEASE see more individual challenges?!?! I'm really liking Mikkel and would love to see what he can do on his own. Hillary bugs me. Rachel and Danielle have good ideas…I'd love to see more of the Rachel that mixed all those colors and patterns in the white box challenge. Brittany is cute, Stanley could be a WWE wrestler (that would make for a fun show-Kick Ass Design…the designing wrestler!) and Kris is kind of annoying, in that art school snob kind of way. Miera was annoying but reminded me of Shirly McClain…who is the most awesome old lady ever! I mean, look up her house and her alien landing pad! A-MAZING! I look forward to summer for many reasons and Design Star is definitely one of them…this year so far, it's totally disappointing! Ok…I'm off to find some happy pills after that rant! Luv ya!

  6. Mary

    You know I would have been very psyched if Rachel would have made something off the wall for the kid's space, like the Cat Bus or a giant succulent playhouse. But all we got was tupperware pink…blech! I also wanted something fabulous like a water feature with fire. No one did anything with the pool but put stuff around it. This week seemed to be Design Star Couples Counseling Week. It was way more about personal interactions than design. Ho-hum.

  7. i've watched all six seasons over the past couple of weeks and am kind of stunned by the terribleness of the middle rank/mid season group of designers. without naming names, and not dinging people whose aesthetic is not mine, there's some truly bad bad stuff going down.
    it helps me to know the constraints they operate under, that you have mentioned here — the selection of downmarket al's furniture stoes, the ban on images by others — strikes me as a real challenge.
    mikkel for the win, unless he truly effs up.

  8. gwen

    I also love your recaps!
    such a boring episode. I totally agree that HGTV does not need more designers doing "traditional albeit tasteful designs for the masses." (:
    I do not know who I want to win… hopefully something will get excited next episode!

  9. Katy

    Why is it that every time somebody does a project for kids (that reminds them of their own kids), they have an epic fail? Last season we saw it too with Kelly (I think that was her name) and the failed lofted bed. I hope Rachel can snap back to her former self, because she is my favorite. I think her designs are fairly interesting, but I really like her personality. I think the fact that she seems to work really well no matter who she is paired with (cough, Khris, cough cough) is evidence for how easy going she is. I'm not sure that translates to being a good tv personality, but she just seems likable to me.

  10. bryn

    i think this is my favorite post of yours ever. when design star is finished for the season would you please consider recapping Donna Decorates Dallas or whatever that show is. I'm of the opinion she never has enough bling or leopard, but I would be interested to know your take ; )


  11. Faireden

    Am I the only one that loved the leather sofa in the first house? I always wonder where that stuff goes. I think the collage studio scared them all away from color. I vote for bringing back some color.

  12. @faireden I agree. At least they kept the ottoman. Also i think that the reason that i tolerated the color on mikkel and hilary's walls was because, yeah, it actually was a color. Its super crucial for the tv….

  13. lemurlassy

    Ha ha it was Miera not Melba. Agreed, she doesn't need this – her Florida business will be even bigger now. And HGTV doesn't need her – they have Candace instead. Would love it if Mikkel won. Something different for HGTV. I really dug the chevron fence and think that it wouldn't look as dated as chevron textiles will be in a bit (so glad I didn't DIY chevron curtains 15 months ago).

  14. jina

    I was totally waiting for you (or the judges last night) to comment on why in Hilari and Mikkel's room, they put a mirror so close to the corner (on the wall next to the french doors)! It was bugging me in such a harsh way, that it almost made me not miss the Luca drama… almost! :)

  15. Marie

    I love that you pointed out the fire hazard that is electric + dried shrubs. I really love reading your blog posts…most enjoyable! I like Hillary also.

  16. victoria

    @jina, YES about the mirror, that was driving me crazy also. I wasn't crazy about the color Hilari and MIkel chose, I thought they could have come up with something a little more current. I DO NOT miss Luca in anyway shape or form. I watch the show for entertainment purposes and do not consider being irritated, entertaining. So glad Meira is gone! Some big things need to happen from here on in. This season is the dullest so far, I was actually dozing off on Tuesday night. As much as I enjoy David Bromstad, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see you Emily as the mentor. YOu could really show them how to bring some personality into their spaces AND their camera challenges.

  17. Lucy

    So far your recaps have been the most entertaining part of this season's DS and I don't totally fault the designers for that. While I realize that the challenge part of the show is watching creative people attempt to meld their styles in order to work effectively together but still stand out as individuals on a limited budget with time constraints it too often results in the safe, conventional designs we've been seeing. I love your idea of each designer getting to design their dream space with a bigger budget and wider shopping sources similar to your glass house challenge. That, along with season one's glass house final are my all time favorite DS episodes.

  18. Candida

    I'm tired of the entire network becoming one extended commercial for big box stores. Those rooms were so boring it hurt. I wish Design Star would take a hint from Top Design and HQ the designers in the Pacific Design Center. That way we'd at least get to look at pretty high-end recreated showrooms instead of the Pottery Bran reenactment.

  19. I loved Hillary and Mikkel. They definitely did a better job then anyone else! But I liked the "before" couch better then the sectional. Maybe I'm just sectional prejudice or its the fact I am dying to own a massive antique leather Chesterfield sofa…

    Yea kinda boring episode though, not enough DRAMA except for Melba's whining! And i was wondering, if David Bromstad is supposed to be the "mentor" shouldn't he have talked Rachel out of doing that for her camera challenge??

  20. Sabrina

    I think everyone has pretty much covered it: boring season, boring episode, Miera not Melba (I looked it up and realize that's her last name, but at first I thought you were making a Melba toast joke about how bland she is). If I could go out, buy a bunch of "nice" furniture, and create one these spaces in a couple of days, with no design experience, I'm not impressed. The scale of H&M's stuff worked much better than the small albeit cool couch, but I hated the colors.

    And whoa, I didn't notice how scrunched into the corner that mirror is. Weird.

  21. i just have to add here how totally grossed out i am by the whole children's lounge area — plastic tea party cups and pre fab princess gowns like pre-masticated dreck. srsly. cartoons are not for children. THEY LIKE REAL ART. REAL FIRE. REAL KNIVES. AND REAL FUCKING WOOD.
    end of rant.

  22. Linda

    I'm not watching DS for the drama–I want to learn design. I look forward to your critiques because you talk about choices, colors, and catastrophes. I enjoyed the clip of Hillary and Mikkel disagreeing about the sofa; I loved hearing Mikkel tell Hillary she was right. Luca is best gone. He drained everyone of their creativity and joy. Hillary has a way of bringing the best out of everyone. She's my favorite right now.

  23. Is it pure evil to say that I wish Rachel would stop whining about missing her daughter? I'm sure she does! I have a daughter, and I can't imagine being separated from her for that long! But she knew what she was signing up for, and from the few minutes of TV clips I get the impression she would not have chosen to do the show if she didn't think it was going to ultimately be best for her daughter. Would she feel guilty if she were a father? Focus on finishing what you started, mama!

  24. summerlily

    I, too, look forward to the fantastic additional info you provide, Emily. I have stuck with "Design Star" from Day One despite the jaw-dropping missteps of previous seasons. I also love reading the comments on each blog, very nice, people, thanks!

    What I'm most intrigued about learning through your blog, Emily, and Kelly Pickler's too, are details about the insane restrictions that don't make it onto the show's hour. Like the quixocities (yeah, it's not a word but y'all know what I mean, guaranteed) of the shopping/travel time, and that evaluation lasts FIVE HOURS! Who knew.

    One thing i'd love to know is: What resources are the designers allowed to bring with them? I'd be lost without my sketchbooks & clipping files.


  25. omg, this is awesome. I think I would have liked watching Lucca a lot more had I been watching with you, that dude pissed me off and made me sick to my stomach. I just discovered your blog, I've obviously been missing out in a big way. I can't wait for next weeks episode, mainly so I can read your commentary after the fact.

  26. Emily P.

    Thank you for always reviewing Design Star is such a funny way! I don't get to watch it because I don't have cable so I live vicariously through your updates, which are probably more interesting than DS, anyway. Is it just me, but do the rooms lack any aspect of personality? I know I don't know much about the restrictions they face, but I feel like the designs are something I might see in the furniture section of macy's.

  27. Meh.Im bored with this season.Im really happy you are doing follow ups so I dont actually have to sit through it.

  28. Your commentary- HILAREOUS- I think you need to write a book…or better yet, talk to HGTV about having you do a live running commentary during one of the Design Star airings- please!!!?

  29. peggy

    Wow, Emily I'm so shocked. You sound so snotty in this post. Not a complaint really, I've just never really heard you sound so snotty before. I do not miss Luca at all. Not one bit. Thank God I got this fancy new PC remote from Radio Shack. Every time he came on I hit the mute button to save my temples from throbbing.

    I am sick of Hilari. I was not enamored with the room. The editors obviously love her. She gets so much camera time. Her lamp idea for her camera challenge was stupid. And so what you can shop for a sofa? Big deal, that's not design. She definitely did not deserve the win.

    Britany is so talented and has not made one misstep. Yet she gets very little camera time. I love Britany, Rachel and Danielle. I'm routing for Danielle to win. Stanley is growing on me. I wish they did more individual challenges. I like those so much better.

    Your comment that Hilari's room looked better than 75% of American's living rooms is utterly insulting. Go back to the kitchen episode from your season and review John Gedding's very important advice.

    Lastly, I reiterate. I do not miss Luca. At all. I hope in the future the judges screen for their ability to get along. Believe it or not, a lot of the viewers watch the show because they love design.

  30. Erin J

    I love reading your recaps of Design Star! They make me laugh :) and sum up what I am thinking as I watch the show. Luca did provide good entertainment. So far I'm bored with this years show….find myself doing other things while it's on in the background. Thanks for the fun post Emily!

  31. gayleen

    When the eff is this show on? Srsly, every time I turn on HGTV it's all about couples trying to buy houses :(

  32. kim

    I've actually massaged Carrot Top. Soft hair and deltoids like duckpin bowling balls.

  33. BarbaraW

    Oh, yeah, you're blogging this! :D

    It has been pretty boring. Yup, here we are, in quasi-suburban L.A., with some generic stores.

    Next season, they should go to Detroit, buy up one of those horribly abandoned grand buildings for their house and make it work with only local re-claimed materials. Of course, that would be entirely construction based. Maybe a special year where they bring back all the crazy builder guys they've had, plus the American Handyman contestants.

    I honestly don't mind kind of boring rooms in houses, as you have to actually live in them, and the extreme could get tiring fast. But it's not that interesting to blog about the design, I guess. If they're going to do kind of boring spaces, I'd like to see more about the thought process that goes into it. The designers all talked about Hilari's floor plan–well, maybe some of us at home would love to learn how to come up with a kick-butt floor plan! I'd definitely rather see that than how to put a plant under a glass lamp.

  34. Okay I am so glad revisited your blog to find that you review each weeks episodes, helps me make it through the week to Tuesday so I can see more. You're right, this week was kind of a snoozefest. At home we have been doing some of our own designing, and your tips are really proving helpful. I never thought stacking a few books and putting a cool vase on top of it next to a lamp could make me feel so design intelligent, but it did, thanks for all the little tips you throw in, they help us at home trying to figure out how to make the end table look planned.

    btw: don't you think Luca looked a lot like a young Val Kilmer? I can't get past this.

  35. Jamie

    You know what would make this season totally rock? If they did a pop-up video thing with your comments throughout the episodes. Because honestly, your recaps are better than the shows and I laugh out loud on every single post. Thank god for Emily!

  36. kelley

    kris: "i took a dried tumbleweed from the local nursery and transformed it into an awesome chandelier that the whole neighborhood will be talking about". only to be never mentioned again! what happened?

    danielle and mira just mixed the color scheme around in their room, like you do on those interactive-room-painting-tools. playing it safe with color, i suppose. and just like the animals on noah's ark, all of the Target accessories displayed in the room are paired with their mate. i give the ladies big props, though; its almost like the producers purposefully matched the two designers nearest to a nervous breakdown together for the task. such is reality tv, i suppose.


  37. Sarah

    "Are they being ironic? Or does one of them have restaurant experience from 1987? i'll explore…."

    Oh, bless you. That was effin' brilliant.